You’ve probably heard lots of advice from your friends, families, and neighbors about selling your home: but how do you know what will really work? With a shifting market, economic uncertainty, and local market conditions based on your city and neighborhood, it’s easy to get lost in the barrage of advice and tips for selling your home.
While most of the country has been in a seller’s market for the majority of the last two years, inventory is on the rise in many areas as inflation takes its toll and interest rates rise. This could mean changes to selling strategy.
“Sixty percent of the homes in our MLS have had price reductions. Interest rates obviously have gone up and so those are all factors that are going to change it from being a seller’s market,” says Ricky O’Neal, top real estate agent in Folsom, California.
We’ve compiled the most helpful advice from top agents throughout the country so you can get started with your 2022 home sale with confidence in uncertain times.
The truth is, in any market — especially a competitive market — you need an agent who has the resources that are necessary to help you win. For example, if you want to sell next week you need to work with an agent or a real estate team who has the resources to have someone come in and get it ready to go in your timeframe.
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Work with a top agent
Working with a top agent is the single most beneficial thing a seller can do. A top agent will walk you through every step of the selling process, from making upgrades and listing to showing the home and comparing offers.
Some sellers don’t want to work with a real estate agent so they can avoid paying the agent commission, which usually comes out to about 5-6% of the sale price. These sellers may decide to list the house themselves and go “For Sale by Owner” (often called “FSBO”).
But even without a seller’s agent, you’ll still have to pay the buyer’s agent, because the seller’s agent splits their commission with the buyer’s agent about 50/50. So you’ll still be on the hook for paying the buyer’s agent about 2.5% of your sale price.
Additionally, top agents can help you get more money for your home sale — negating the supposed savings of selling on your own. In fact, FSBO homes sold for 16% less on average than agent-assisted sales, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Whether your goal is to sell your home fast or for the most amount of money possible, a top agent has the resources and skills necessary to achieve your goal. They know what buyers are interested in and how to find those buyers.
“The truth is, in any market — especially a competitive market — you need an agent who has the resources that are necessary to help you win,” says O’Neal. “For example, if you want to sell next week you need to work with an agent or a real estate team who has the resources to have someone come in and get it ready to go in your timeframe.”
Agents also handle all of the marketing, showings, and open houses. Then, when offers start coming in, they help you analyze each one and decide which is the best offer for you. In addition to price, you also have to take contingencies into account and be ready to negotiate with the buyer’s agent.
“They need to work with someone who has the negotiating skills to negotiate the best offer on your terms. And those negotiating skills are going to be different than they were three to six months ago,” O’Neal said, referring to the ever-changing housing market.
Clean, repair and upgrade
Before you list your house, you’ll want to make sure that it’s in condition that buyers are expecting, which will depend on your local market.
For example, in seller’s markets with low inventories, buyers will be more likely to look the other way when it comes to certain fixes. But if inventory is higher, buyers will have more choosing power and might expect a house that’s up to snuff.
“In this market, we’re seeing that the sellers have to partner with a real estate professional who has the resources to make the home look like something on Pinterest where it just pops and stands out from all the other homes that are coming on the market,” says O’Neal. “Those are the most important things to the buyers: price and condition.”
Regardless of what kind of market you’re in, buyers want a clean home. Make sure your house is spotless before you put it on the market or take any photos. If you’re not confident in your cleaning ability, hire a professional cleaner to come in and do a move-out deep clean.
Your real estate agent can help you determine what repairs are necessary before the sale. For example, in a market with a healthy amount of inventory, buyers will likely expect some basic necessities, like a roof that doesn’t leak and an HVAC system that is up-to-date and runs smoothly.
You may also consider getting a pre-listing inspection. During a pre-listing inspection, an inspector comes through your home and determines any problem points. If you don’t fix these problems, you could risk a low appraisal or not passing the buyer’s inspection, two things that have the potential to tank your sale.
Your agent might also suggest some light upgrades you can make around the house, such as a fresh coat of paint inside or outside, or ripping up tired carpeting. These easy projects usually have a good return on investment in the home sale.
“If they have $5,000 to spend and the paint is really terrible, it might be a great idea for them to do a fresh coat of paint inside and out,” O’Neal says. “Maybe they need to paint the cabinets and change out the hardware, maybe add some lighting fixtures on the inside of the house to make it modern.”
Larger projects, such as remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, will usually not get you as much money back in your final sale. If you’re in a seller’s market, many buyers won’t expect every room to be perfect — just clean and generally up-to-date.
Boost curb appeal
Curb appeal will always be a driving factor in home sales. You want to make a good first impression on your buyers when they drive up to see your home.
Says Steve Bacardi, top real estate agent in Florida, “The first few seconds of visualization of the house sets the tone for buyer — poor landscaping and dead grass sets connotation for viewing of home. Inside the home could be spectacular, but if curb appeal isn’t good it won’t matter.”
Powerwash or repaint as necessary
In addition to giving the exterior of your home a fresh coat of paint, you might want to powerwash it. Dirt can build up on your window panes and in the grooves of your siding, and while you may be used to it, buyers with fresh eyes will notice. You can hire a professional if you’re not comfortable with power washers and ladders.
Landscaping might seem like nothing but heavy-lift projects, but there are plenty of quick fixes you can make. If your plants or shrubbery have overgrown, make sure to cut them back for a more neat look. You can also re-mulch your flower beds or gardens to make everything look fresh. Plant seasonal flowers and greenery that will give a pop of color to your home without adding too much maintenance for new buyers.
Feature or create useable outdoor space
One of the most desirable features for buyers in 2022 is usable outdoor space. The pandemic reintroduced us to socializing outside, and we’re sticking with it. If you have a patio or a deck, make sure it’s clean and staged with the proper outdoor furniture. Or, put the furniture right in your yard, or put up a pergola if you don’t want to commit to building an outdoor feature.
Preparing for marketing
Before you list your home, you’ll want to make sure it’s ready for its close-up. You’ve already cleaned and upgraded your home, so now comes the final touches.
Make sure to take down any personal items, such as family photos, trophies, or memorabilia. Buyers want to imagine themselves in the home, and it will be hard to do so when they see your stuff everywhere. (It’s also a matter of safety and security, especially for members of the military.)
Your agent should know a stager who can make your house shine. Often, they’ll be able to use some of your furniture, but be prepared to put a lot of stuff in storage for the remainder of the home sale.
Professional listing photos are a must. Work with an agent-recommended photographer once your home is staged. Or, if you don’t have time to stage the home, work with a photographer who can utilize virtual staging.
Sell at the right time
When you decide to sell can make a big difference in the result of your home sale. Of course, if you’re in a rush, you might not have any say in the matter.
“Most buying and selling decisions have to do with something going on in your life,” says Tom Schieber, an agent in Brentwood, California. “A new job, a loss of job, a job transfer, a growing family, an empty-nester.”
However, when you choose to sell can make a difference depending on where you live. For areas that get lots of snow in the winter, the warmer months are typically a better time to sell. But for warmer areas, the fall is often better for those looking for retirement homes. And no matter what, summer will bring out families looking to move while their kids are out of school.
Find the best time of year for you to sell using HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell calculator.
Pricing your home is a complicated process, but also incredibly important. Pricing wrong could eman leaving money on the table or a long home sale. You can get an estimate of your home’s value with HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator tool.
A top real estate agent knows how to price your home properly by using a comparative market analysis (CMA). In a CMA, an agent finds homes similar to yours in your area that have recently sold. They use the sales prices to determine the best sales price for you.
In a seller’s market, when inventory is low and buyers have fewer choices, you can typically price your home higher. But in a buyer’s market, when inventory is high and buyers have more power, you’ll want to price your home more competitively.
Know your options
If working with an agent doesn’t work for your plans, consider getting an all-cash offer from an investor. Use HomeLight’s Simple Sale to find what an all-cash offer could look like for you without any commitments.
But if you’re willing to take the time, make sure to work with a top real estate agent who understands the nuances of your local market. Get matched with three top agents with HomeLight’s Agent Match tool.
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