1. Know your Local Market - Although fascinating, the national real estate market has little to do with what's happening in your city or neighborhood. Researching the local real estate market will help you set reasonable expectations regarding the length of time it will take to sell your home and what pricing strategies yield the biggest profit.
2. Staging and depersonalizing are key - Yes, your oversize sofa, recliner and four bean bag chairs make your house the best spot to watch MNF, but imagine your buyer is a minimalist who doesn't do TV. And wouldn't you prefer that attention be drawn to the kitchen remodel you recently completed than people focusing on the last 9 years of your life, hanging from the living room wall? It may sound harsh, but your house isn't intended to be "your house" during its time on the market. Focus on what would appeal most to your target audience. Buyers want to mentally move themselves into your home and it's much easier to do when they're looking at West Elm chic sans photographs from your last family reunion.
3. Avoid the perception of deferred maintenance - A good agent will take their buyer through a home and talk about the effects of lazy home ownership. Imagine water pooling around the downspouts, clogged gutters, a mossy roof and unfinished projects- does this say pride of ownership? If you can't bother to take care of minor repairs and issues, a potential buyer might assume the same is true for more major issues and lose interest in your property. Additionally, what isn't addressed before your home is under contract becomes fair game for the buyer upon inspection negotiation.
4. Your agent has the open house covered - Getting out of your own house can be inconvenient to say the least, but it's critical during open houses and showings. Buyers want to roam freely, ask questions and discuss with one another without the added stress of offending the seller. Help your Realtor by making a list of upgrades, improvements and high points of your neighborhood and let them do the talking. We like to ask our sellers what they enjoy about their home and what they will miss most about living there.
5. Say NO to smells - if you have pets, kids or a diet that involves a lot of indoor frying, start freshening up your home immediately. In some cases, a fresh coat of paint, new carpet or removal of kitty litter boxes is necessary but in most situations, a nice deep cleaning and a carpet cleaning will suffice. Your goal is to entice buyers to stay and nothing gets people out faster than a stench.
6. Be accessible to your agent - In the Seattle Real Estate Market, things move fast and buyers and their agents want information as quickly as possible. Being available to your agent is the best way to ensure buyers get all the information they need. If communication is limited during work hours, setup a time to check in daily with your agent. And during the open house, keep your cell phone handy. A buyer considering a property may only have a few days to gather information about your home, set up a pre-inspection and write an offer. Assume that the more details available about your property, the more prepared buyers are to submit their best offer.
7. Disclose, Disclose, Disclose - Trying to hide defects could result in an unwanted lawsuit down the road. If you know it, disclose it. Allow buyers to make an informed decision on whether or not they are comfortable with the condition of your home. Aside from being unethical, lawsuits can be terribly expensive and not worth the time or hassle.
8. Interview agents - Don't make a hasty decision and hire the first agent you meet. Ask friends and family for referrals and hire wisely. When interviewing, ask how your property is going to be marketed, how many transactions the agent has performed in the last two years and why they are the best fit for the job. Truth be told, not all agents are created equally. You want a full-time agent who is actively working in your market!
9. Presentation online is your friend -You get one shot at a first impression and the internet is it. Your agent should hire a professional photographer to take high quality photos for your listing. What is worse than a party that no one comes to? These photographs will be the deciding factor in whether or not a buyer sees your property. Take the presentation process seriously and you are ensured the highest level of market exposure.