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5 Things to Know About Selling Your Home

Local realtor gives five tips that may surprise you

The kids have graduated and left the nest, and it's time to downsize. Or maybe you're starting a family and need that extra space.

Selling a home can be overwhelming, especially in today's market. How do you know how much to ask for? Do you have a good agent? How should you prepare for the open house? We asked Beachwood realtor Ilana Gross to give her five best tips for selling a house in today's climate.

1. Pricing is everything. The old real estate adage of location, location, location has now been replaced with price, price, price. This is perhaps the most important step in preparing your home for a heavily competitive and saturated buyer's market.

Your house is your home: you probably have memories attached to every room, drawer and doorknob. But don't let your bias trick you into thinking your house is worth more than it is. By overpricing your home, you are narrowing the scope of potential buyers who could possibly afford to buy. Pricing your home a little below market value can give you the edge over your competition and result in a faster sale.

This also puts you as the seller in the driver’s seat and allows you to be more proactive in the market and not just react to what is happening around you. Ask your realtor to show you comparable homes based on square footage, updates and recently (last six months) sold homes.

In addition, the seller’s need to net a certain amount of dollars out of the home as well as the dollar amount that you paid for the home has nothing to do with what the market will bear: pricing your home based on your need for “X” amount of dollars is a big mistake many sellers make.

2. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Putting your home up for sale is a little like dating in an oversaturated market — you want to stand out in order to impress your date, or, in this case, your buyer.

Make sure your home is in tip-top shape before allowing any buyers to walk through your door. Today’s residential market is a price and beauty competition. The way we live in our homes and the way we sell are two completely different realities.

The drip from the bathroom faucet that you have become used to and the little quirks that you may find charming about your home can be a deterrent to a potential buyer who may be thinking of all the extra money they will need to shell out for repairs. Make sure all those repairs are done prior to putting the home up for sale.

You have heard this before, people: declutter and de-personalize so that your home can capture the largest buyer audience. Hiring a professional stager is so worth every penny. They can help you make some small changes that can make the difference between a sale and a home that will just languish on the market.

Painting and replacing old carpet make a huge difference to the marketability of your home. How does the exterior of your home look? Trees, overgrown shrubs, cracked driveways, peeling paint all scream neglect. I can’t tell you how many homes I have shown to potential buyers who don’t even want to enter based on an ugly exterior.

3. Hire the best agent. The best agent is not necessarily the agent that has the most listings.

Make sure your agent is tech savvy. The way buyers are purchasing homes today is completely different than even a few years ago. Ninety-five percent of our buyers make their first contact with any property via the Internet, before even setting foot inside.

Does your agent understand how listing syndication works? This makes a huge difference to the exposure your home will receive and the number of potential buyers your property will be viewed by. There are literally hundreds of websites that your home should be on. Make sure your home is featured on the highest-trafficked sites.

When interviewing a realtor, also be sure to ask them about their or their broker’s website, and if there is search engine optimization. If there is, and you search for their website, it will come up among the first few search results instead of falling farther down on the results page — and that means that your listing will be easier to find, too.

Do they use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to promote their listings? Are the websites that they are planning on using to market your home reaching the right demographic?

Finally, buyers are using apps on their smartphones to access properties. Howard Hanna recently launched howardhanna2go.com, which uses GPS to show buyers listings near them.

4. Take the best photographs possible. Consider hiring a professional photographer to take your exterior and interior shots, or at least make sure your agent has invested in a professional-grade camera.

This is linked to the last paragraph on having a tech-savvy realtor. Photographs are crucial and provide most buyers with the first contact with your home. If you do take your own pictures, make sure that there are no cars, people, animals, dirty dishes or other undesirable items in the background.

Not all rooms should be photographed, or included in the final photographs. If you have a very small half-bath, for example, don’t include it. Ditto for any small spaces that don’t photograph well. Unless you have an incredible master suite with all the bells and whistles, don’t bother; no one wants to see a photo that just features a room with a bed taking up all the dimensions.

Make sure the photos are seasonal. Don’t use an exterior shot of your home covered in snow when the flowers are out in April.

Lastly, bright homes sell faster — make sure the photos are not dark or yellow. Take with as much natural sunlight as possible.

5. Be realistic but remain positive. Realize that we are in a buyers’ market and you will get lowball offers. Don’t take it personally; the national media has every buyer thinking that they can get a steal and deal. Rather, take the time to counter and make sure you have a realtor with strong negotiation skills who can bring the price point up to a number that satisfies you.

Remember you can always say no, but don’t make the mistake of not engaging a potential buyer. Most buyers are just trying to test the waters out — keeping them engaged in the process could result in a win-win situation for all.

Ilana Gross is a Beachwood resident and realtor with Howard Hanna in Woodmere. She can be reached at 216-337-3054, ilanagross@howardhanna.com or at her website.

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