So you are ready to move out and sell your home. And you found yourself a real estate agent to help save time, expenses, and the headache of navigating the myriad of details that go into putting a house on the market. But not all agents have the professional experience necessary to sell your home quickly and for the highest price. Or even worse, they are lazy. Here are 10 best practices that a good listing agent will use to get the best price for your home:
1. Conduct a pre-sale inspection with the seller
A good listing agent should meet with the seller and do a walk-through of the property. With a fine-toothed comb, both of you should look for problem areas that can be easily fixed before getting professional inspections and listing your home.
Few agents are willing to do the extra work of a pre-sale inspection, but fixing a leaky faucet or other easy to address problems beforehand will mean a cleaner report when the professional inspector comes through, and potential buyers see less initial issues with your home.
2. Getting and reviewing necessary professional home inspections
Depending on the age, size, location, and condition of a home, an agent will be able to advise what are the required and recommend home inspections. Some common inspections are termite, general property, roof, and chimney. They are not always required on the seller side but it leaves a better impression if you do. (Buyers note: get your own inspection to verify a seller’s report.)
Also, without all the necessary inspections, a home cannot be accurately valued. In this situation the buyer makes an offer and then conducts an inspection only to find out something the seller didn’t know. The buyer will then renegotiate a lower price or, at worst, take back the offer.
3. Price it right from the start
We all want our home to sell for what we have personally invested in it, but overpricing will just make it harder to sell. Buyers are weary of a house that is not priced accurately, which results in less offers, a prolonged marketing period, makes the competition look better, and may eventually sell for below market value.
A listing agent should know the value of a home based on the local market and price it accordingly, maybe even modestly, to create demand and let buyers push up the price through multiple offers.
4. High-quality marketing material
Make your home look its best. If your home needs it, your agent should put you in contact with a home staging professional to target your buyer market. For advertising work, an experienced home photographer and graphic designer can help present the strengths of your home.
5. Generate buyer interest through the Internet
A 2009 study by the National Association of Realtors found that 90% of buyers use the Internet when searching for a home. There is no reason why your agent shouldn’t be taking advantage of this large and affordable medium.
Internet marketing should include a dedicated home website, with a slide show or video tour of the home, and advertising through various social media and syndicated websites.
With a larger audience, your home has a higher chance of receiving multiple offers and, ultimately, a higher selling price.
6. Prepare a listing disclosure package before going on the market
Without a properly prepared disclosure package how can a potential buyer have all the information they need to know about pricing and specific details of a home. A disclosure package needs to include seller requirements, previous inspections and modifications, HOA documents (if any), and a seller wish list.
7. A seller wish list
This gives basic instructions of how to structure a potential offer, but more importantly, lets the buyer know conditions or expectations that make for a strong offer. For example, the seller may want to sell the house as-is, or rent back the house after it has been sold. A careless agent wouldn’t take the time to make a wish list and instead let a potential buyer set the offer conditions.
8. Setting up a broker tour
One of the advantages of having an agent is holding a broker tour. It’s an opportunity to have local real estate agents view a home and receive valuable feedback on the pricing, condition of the property, and network with agents who have potential buyers. The more qualified buyers looking at a home will drive demand and increase perceived value. If your agent isn’t doing this, they aren’t doing one of their primary jobs: to market the home.
9. Following up after a broker or open house tour
A listing agent should contact any agents with buyers or potential buyers who might be interested in putting down an offer. A less proactive agent would wait for offers to come in.
Just as important as receiving offers, is knowing how many potential buyers there are. It helps in negotiations by leveraging the seller’s position.
10. Track buyer progress during and after escrow period
An offer doesn’t mean your agent’s work is done. There are many factors that can unravel an offer from the buyer side that a seller should be aware of.
A good portion of why home purchases fall apart is because of financing. The buyer may not be qualified to purchase the home even though they are pre-approved. An inferior lender may not have the loan approved quick enough or not understand loan qualification requirements, which might happen when a lender is not local.
In addition, your listing agent should regularly contact the buyer’s agent to make sure they finish home inspections and don’t miss contract deadlines during the escrow period. It is a lot harder to sell a home if it goes pending and then comes back on the market because of a buyer issue that could have been prevented by the listing agent doing the research beforehand.