Don’t Leave Money on The Table

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More than likely your home is the largest single purchase you’ll ever make. But if you’re already a homeowner, it could be your largest single sale. No matter if you’re upsizing or downsizing, you want your investment to pay big dividends when you sell. To ensure you’re not leaving any money on the table, consider these suggestions to reap your biggest reward.

Ronda White, a Realtor who’s been featured three times as a buyer’s agent on HGTV’s program House Hunters, has sold homes for decades. She says the secret to making a sale is a solid strategy to keep potential buyers “around for a while.”

“The longer you get the buyer to stay in the house, the greater the chance you’ll sell it. The longer they’re there, you know they feel good in that home. Buyers want to feel this is a house where people had a good time. One of my clients said to me that she’ll know it’s her house when she can give it a hug,” revealed Ronda. “During a showing, the first room buyers visit is the kitchen, then they go through the living areas, bedrooms and the basement. Then they take one more look in the kitchen, which can be the key to getting an offer.”

While some might consider expensive upgrades and remodels to bring in the most cash, Ronda advises the first thing is to ensure a fresh home. “Clean the house from top to bottom to make it sell. Your home needs to look like a show house and smell good. Many times, sellers keep their homes so nice even I don’t think people live there, and then other times, I can definitely tell someone lives there,” stated Ronda. “If they’re impressed, buyers might say, ‘I don’t like the cabinets, but I can change that.’”

Along with that clean and odorless environment, confirm everything is in working order. Repairs must be made right down to the drippy sink. “If you want top dollar, your home needs to be in top condition. Make those necessary repairs. If the doorbell isn’t working, fix it. If you’ve got a leaky faucet, fix it,” commented Ronda. “Not even in a seller’s market can you get away with those kind of flaws without it costing you money on the final sale.”

When it comes to that price tag, Ronda recommends working with a professional to help you set the amount you want for your home. These experts know the market and will take the emotion out of setting a price. Many owners have difficulty doing that and then overprice the home and drive away buyers. Ronda notes most homes should be sold in the first 10 to 14 days they’re on the market. If not, buyers may think something’s amiss with the house. If they do come with an offer, it may be below your asking price.

“When I work with my clients, we look at market value and prices of homes sold in the neighborhood. What do we think this house will sell for? Then we look at the home’s condition and the repairs to be made,” she said. “Do you need to enhance the appearance? Minimize furniture? How does the carpet look? Are the hardwood floors cracked? What does your house say to the buyer? With that discussion, we can set the right price.”

During her career, Ronda has seen home sales fall apart due to inspectors that won’t allow a home to pass muster. Consider hiring your own inspector to point out things to be addressed before your first showing. “When the buyer’s inspector comes, your home needs to be in the best shape possible, including the closets, mechanical room, water heaters, HVAC and more. In fact, consider having everything serviced to share that documentation with potential buyers,” she said. “You can lose money because buyers use broken or dirty mechanical equipment to slash the price just because it shows up as a concern on the inspection. My estimates are every hundred dollars needed to make a repair equates to a thousand dollars you could lose in your sale.”

If you’ve done your homework, you could see offers arriving from multiple buyers but deciding which one to select is critically important. “You’ve got to select the right buyer,” advised Ronda. “Multiple offers are great, but you want to select the right one, ensuring the sale will go through all of the stopgaps and ends up at the closing table.”

These are just a few suggestions to help you realize top dollar for your home. More recommendations can be found on the internet or through discussions with your sales representative. You’ve invested a lot in your home. Now’s the time to continue devoting resources to ensure it pays you back to its fullest extent. ■