Every reasonable owner wants the best possible price and terms for his or her home. Several factors, including market conditions and interest rates, will determine how much you can get for your home. The idea is to get the maximum price and the best terms during the window of time when your home is being marketed.
In other words, home selling is part science, part marketing, part negotiation and part art. Unlike math where 2 + 2 always equals 4, in real estate there is no certain conclusion. All transactions are different and, because of this, you should do as much as possible to prepare your home for sale and engage the REALTOR® you feel is best able to sell your home.
What Is Your Home Worth?
All homes have a price, sometimes more than one. There’s the price owners would like to get, the value buyers would like to offer, and a point of agreement which can result in a sale.
In considering home values, several factors are important:
- The value of your home relates to local sale prices: The same home, located elsewhere, would likely have a different value.
- Sale prices are a product of supply and demand: If you live in a community with an expanding job base, a growing population and a limited housing supply, it’s likely that prices will rise. However, it’s important to be realistic. If the local community is losing jobs and people are moving out, then you’ll likely have a buyer’s market.
- Owner needs can impact sale values: If owner Smith “must” sell quickly, he will have less leverage in the marketplace. Buyers may think that Smith is willing to trade a quick closing for a lower price — and they may be right. If Smith has no incentive to sell quickly, he may have more marketplace strength.
- Sale prices are not based on what owners “need”: When an owner says, “I must sell for $300,000 because I need $100,000 in cash to buy my next home,” buyers will quickly ask if $300,000 is a reasonable price for the property. If similar homes in the same community are selling for $250,000, the seller will not be successful.
- Sale prices are NOT the whole deal: Which would you rather have: A sale price of $200,000, or a sale price of $205,000 with an agreement that you will make a “seller contribution” of $5,000 to offset the buyer’s closing costs, pay a $2,000 allowance for roof repairs, fund two mortgage points, re-paint the entire house and leave the washer and dryer?
How Much Is Too Much?
Because all transactions are unique there is flexibility in the marketplace. The amount of flexibility depends on local conditions.
For example, suppose you’re selling a townhouse. Suppose also that there have been five recent sales of the model you own and that sale values have ranged between $200,000 and $210,000. You now have an idea of how your home might be priced. In a strong market you might be able to ask for $210,000 or a little more. If the market has slowed, $210,000 may be a reasonable asking price, but perhaps more than the final sale price.
Here’s another scenario. Imagine that you live in a community of Victorian-style homes, most of which were built in the 1920s. All the homes are different in terms of size, condition, modernization, style and features. In such a neighborhood, an average sale price is just a statistic without much practical meaning. On a single block one home may sell for $400,000 while another is priced at more than $1 million. The average price may be outrageously high for one home and staggeringly low for another.
Who Can Help?
Experienced REALTORS® are active in the local marketplace and can provide assistance with pricing, marketing, negotiation and closing.
Because experienced REALTORS® have handled many transactions, they’re familiar with the terms and conditions that went into individual sales, not just published sale prices which may not reflect various premiums, discounts and adjustments.
Pricing Your Home to Sell
Follow these tips for pricing your home correctly in a competitive market
Imagine you want to buy a gallon of milk. You eye the dairy case, shelves stocked with dozens of choices, but they are really all the same. Milk is milk, and which one you select is really insignificant because they are all identical, and they are all priced the same.
But what if each identical offering was priced differently? Odds are you have set aside ample time for your shopping trip, and you will carefully check the price labels and go for the best deal. Or maybe you are drawn to the more attractive packaging.
When selling your home, attractive pricing and packaging are arguably the two most basic essentials. In our current real estate market, the buyers have a lot of choices. In many areas, the shelves are simply overstocked. And since no two homes are the same, making that distinction between your home and the dozens of others is key.
Where pricing is concerned, establishing that all important asking price is part science and part art, and there are several things you should consider.
- Study past sales. This is the starting point for any thoughtful and successful pricing strategy; think of it as the “science” part. Take the time to study past sale statistics for homes in your area and areas similar to yours. None will be identical, of course, but having a clear understanding of true market value is the first step in establishing your list price.
- Do not confuse active listings with past sales. Active listings have not sold. They are just your competition. It is important to be aware of your competition’s pricing, but this is often just an indication of what your home won’t sell for.
- Do not overprice because you have “time.” If the market is appreciating, this strategy may work, but if prices in your area are declining, you may quickly find yourself chasing a market and costing yourself money. And if the market is stable? Your home will just sit. Buyers pay in today’s dollars, and time is rarely on your side.
- Leave some room for negotiation, but don’t overreach. No seller wants to feel he left money on the table, and no buyer wants to overpay. Your price should give both parties room to maneuver, but if it is too high, you risk being perceived as unrealistic, and buyers will pass over your home.
- Think like a buyer. What are the things that you value in a home? Is it a large yard, an updated kitchen or a view? These are likely the same things that your buyer values as well. Talk to your agent about current buyer trends. Yesterday’s avocado green shag carpeting is today’s granite countertop. The property facing the interstate is going to be a tougher sell than the one with a mountain view. Your price should reflect how your home compares to the others offered for sale. Buyers will find objections to any home, as none is perfect, but it is curious how quickly objections disappear when the price is compelling.
- React swiftly and decisively. If your home is on the market and is not being shown or if you receive feedback that you are priced too aggressively, don’t hesitate to adjust your price. Bad news, like spoiled milk, doesn’t get better with time.
First impressions are everything when selling your home. Studies have shown that the first two weeks on the market are the most crucial to your success. During these initial days, your home will be exposed to all active buyers. If your price is perceived as too high, you will quickly lose this initial audience and find yourself relying only on the trickle of new buyers entering the market each day. Markets are dynamic, and your price has an expiration date. You have one chance to grab attention. Make sure your pricing helps you stand out on the shelf — in a positive way.