The Why of Selling Your Home

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When selling your home, there will be one question that buyers will ask almost as soon as they step foot into your house. Why are the owners selling their home? And this is something that you’ll need to put some thought into. I can tell you that when the “why” isn’t given to the buyers, and instead the agent responds with, “The seller has asked me not to say,” it causes the buyers to scratch their heads, seek out their own answers, and wonder what’s wrong with the house, which is the most dangerous consequence of all. So as you ponder the why of selling your home, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Be open and honest – As always in life, it behooves you to be open and honest. And in this case, it’s the same. There’s also no need to be defensive. People sell their homes, they change their minds, they upsize and they downsize, they prefer other towns – the list is endless. I know some don’t like to share private information, but in this case as a home seller, you’ll need to. And the message is far better coming from your listing agent than from the general public at large, who may have  heard a different story than the truth – and then they tell two people and so on and so on. We all know how that goes….

  • Keep the message consistent – Consistency is key with buyer questions. It’s not prudent to have one story line for the first few weeks of the listing and then decide that you want your agent to put another spin on the story. When – and I purposefully use “when” and not “if” – the word gets out that different stories have been told about the reason for the sale of your home, it only pushes the buyers to find the answers on their own and starts them thinking that there could be issues with the house.

  • Make sure the answer is succinct and makes sense – As well as being open and honest and staying consistent, you’ll also want to make sure your agent answers the “why” question in a succinct and to the point manner. Less is more as they say. And you’ll also want to ensure that the answer makes sense. When showing a house this summer to a buyer client, the listing agent said that the reason for the seller’s move was relocation for a job change. And then in the next breath, when asked about the location of the new job, the agent said he wasn’t certain if the seller had accepted the job and wasn’t sure whether the potential new job was local, out-of-state or international. And then from there, the responses became more confused, and we weren’t sure what the real story was. If my buyers had been seriously interested in the house, we would have likely put out feelers to try to ascertain the reason behind the move. Was it a job change or were they really fed up with the busy street? The bottom line – a bad case scenario for the home seller….

Finally, keep in mind that if the answer to “why” involves upsizing or downsizing, the buyer’s next immediate question will likely be, “Have they bought something?” I would again encourage you to approach this question – and any other questions for that matter – as outlined above. Be open and honest and make sure the answers are consistent, succinct and make sense. This keeps the buyers focused on the most important thing in the home-selling process – your house and its suitability for them. Have you ever found yourself wrestling with how to answer this question when selling your home? How did you approach the “why” and was it effective? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or lisa.curlett@compass.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

Selling Your Home: Which Offer to Choose?

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So let’s take this scenario…. You’re selling your home in Weston, MA, and with your Realtor’s help, you’ve priced it right – just below $1,000,000. Today at this price point, there’s a limited supply of inventory, a great deal of buyer demand, and your house is in move-in condition. Given all this, you now find yourself in a multiple offer situation, and in short order, you have to decide which offer to take – with your Realtor’s help, of course. So what do you do? How do you navigate these waters? Here are a few tips to help you when you find yourself in this scenario:

  • Determine your priorities – Generally 9 times of out 10, price is the most important and compelling component of the offer to sellers. Does that hold true for you as well? Assuming it does, after the pricing consideration, what is the next most important element of the offer? Is it the closing date? Is it the buyer’s financing? Is it the buyer’s profile? Or is it something else? Where do all of these considerations stack up on your priority list? Once you establish your priorities, you’ll be better able to evaluate the strengths of the offers.

  • Evaluate the contingencies – The two main contingencies in an offer are inspection (building, pest and radon) and mortgage contingencies. In terms of the former, you’ll want a tight inspection contingency timeframe. The shorter amount of time (standard is 7-10 days), the better because if the deal falls apart over inspection issues, you will have minimized your time off the market. With regard to the latter, there are several questions to consider. How is the buyer financing the purchase of your home? Are they paying cash? Or do they have a mortgage contingency? If they do, how much are they putting down and when is their commitment date? Do some offers include these contingencies and others don’t? The absence of one or more contingencies makes an offer much stronger – assuming the purchase price is in line as well.

  • Analyze the buyer profiles – What are the profiles of the buyers, and what is the family (if there is one) makeup? Why are they looking to buy (relocation, expanding family, downsizing), and why have they chosen your house? For example, it might be important to you that the buyers are planning to raise their family in the house – just like you did 30 years before – and are not tearing it down. Or perhaps you see an empty nester as the ideal buyer profile for your home. Getting the “right” buyer with needs and wants consistent with the strengths of your home usually nets a successful transaction.

  • Get feedback from your Realtor – In our neck of the woods where the showings are accompanied, your Realtor will have met all of the buyers, and so he/she will be a valuable source of information. What is his/her sense of these buyers? Have they put in offers elsewhere and then backed out of the deals? Do they seem to genuinely love the house or are they just trying to win the multiple offer competition? Choosing a buyer who seems to be emotionally invested in and committed to purchasing your house for all the right reasons will more likely result in a win-win process and outcome.

  • Decide how you will respond to the buyers – Part of the offer accepting process also includes how you deal with the offers and respond to the buyers. For example, if you have four offers, will you go back to all four and ask for their “final and best” offers? Will you just work with the two buyers who have the strongest offers and respond to them? Will you ask to keep the runner up’s offer as a back-up offer? These are all pertinent questions to ask as you entertain and evaluate the multiple offers. And on a related note, it will serve you well to respond to your potential buyers in a fair and gracious way. After all, you never know what will happen as you proceed down the path to completing the sale of your home. The offer you choose may implode, and you’ll be forced to revisit the other offers – assuming the buyers are still ready, willing and able.

In today’s market especially when selling a home below $1,000,000, you will often find yourself in the driver’s seat. And though at first pass it sounds great, it also comes with its own set of complications and stressors. Making sure you choose the “right” offer – or at least the offer that will get you to the closing table – is essential. To that end, I’m hopeful that by keeping these five tips in mind, and by delineating the offer evaluation and acceptance process as outlined above, your journey down this road will be less rocky and anxiety-filled and will also be more positive and rewarding.

Have you ever found yourself as a home seller with multiple offers from which to choose? If so, how did you evaluate the offers and decide which one to choose? Was the way you handled the process effective? Do you have tips or thoughts to share on the subject? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or lisa.curlett@compass.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

Smelling Your Home

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Oops….what I meant to say was – Selling Your Home and the Olfactory Sense – which really does amount to Smelling Your Home.  When you are selling your home and a buyer first steps into it, their senses are on high alert.   The visual sense – is the home aesthetically pleasing? The hearing sense – is the home in a noisy or quiet location? But just as important is the olfactory sense – how does the house smell?  You’d be surprised at what people can pick up and sense about a house just from walking in the door and breathing in through their nose.  For those buyers who tune in and are sensitive to their senses, they can often get a feel for the history of the house and several of its issues that might not be readily identifiable otherwise.

Here are some smell issues to consider when selling your home – but don’t despair as I’ve included some suggestions to remedy these yucky odors too (in the blue font):

  • An empty house – If the house has been empty for some time, buyers can smell this.  The house will smell a bit stale and lifeless.  People living in a house produce smells, the air circulates, and the home smells vital and alive.  Not to mention that when the house is empty and a mouse dies in it, for example, no one is there to remove the mouse and deal with the associated odors.  To remedy this situation, ask your Realtor to air out and visit your house on a regular basis. This way s/he can clean up any smelly messes that may have developed and take care of the potentially stale odor that has permeated your house.

  • Cooking – believe it or not, this can be a real turn-off to buyers.  If, as soon as you step foot into a house, you get overwhelmed by wafts and smells of garlic, fish and/or onions, for example, it can cause a negative reaction. Prior to showings or open houses, try to refrain from cooking meals or dishes that produce smells which linger for hours or days.

  • Lit scented candles – this can often throw off a red flag to buyers as they will often think that the candle is masking an odor.  Get Glade plug-ins or room diffusers – these are much more subtle than a candle that is lit during a showing.  In the case of the plug-ins, people don’t often see them as they do a lit candle.

  • Pets and kitty litter – the smell of pets, pet hair and kitty litter can cause negative reactions amongst buyers, and this can be further heightened if the buyer happens to have an allergy to pet dander.  Be diligent about vacuuming the pet hair and/or cleaning the kitty litter while your house is on the market.  And definitely use a plug-in near the area of the kitty litter.  It’s also probably a good idea to clean furniture and carpets, especially if your cats and dogs spend quite a bit of time on certain chairs or rugs. Also while your house is on the market, plan to have it cleaned more thoroughly and regularly – it will help alleviate the smells (and hair too) of your furry friends.

  • Trash – I have showed houses in which I have been struck by a foul odor in a particular part of the kitchen.  Upon further investigation, I traced the smell to a full, yucky trash receptacle.  Make a concerted effort to take out/clean your interior trash cans regularly when your home is on the market.  And if you think something may smell especially unpleasant, i.e. over-ripe bananas, fish bones, empty cat food cans, put it in a plastic bag, tie it up and take it to your outdoor trash receptacle so it is out of the house.

  • Fireplace/smoke – if you are someone who enjoys frequent wood-burning fires during the cold months of the year, be aware that sometimes a house holds on to the smell of the fires and takes on a smoky odor.  First, use a Glade plug-in, and if the smell doesn’t dissipate and seems to be lingering, you may need to call a chimney sweep or contractor to clean the fireplace and inspect it to make sure it’s ventilated correctly and that there aren’t other issues with its functioning.

  • Water – this is the big smell for which all buyers are on the lookout.  If the home has a water issue, people can smell it – either as they walk through certain areas or as they enter the basement.  How many times have you walked into a basement and been overpowered by a musty smell.  And this can be a big red flag for buyers; there aren’t many buyers who don’t feel nervous and get cold feet about the thought of water in the basement.  Get at least one de-humidifier for the basement, and you may need to use a Glad plug-in as well.  If the water/musty smell continues, you may want to have a contractor come to your house and inspect the area in which you are smelling the water to see if there has been any damage.

What are your thoughts on the Smelling of a Home?  As a seller, have you heard complaints from buyers of a particular smell?  And/or as a buyer, has your nose and sense of smell allowed you an insight into the lifestyle of the owners of a home or any issues that they house may have.  Do you remember how your home smelled when you first walked in the door?  I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or lisa.curlett@compass.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

The Top 3 Home Inspection Issues Why Buyers Don’t Buy

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Ahhh – the dreaded home inspection. I say this because I know how much stress and anxiety the home inspection brings to you as sellers. After my years of numerous home inspections, however, I’m hoping I can help lessen the stress a bit by sharing my thoughts on the subject, specifically about the consistencies in some of the issues that make buyers not want to buy….

  • First, the issues are usually “hidden.” This means that the buyers couldn’t necessarily see that these issues existed during their previous visits to the property. On the other hand, items like the condition of the roof, age of the windows and amount of wood rot can usually be visually inspected by the buyers, and so they generally factor the associated costs into their offers. Similarly a high level of radon doesn’t tend to railroad their decision to purchase. Even though radon is considered hidden, installing a radon mitigation system is simple and inexpensive. It’s an easily fixable problem (see below).

  • Second, the issues present uncertainty about the extent of the damage. And for the most part, that damage can’t be fully understood without opening up walls and floors which is problematic at this point in the offer process – before the buyers technically own the home.

  • Third and related to the uncertainty factor, the issues are potentially not fixable. Or more accurately, because really almost everything is fixable, to remedy the issues would cost an arm and a leg. In other words, the costs become too much for buyers to reasonably assume and undertake. They would rather walk from the deal.

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So without further ado, based on the consistencies above, here are my thoughts* on the top three home inspection issues why buyers don’t buy:

  • Water in the basement – This is probably the most frequently-asked question from buyers. And even if the answer is “yes, on occasion water gets into the house,” the extent of the issue is often unknown until an inspector inspects the property. And perhaps the answer is no, and an inspection proves otherwise. Whatever the scenario, people are generally not comfortable with water penetration into the house. Part of the discomfort may stem from the fact that it might not be fixable. As noted above, this can be lethal to the deal and often causes the buyers to back out of the purchase. And part two to water in the basement is the often ensuing presence of mold, which can be a double duty deal killer. But as you know (though I am certainly not a mold expert), mold is everywhere and can usually be mitigated from the property. Water penetration is the real issue and the culprit that can sour the buyer’s purchase.

  • Structural issues – First and foremost, structural issues are often quite hard to detect prior to a home inspection. There might be dips in rooms or sloping floors, but if this is an old house, that phenomenon is easily explainable – chalk that up to the settling of an older home. But it may still have structural issues as can newer homes. And if the inspector identifies structural issues or the potential for them and suggests that a structural engineer be called in to assess the situation, this can be unnerving to the buyer. Most times when hearing this, the buyer will call in “the expert” and won’t run from the deal immediately. That being said, it’s not a great case scenario for you as the seller because more times than not, the cost and process to remedy the structural issues can be overwhelming, thus causing the buyer not to move forward with the deal.

  • Termite activity – If undetected, termites can do significant wood damage throughout your home and this ultimately becomes more of a structural issue. It’s that uncertainty about the extent and cost of the potential damage that is overwhelming to the buyers. And the buyer won’t know the extent of the damage until floors and walls are ripped open, which you would not likely allow the buyer to do while you still own the home. There are some buyers who hear the word termite – even if the house is under a treatment plan – and turn on their heels and leave the house never to return. But this is more likely the case if the house has never been treated and evidence of termite activity is found. On a positive note, if the property has been treated, the chances of the buyer moving forward are greater – especially if you agree to continue treating the house until the property closes.

When selling your home, it’s prudent to be mindful of the magnitude of these buyer issues and to do as much as you can to remedy them – assuming that you know about them. For example, if you wrestle with water penetration on an ongoing basis, it’s worth having a basement expert come in for a consultation and install some sort of water management system. Or if you’ve had a termite treatment plan in the past but have let it lapse, call the pest company and have them come out to assess the house and leave you with a detailed report of their evaluation. If treatment is warranted, then treat away. These are great preventative measures before you put your house on the market, and it’s money well spent – especially since the issues will no longer arise thus keeping the buyer happily moving down the path of purchasing your home. All good!What are your thoughts on the subject? When you were selling your house, did you have a home inspection issue that made a buyer walk away from the deal? If so, what was it and were you able to remedy it before the same thing happened with a subsequent buyer? And/or did you take preventative steps to remedy some of these issues prior to listing your home, and did that help in the long run? I can’t wait to hear…..

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or lisa.curlett@compass.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

* These are just my thoughts on this subject. There are other home inspection issues that could make a buyer decide not to buy.

Selling Your Home: What You Can and Can’t Control

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A few thoughts for those of you who are selling your home and feeling a bit out of control perhaps…. It’s true – there are many elements of the home selling process that are extremely frustrating and uncontrollable and that ultimately influence the experience you have either in a positive or negative way. Some of the main culprits are:

  • Competing inventory – How many and what types of homes are on the market in your town and in your price range? In other words, what is the inventory with which you are competing? This is also known as the supply, and you would prefer this to be low, but unfortunately it’s not something you have any say over….

  • Buyer demand – How many buyers are looking in your town and in your price range? This is also known as the demand. You would prefer that this be high, but like the competing inventory, it is out of your control….

  • State of the market and state of the economy – Is the real estate market in a decline or on the rise? Is it a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? Is consumer confidence high? Are we in the midst of a presidential election or a worldwide peace initiative? These types of considerations – and many more – have an effect on the real estate market from a micro and macro perspective. Moreover the state of the market and economy are subject to change at any time which can be a bit unsettling to say the least when selling your home.

  • Your home – Strangely your home is something you can’t control. It is what it is – in terms of its age, type (i.e., Colonial, Contemporary, etc.), living area and acreage, for example. What you can control about your home during the selling process is its condition and showability (more on that later).

  • Potential buyers – What is the profile(s) of the buyers who seem to be most interested in your house? What home features are most important to them? Are they putting in reasonable offers or are they putting in “lowball” offers? This is information you’ll likely want to know but not something you can necessarily do anything about or change.

  • The weather – The effects of the weather are certainly most impactful during the winter and early spring than any other time of the year. Yet as we know, human beings cannot prevail over Mother Nature. And if it’s a snowy, icy winter, buyers may opt to stay in rather than pound the pavement looking for a new home. That being said, yucky weather may not have a disastrous effect on buyer demand. In fact, the weather this winter didn’t seem to prevent buyers from being out in full force….

The bottom line with these uncontrollable elements is that you have to be willing to adjust your actions given the scenario that you face. For example, if there is a significant amount of inventory in the price range in which you are competing, price your home so that it outshines the competition and is the best thing on the market at that price.

Now let’s turn our thoughts to the more positive subject of elements in the home selling process that you can control. Believe it or not, there are several aspects that are controllable, including:

  • Maximizing the selling season – It’s important that you get your house on the market so that you maximize the selling season. Hand’s down, the best time to sell your property is in the Spring real estate market. Therefore when you decide it’s time to sell, make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare your home for sale so that you can get your home on the market when the prime selling season begins. This timeframe varies in every market, but in our town of Weston, MA, it’s late February/early March. So if it’s going to take at least three months to de-clutter, paint some rooms and fix your steam shower, for example, then start preparing your home in November so that you are ready to list it in February. This is crucial and completely in your control.

  • The condition of your home – As mentioned above, the condition of your home – and its showability – is something you control, but it will take time to get it into pristine selling condition. Give yourself enough lead time to prepare your home so that it sparkles when it hits the market.

  • Pricing your property – Prior to listing your home, you will have likely gotten several opinions of value relating to its price. But the ultimate decision about the price of your home is yours and yours alone.

  • Your listing agent – Of course, this is a subject on which I could elaborate profusely. 🙂 The bottom line – in my humble opinion – is to choose someone whom you trust, who will give you her/his full, undivided attention, who will provide you with timely feedback and essential market information, who will advocate and negotiate effectively on your behalf and with whom you enjoy working. This is another decision that only you control.

  • Negotiating offers – You can’t control who decides to put an offer in on your home, but you can control some aspects of the negotiating process. First is the timing of your responses when negotiating. You may have heard the saying, “Never keep a buyer waiting,” and it’s a reality. If you do, you run the risk of the buyer softening on your house and becoming less enamored with it. Or a more attractive, appealing option could come onto the market – a home the buyer prefers to yours. Both are obviously suboptimal scenarios. So it’s crucial to get back to the buyer in a timely manner. Otherwise, by the time you finally respond, the buyer could have disappeared – never to surface again. Furthermore, and on a related note, you can also control your behavior in the negotiation process…. My point here is to refrain from playing games. More times than not, playing games will end up backfiring on you. The bottom line is that the negotiation process is more successful and fruitful for all parties involved if you are reasonable, respectful and timely. Remember the “golden rule” – it’s true in the world of real estate negotiations too.

  • The ultimate decision – The power is ultimately in your hands. You decide to whom you sell your home, i.e. which offer to accept. And furthermore, you decide whether or not to accept an offer and ultimately sell your home. Some sellers will go through the home selling process and journey, and at the end of the day, decide not to sell. The caveat to this is that once you’ve signed the offer to purchase – a legally binding document – deciding not to sell becomes tricky. So keep in mind that your control over to whom you sell your home and whether or not you sell your home is really confined to the time before you sign the offer to purchase….

These are just a few of the elements of the home selling process that you can and can’t control; there are many others. What are your thoughts on this subject? When you were selling your home, did you experience similar situations or elements that were in your control – or out of it? Were there other aspects of the process over which you felt in or out of control? And how did you respond to these scenarios? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or lisa.curlett@compass.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

What To Do When Your Deal Falls Apart?

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The dreaded moment – you’ve got an accepted offer on your house, but the buyers have decided not to move forward, either because of an inspection item, a financing issue, buyer’s remorse or one of any other host of reasons. Whatever the issue, it’s a terrible moment when you are selling your home, but it’s something that many encounter during the home selling process. Besides the obvious &#*#@!* words that might be uttered, what do you do? Here are a few scenarios to help you with that unfortunate and often confusing time of deciding which step to take next:

What if you have a strong back-up offer? The answer is simple in this case. You go to the back-up offer, never put the house back on the market (BOM) and keep your fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly and the back-up offer results in a successful sale.

What if you don’t have a strong back-up offer though you have several parties with continued interest in the property? Interestingly this scenario just happened to me. I tried to show a property in Weston, MA that had just come BOM, but we couldn’t get in to see it. The sellers had an interested party, who had seen the property when it was new to the market and before the first offer had been accepted, and this interested party was rumored to be putting in an offer. Rather than showing the property to the masses, the sellers decided not to let buyers in but to wait and see if an offer from the interested party came in, which it did. And now the property is back under agreement again. Was that the right decision? Well, it’s ultimately up to you as the seller to determine how you want to work with and accept offers. Could these particular sellers have potentially gotten a better offer if they had opened up the property and started showing it to all who asked? Yes, they could have though none of us has a crystal ball. But they decided not to, and my guess is that they chose this option because they were exhausted with the showing of their house and having people in and out of it, and they just wanted the process to be done. And that was their prerogative….

What if you don’t have any back-up offers or interested parties waiting in the wings? The answer is disappointingly easy in this scenario. You simply put the house back on the market. The next question that quickly follows is what to do now to enhance the marketing of your property and remind the buyers and their agents about how wonderful your house is? In other words, how do you highlight your home to the market and make it pop, shine and sparkle to the world of buyers?

If we assume that you did not receive a full-price offer on your home and that by the time the offer came in your property had been on the market for some time, there are several things to do. First and foremost, however, the most effective strategy is to reduce the price of the house. That being said, the size of the price reduction obviously depends on the price point, activity level until you got the offer, days on the market and other such factors. Sometimes it’s just a nominal price reduction, and sometimes it’s sizable. But the bottom line is that people will take notice – whether they will act or not is the question and that really depends on the specifics of the situation, the home, the timing of the market and more (we won’t get into that now). The price reduction will also be combined with increased marketing efforts, which may include hosting broker’s and public open houses, further enhancing the property’s online and social media presence, developing a direct mail campaign for the property, running broker incentives – I could go on and on….

If your home has just been on the market for a short time (i.e., a few weeks) and the activity level has been good, you may not opt for a price reduction, but you will certainly want to push forward with increased marketing efforts as detailed above. The only caveat to this enhanced marketing strategy is that if the marketing comes on too much and too strong it can send the wrong message to the market. So sellers beware…there is a fine line between effective and desperate marketing.

All this said, I would like to end on a positive note. No matter which scenario you find yourself in, take a deep breath and rest assured that there ultimately is a buyer for your home, and you will find him or her…. It may take a bit longer than you would like and the price may be a little lower than you would like, but it will happen.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation as a home seller? If so, how did you proceed? And was it ultimately an effective course of action? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or lisa.curlett@compass.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

Pricing To Do’s and Not to Do’s When Selling Your Home

Pricing when selling your home in Weston, Wellesley, or Wayland, MA, may be one of the most complicated aspects of real estate. The goal is to have your listing price approximate your selling price. I like to refer to it as “right pricing.” And the million dollar question is how do you figure out the “right price?” I know this isn’t a very satisfying answer, but it’s an analysis based on previous sales (comparatives), strengths and weaknesses of the property, its condition, location, the state of the market as well as intuition and gut feel about the market’s reaction to it…a little of this and a little of that. As we real estate agents like to say, it’s an art and not a science.

When you “right price” your home, you’ll know. Buyers will act within a certain time frame and behave in a particular way. On the time frame aspect, the serious buyers, who are ready, willing and able to buy, will come through your door during the first few days your home is on the market. They are the ones who are sitting at their computers checking MLS every hour to see if any new listings have come on the market in their price range. If the price seems reasonable from their review of the property on MLS, they will schedule a time to come see it. In terms of their behavior, when they come to the house, their reaction will be, “Wow, at this price, you get updated kitchen and baths, four nice-sized bedrooms, and a great location.” In other words, they will overlook any of the negatives or not-so-great aspects of the house – the lack of a garage, small yard and only one full bathroom, for example – and focus on the positives because the price seems reasonable to them. It’s a “value” shall we say. And then not wanting to miss the opportunity to buy your property, and because they have likely lost others during their search, they will put in a strong offer without delay. Mission accomplished!

So…. in order to help you get to this point, here are some To Do’s and Not To Do’s to keep in mind and guide you when determining at what price to list your home – and sell it quickly:

  1. Do Be Objective and Realistic. This is probably one of the most important and yet hardest things to do. If possible, be as objective as you can be about your home. See it through the eyes of a potential buyer and not yours as the owner, who has raised three children there. All homes have strengths and weaknesses – yours included – even though you love it so much and have built many happy memories there. Being objective about your house – and its plusses and minuses – will help you be realistic about the price. And on a related note, don’t let the selling price of your neighbor’s house influence you. Unfortunately your home is not the exact same as your neighbor’s home in every single way – square footage, lot utility, condition, timing of the listing, motivation of the seller – and so you can’t just use that price for your house. How often do you hear that your next door neighbor’s house, which is similar to yours, sold 9 months ago for $1,000,000, and so your house should sell for the same? I wish it were that easy….

  2. Don’t Just Use a Calculation. Two points on this. First, the correct listing/selling price is not based upon a set formula or calculation. As I mentioned above, it’s a mixture of factors that are ever changing and can be difficult to interpret. Even more than this, the approach that … the price you paid for the house + what you put into the house since that time = the price you “need” to get … has no bearing on the selling price of your home. You as the seller will determine the listing price of your home, but the market determines its selling price.

  3. Do Factor in Condition. You have a leg up if your home is new or recently renovated. Buyers today pay a premium for homes in which the condition is move-right-in. If the property is dated and hasn’t been updated in 20 years, especially the kitchen and baths, the buyers will significantly discount your home. It means that they will have to do the renovations to your home, and they end up inflating the renovation costs and add an aggravation factor to the equation. Note that you can do things to remedy the dated aspects – fresh, neutral paint colors, staging some of the rooms – but more on that in another post.

  4. Don’t Overanalyze. You could spend months analyzing past sales and relating these to your home, and you could get opinions from 10 different real estate agents about what is the right listing price for your home. You could do these things until you’re blue in the face. But the reality is that you won’t know the market reaction to the price until your house is listed on the market. Only then can you gauge the reaction of the buyers to the price. We all have our estimates, opinions and predictions, but we don’t know for certain until it’s live on MLS.

  5. Do “Right Price” Your House. Above we described how buyers respond when you “right price” your house. But some sellers end up overpricing their homes because they want to leave negotiating room for themselves or because they have a tough time being objective about the pricing and value of their homes. What I will say is that if you do end up overpricing your property, buyers will focus on its negatives instead of its positives. Using the example before, their reaction will be, “Bummer, at this price, I have to deal with having no garage, a small yard and only one full bath. Thanks, but No Thanks.” They lose sight of the positives and focus on the negatives because the price is too high, and they don’t see the value. And then what happens? The property sits and accrues days on the market, which results in buyers discounting the price. It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you overprice your home, you will likely get a lower selling price than if you had “right priced” it from the onset. I have seen it happen time and time again.

Rest assured – I guess you could say – because the market will tell you if you’ve chosen the right price for your property. If you’re having multiple first and second showings just after listing your home, you are in the correct pricing ball park. If you’re having first showings but no second showings, your house is overpriced. And if you’re barely having any showings whatsoever, your house is very overpriced. If the latter is the case, then you’ll need to act quickly to reduce the price and rectify the situation because prolonged days on the market are your enemy when selling your home….

On that light note 😉, what are your thoughts on home pricing when selling your home? Have you followed some of these to do’s and not to do’s? If so, did they help? And if not, do you have others that helped you? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or lisa.curlett@compass.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

What Does “Broom Clean” Really Mean?

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Five years ago, I wrote a post called What is Broom Clean?  And now that I’ve been in the business that much longer and seen more during those years, it’s time for a refresher on the subject…. As I mentioned in my previous blog, it is clearly stated in the Purchase and Sale (P&S) Agreement – which is generally signed two weeks after the offer has been accepted and the home inspection has taken place – that “the Seller shall deliver possession of the Premises in broom clean condition, free of all debris, personal effects and other tangible items which are not sold to Buyer or left on the Premises with Buyer’s prior written permission.”

In practice, however, this term becomes quite subjective and open to interpretation. Some sellers are fastidious and get their homes deep cleaned once they’ve moved out so the house sparkles and is spotless. But others not only leave their homes with items that they say “go with the house” (i.e. items that were there when they moved in) but they also leave their homes in not so clean condition. And this can create quite a problem during the walk through and at the closing table, to say the least. Believe me, I’ve experienced it first hand….

So here’s my recommendation on broom clean, and I’ll keep it short and sweet – Follow the Golden Rule! “Do to others what you want them to do to you.” If you would want the kitchen drawers and cabinets dust- and dirt-free when moving into a home, then do that for your buyers. And if you have a question about particular items, ask in advance. For example, what if there is a door that was removed from a doorway 25 years ago and has been stored in the attic ever since? Instead of just leaving the door there saying that it “goes with the house” so that the buyers will have to ultimately deal with it, ask them if they would like you to leave it for them. My strong hunch is that the answer will be a resounding “NO thank you.” Isn’t that the way you would like to be treated if you were the buyer? And isn’t that kind of clean and uncluttered condition the way in which you would like to receive your new house?

Sometimes it can get confusing though, especially if you know the buyers aren’t moving in immediately because they are renovating sections of the house. In those situations, sellers may rightly think the house doesn’t really need to be broom clean because of all of the dust and mess that will be created during the renovations. But the bottom line is that it still does need to be broom clean, and before you make that assumption, ask the buyers. I can assure you that all of you will be happier in the long run….

What are your thoughts on this subject? When you sold your last house did you follow the golden rule with regard to the broom clean condition of the house? And did it make for a successful walk through? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or lisa.curlett@compass.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.