Guest post by Alyssa Cokinos, Redfin real estate agent
As a Redfin agent, I get a lot of questions from homeowners about what they can do to get the highest price possible when they sell their home. Here’s my advice on how to prepare your home to sell, when to list it and how to figure out what price to ask. If you have any questions, or if you’re thinking about selling your home in the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area, please feel free to get in touch with me.
Make Sure You Can Afford to Sell
Figuring out how much you’ll make from selling your home isn’t as easy as subtracting your outstanding mortgage from the price you hope to get. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay a number of fees when you sell your home, including the buyer agent commission, excise tax, title insurance and other closing costs, which vary by region. You can use the Redfin Home Sale Calculator to figure out how much money you’ll walk away with when it’s all said and done.
It only makes sense to sell if your proceeds are in the black. Unfortunately, many people who bought a home in the peak bubble years of 2007 and 2008 are still not in a position to sell. If that’s you, you should consider renting out your home if you really need to move.
List Your Home with a Redfin Agent
This may sound self-promotional, but the numbers don’t lie. Redfin analyzed 55,000 listings that went on the market in 2013 and found that homes listed with Redfin agents sold an average of three days faster and for $2,424 more than comparable homes. Why? Redfin listings come up first in relevant searches on our site and Redfin provides clients with a customized, highly targeted email and online marketing campaign for their home.
In addition to getting a higher selling price, Redfin charges a lower commission. Instead of the typical 3 percent commission for selling your home, Redfin only charges 1.5 percent. When you combine the commission savings with the higher average sales price, sellers who list with Redfin will have $9,003 more in their pocket on average.
Set a Competitive Asking Price
Determining what your list price should be is an art and a science. Before you list your home, ask your real estate agent for a comparative market analysis, which will help you determine a reasonable price based on sales of similar homes in your area. It’s very important to set a good price the first time, so you don’t have to drop the price later. Redfin studies have shown that the first week that a listing goes on the market, it receives nearly four times more visits online than it does a month later. Even if you drop the price later, it won’t get the same attention.
When in doubt, start with a lower asking price. Bidding wars are a good thing if you’re the one selling the home. If you underprice by, say, $10,000, you could get multiple buyers to bid up the price. If you overprice by $10,000, the home may sit on the market for months, and you’ll lose a lot more.
Time it Right
If your timing is flexible, you should consider selling your home in winter or early spring. A recent Redfin Report looked at home sales from 2011 to 2013 and found that homes listed between December 21 and March 21 sold one week faster and for slightly more on average than any other season. This goes against the conventional wisdom that spring is the best time to sell your home.
You should also list on a Thursday or Friday, so you are fresh in people’s minds when they’re making plans with their agent to go see homes on the weekend. Redfin found that homes listed on Thursday or Friday sell closer to their original list price and have the best chance of selling. For a home listed for $400,000, the difference between listing on a Sunday and listing on a Friday could be a sale price $2,800 higher.
Make Your Home Look Good, but Don’t Spend Too Much
If your kitchen and bathrooms are REALLY outdated, it can pay to remodel them, but that’s the only reason you should consider a major home improvement project. There are a lot of cheaper projects you can do to make a great first impression, including replacing your front door, installing dual-pane windows, adding a fresh coat of paint to the exterior and maintaining the yard. A deep clean is also very important: wash the windows, steam clean the carpets, pressure wash the deck and scrub your appliances. You should also declutter your space, putting things in storage if needed. But don’t go overboard; leave some furniture in the rooms so people can picture what it will look like.
Once your home is looking its best, you should hire a professional photographer to take the listing photos. Most people start their home search online, so photos are crucial to getting their attention. In a recent study, Redfin found that homes with professional photos sold faster and for more money. If you sell your home with a Redfin agent, we’ll provide free professional photography to make sure your home looks its best.
Carefully Consider Offers, and Be Prepared to Negotiate
An experienced listing agent will know a good offer when they see it. A great agent can guide you through the whole process and advise you when to negotiate prices and terms. A quality agent will know what’s “normal” when it comes to offers, and when someone is trying to get a bargain. You should consider all the terms of the offer, not just the price, to make sure you get the best deal.
Visit Redfin.com for more information on selling your home with a Redfin real estate agent, or to request a free, no-obligation consultation on your home’s value. For more information on listing your home, check out the Redfin Home Selling Guide.