Home Seller's Guide
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to selling a home in Madison. Whether you’re selling your first condo or house or you’re a seasoned seller, this Selling Guide will take you through all the steps. Click through the tabs below to find out how to:
- Prepare your home and stage like a pro
- Price and market your home (or know how to pick the right agent to do it for you)
- Be ready to show your home to potential buyers
- Negotiate and close on your home
Preparing your home for sale is hard work. But do it right and your efforts will be rewarded in the form of dollars in your bank account.
There are five 5 steps to preparing your home for sale:
1. De-cluttering and de-personalizing
We all have too much stuff. And too much stuff can be distracting to prospective buyers. You should eliminate as much clutter as possible when preparing your home for sale. Consider renting storage space nearby, if only for 3-6 months during your home sale and moving ordeal. Remove books, knick knacks, storage boxes, off-season clothes, your giant shoe collection, etc.
It’s also really important to neutralize your space as much as possible. Potential buyers like to see themselves living in your home—the best way for them to do this is by you putting away your personal photos, mementos and collections.
Think of a hotel room as the standard of cleanliness for your home as you show it for sale. Wipe the baseboards, remove cobwebs from the ceiling, clean inside your fridge and oven, clean inside your closets and kitchen cupboards, dust everything and have the carpets professionally cleaned. Unfortunately, the cleaning doesn’t stop when your house goes on the market–every day, you’ll need to make your bed, do the dishes, wash the floors and clean up after the kids.
3. Repairs and renovations
We all have a tendency to procrastinate fixing the little stuff – the leaky faucet, the peeling wallpaper, the loose kitchen cabinet door, the broken gutters. Having a handyman take care of all those little issues will help show potential buyers that your home has been well-maintained (and you’ll wonder why you put it off so long). And make sure there are no burnt out light bulbs!
Staging involves highlighting the use, look and feel of every room in your home. It might mean converting your home office to a third bedroom, adding, removing or re-arranging furniture, painting the walls, replacing light fixtures or investing in some fluffy towels for the guest bathroom. Whether you bring in a professional stager or just work with your listing agent, making your home appeal to the greatest number of buyers doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will take time. Remember: the effort you put into transforming your home will impact how long it takes your home to sell and the price you get.
5. Pre-listing home inspection
Completing a pre-listing home inspection before you put your house on the market will help you identify any issues with the home that might be objections for buyers. For example, the home inspector may determine that your house needs a new roof. Armed with that information, you can choose to either a) fix the roof before putting the house up for sale, or b) factor it into your asking price. Either way, having accurate information puts you in control of how the deficiencies in your house will affect the price you get for the house. If you’re pricing your home for a bidding war, you should make the pre-listing home inspection available to buyers so that they’re encouraged to make offers.
How I can help you prepare your home for sale:
- I’ll tell you what others won’t. I’ll give you honest advice on what you can do to help get top dollar for your home. And yes, that might mean telling you precious Lassie doesn’t smell very good. Or that you need to re-paint that lavender wall.
- I’ll help with coordinating the preparation of your home and give you access to my list of trusted home professionals including handymen, painters, plumbers, electricians, landscapers and more.
- I can send in professional cleaners to clean the places you probably don’t get to.
- At Bunbury, we have a full-time Client Concierge on staff, so if you need someone to wait for the locksmith or get you boxes, we’ve got you covered.
Your home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay, but the right pricing strategy can make the difference between how much money makes it into your pocket and how much is left on the negotiating table.
Should you price your home for a bidding war? Price high and plan to negotiate? How does the time of year factor into your asking price? Should your listing price be a whole number ($500,000) or end in 9’s ($499,900) and does that even matter? What should you include in the price? When is it time to lower the price?
Your asking price is equivalent to naming the first number in a negotiation, so it’s important to set the right asking price. Price too high and you risk being on the market for a long time and getting less than you might have (had you priced at market value); price too low and you’re leaving money on the table.
When it comes to determining how much your home is worth, it’s important to consider:
- Recent sales in your neighborhood
- Properties currently on the market
- Current market realities
- The good and bad about your home
It’s important to remember that getting price of your home right is an art and a science. It depends on many forces that are in play at any time. Your listing agent can help you work through all of the things you should think about before setting your listing price.
How I can help you price your home:
- I know the market and the comparable sales. I live and breathe Madison real estate, and when I’m not out looking at properties with clients, I’m doing it myself to make sure I’m tuned into the market.
- I physically see all your competition before and during the listing, so I know how to price your home accordingly.
- I know what sells, what doesn’t, and why.
Marketing your home doesn’t just mean putting it on the MLS. If you want top dollar for your home your marketing plan should include:
1. Identifying your Ideal Buyer
Good marketing targets a specific audience. The more you know about your ideal buyer, the better your marketing plan will be. Who is the most likely person to buy your home? How old are they? Are they single or do they have kids? How will they live in the home? Where are they living now? What features and amenities are important to them?
2. Marketing materials that resonate with your Ideal Buyer
Different buyers will respond to different types of marketing. It’s important that the marketing for your home is written and designed to appeal to your Ideal Buyer. Does your target buyer read the postcards she gets in the mail or is she more likely to respond to a video or social media post? Is your buyer already working with an agent or going-it-alone on Craigslist? What words and imagery will your buyer be most likely to respond to?
3. Looking good, everywhere.
Excellent photos are crucial to capturing the interest of today’s buyer. Too many property photos are bland and poorly composed. They should capture a viewers attention and make them want to find out more. And no matter how many pixels the iPhone camera has these days, it’s just not enough. In my opinion, professional photography is non-negotiable.
4. Being found online.
92% of buyers look for a home online so they need to be able to find yours online. A comprehensive digital and social marketing plan allows buyers to find you online, in the places where they’re already spending their online time.
5. Exposing your home to buyers who don’t even know they’re buyers yet.
For the most part, your Ideal Buyer is already be looking for a home right now. But what if they’re not? What if they aren’t working with an agent and not trolling realtor.com or Zillow? Effective listing marketing reaches people who are already in the market for a home and people who are not.
How I can help you show your property:
- I don’t market properties like everybody else. I take the best of traditional advertisingand couple it with proven digital and social marketing to give the homes we list maximum exposure.
- I work with buyers all the time so I know how Buyers think. I’m a pro at profiling your Ideal Buyer and figuring out where they are (so we can be there too).
- I don’t take photos with my phone or fool myself into thinking that I can create our own advertising. I work with professional photographers, designers, writers and web experts to make your home look so good online that people can’t wait to see it in person.
- I use video marketing to help a potential buyer experience your home.
- My marketing strategies aren’t just custom to your Ideal Buyer, I use custom advertising campaigns targeting three specific audiences: Buyers who already in the market; real estate agents working with buyers; and people who don’t even know they want to buy a house yet (let alone in your neighborhood).
- I know how to make your home stand out in a crowd and get the attention it deserves.
Your home is ready, the price is right, the marketing is effective, and the buyers want to see it. Here’s my best advice for showing your home to potential buyers:
1. Be flexible with showing times
Selling your home is an inconvenience, nut there’s no way around it. But if you want top dollar for your home, you’ll need to be flexible with when you let people to see it. Remember that most people work from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. This means they’ll most likely want to see your home in the evenings or on weekends.
2. Leave your house during showings
Buyers aren’t comfortable looking at a house when the sellers are home, so it’s best to let them explore at their own leisure. Go for a walk, run some errands, or visit a friend—do whatever you need to do to allow potential buyers free reign.
3. Make sure your home is always in top condition
Make your bed, do the dishes, wash the floors, have clean towels out, clean the litter box—and always remember to crate the dog (or better yet, take her with you).
4. Open houses
Open houses allow potential buyers (and, usually, curious neighbors) to see your house in a non-threatening, low-pressure environment. It’s not unheard of for a buyer who wasn’t in the market to buy a house they fell in love at an open house.
Remember: what really matters in selling your home is what buyers are seeing and feeling. Responding to their concerns and objections in a timely matter will go a long way to reducing how long your home is on the market.
How I can help you show your property:
- When I host public open houses, our only goal is to sell YOUR property. While some agents will seize the opportunity to build their own business and find buyers without agents, my only goal is to sell your property.
- I solicit feedback from every agent who shows your home so I know how buyers are reacting to it.
- I provide regular status reports about the number of showings, the feedback about your home and what’s been happening in the market while you’ve been listed.
Your hard work has paid off and you’re getting an offer from a buyer. Here’s what to expect:
The buyer’s offer will usually be presented to your agent by email using software such as Docu-sign or, if they’re going old-school, the offer may arrive by fax.
The offer will contain some important points of negotiation:
- The earnest money deposit
- The price
- The closing date
- The irrevocable time/date
- The conditions
Once you receive an offer, you can respond in one of 3 ways:
- Accept the offer as is – congratulations, you’ve just sold your house!
- Make a counter-offer (with conditions and/or a price you would find acceptable) – the buyer at this point can accept your counter-offer, make another counter-offer or walk away altogether.
- Decline the offer and walk away.
Negotiating is an art, and if you’ve chosen your agent wisely, they’ll provide good advice and guidance to get you the price and terms you want. The final price decisions when selling your home are always yours to make, but it helps to have a strategic negotiator on your side.
How I can help you negotiate an offer on your home:
- Put simply, I’m good at negotiating. I know how to work with a buyer’s agent towards the outcome you’re after.
- I’ll negotiate on your behalf as though I was selling my own home and won’t be bulliedor pressured into making a move you aren’t comfortable with.
- I know the legal agreements backwards and forwards and can help you understand the fine print. I’ll take the mystery out of all that legalese and do everything I can to make the process as painless as possible.