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Home Staging Tips: The 5 Most Important Rooms In Your House

The key to selling a property is making sure potential buyers are able to envision themselves living in the home. This principle makes sense, but as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) seller, you’re probably wondering how you can ensure buyers connect with your property.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by the National Association of REALTORS®, 83% of buyer’s agents believe that staging a home makes it easier for a buyer to imagine owning it. But, if you’re not an interior designer, you may not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve come up with home staging tips to help you through the process.

As important as home staging is, we know the costs can add up. Therefore, we’ve organized our home staging tips around the most important rooms in your house. This way, you can figure out how to make the most of your marketing budget.

What Are The Most Important Rooms In Your House To Stage?

Staging a home can lead FSBO sellers to receive higher offers, but the process isn’t cheap. If your home is vacant, consider staging your entire house. However, if it’s not, you may want to focus your efforts.

The NAR’s report provided insight into the home staging process from two perspectives: listing agents and buyer’s agents. When surveying listing agents, the report found that sellers most commonly stage the living room (93%), kitchen (84%), primary bedroom (78%) and the dining room (72%).

Although those rooms are most commonly staged, they’re not necessarily the most important rooms in your house to stage. According to buyer’s agents, it’s more important to stage the primary bedroom (83%) than the kitchen (62%).

Here are the five rooms buyer’s agents believe are most important for buyers to see staged:

1. Living room

2. Primary bedroom

3. Kitchen

4. Dining room

5. Outdoor space

If you only have the funds to stage two rooms, you may want to go with the living room and primary bedroom, as they are most likely to sway potential buyers. However, as you choose what to stage, you should consider your needs as well.

How To Identify A Room That Needs To Be Staged

Before you begin the staging process, clean and declutter your home from top to bottom. Once you’ve finished, take a tour through your home to determine which rooms need additional attention. As you do so, try to examine each room objectively. Look out for rooms that:

– Feel shabby

– Appear dated

– Possess a bold interior design

– Have bulky furniture

– Are filled with knickknacks, souvenirs and family photos

These rooms will need sprucing. Since the purpose of staging is to enable buyers to visualize themselves living in your home, the goal is to neutralize and depersonalize your rooms.

General Home Staging Tips

There are some home staging tips that should be applied to every room in your house. These tips will help you neutralize and depersonalize your home so that buyers can picture the space as theirs.

Remove:

– Clutter from surfaces, including mail and trinkets.

– All personal items, including family photos and mementos.

– Items that don’t fit neatly in your storage spaces.

– Anything that you will not be needing before you move.

Replace:

– Oversized furniture with slimmer pieces that open up the space.

– Bright colored walls with neutral hues, like beige, white and light grey.

– Busy designs with clean lines

– Hefty window treatments with airier options that let natural light in.

“Less is more,” says Matthew Digati, professional real estate photographer and founder of BuffaloHomes.co. “Think about the basics that you need to fill a room and work to make sure they look presentable and clean. Allow enough open space for the possible buyer to imagine their own belongings.”

Staging A Living Room

There’s a reason that the living room is the most commonly staged room: It’s where everyone tends to congregate. Buyers will be looking to ensure that it’s a space where they’ll want to both relax and entertain.

Your staging efforts should work to open up the space and let in more natural light. Yet, they should also get buyers’ eyes to travel around the room. To do so, you should incorporate some minor props that insert pops of color to an otherwise neutral colored room.

“Depersonalize, but leave some degree of personality and life,” says Michael Shapot, associate real estate broker and head of the Shapot Team at Compass. “Fresh flowers and live plants are good. Books are great props, and quality art pieces providing pops of color create interest.”

Staging with the right props can make your living room feel lived in without the clutter of real life. It can also help you manipulate how the buyer views the space.

“A property should have the warmth of a home,” Shapot adds. “Furthermore, strategic placement of items can draw attention away from the less desirable features of a property.”

Staging A Primary Bedroom

The primary bedroom may not be staged as often, but staging it makes a difference for buyers. Remember, whomever purchases your house will be spending about a third of their day in the room, so it’s important that you make it seem inviting.

When staging the primary, focus on furnishing the room with a luxurious yet cozy vibe. Think soft bedding, fluffy pillows and warm blankets. You want any buyer who enters to have to resist the urge to jump into bed and make themselves at home.

“In primary bedrooms, the most important things to look for are the personal items of the people living there. Make sure to unplug or hide all wires and chargers,” says Digati. “Don’t underestimate how much a properly made bed can help either. Unwrinkled sheets and properly fluffed pillows will have a possible buyer thinking about how comfortable the room feels.”

It’s crucial to create the right atmosphere. However, it’s perhaps even more necessary to ensure that the bedroom – as well as every other room – appears crisp and clean.

“Open the windows for fresh air, even in cold weather,” says Dianne Rechel, REALTOR® with Realty Executives. “Clean your curtains, wash the window blinds and keep them open. Make sure to dust off all surfaces. Empty the dresser tops. Remove half the stuff from your closets. Dirty laundry goes in a closed hamper.”

Staging A Kitchen

As the heart of the home, the kitchen will be scrutinized regardless of whether your potential buyers are avid chefs. You want them to walk away thinking that the kitchen was spotless, spacious and well-organized. Therefore, you must begin with a good scrubbing.

“Go over the kitchen as if you were a health inspector,” says Nora Crosthwaite, REALTOR® and founder of Stagerie, an online staging consultation company. “Clean the oven, range (new drip pans) and the seal of the dishwasher door. Remove all magnets, notes, pictures, etc. from the front and sides of the refrigerator. Stow the trash can in the pantry.”

To make your kitchen feel roomier, Crosthwaite recommends: “Keep all flat surfaces (countertops, appliance tops and furniture) cleared off as much as possible. Kitchen counters should have very little on them to show that there is plenty of available workspace.”

Although you may typically leave some of your appliances on your countertops, you should be sure to remove them before shooting listing photos or showing the house. It may seem strange, but appliances can make your countertops appear cluttered.

Staging A Dining Room

Whether your home has a formal dining room or a casual dining nook, the size of your furniture will make a considerable difference in how buyers view the space. Therefore, if you choose to stage your dining room, you must make sure that the fit of your dining table and chairs is just right.

“Don’t overload the dining room table. Attempt instead to highlight the space itself,” says Digati. “Don’t attempt to squeeze eight chairs at a table that only fits six. It will make the possible buyer feel like the room is cramped. Instead, leave enough room so everything feels open and easy to move around.”

You certainly don’t want the dining room furniture to be so large that it makes the room feel tiny, but you also don’t want it to be too small for the space. If you choose a dining table that’s too small, the dining room will look empty. So, pay attention to dimensions, and add a rug to give the room a bit more personality.

Staging Outdoor Space

Your outdoor space may not technically be a room in your house but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it some attention before you start showing your property. Since it’s the first thing buyers see, the curb appeal of your home will play a significant role in their overall impression of your property.

“Stand at the street and take a hard look at your house,” says Rechel. “Does it look like something you might see in a magazine? Now is the time to paint, power-wash, re-attach that gutter, fix the broken windows, mow, clean up leaves.”

The front of your house should appear neat and inviting, so trim and prune as necessary. To further enhance your curb appeal, consider planting flowers. In the backyard, you should use your staging to highlight how the space can be used.

“If weather permits, set up an outdoor patio set to showcase your yard,” Rechel adds. “Outdoor firepits are trendy these days and easy to create.”

Staging Your Home Maximizes Its Potential

Staging brings out the best in your property and entices buyers to picture themselves living in your home. Whether you choose to hire a stager or do the work yourself, the cost can add up fairly quickly, which is why you may not want to stage your entire house.

That being said, staging is almost always worth it. Homes that are staged typically receive higher offers and sell faster than homes that aren’t. As Shapot explains, “We are selling aspirational living. And buyers are willing to pay a premium for that.”

Once you’ve staged your home, you’ll be ready to market it. For tips on how to enhance your marketing efforts, check out our guide for how to sell a FSBO house.

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10 Real Estate Photography Tips To Get Your Home Noticed

If you’re ready to sell your home but don’t want to work with a real estate agent, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to market your property. As a FSBO seller, it’s up to you to create a listing for your home. That means you’re going to need real estate photography that gets buyers to notice your house.

Your listing photos will be the single most important part of your marketing strategy, so you must have good ones. To help you prepare, we’ve created a list of 10 real estate photography tips. Be sure to read them all, especially if you don’t plan on hiring a professional photographer.

Why Do You Need Quality Real Estate Photography To Sell Your Home?

According to the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers published by the National Association of REALTORS®, 44% of buyers began their home search by looking at online listings of homes for sale. For buyers who used the internet, 87% felt that real estate photography was very useful to their search.

“The key thing to remember is the fact that an overwhelmingly high percentage of buyers start their home search online and are looking for homes that get their attention immediately,” says William Ganz, REALTOR® and owner of Ganz Exclusive Real Estate.

When buyers search for homes online, they often evaluate each home by first looking at its listing photos. Those photos tend to tell buyers everything they need to know. Even desirable, well-priced homes are overlooked by serious buyers when the listing photos posted are dark and of poor quality.

“You only get one chance to make a good impression,” says Michael Shapot, associate real estate broker and head of the Shapot Team at Compass. “And great listing photos are critical to creating that good first impression.”

Why Is It Best To Hire A Professional Real Estate Photographer?

Although this article provides you with the tips needed for DIY real estate photography, it’s worth stating that professional listing photos are almost always worth the expense.

“Good real estate photography adds so much value to presenting a home as desirable and is the one way to connect with buyers. Spending a little extra money on photos will more than pay for itself in the long run,” says Andrea Thornton, REALTOR® with Agent Inc. in Orange County, California.

To prove her point, Thornton references a survey conducted by IMOTO, a real estate photography company in New Orleans. According to the 248 REALTORS® polled, using professional real estate photography decreases days on market (69.8%) and increases online listing views (88.7%) and showings (88.3%).

Keep in mind that there are a lot of homes on the market, meaning there are a lot of homes for buyers to choose from. If your real estate listing doesn’t feature high-quality photos, potential buyers will move onto the next home without giving yours a second thought.

10 Real Estate Photography Tips

Thanks to smartphones, almost everyone walks around with a camera in their pocket. However, just because you have the ability to point and shoot doesn’t mean you’re ready to take photographs for your real estate listing.

Properly marketing your home will require high-quality photos. If you don’t want to hire a professional photographer, you must brush up on your skills. To help you best capture your house, we’ve gathered the top real estate photography tips you’ll need to persuade buyers to say yes to your listing.

1. Prepare Each Room To Be Photographed

Before you can start shooting your listing photos, you need to make sure your home is camera-ready. Begin by decluttering and deep cleaning all of your rooms. Every surface must be bare, every shelf neat and organized, so find a place for all of your belongings.

This step of the process is vital for not only photographing your home but also showing it. After asking listing agents about the most common home improvement tasks they recommend to sellers, the National Association of REALTORS® reported that the top recommendations were decluttering (95%), cleaning the entire home (89%), removing pets (83%) and cleaning the carpet (78%).

When buyers look at your listing photos, they will be distracted by anything that appears out of place: stacks of mail on the table, family photos on the fridge, electrical cords on the floor. Even if your rooms appear clean and tidy to you, they still may not be ready for their close-ups.

“Each room needs to be stage set specifically for the camera. The camera sees things differently than the eye,” says Shapot. “There needs to be the right balance, the right pops of color, minimal distractions and the showing off of the most important selling features of a room.”

In preparation for the camera, he explains, “We move and eliminate furniture and props as necessary to maximize the space, for example. Think Architectural Digest – that’s how you want your photos to look. Fresh and crisp but lived-in and home-like. It is a delicate balance to be achieved.”

2. Consider Staging Your Home

When selling a home, it’s crucial that potential buyers be able to imagine living there. Yet, it can be challenging for buyers to do so if your house is filled with personal items and screams of your specific tastes. Therefore, you must examine each room objectively to determine whether its current condition appears strong enough to attract buyers.

If you discover that your furniture is bulky, your decor is loud or your style is outdated, you should consider staging your home. According to the same NAR study, 83% of buyer’s agents believe that home staging has made it easier for their clients to visualize themselves in the homes they’ve toured.

Worried about the cost? The NAR reports that the median cost of staging a home is $400. When trying to sell a vacant home, staging is worth every penny, as people have a hard time picturing empty space.

If you think the cost is too steep, you should at least consider hiring someone to stage your home virtually. With virtual staging, buyers are at least be able to get a sense of the space through the photos.

When real estate photography depicts empty rooms, buyers are often unable to determine the approximate size of the space. Sometimes, they may even struggle to identify which rooms they’re looking at. The more buyers have to think about the photos, the less interested they’ll be in seeing your home.

3. Make Sure You Have A Quality Camera And Tripod

If you want your listing photos to entice buyers, you must take them with a good camera and tripod. Under no circumstances should you try to take real estate photography with your smartphone. While the photos you take on your phone may appear good quality to you, they are nothing compared to the photos taken with DSLR cameras.

DSLR cameras take higher definition photos, which makes the images appear clearer and, the lines within them crisper. Your photos should give potential buyers the experience of standing inside your home, and the only way to do that is by taking them with the kind of resolution that a DSLR camera provides.

Once you get a camera, don’t forget the tripod. No matter how steadily you think you’re holding the camera, it won’t be enough. Even the slightest movement will make your real estate photography come out blurry. By setting your camera on a tripod, you won’t have to stress about keeping your hands still, and your listing photos will come out that much better.

4. The Wide-Angle Is The Best Lens For Real Estate Photography

Real estate photographers use a basic wide-angle lens whenever shooting listing photos. It’s the best lens for real estate photography because it gives you a wider field of view.

“A wide-angle lens will show more of a room than a normal lens. Where a normal lens will show half of a living room, a wide-angle lens will shoot the entire room,” says Jeff Kolodny, professional photographer and founder of Jeff Kolodny Photography. “A good photographer will use a wide-angle lens that can show enough of the room without distorting the room too much.”

Since the wide-angle lens enables you to fit more of the room into the frame, it makes your rooms appear bigger. The more spacious your rooms appear, the more interested potential buyers will be in seeing your home.

5. Play Around With Real Estate Photography Angles

Even if a new camera lens isn’t in the budget, you can still find ways to maximize the space presented within the frame. Yet, to do so, you’re going to need to take a lot of photographs and play around with a variety of angles.

“Manipulation of space is crucial when shooting a home,” says Lukasz Kukwa, real estate advisor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Westfield, New Jersey. “It makes rooms look more spacious than they really are, but the intention is not to deceive potential buyers but to make sure they are able to envision the layout and flow of a property and not have to wonder – or string the photos together – as to what the floor plan looks like.”

There are some ways you can try out to manipulate the space without misleading potential buyers. These tricks will help you make even your most cramped room look spacious:

Don’t shoot straight on: The best real estate listing photos show depth, so buyers can get a sense of the size of the room. Instead of directly facing the wall when taking the photo, position yourself at an angle.

Set your camera up by the door: If you want your room to look as large as possible, set your tripod up in the doorway. This positioning will often allow you to fit the most into the frame. However, depending on the room, you may find that shooting from the corner of the room allows you to get a better shot.

Give yourself plenty of options: Take many photos of each room and make sure that you vary your angle and focus. You’ll be surprised how many photos you need to take before you find one that does your room justice. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to see the quality until you view your shots on the computer, so don’t start deleting any until then.

6. Pay Close Attention To Your Lighting

Lighting is one of the most critical aspects of your listing photos. Dark photographs have a tendency to make rooms look old and dingy. Furthermore, they tend to make it harder for buyers to see the specific features of your home.

To present your home in the best light – both literally and figuratively – open all blinds and curtains to let in natural light. Also, be sure to turn on all light fixtures and table or floor lamps. Interior lighting will not only illuminate dark corners but also add a feeling of warmth and coziness to the images.

Keep in mind that the time of day you choose to take your real estate photography matters. Your photos must appear bright and inviting, which means you need to be ready to shoot when your rooms get the best light. So, what time of day should you get your camera ready?

“The answer to this question depends on the listing itself, the direction that the home faces and the weather,” says Jim Costa, photographer, video producer and owner of Jim Costa Films. “You want the sun behind you when shooting the home because it will be well lit and will look its best.”

Depending on the direction your home faces, Costa recommends the following times:

North: Late morning to early afternoon

East: Morning

South: Early morning or late in the day

West: Afternoon

Try to time your photoshoot when the weather is at its best. The ideal time would be a sunny, spring day because curb appeal is at its highest for exterior shots. Plus, your rooms are bathed in natural sunlight.

Regardless of the time of year, be sure to choose a sunny day. Real estate photography doesn’t come out nearly as well when the weather is bad. Avoid shooting on rainy, snowy and overcast days.

8. Make Sure You Post Enough Real Estate Listing Photos

Since real estate photos help increase buyers’ confidence in the property, make sure you post enough of them on your real estate listing. Listings that don’t include many photos are viewed suspiciously by buyers. They tend to question the quality and condition of homes that are not thoroughly photographed.

The ideal number of photos will depend on the size of your home and the number of rooms within it. While small apartments may have as few as four or five photos, large properties could have as many as 25 or 30. To figure out how many is right for your listing, consider what a buyer would want to see.

“You’ll want to tell a story with your listing photos,” says Costa. “You should follow the path a buyer will take when they arrive in person. Start with the front exterior and move through the house as you would when you first enter.”

Make sure to post the pictures in that same order to create the impression of a walkthrough. Uploading the photos out of order will make it harder for buyers to grasp the space.

Before you upload, review the photos to ensure you’ve captured all the impressive, unique aspects of your home. Your images should highlight any part of your property you think will be a selling point, be it the stadium seating in your home theater, the wood-burning fireplace in your library, the game room in your finished basement or the exquisite landscaping in your backyard.

8. Focus On The Photogenic Rooms

Don’t forget that real estate listing photos are supposed to present your home in the best possible light. Of course, you want to include photographs of enough rooms for potential buyers to get a thorough sense of what your home has to offer. However, you also want to ensure that the photos you include work in your favor.

Avoid posting photos of unphotogenic rooms. Rooms that appear disheveled, cramped or in poor condition have no place in your real estate listing. Focus on the photogenic rooms, as those are the ones that will motivate buyers to come to see your home in person. Buyers will be more likely to overlook a defect or two if they’ve already taken the time to visit.

9. Correct But Never Manipulate Real Estate Photos

Editing your real estate photography is perhaps the trickiest and yet most important step. You want your photos to look appealing; however, you don’t want to overcorrect to the point where you manipulate them.

“I often tell agents that your photos need to be an accurate representation of the property,” says Costa. “However, there is some editing you can do, including brightness and color correction. You don’t want to misrepresent how light a space is, but you do want to be certain the image is clear enough to see.”

When you take a photo, the camera is rarely able to capture the subject in the same way as the human eye. Usually, space appears darker, colors slightly distorted. Whites, for example, tend to look a bit grayer. That’s why the goal is to retouch your listing photos just enough so that the rooms look just as they do in real life.

“If they look too dark, you should use a program, such as Lightroom or Photoshop to adjust brightness,” says Kolodny. “One tip is to shoot a bit dark and then lighten the images in Photoshop later. If you shoot images that are too light, then fixing them is very difficult.”

When you use editing software, just make sure not to mislead viewers. Don’t try to add more attractive features, remove fixtures or change your windows’ views. Your photos must be accurate representations of your home.

10. Create A Home Listing Strategy

Once you’ve settled on your real estate photos, it’s essential that you create a listing that’s as high-quality as your photographs. In your real estate listing, you should include a description of your home that’s clear, detailed and engaging. Your words, coupled with your photos, should walk potential buyers through each room and tell the story of your home.

Keep in mind that the majority of buyers will swipe through your photos before looking at your description. Meaning, if your photos aren’t well-lit, in-focus and enticingly composed, buyers won’t waste their time with your words. So, be sure to create a home listing strategy that places emphasis on your images.

Don’t Be Afraid To Consult The Experts

No matter where you are on the home selling journey, consulting experts can help you sell your home faster. For more advice on each step of the home selling process, check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Sell a House For Sale By Owner. You’ll find invaluable tips on pricing, marketing, showing and negotiating offers on your home.

We know that listing your property is no easy task. It can be both confusing and time-consuming. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tools, resources and legal forms to help you through it.

Sign up for free tools to help you through the marketing and legal aspects of your sale. If you need more help, you can also pay a one-time fee to work with your own Home Listing Coordinator, who will guide you through the process.

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Is Spring The Best Time To List A House?

When you’re selling a home without the assistance of a real estate agent, there are a lot of decisions you must make that require careful consideration. One of the most important considerations is when to sell your home. Without real estate sales experience and clear knowledge of the current market, it can be challenging to determine when to pull the trigger.

While there are many people who believe that spring is the best time to list a house, there are certain reasons behind the belief that you should understand. To help you figure out the best time to sell your home, we’ve analyzed each of the seasons and provided you with additional insight into how to make the best decision for your circumstances.

Is Spring A Good Time To Sell Your Home?

The fact that real estate sales tend to kick off in the spring has caused many professionals to consider the season to be the best time to list a house. The demand for real estate tends to be higher at this time of year, so homes sell faster and often for higher prices.

As the weather warms up, buyers flock to open houses and showings. For buyers, seeing homes in the spring is not just a crucial means of learning more about a property but also a pleasant way to spend a weekend afternoon. With the trees green and flowers in bloom, curb appeal is higher, and properties tend to show better as well. However, sunny days are not the only reason buyers tend to come out in the spring.

“The spring is typically considered the best time of the year to list a home because people are knocking off the haze of winter, and after months of being inside, they begin to think about the needs that their current home is no longer addressing,” says Gretchen Coley, a REALTOR® for Gretchen Coley Properties in Raleigh, North Carolina. “If they have children, the summer months are a great time to move without disrupting their school schedules.”

Since it typically takes a few months to close on a home, families tend to prefer to start looking for a home in the spring. Doing so allows them to close and move in the summer, so their children are prepared for the new school year when fall arrives. Furthermore, with the holidays behind them and utility bills lower, buyers have more income at their disposal and can think more seriously about large purchases.

The Drawbacks Of Listing A Home In The Spring

It’s important to keep the rules of supply and demand in mind when deciding whether to list your home. As the demand for homes tends to be higher in the spring, so does the inventory. The influx of buyers leads more sellers to list their homes, which gives buyers more housing options. The increase in inventory can cause spring selling to be more complicated for FSBO sellers.

“The drawbacks are increased competition,” says Matthew Myre, CEO and lead agent of Berri Properties. “When everyone else is listing their home, you have to do something to stand out. This can be done with a solid marketing and pricing plan.”

When competing with other sellers for buyers, you must make sure that you’ve priced your home to sell. Meaning, you should pay close attention to comparable properties to determine what your home is worth. Your asking price should be aligned with what similar homes have sold for in the last 6 months. However, it’s also important that you keep an eye on current listings. You want to ensure that your house isn’t listed for more than other houses in your area.

For FSBO sellers, analyzing comparable properties is typically more challenging because they don’t have access to the MLS, which provides real estate agents with the most up-to-date information on listings and recent sales. If you’re worried about pricing your home competitively, ForSaleByOwner’s Pro Pricing service can help you. Through the service, you can arrange for a licensed professional to perform an in-depth evaluation of your home and provide you with a property valuation for half the cost of an appraisal.

Listing A Home In The Summer

While some buyers may have already purchased homes come late June and others may be on vacation, listing your home during the summer can come with certain benefits.

“Many of the houses that would be potential competitors have already been sold during the spring months, so while there are still likely to be many homes on the market, the ones that are ‘left’ are likely to still be overpriced and looked over by new buyers on the scene,” says Melanie Hartmann, owner of Creo Home Buyers in Baltimore, Maryland. “So, listing your house for a reasonable price should lower the days it is listed on the market before it sells.”

The Benefits Of Listing A Home In The Summer

  • There will be less competition among sellers than there was in the spring.
  • Warm weather enhances curb appeal and makes showings more enjoyable.
  • Buyers with children may be more eager to make serious offers and close quickly.
  • Pricing is easier as more comparable properties will have sold in the spring.

The Drawbacks Of Listing A Home In The Summer

  • If the weather is too hot, buyers may be on vacation or less inclined to see homes.
  • Since the peak season is ending, buyers may be looking for more seller concessions.
  • With schools out, sellers with children may find it more difficult to keep their homes clean, organized and ready to be shown.
  • Your utility bills may be higher, as it’s important to keep the AC on throughout showings.

Listing A Home In The Fall

If you live in a location that gets very hot during the spring and summer, you may find that fall is the perfect time to list your home. However, if you choose to do so, it’s vital that your pricing reflects the current market.

“You are competing with the houses that didn’t sell during the spring and summer months, meaning you may have to list your house for less than it’s valued because many other sellers will also be lowering the prices on their homes in order to get them sold ‘off-season,’” says Hartmann.

The Benefits Of Listing A Home In The Fall

  • Fall foliage can greatly enhance curb appeal and marketing photos.
  • With fewer homes on the market, there will be less competition for buyers.
  • Buyers will be eager to close before the holidays.

The Drawbacks Of Listing A Home In The Fall

  • Just as there will be less supply, the demand will also be lower.
  • With fewer interested buyers, your home may sit on the market longer, or you may have to agree to seller concessions.
  • As the leaves fall, maintaining your landscaping will become more time-consuming or expensive.

Listing A Home In The Winter

For those who live in a resort or ski area, winter is the prime selling season. For everyone else, as the weather turns frigid, both supply and demand drop. Still, there are some advantages to selling in the wintertime.

“The good part of listing a home in the winter is the lack of competition among other homes,” says Myre. “It gives you more exposure. The bad part is that your home will often sit on the market for a longer period of time due to a lack of buyer activity.”

The Benefits Of Listing A Home In The Winter

  • The real estate inventory tends to be the lowest during the winter, so potential buyers will be more aware of and interested in the homes that are on the market.
  • Interested buyers will be motivated to close before the end of the year, especially those who will be starting new jobs in the new year.
  • Minimal, secular holiday decorations can give properties a homier feel.

The Drawbacks Of Listing A Home In The Winter

  • The cold weather may prevent buyers from seeing properties.
  • Buyers may be saving their money for gifts and vacations.
  • With shorter days and flat light, homes may not show as well.
  • Buyers often look for better deals and may make lowball offers.
  • The freezing temperatures may reveal unexpected problems with homes during a time when it’s harder to make repairs.
  • Heating bills may become more expensive, as it’s important to keep the heat on in all rooms when showing.

When Should You Put Your House On The Market?

Although many people think that you should sell your home in the spring, it’s far more important to pay attention to the climate of the current market. When possible, FSBO sellers should try to sell their homes during a seller’s market. A seller’s market occurs when the demand for real estate exceeds the supply. These conditions are preferable to sellers. When there are more anxious buyers than there are homes available, homes sell faster, and sellers have the power to negotiate higher prices and better terms.

However, at times it’s vital to think beyond market conditions. Your needs should come first. If you must sell due to financial reasons or the need to relocate, waiting could cost you far more.

After a number of his New York City clients asked if they should list their homes in the spring, James McGrath, co-founder of the NYC brokerage firm, Yoreevo, crunched the numbers: “As best I could tell, the most favorable month of the year got prices about 1.5% higher than the worst month of the year. In other words, you’re usually looking at less than a 1% difference on price. Is it worth rescheduling your life for a few thousand dollars?”

Ultimately, you must do what’s best for your circumstances. Remember, there are advantages and disadvantages for every season. While spring may bring more buyers, it’s also the season with the greatest inventory. The best way to overcome the drawbacks of the season you choose is to price your home competitively.

Selling your home independently can be challenging, but ForSaleByOwner.com is here to guide you through each step. Sign up for our Independent or Partner package to receive advice and tools that will help you list and price your home.

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What Is My Home Worth?: How To Get An Accurate Valuation

When you’re getting ready to sell your own home, the first thing you want to know is, “How much is my home worth?” It’s a critical question every For Sale By Owner seller must ask when determining their asking price.

Without a clear understanding of what your home is worth, you run the risk of pricing it too low and having it sell for less than it’s worth. Or, even worse, you could overestimate its value, deter potential buyers from viewing it and cause it to sit on the market, growing stale.

Getting an accurate valuation of your property is the first step to ensuring that you price it well enough to sell. Instead of estimating the value of your home, learn what your home valuation is based on and what you need to do in order to answer that agonizing question, “What is my home worth?”

What Is Home Valuation Based On?

The reason it’s so difficult to determine how much your home is worth is that its true value is a complicated equation based on many varying factors. Individuals who are trained to value a property accurately use their knowledge to evaluate not only the size, features and condition of your home but also market conditions, including local supply and buyer demand.

Home valuations take into account:

  • Age and type of property
  • Square footage and total room count
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Fixtures and features
  • Construction and state of repair (or disrepair)
  • Upgrades and improvements made to the property
  • Location and position within the neighborhood
  • Surrounding amenities
  • Service charges or any other liabilities
  • Recent sales prices of comparable properties nearby
  • Market trends and economic conditions

How Can I Figure It Out What My Home Is Worth?

While there are a number of ways to figure out how much your house is worth, don’t expect all of them to land at the same answer. If you ask different sources what the value of your home is, you’re likely to receive different answers. The reason for the disparity is that home valuations are based on opinion.

Given all the factors that need to be weighed to determine a home’s worth, it’s impossible to provide an entirely objective valuation because it’s based on opinion. You may think that the home value calculators that you find online are objective, but even computers have their flaws.

At the end of the day, the actual value of your home is based on the market value, which is whatever someone is willing to pay for it. So, it’s essential to understand how each home valuation method determines how much your home is worth because you can use that knowledge to help you price your home correctly.

Home Value Websites

Websites like Zillow, Redfin, RE/MAX and Realtor.com offer to answer the question, “how much is my home worth,” with a simple click of a button. Despite how easy it may seem to use these free home estimators to determine the value of your home, you need to be careful with these online tools.

Home value websites can provide inaccurate estimates that will lead you to price your home incorrectly and lose out on a lot of money. These free home estimators just use algorithms to guess at your home’s value based on recent sales in the area and property tax assessments. That’s why the only thing they require to provide you with a home value estimate is your home address.

However, just because home value websites don’t provide accurate valuations doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them. They can be a good starting point because they provide basic information. Just make sure you don’t base your asking price on the answer you find online.

Comparable Sales

In your search to find an accurate valuation of your home, the next step is to review the comparable sales in your neighborhood. Although home value websites pull some of this data when calculating the estimated value of your home, it is useful to do this work yourself as you have a better understanding of which properties are actually comparable.

However, when considering comps, you need to try to remain as objective as possible. Your home may seem superior to you, but your goal is to evaluate properties in the same way a potential buyer would.

Finding Comparable Sales

To begin, that means the comparable sales you look at should be the properties a potential buyer would consider along with yours. When selecting properties, look for homes that are similar in their location, square footage, rooms and condition.

Unfortunately, only real estate professionals have access to your local Multiple Listing Service, a resource that lists all homes that are currently listed or have recently sold in the area. However, there are a number of websites that enable you to view MLS listings.

By going through these websites, you can find the purchasing prices of comparable homes that have recently sold in your area. The more comps you are able to find, the more accurate your valuation will be. Just make sure you are basing your valuation on at least three comps.

Evaluating Comparable Sales

After finding the comparable sales, you have to evaluate the purchasing prices to determine how much your home is worth. While some people choose to estimate their home’s value by averaging the prices of all comparable sales, that strategy is not going to give you an accurate valuation. You need to adjust the prices based on the differences between your home and the comparable properties.

Remember, two houses are rarely the same. So, if a comparable sale has one more bedroom than your home, you would have to subtract that value from your own home. And that’s where the process gets really challenging, because in order to deduct the value of a bedroom, you need to know how much an extra bedroom is worth in the current market.

While you could try to figure out the value based on more comparable sales, you would have to do the same with each difference you find. That is why most sellers ultimately look to real estate professionals to help them determine what their home is worth.

Broker Price Opinion (BPO)

Another option for answering “what is my home worth” is to get the opinion of a real estate broker. Getting a broker price opinion is a useful way to overcome any issues you have adjusting the purchasing price of comparable sales.

While a BPO is not considered an official appraised value, a real estate broker will provide you with a more accurate home valuation than you are likely to obtain on your own. To evaluate the value of your home, a real estate broker will examine both the interior and exterior of your home and determine a price based on comparable sales, comparable listings and market trends.

You will have to pay a fee to obtain a BPO, but it’s usually about half of what an appraisal costs. If a broker offers to do a BPO for free, make sure that the broker knows you’re an FSBO seller. It’s necessary to tell brokers that you plan to sell your property independently because some will try to use this “free” service to persuade you to list your property with them.

Home Appraisal

The most accurate home valuations tend to come from professional appraisers. As with BPOs, the home valuation that you receive will be the appraiser’s unbiased opinion of your home’s worth, but the process by which the appraiser arrives at that opinion is often more rigorous.

When estimating the value of your home, appraisers, like real estate brokers, will consider the trends in the market and comparable properties that have sold and been listed recently. But appraisers will also research public records, gain further information about the value of your neighborhood and complete a far more thorough inspection of your home, which is why appraisals tend to be more accurate than BPOs.

When deciding whether you want your home to be appraised, you should factor in the cost. A home appraisal tends to run $300-$400.

If you’re using the appraisal to help you price your home before you put it on the market, you should also be aware that this will not be the only appraisal completed on your home. Once you receive an offer, any lender who finances the buyer will insist that another appraisal be completed. So, just because your appraiser says your home is worth one price doesn’t necessarily mean that their appraiser will agree.

How Can I Prepare For A Home Appraisal?

Believe it or not, you can actually maximize your home’s valuation by taking steps to prepare for your home appraisal. Before you schedule an appraisal, walk around your property and through the interior of your house and write down all the upgrades and improvements you’ve made. Have you added a new water heater, repaired the foundation, renovated the kitchen? Anything you’ve done to enhance your property should be added to the list and given to the appraiser.

But, once you’re done, walk through it all again. This time, jot down all of the upgrades and improvements that still need to be made. How’s your property’s curb appeal? Is the paint peeling, your lawn overgrown, your gutters clogged? Is your roof leaking, your thermostat malfunctioning, your handrail loose? Turn on your appliances. Are they all in working order?

Any damage that the appraiser finds will detract from your home’s value. So, before the appraiser comes, you want to make all the repairs that your budget allows. Even if all you can afford to do is add a fresh coat of paint, trim your trees and fix a leaky faucet, you should do it. Fix all minor repairs and try to attack as many of the more significant problems as you can.

Don’t Forget To Clean

Appraisers are influenced by everything they see, which also means that you should spruce up your place ahead of time. Make sure all areas of your property are accessible to the appraiser. Appraisers look everywhere, so remove any boxes that may be in the way of inspecting your attic, basement and crawl spaces.

Deep clean and declutter your home because even though your home valuation is not determined by your housekeeping skills, the cleanliness of your home will make an impression. And you can’t afford for any part of your home to make a bad impression. Remember, your home valuation is based on the appraiser’s opinion.

Just Because You’re An FSBO Seller Doesn’t Mean You’re Alone

If you want to get an accurate valuation but are worried about the condition of your home, we’re here to help. ForSaleByOwner’s Pro Pricing service will send a licensed professional to your home to perform an in-depth evaluation and create a detailed report to help you price your property for half the cost of an appraisal.

The report will not only help you choose the right price to list your home but also include comparisons to nearby homes and recommendations for repairs. Following these guidelines, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to sell your home.

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How To Have Happy Holidays As You Sell Your Home

The holiday season may not be the best time of year to sell a house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to celebrate while your home is on the market. If you’re worried about your ability to manage the sale of your home while enjoying holiday festivities, just keep in mind that you can bring holiday cheer into your home while still making it desirable to potential buyers.

When selling your home, it’s paramount that you enable buyers to envision themselves there. Although this often means decluttering and depersonalizing, tasteful holiday decorations can actually make your house seem cozier to potential buyers. So as you prepare to celebrate, keep these tips in mind.

 

Set The Stage For The Ideal Holiday Gathering

Convincing potential buyers that your house is the perfect home for them is all about setting the stage. Each showing should be a production that entices buyers to make an offer, and nothing gets people into the consumer spirit like the holidays.

If your potential buyers can imagine themselves hosting holiday gatherings in your home, you’ll be well on your way to getting an offer. Just ask Sonia McSweeney, owner of Moon View Media, who created a bidding war on her property after staging her home for the holidays.

“We put extra work into trimming our beautiful, real tree. We put model boxes under the tree, beautifully wrapped,” says McSweeney. “I think that the thing that really helped people love our home was setting the table as though we were just about to host a small holiday gathering. We put out our best diningware, wine glasses, etc. and a beautiful tablecloth.”

“During one showing, the family sat on our couch and chair and just stretched out and rested there for a while,” she adds. “I guess it seemed welcoming!”

Thanks to the homey feeling McSweeney’s staging created for potential buyers, her home was only on the market for two weeks.

 

Decorate With A Minimalist’s Eye

If you want your home to have the same effect on home buyers that McSweeney’s had, keep showings in mind when you begin to decorate your home for the holidays.

“Keep your decorations simple and classic, setting up just a tree, a wreath, lights and accent decorations,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Atlanta House Buyers. “Make sure that when you set up your tree that you remove furniture to make more room. You don’t want to make your living room feel cramped, which could turn off potential home buyers looking for larger family rooms.”

While you want your decorations to fill your family with the holiday spirit, you need to ensure that you don’t overdo it. The homes that sell quickly and for the highest price tend to be the ones that feel spacious and airy. Homes that are filled to the brim with bulky decorations make buyers question whether there’s enough space in the house to accommodate their families.

So as you consider which decorations to include in your home, think about the elements of your home that you want to draw attention to.

“Use decorations to highlight the great features of your home,” Breyer says. “If you have a great deck, run lighted garland along the railing to outline the deck and the backyard, which will draw people to these features in your home.”

It often helps to research comparable sales in your area to determine which features you have that other homes may lack. By adding simple, decorative touches to those elements of your home, you’ll draw potential buyers’ attention to them.

If you’re unsure about whether your decorations are actually accentuating those important aspects of your home, a good rule of thumb is to dial it back.

“Overwhelming a home with holiday decor can often hide great features of the house, features that would normally sell the home,” says Melissa Samar, REALTORâand owner of Picket Fence Realty. “Instead of decor, use holiday music to set the mood. Light scented candles – candy cane, pine, etc. – for an aroma of the holidays.”

The last thing you want to do is mask those elements of your home that are likely to motivate buyers to make an offer. So instead of taking a chance, scale back your decorations and use the sounds and smells of the holidays to get your family feeling cozy and celebratory.

 

What To Do About Holiday Feasts

As soon as November rolls around, there are many holiday feasts that you may want to prepare and host in your home. However, with big family meals come big family messes. When your home is on the market, you need to ensure that you can be ready to show your house on short notice.

So what should homeowners do when it comes to hosting holiday meals at their house? “We opted out,” says Rachel Stephens, SEO and Customer Behavior Analyst for Totally Promotional. Stephens is currently in the process of selling her home and looking to move between Christmas and New Year’s. “We usually host Christmas but told the family as soon as we knew when we were moving that we couldn’t host this year.”

Sometimes choosing to relocate the celebrations is the best way to ensure that your home is market-ready during the holiday season. By having another family member take over the hosting duties, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and cleanup.

However, if moving holiday feasts to another location isn’t an option for your family, there are certainly ways that you can make it work. It just may mean that you have to cut back on the labor-intensive dishes and double the cleanup duties.

“With the holidays comes big crowds of families. Be sure to tidy up each room to the best of your ability again – even if you think you already did it – prior to showing your home,” says John Monte, co-owner of Elegant Simplicity, an interior design and organizing firm. “If you brought chairs into the dining room for dinner, be sure to remove them again prior to the next showing.”

Hosting holiday feasts is exhausting, but you must make sure you have energy left over. By deep cleaning your homebefore showing it and getting rid of the extra furniture you brought in to seat your guests, you’ll ensure that your home is once again ready for the spotlight.

 

How To Juggle Festivities And Showings

You must make yourself available to show your home whenever a potential buyer requests to see it, but you can’t just kick out your guests at the last minute. The only way you can ensure that your holiday festivities don’t interfere with your showings is by spending extra time thinking about your schedule.

“Most buyers shop during the day on weekends or after work during the week. Avoid scheduling holiday gatherings during those times. If selling by owner, you can explain your holiday plans to buyers and offer a suitable alternative time,” says Samar. “Don’t ever turn down a showing altogether! Always suggest a similar alternative day/time.”

Potential buyers will also be celebrating various holidays, so they’ll understand if a specific day or time doesn’t work for you. However, if you don’t make an effort to accommodate their schedules, they may ultimately lose interest in your home and find another listing.

So make sure that you’re always quick to respond and willing to work around buyers’ schedules. But also remember to inform your family and guests that you’ll be showing your home during the holidays. You want to avoid extended houseguests and unexpected visitors while your home is on the market. By keeping an open dialogue with everyone, you’ll ensure that your potential buyers and your guests all feel welcome.

 

Holiday Cheer Is More About Your Mindset Than Your Surroundings

Although we tend to view festive homes as being central to creating holiday cheer, the holidays are what you make them. This holiday season may not stack up against all those that have come before and will follow, but that’s OK.

As Stephens says, “Embrace it! This holiday is going to be different. It is going to be crazy – but we know that it will only happen once (hopefully!), making this an extra-special Christmas.”

After all, the holidays are not about the decorations or the presents, they’re about being thankful for what you have and demonstrating your love for those around you.

“Each year, we work with clients who want their homes absolutely perfect for friends and family who will be visiting during the holidays. The truth is, what makes your home special are the people in it,” says Monte. “That sounds a bit cliched, but it’s absolutely the reality. Certainly, there are things you can do to embrace the holidays and make your home feel welcoming, but don’t lose sight of the fact that the feeling you’re trying to create starts and ends with you.”

If you have children, it’s crucial that you discuss your plans for this holiday season ahead of time. Explain to your kids that there may be certain family traditions that you’re not able to uphold this year but reassure them that you’ll pick them up again next year in your spectacular, new home.

This year can be a chance to establish new traditions in your family and remind each other what the holidays are all about. “We hope to make the move feel like a gift and enjoy every part of it,” says Stephens.

If you start to feel a little stressed, just remind yourself that with a positive attitude and the right holiday soundtrack, your move can feel like a gift, too.

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How To Work With A Buyer’s Agent When You’re A FSBO Seller

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So, you’ve decided to sell your home on your own. While your decision may have been motivated by a desire to save money on a commission, being a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) seller doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have to pay a real estate agent before you hand over the keys.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 87% of buyers enlisted the help of a buyer’s agent when purchasing a new home in 2018. So even though you’re a FSBO seller, it’s more than likely that you’ll find yourself working with a buyer’s agent during the process of selling your home.

Before you put that For Sale sign in your front yard, it’s a good idea to read up on what to expect when working with a buyer’s agent. As the unrepresented party in the transaction, you’re going to want to be armed with all the information at your disposal. So here’s what you should know when navigating the world of buyer’s agents.

Working With Buyer’s Agents When Listing Your FSBO Property

As a FSBO seller, you need to consider how you’re going to advertise your property to ensure that it gets the attention of buyers in your area. When working with a real estate agent, sellers benefit from their agent’s access to a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). An MLS is a resource that agents use to list homes so that the properties are seen by all agents in the area.

Unfortunately, homes can only be listed on an MLS by real estate agents, so FSBO homes are precluded from these resources. There is one exception to this rule. If you want your home to be listed on an MLS, there are specialized real estate companies that will list your home for a flat fee.

The problem with this option is that after paying a real estate company a few hundred dollars, all you get in return is the listing. So if your reason for selling your home without an agent is to save money, it’s probably not worth the cost.

Don’t worry, there are other ways to get your listing in front of buyers. You can list your home on ForSaleByOwner.com. As the top sale-by-owner website, our listing service is visited by over 2 million people a month.

When listing with ForSaleByOwner.com, you can upload photos, write a description and highlight the interior and exterior features of your property. When using our site, FSBO sellers can also keep track of the number of times their listing is viewed by potential buyers.

Although there is a chance that you may be able to bypass agents entirely by listing with ForSaleByOwners.com, you may want to increase the exposure of your listing by marketing it through Realtor.com and third-party aggregators. These sites will help ensure that more real estate agents see and send your property to their customers.

Since agents perform a valuable service in recommending your listed property to prospective buyers, you also may want to consider researching buyer’s agents in your area and reaching out to them. Hosting an open house and inviting local agents to attend is always an effective way of ensuring that your property gets the attention it deserves.

How To Prepare For Showing Your FSBO Home To Buyer’s Agents

Cleaning your home and clearing your schedule are the basic requirements for any showing. But as a FSBO seller, you need to go a step further, especially when you know that a buyer’s agent will be present for the showing.

Don’t expect buyers to leave immediately after touring your home. Buyers like to ask questions, and buyer’s agents tend to ask even more nuanced ones. Ensuring that you have information about the structure, plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems of your home is crucial for preparing for a showing.

You also should have a list of any major construction or repairs that you’ve completed, and any work that still needs to be done on your home. In all likelihood, buyer’s agents will ask, and it’s your job to fully disclose this type of information.

“If the buyer’s agent doesn’t feel they have adequate information or if you, as a FSBO, provide incomplete information, the buyer’s agent may advise their client to take pause instead of writing you an offer,” says Benjamin Ross, licensed REALTOR® and investment specialist with Mission Real Estate Group.“During this pause, the odds of receiving an offer from them greatly diminish. A little preparation from the FSBO can prevent this from happening.”

Having some kind of showsheet ready to hand out to buyers and their agents is always advisable. These handouts will not only inform potential buyers about the specifics of your property but also give them something tangible to take home, ensuring that they’ll remember your listing long after they leave it.

“Highlight on paper why your home is special and show us how you came up with the price,” says Eve Henry, an accredited luxury home specialist and owner of Eve Henry Homes.

During the actual showing, Henry tells FSBO sellers, “Please allow us to walk around alone with our buyers. Our clients aren’t going to feel comfortable speaking truth around you.”

When buyers feel that they’re being watched, they tend to be too distracted to appreciate the property they’re seeing. So give buyers and agents their space. By doing so, you’ll have a better chance of getting positive feedback from their agents after the showing.

How To Follow-Up With Buyer’s Agents After Showing Your FSBO Home

After showing your property to potential buyers, make sure that you contact their agents to get insight into the buyer’s impressions of your home as well as more information about their circumstances. When asking agents questions, your goal is to determine how serious their clients are and what it would take to get them to make an offer.

“Understanding the potential buyer’s timeframe is one of the more important elements of beginning to understand the potential for a transaction,” says James Scott, operations manager for Red Rock Housebuyers in Oklahoma City. “Ask the realtor about the buyer’s situation. Are they moving from another town? Have they already sold their current home? All of these details will give you a better idea regarding the buyer’s motivation. It will allow you to better gauge the potential that they will purchase your home.”

In order to gauge potential buyers’ likelihood of purchasing your home, you must find out if they’ll have access to the necessary finances. You don’t just want potential buyers to be prequalified for a loan; you want them to be preapproved. The reason that this distinction matters is that being prequalified for a loan doesn’t necessarily mean that the buyer will ultimately be able to obtain the loan. The prequalification process merely estimates buyers’ financial strength while the preapproval process actually verifies it.

You also want to ask agents if there are any contingencies that could preclude the sale should they decide to make an offer. If you’re choosing between offers, you’ll want to try to avoid mortgage or home sale contingencies if at all possible because these conditions tend to be common reasons that deals fall through.

Best Ways For FSBO Sellers To Negotiate With Buyer’s Agents

When negotiating with buyer’s agents, remember that they have more experience negotiating deals than you do. While you want to try to gain as much information about buyers before you begin to negotiate, you must be careful about how much you reveal about your own circumstances.

“The FSBO seller has to remember that the agent is working for the buyers, not for the sellers, and that it is the agent’s job to get the best deal possible for his or her clients ,i.e., the buyers,” says Myriam Benhamou, licensed associate real estate broker for Compass. “The sellers should be careful about volunteering information that might hurt them later on during the negotiation process. For example, that they are eager to sell, or that they already bought another home, which might indicate that because they need to sell, they may have to be more flexible on the price.”

Stay tight-lipped as you enter negotiations, but also do your best to keep a lid on your emotions. It can be hard selling the home where you’ve shared so many memories, and even harder if offers are coming in lower than you had expected. Instead of letting your feelings get the best of you, focus on the facts. Use the comparable sales in your area and the appraisal of your home to help you argue for a fair price. Before you accept an offer that feels too low, take into account how much interest you’ve had in your property.

“Rely on your open house traffic and inquiry volume,” says James McGrath, licensed real estate broker and co-founder of Yoreevo. “If an agent comes in with an offer lower than you’re expecting, but 10 buyers are checking it out every week, you’re probably reasonably priced and shouldn’t cave. However, if you get a disappointing offer and nobody is checking out the property, you’re probably overpriced and should consider it.”

Who Pays The Buyer’s Agent In FSBO Transactions?

As a FSBO seller, it may seem as though you shouldn’t have to worry about agents’ commissions. After all, you’re not benefiting from representation. However, commissions still tend to be paid out in the traditional fashion regardless of whether it’s a FSBO transaction.

So, how does a buyer’s agent get paid? Unfortunately, even though you may have chosen to sell your own home to save on agents’ commissions, it’s still generally up to the seller to pay the buyer’s agent out of the purchasing price.

Although the buyer’s agent typically will receive 2-3% of the purchasing price, it’s not unheard of for FSBO sellers to decline to pay the commission for buyer’s agents. When this occurs, buyers generally ask for a credit to be applied to the purchasing price, which means that the agents’ fee still comes out of the money you walk away with at closing.

Since FSBO sellers still end up paying the commission one way or another, it’s recommended that you actually address the agent’s fee in your listing description. “Make it very clear in the first line of the description that you will pay a commission to the buyer’s agent. Literally, ‘X% commission will be paid to buyer agents’ as the first line,” says McGrath.

Agents will be more likely to show your property if they know that they’ll be paid at the end of the transaction. And you want to ensure that the agents who come across your listing actually send it to their clients. McGrath explains that discussing the commission accomplishes two things.

“First, it makes it very clear to buyer agents that they will get paid and how much,” he says. “Secondly, buyers will also see it, and a lot of buyers don’t know how their agent is paid and especially how much. If they see their agent is going to make, say, 3% on the transaction, some portion of those buyers will decide they’d rather keep that for themselves and contact you directly.”

By addressing the commission upfront, you have a better chance of more potential buyers coming to see your home. The more buyers who see your property, the more quickly it will sell – and often for a higher price.

Remember, one of the downsides to being a FSBO seller is that you’ll most likely be the only party without representation. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you enlist some help, just in case you find yourself unsure of how to proceed. At ForSaleByOwner.com, we offer FSBO sellers the tools they need to sell their properties independently.

Our free, Independent package will provide you with the ability to list your home on our website and gain live support whenever you have questions. However, we also offer FSBO sellers a Partner package that will provide you with even more resources, including a personal Home Listing Coordinator, who will guide through every step from pricing and listing your property to closing the deal.

As a FSBO seller, it’s essential that you have someone who you can trust. If you would like to speak to someone over the phone, call 1-888-FOR-SALE (367-7253). We are always happy to help!

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Nobody Puts Baby (Stuff) In A Corner

As your family grows, your belongings increase exponentially. When you have kids, walking around your living room may feel more like navigating an obstacle course as you try not to trip on toys or knock over piles of books. And if you have a newborn, every surface can resemble a changing table.

Looking around your home, you may find that you’re outgrowing it faster than you expected.

If it’s time to sell your home, you’re going to need to figure out what to do with all the stuff you’ve accumulated. You may just want to pile everything in the corner and hope no one notices, but home buyers notice everything.

Homes that sell quickly are neat and organized, but kids and their belongings don’t fit into those categories easily. Before you can start showing your home, you’re going to need to find a place for all your things. This idea may seem counterintuitive. Let’s face it, the primary reason you’re moving is that you don’t have enough space for all the items in your world. So why should you have to create space when you don’t have any?

Why Is It Important To Declutter Before Selling Your Home?

When potential buyers come to see your property, you don’t want them to see your home. You want them to be able to imagine theirs.

When you examine your home, you may be reminded of all of the reasons you’re ready to move on and move out. However, you don’t want home buyers to be aware of any of the issues that are motivating you to sell. So if you’re selling because you’ve outgrown your home, you need to ensure that anyone viewing your property for the first time is oblivious to your lack of space.

“When a room is filled with too much furniture, knick-knacks and just clutter, it is difficult for potential buyers to envision themselves in the environment,” says Denise Supplee, Licensed REALTOR®, Property Manager and Co-Founder of SparkRental.com.

Homes that are overflowing with belongings aren’t just distracting, they’re also discouraging to potential buyers. If there isn’t enough space in the home for your family, potential buyers will question whether there’s enough space for them.

Furthermore, Supplee adds, “Clutter could also give off the message that the home is unkept, and may have buyers contemplating that the house is not well cared for all around.”

If the amount of stuff you have in your home causes buyers to question the condition of your property, you’re in for a rocky experience. Even the most ideal homes can be challenging to sell.

You don’t want your home sending any mixed messages. But how are you supposed to create space when you don’t have any?

Begin To Sift Through Your Belongings

“Many of us live with what I call ‘toxic accumulation’ in our homes – i.e., years of accumulating not only dust and dirt but clutter and chaos as well. This accumulation shows and can be, well, toxic (both figuratively and literally). Whether it’s kids’ stuff or other stuff, paring down and getting rid of old items can minimize such accumulation within your home and thereby brighten it up,” says Luis Perez, a moving and storage expert for 5miles, a local marketplace app.

It’s this “toxic accumulation” that leads buyers to view homes as stuffy. Sorting through your belongings and figuring out what you no longer need is the first step in making your home feel bright, airy and attractive to home buyers.

As consumers, we’re much better at amassing things than we are at getting rid of them. Therefore, it can be challenging trying to determine what to throw away.

But according to Perez, “The average American home contains roughly 35 unused items, so most of us have plenty of stuff that we can get rid of. When deciding what to do with an unused item, ask yourself: Does it improve your life? Does it really hold sentimental value? Would it be hard to replace? If the answer to those questions is ‘no,’ it’s time for that item to go.”

Yet, once you go through the obvious items, there will still be many more that require your attention. So where do you go from there?

Rebecca Langman, an interior designer and owner of Revision Custom Home Design, suggests, “Take a day (or weekend) to go through each room and remove any items which are not necessary for the function of that room.” For example, she says, “Even if you always paint your nails in the living room, you should store those items in the bathroom while the home is on the market. Then go through and remove any items you won’t need between now and moving day.”

As we run out of space in our rooms, we tend to find creative places to put any items that don’t fit where they belong. By pulling these items out of their creative hiding places, you’ll naturally begin to clear away the clutter from each room. Throw away the excess, box up everything you won’t be needing for a while and then find a permanent home for everything you use regularly.

Create A Home For Everyday Items

As you eliminate the clutter and restore your rooms to their original purposes, you’ll want to start thinking like a stager. Stagers prepare homes for sale by stripping away distracting personal items and reinvigorating rooms to reflect the ways that new owners can enjoy them.

“Any space in a home for sale should look intentional. Kids’ backpacks hung in the mudroom highlight that space. Toys in a playroom look appropriate and emphasize storage options. Toys and kids’ clutter all over the kitchen or dining room are distracting,” says Lisa Dooley, organizing coach and author of “More Space. More Time. More Joy!: Organizing Your Best Life.”

When potential buyers come to see your home, you want them to see the possibilities. You want their eyes to travel around the room, stopping only to appreciate the advantages of the space. This means not only finding a proper home for every item but also creating the impression of order in each room. To achieve this effect, you should ask yourself: What items can I display here that will emphasize the utility of the room?

Pick out the items that are most representative of the function of each room and store them neatly and visibly. Seeing that your belongings have a proper place in your home will signal to buyers that the house not only works for you but that it will also be perfect for them.

How To Store Toys For Kids

Although playrooms are the ideal place to store your kids’ toys, not every home has enough space for one. If you don’t have a playroom, you’ll need to work a bit harder to find an appropriate place for your kids’ playthings.

You should aim to store as many toys in your kids’ bedrooms as possible since their rooms are the logical place for their toys to be kept. Yet, you can get away with storing select toys in the family room. But you can’t just throw your kids’ toys in the corner of the room and call that their play area.

“Filling corners of rooms that are not intended for storage will give the impression that the home is smaller than it actually is,” says Langman.

You need to create purposeful storage places for your kids’ stuff to properly show off the square footage of your home. “Storage cubbies are ideal for toys. Use a combination of bins and boxes for smaller items and open shelving for games, puzzles, etc.,” says Dooley.

Group your kids’ toys by category – dolls, blocks, action figures, electronics, etc. – and put like items in the same storage cubby or bin. This will not only create a semblance of order in kids’ chaotic rooms but it will also help you remain organized while you show your property. When every item has a clear home, your kids will have an easier time putting their things away after they’ve used them.

A home with empty rooms is just as difficult to sell as a home with cluttered rooms. So organized storage cubbies and tidy shelves have a decorative purpose as well as a practical one. Your storage solutions will give kids’ bedrooms a polished look that will entice potential buyers to make an offer on your home.

How To Organize A Shared Bedroom

If your kids share a bedroom, you’ve probably discovered that their room feels very cramped. Having two kids in one room means that you have twice the stuff to deal with. Therefore, you’ll need to spend extra time trying to make their room feel less claustrophobic.

“Shared bedroom space is going to look smaller because there’s more furniture in that space. By getting as much off the floor as possible, it highlights floor space and makes the room look more open and therefore bigger,” says Dooley.

The storage solutions that work in a single child’s room or a family room won’t work in a shared bedroom because any furniture you add will make the room look that much smaller. Instead of bringing in storage cubbies and hanging more shelves, you’ll want to find existing spaces to stash kids’ items.

“Give each child a large toy bin or plastic storage box that they can quickly throw their mess in and store in their closet or under their bed for showings or open houses,” says Langman.

Closets are a great place to conceal the overflow, but you need to be strategic when utilizing the space. Potential buyers tend to open all doors, and crammed closets indicate that a home has limited storage options. If you don’t have a shelf above your kids’ clothes rack, you’ll want to add one so you have a place to put toy bins.

Anything that doesn’t fit in the closet should be hidden under beds. Storage containers that fit under the bed are especially great for housing art supplies, linens and bulkier clothes that can look sloppy in drawers or on shelves.

While clearing off the floors of your kids’ shared bedroom will do wonders for opening up the space, you should also pay attention to the walls of the room.

“Taking down anything distracting or oversized on the walls (assuming the paint or wallpaper underneath are in good condition) will also make the room look bigger,” says Dooley.

You want potential buyers to be impressed by how much space there is in the bedroom, so get rid of anything on the floor or walls that isn’t essential.

Make Room For The Baby

If one of the reasons you’re moving is that you don’t have space for a nursery, you may be panicking about where you’re going to put all of your baby’s necessities. Don’t worry. You can do it. You’re just going to need to get a bit more creative.

Baby furniture can take up a lot of space in a room, so you’ll want to streamline the number of pieces you need. A baby’s crib, dresser and changing table are the mainstays of any nursery. You can’t get rid of the crib, but you can use the space below it. Store extra diapers, wipes, powders and other items neatly in a bin and slide them under the crib.

Instead of having a separate dresser and changing table, use one piece of furniture for both. Having a changing pad above the drawers you use to store your baby’s clothes will enable you to cut down on cumbersome furniture and further open up the floor space.

Stackable furniture is a great way to utilize space more fully, but every extra item of furniture you have in a room makes it feel smaller. So when your floor space begins to get too tight, it’s time to go vertical.

Hanging items that typically clutter the ground will make your rooms feel more spacious. Create wall mounts for your stroller and high chair in your mudroom or hall closet. Add a hook on the wall for the diaper bag.

By paring down your baby’s furniture and creating wall space in closets for bigger items, you’ll be able to squeeze your nursery into the corner of your master bedroom. By adding some minimal decorations to your makeshift nursery, you’ll make this space look more intentional. With these embellishments, potential buyers won’t think of the makeshift nursery as an issue with lack of space but instead as a calculated way to keep your baby close for late-night feedings.

What To Do With Everything That Doesn’t Fit

Even after you’ve sorted through your belongings, found places for your kids’ toys and made room for your baby’s necessities, you’ll most likely find that you still have a lot of stuff you don’t know where to store.

While the basement, attic or garage may seem like a reasonable place to store excess furniture and boxes of items you don’t need at the moment, you want those areas to look expansive and uncrowded.

If you’re worried that these commonly cluttered areas are already overused, it may be time to enlist outside help. Self-storage units can be the perfect solution for getting those sentimental, seasonal or bigger items out of the way before you start showing your home.

Furthermore, getting a storage unit will help minimize the stress of your impending move by allowing you to start packing up your things early on in the process. Simply label boxes to make things easy to find and unpack later.

Adam Pogoda, Director of Acquisitions for Pogoda Companies, a large storage operator in the Midwest, says, “Over 10% of American households utilize a storage unit to declutter their homes and closets. When selling a home, a storage unit can be helpful as clean, organized and decluttered homes sell faster and at higher numbers. People who buy new homes dream of what their lives could be, and they don’t want the image of their new life to be a mess.”

It may be difficult for you to part with the many items you don’t need between now and when you move into your new home. Yet, having those items lie around the house as you show it will turn off potential buyers. Getting a storage unit provides the best of both worlds: a neat, spacious home to sell now and a treasure trove of your belongings to fill your new home with later.

While the added expense of having to rent a storage unit may put you off at first, you’ll find that it’s worth the cost. While selling her home, Mary Pitman, a writer and publisher for Do the Right Thing Publishing, rented a storage unit and believes that it made all the difference.

“The price of the storage unit more than paid for itself simply by the speed of the sale,” she says. After removing unworn clothes from closets and bulky furniture from overcrowded rooms, she received an offer in 2 weeks and closed 2 weeks later.

Pitman adds, “The most telling effect of clearing out the clutter was my real estate agent’s comments as we waited at closing for the buyer: ‘I have to tell you … I cannot believe you got that much money for that house.’”

Sometimes a storage unit is all you need to close quickly and get the highest price possible for your home. If you believe a storage unit is the right option for you, you’ll want to start looking into the storage facilities in your area. Not sure what to look for?

Pogoda says, “There are over 50,000 self-storage facilities in America, so chances are there is one close by. You should look for a facility that is well-kept with a security system that includes gated access and cameras. Most facilities have websites, so it’s easy to shop online to find the best combination of convenience and price. Check the reviews of a store online to make sure there are no pest or mold problems. Property managers are well-trained to help you find the right size unit and will tell you about a store’s features.”

Self-storage has become a modern convenience that most households use anyway. So after you rent a unit for your move, you may find that you enjoy having your belongings out of your home but close enough that you can always retrieve them. You can even invest in a climate-controlled unit that will protect your most valuable belongings from extreme temperatures.

No matter how you choose to do it, clearing out your home is a monstrous task. It requires you to sort through all of your belongings and remove any personal touches or oversized furniture that distract from the space. But it’s well worth the hassle. If your rooms are tidy and well-organized, it will tell buyers that your home has been well-maintained and has enough storage options to suit their needs.

But once you’ve finished clearing away the clutter, you may feel so burnt out that you can’t imagine going through the process of selling alone. Just take a deep breath. You’re not alone. If you feel like you could use a little guidance, we’re here to help. We have the tools you’ll need each step of the way.

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How To Choose The Best Offer On Your Home

Selling your home can be a stressful process. While working with real estate professionals can alleviate some of the anxiety, you may find that their knowledge and experience don’t make up for their hefty commissions. For those brave souls who decide to go it alone, this article is here to help!

You may think that if you’ve researched previous sales of comparable properties within your area and priced your home fairly, the hard part is over. Think again. Choosing the best offer on your home can be just as tricky as determining what to ask for it.

It’s important to remember that most offers you receive will come in below asking price. So, before you can adequately judge an offer, you first need to have a clear understanding of your needs. Make sure you’ve considered your financial responsibilities before weighing offers so you know the lowest price you’re willing and able to accept.

Selling a home is rarely as simple as choosing the highest offer, so it’s crucial to think about the compromises you’re willing to make to get the deal done. If you haven’t done this theoretical work ahead of time, you run the risk of letting your emotions color decisions that should be made with logic.

If you’re trying to decide which offer to accept on your home, here are a few considerations that you should keep in mind.

How To Judge An Offer

After you’ve mulled over your finances and determined what’s most important to you, you’ll need to evaluate the offers you receive. When doing so, you should keep in mind that the highest offer isn’t always the best. Here’s a list of factors that are necessary to weigh when assessing which offer is worth accepting.

Offer Price Vs. Net Proceeds

When reviewing offer prices, don’t get distracted by the number. The offer price isn’t the amount of money you’ll be walking away with. You must read offers in full to determine whether there are concessions that the buyer is asking you to make. These concessions may come in the form of closing costs, broker’s commissions, repair costs after a home inspection, etc. Subtract these costs from the offer price to determine how much money you’ll actually be receiving at the end of the transaction. Only by understanding the net proceeds of the sale can you judge which offer is the best.

Buyer’s Qualifications

When it comes to judging offers, you have to consider the financial strength of each buyer. If a buyer makes an offer that is higher than he or she can ultimately afford, it’s the seller who will lose out in the end. Just because a buyer is prequalified for a loan doesn’t mean that he or she will necessarily be able to obtain the loan. Although banks will check buyers’ credit and get a median credit score to determine buyers’ qualifications, they only provide an estimate of buyers’ finances.

To ensure that buyers are qualified to purchase your home, check that they are preapproved for a loan. The preapproval process is far more rigorous than the prequalification process because it requires verification of buyers’ income and assets.

There isn’t much that’s more frustrating than rejecting promising offers in favor of one that turns out to be unrealistic. If a buyer isn’t preapproved, you should consider rejecting his or her offer.

All-Cash Offers

The best offers to accept tend to be all-cash offers. When a buyer can pay for your home in cash, you can rest assured that the offer won’t fall through due to problems with financing. Without the need for financing, closings are faster. Regardless of your circumstances, the more efficient the closing, the faster you’ll have money in your pocket and the more seamless it will be to move on to the next phase of your life.

Because of the speed and security of these transactions, some sellers may be more inclined to accept lower offers that are all-cash over higher offers that require financing. However, the fact that a buyer offers to pay cash doesn’t mean they necessarily have the funds. If a buyer makes an all-cash offer, make sure you ask for proof of funds. The last thing you want is to accept a lower offer only to find that the buyer can’t honor it.

Contingencies

When reviewing offers, you must pay close attention to contingencies buyers want to include in the contract. These contingencies are conditions or actions that a buyer requires in order to close the sale. If these stipulations are agreed to but not met, a buyer has the ability to walk away from the contract.

Among the most common of these provisions is the mortgage clause. If the buyer requests this clause, it means that the sale is contingent upon the buyer’s ability to obtain a loan. While this stipulation may seem reasonable, it has been known to cause sales to fall through. Even if a buyer is preapproved for a loan, they may not be able to get the exact amount that is needed to purchase your home.

One of the major hiccups that can occur with financing is an appraisal that comes in below the purchase price. Appraisals verify the value of properties, but in a seller’s market, property prices can be inflated, causing appraisals to come in far lower than offer prices. When there is a significant distinction between the value of a property and its purchase price, buyers with a mortgage clause can pull out of the contract without repercussions, leaving you scrambling to find another qualified buyer.

Another critical contingency to look out for is the home sale contingency. With this contingency, buyers stipulate that the purchase of your home is dependent upon finding a buyer for theirs. This provision can be extremely problematic because there’s no way to ensure that their home will actually sell – and if their property doesn’t sell, yours won’t either.

When evaluating any offer, real estate broker Frances Dawson of HOMES of LKN, a RE/MAX affiliate, explains, “If the offer is contingent on the sale of the buyer’s property, get detailed information. Is it under contract, have inspections and repair negotiations been completed, has the appraisal been completed? If the property is newly on the market, or not yet on the market, it is very risky for the seller.”

So the fewer the number of contingencies stipulated by the buyer, the better the offer!

Closing Dates

As a seller, you want to close the sale of your home as quickly as possible, especially if you’re looking to buy another property with the funds from the sale. Buyers, on the other hand, tend to prefer to extend the time frame, whether to finalize the sale of their own home or complete their due diligence.

Dawson advises sellers to consider their “timeline, work schedule, and travel plans” and keep in mind that the time frame is “typically 30 – 45 days, but in a cash closing this may occur within 30 days.”

If you know that time is of the essence, think about whether you would consider accepting a lower offer from a buyer who’s willing to close faster. Buyers can play all sorts of games to try to delay closing. And you have to keep in mind that the longer buyers draw out sales, the more leverage they have over you.

The longer a home is on the market, the harder it is to sell it. So if buyers ask to delay closing, make sure that their offer is serious because starting over after your home has been sitting on the market for a while can be detrimental to your sale.

What You Should Know About Bidding Wars

Bidding wars are most likely to occur in a seller’s market when inventory is lower. While every seller dreams of starting a bidding war on his or her property, the chances that buyers are going to be enthusiastic enough about the property to repeatedly outbid their competitors and drive up the price of the property remains quite slim. Still, there are some things you should know about bidding wars on the off chance that your home incites one.

How Do You Handle Multiple Offers During A Bidding War?

When handling multiple offers during a bidding war, you should judge each offer individually. Michael Kelczewski, a licensed REALTOR® with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, suggests that you begin by “reviewing financial credentials and contingencies. Strong offers lacking multiple contingencies supported by strong financial qualifications should always be weighted highly.”

By reviewing the buyers’ qualifications and contingencies, you can determine which offers are not worth your time. After rejecting some of the offers on the table, you have a few options. You may find that one offer stands out above the rest – perhaps the buyer wants to close quickly or is willing to pay cash. If that’s the case, you should feel comfortable accepting it.

If not, you can choose a few of the most promising offers and begin to negotiate. This process can take time, so if you’re looking to get the deal done as soon as possible, you may instead elect to ask all potential buyers to submit their best and final offer. The best and final offer will entice buyers to submit offers that are higher and include more favorable terms for the seller. Such circumstances may lead buyers to waive contingencies or reduce closing time, but it can also cause some buyers to become frustrated and decide to walk away from the property altogether.

Why Should You Be Wary Of Bidding Wars?

In many ways, starting a bidding war can leave sellers in a precarious situation. You don’t want to try to drum up competition only to find the strategy backfires and buyers pull out, feeling disgruntled.

You can avoid some of the pitfalls of bidding wars by not getting greedy. Never delay your response to offers in order to motivate more buyers to make offers, and never use a bad offer to try to fish for a better one.

When it comes to a bidding war, you have to give more consideration to buyers’ finances. Some buyers will make high offers that are still contingent on a mortgage. If a buyer who requires financing makes an inflated offer, they will have difficulty getting the bank to hand over that money. Remember, lenders will insist on having the home appraised before agreeing to loan buyers funds. So if the property value is far lower than the offer price, you could find that your accepted offer was nothing more than a pipedream.

Is It Appropriate To Accept The First Offer Made On Your Home?

When you’re aiming to get the highest offer with the most favorable terms, it can be tough to envision taking the first offer submitted. However, sellers often find that the first offer was the best they received.

Licensed real estate broker and cofounder of Yoreevo James McGrath explains, “When sellers receive offers right after listing their home on the market, it can be tempting to get greedy and shoot for a higher offer. The rationale is if they got a strong offer so quickly, the property is desirable, and there are other buyers out there that haven’t seen it yet.”

This trap is easy to fall into, but you should keep in mind that buyers who show up to the first open house and make an offer promptly after are the most serious. McGrath points out, “They have their listing alerts set up, made it a priority to get to the first open house, have their documents in order, and are ready to submit an offer immediately. In other words, they’re buyers who will get the most value out of the house and therefore be willing to pay the most. Data backs this up – you’ll see the longer a listing takes to go into contract, the more of a discount to ask it ultimately sells.”

So the longer your property is on the market, the more challenging it will be to sell it. After your home has been on the market for 3 weeks, you’ll notice that interest in it tapers off. Properties that sit on the market appear tainted to most buyers. The notion is that if other buyers don’t want it, it’s not worth the asking price. So if you do get offers after your home has been on the market for a while, expect those offers to come in below the asking price.

To determine if you should accept an offer on your house or apartment, you need to understand the terms and risks. Selling your home comes down to deciding what you’re willing to give up in order to secure the deal that most closely matches your priorities. Everyone’s priorities are different, so what is right for one seller will not necessarily be right for another.

This article includes a lot of information, and your head may be spinning just reading it, let alone putting it into practice. If you find that you could use some help selling your home, we have the tools necessary to guide you through the process. Work with a personal Home Listing Coordinator, who will walk you through each step for a nominal fee or ask our experts any questions you have for free.

What About Buyers?

Don’t worry, buyers – we haven’t forgotten about you. Finding that dream home can be exciting but also exasperating. You want to make a competitive offer on the property, so it doesn’t slip away. But you don’t want to offer more than the house is worth or more than you can comfortably pay. Offers that are all-cash, able to close quickly and include the fewest contingencies tend to be the strongest. However, these options are not the only ways to strengthen your offer. Here are some tips to help you snag that ideal listing.

Research The Market To Determine How Much To Offer

Just because a seller is listing a property for a certain price doesn’t mean that the property is truly worth it. Before making an offer on any home, you should conduct a comparative market analysis on the neighborhood to figure out the true value of the property.

Start your search by looking at similar properties that have sold in and near the area within the last 6 months. When researching comparable sales, you may have difficulty finding homes that perfectly match the property you are interested in. That’s OK. Your research should just give you an idea of where the market is and how much you will need to offer in order to be considered.

If you’re having trouble, use this Pricing Scout to give you a better sense of what your offer should be.

Be Critical When Looking At The Comps

It’s crucial to look at market research when determining your offer price, but remember that comparable sales merely provide guidelines. Just because the property you’re interested in is the same size and in the same location as recent sales doesn’t mean that the homes are equal.

As you examine the comps, be sure to pay attention to the condition of homes sold. You don’t want to offer more money for a property that is in worse condition. On the other hand, if the property you’re interested in requires less work than those that have recently sold, you may want to increase your offer to reflect that difference.

You should also keep an eye out for how long the property has been on the market. If a property has been for sale for over a month, you should factor that into your offer price. Generally, buyers have more power to negotiate the asking price when a home has been sitting on the market.

Consider Your Personal Needs

Contingencies may make an offer less desirable, but if you don’t factor your needs into the offer, you may have trouble honoring it.

If you know that you can’t afford to pay for a property without selling your own home, you should include a home sale contingency. If you’re worried about a seller rejecting your offer because of it, you should consider listing your own home before you start searching for a new one.

When your home is under contract, you can submit an offer on the property with a home close contingency. Sellers prefer this contingency because it provides more security. Since you have already secured a buyer, there is a greater chance that you will have the money you need to complete the purchase of the seller’s home.

This same rule holds true for financing. Regardless of how sellers feel about provisions to the contract, you should still include a mortgage contingency clause in your offer. You don’t want to sign a contract only to find that you can’t get the loan you need to pay for the home. With or without the funds, you’ll still be held responsible for purchasing the home.

Instead of taking the risk and having to ultimately forfeit money, Michael Pinter, principal at LMPK Properties, recommends that you “consider taking a very short contingency period (e.g., 21 days) and in that time, if you push your lender, you can get an appraisal done and see if there will be any issues with your ability to get a loan. Also, consider a very short (or no) inspection contingency period.”

Pinter suggests you keep in mind that “most sellers’ main concern is that the buyer will tie up the house and then back out. Any way you can convey to them that you will close or, at the very least, will back out quickly, is a great way to make your offer more competitive.”

Consider Putting More Money In Escrow

A great strategy for convincing a seller to accept your offer is increasing the amount of money you offer to put down for the earnest money deposit. Earnest money deposits are the funds you put in escrow to demonstrate you are serious about buying the property.

David Reischer, attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com, explains, “Quite simply, the ‘earnest money’ deposit is a promise made to the home seller, just as a down payment is a promise to the lender. A buyer that offers a large earnest money deposit demonstrates a commitment to completing the sale of the property without external contingencies.”

The higher your earnest money deposit, the more competitive your offer will be. However, you should think carefully about how much to include. While these deposits can make your offer stand out, they can also put you at risk. If you pull out of a contract for any reason that isn’t stipulated in a contingency clause, the seller gets to keep these funds.

Make The Offer As Soon As Possible

When it comes to real estate transactions, time is always of the essence. So you should put in an offer as quickly as you can, especially if you’re buying a home in a market with low inventory.

Your goal should be to get your offer in before the floodgates open and the seller is inundated with other potential buyers. The faster you make an offer, the more likely it is that your offer will be accepted.

To avoid competing with other offers, you should have your documents ready to go. Most importantly, make sure that you have gotten an approval letter before submitting your offer. Getting preapproval signals to the seller that you are serious and actually able to buy the home.

If you haven’t gotten an approval letter yet, don’t worry. Quicken Loans® has your back! Through the Power Buying ProcessSM, Quicken Loans offers multiple levels of approval: Prequalified Approval and Verified ApprovalSM,1.

While Prequalified Approval is the easiest to obtain, you may want to consider Verified ApprovalSM, which will verify your finances and provide sellers with the assurance that you will be able to obtain a loan.

Feeling antsy? Get preapproved now and find out which homes you can afford with your budget. You can complete the entire process online through Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans or speak to a dedicated Home Loan Expert over the phone by calling (888) 452-8179.

1 Participation in the Verified Approval program is based on an underwriter’s comprehensive analysis of your credit, income, employment status, debt, property, insurance, appraisal and a satisfactory title report/search. If new information materially changes the underwriting decision resulting in a denial of your credit request, if the loan fails to close for a reason outside of Quicken Loans’ control, or if you no longer want to proceed with the loan, your participation in the program will be discontinued. If your eligibility in the program does not change and your mortgage loan does not close, you will receive $1,000. This offer does not apply to new purchase loans submitted to Quicken Loans through a mortgage broker. Additional conditions or exclusions may apply.