By doing a few simple steps, you can sell your house faster and make the whole process more pleasant. Most houses that SELL, sell within the first 3 weeks (this in Real Estate is called the Magic Window). You really do want to sell within that time and not become a "stale" listing. After this time frame, many buyers will decide to "wait you out" and hope for a price reduction.
You're selling because you are ready to move onto the Next Thing! So...
Let's take a look at what we can do to help make this happen:
1. Pick a realistic price. Buyers are learning to be more cautious when it comes to investing their money in a new home. With prices leveling off a bit, they want to know that they are making a wise choice. Be practical and choose a price that reflects the current market, not the market six months ago. Increasingly, buyers are learning to "run the numbers" - work with your Realtor to ensure that your numbers make sense.
Tip: It is recommended that you list your price at or below the competitive market price. (e.g. If your neighbors are asking $400,000, list your home at $395,000 to generate interest.) Let your neighbours higher price drive your sale, NOT the other way around!
2. Go the extra mile. You can attract more buyers by providing an incentive. Gone are the days when people are willing to pay more for less. Buyers are going to be more cautious and sensible about their purchase. You can make them feel like they are getting a good deal.
Tip: You can offer to pay the buyer's closing costs as a perk of the sale. Or you can be flexible with the length of escrow and willing to fix items in the home inspection report.
3. Spruce up the place. Spending a little money to improve the appearance of your house can work magic when it comes to attracting a buyer. If there are items that obviously will not pass the Home Inspection, such as electrical extension cords running garden light fixtures, take care of it early. Same for wobbly or unstable steps. Make sure your house smells clean at all times. It goes without saying that you will not have any garbage anywhere, front or back, backyard, or basement, at any time.
Tip: Fix that wobbly doorknob, plant a new flowerbed, or put on a fresh coat of paint to give your house a fresh and new appearance, especially if your walls show cracks or other marks. Too busy to do this yourself? Maybe you can hire a neighbour's kid to tend to it.
4. Clean, clean, clean. Make sure your house is always clean and pleasing to the buyer. Remember that they are most likely going to be looking in closets, opening the oven door and peeking in showers. You want to show your house in the best possible light.
Tip: Polish the hardwood floors, clean the tile grout, scrub walls, dust high shelves to provide your house with a sparkly appearance. Electrical outlet covers should be new, or at least not cracked. The windows should be clean, inside and out. Have the carpets cleaned - either yourself with the rug shampoo machine you can rent at Home Depot, or done professionally. Carpet stains and pet smells are the single largest cause of buyers saying "Next" when viewing houses. Bringing in a professional cleaning service if you are too busy to do this yourself.
Showing that you are serious about the care and upkeep of your house will cause potential buyers to view it in a much more favourable light. As the old joke goes, if you and your friend are out hiking, and a bear starts chasing you, you don't need to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friend! You really need to be better than the other for-sales in your area - maybe scout them to see what you need to do to be better than they are.
It's important to show that you are keeping the buyer in mind and that you want to provide a fair sale.