Seller's Resources

Where to Begin…

Surviving the Sale…

The Right Selling Price…

Common Selling Mistakes…

Why List with Century 21 Real Estate…


Where to Begin 

First Impressions
Remember what first attracted you to your house when you bought it? What excited you about it most? When deciding how best to present your home for sale, it is helpful to try to get back into that buyer’s frame of mind.

A spruced-up house makes a great first impression on potential buyers. An attractive property grabs their attention and makes them excited about finding a house that looks and feels well cared for. Because buyers believe they’ll encounter fewer problems if they buy it, your house becomes more appealing and stands out from the competition. So if you prepare your home correctly, you’ll save time selling it when it’s on the market.

A good first impression makes an impact on a number of levels. It’s not just the way your house looks to potential buyers, but how it feels and smells to them, how their friends and family will react, how they imagine it would be to live there.

With simple improvements throughout your house, you can grab the attention of potential buyers and help them see why your house is right for them.

Plan Ahead
Create a plan to enhance your property. Keep a notebook, and as you stroll through your home and yard, make a list of what needs to be done. Consider what your property looks like to people driving by or walking through your door. What will they like or dislike? What needs fixing, painting, cleaning? What can you improve? Whether you paint your house or fix up the yard, your efforts don’t need to be costly; even inexpensive improvements and minor repairs go far towards attracting serious buyers. But remember, those seemingly insignificant problems you've learned to live with can actually discourage potential buyers.

Here are some ideas for increasing your home’s appeal in order to sell it quickly at the best price:

Interior

Clean Everything
Buyers expect a spotless house, inside and out, so clean everything, especially your windows and window sills. Scrub walls and floors, tile and ceilings, cupboards and drawers, kitchen and bathrooms. Wash scuff marks from doors and entryways, clean light fixtures and the fireplace. Don’t forget the laundry room. And put away your clothes.

Cut the Clutter
People are turned off by rooms that look and feel cluttered. Remember, potential buyers are buying your house, not your furniture, so help them picture themselves and their possessions in your home by making your rooms feel large, light, neutral, and airy. As you clean, pack away your personal items, such as pictures, valuables, and collectibles, and store or get rid of surplus books, magazines, videotapes, extra furniture, rugs, blankets, etc. Consider renting a storage unit to eliminate clutter in your garage and attic.

It’s hard to get rid of possessions, but cleaning and clearing out the clutter can really pay off in the end. Packing away your clutter also gets you started packing for your next move. Make your garage and basement as tidy as the rest of your house. Simple little tasks such as storing your tools and neatly rolling up your garden hose suggest that you take good care of your house. Don’t let anything detract from making your best first impression.

Closets
They’re an important consideration to many buyers. By storing clothing you won’t use soon, you’ll make closets look more spacious.

Paint
A new coat of paint cleans up your living space and makes it look bright and new. To make rooms look larger, choose light, neutral colors that will appeal to the most people possible, such as beige or white.

Carpet
Check its condition. If it’s worn, consider replacing it. It’s an easy and affordable way to help sell your home faster. Again, light, neutral colors, such as beige, are best. If you don’t replace it, you can suggest to potential buyers that they could select new carpet and you’ll reduce your price; buyers like to hear they’re getting a deal. At the very least, have your carpet cleaned.

Repairs and Renovations
It’s best to avoid making major renovations just to sell the house since you’re unlikely to recoup those costs in your selling price. Make minor repairs to items such as leaky faucets, slow drains, torn screens, damaged gutters, loose doorknobs, and broken windows. Make sure repairs are well done; buyers won’t take you seriously if your home improvement efforts look messy, shoddy, or amateurish.

Leaks and Moisture
Water stains on ceilings or in the basement alert buyers to potential problems. Don’t try to cosmetically cover up stains caused by leaks. If you’ve fixed the water problem, repair the damage and disclose in writing to the buyer what repairs were made.

Exterior

Curb Appeal
The "Wow" factor — that first visual, high-impact impression your home makes on potential buyers — can turn a looker into a buyer. To determine your property’s curb appeal, drive through your neighborhood and note other properties; then approach your own house as if you were a potential buyer. How does it look? Does it "wow" you? Will its curb appeal attract buyers? Note what needs improving, such as trimming trees, planting shrubs, or painting gutters. Little things convey that you’ve cared for your home, and this is your opportunity to sell that important message to buyers who are shopping from the street, simply cruising neighborhoods looking for houses for sale. To get them through your door, do what you can to make your property look like someone’s dream home.

Paint/Stain
If it’s peeling or blistering and you can’t remember the last time you painted it, your house needs some attention. That also goes for stain that is significantly faded. A newly painted or stained exterior will help sell your house faster, and whether you do it yourself or hire someone, you’ll also increase your home’s value.

In the Yard
Grab people’s attention by enhancing your yard and landscaping. If your house looks inviting and well-maintained from the street, people will imagine that it’s attractive on the inside, too.

  • Prune bushes and hedges; trim trees.
  • Keep your lawn looking healthy and green by mowing it often, fertilizing it, and keeping it edged and trimmed.
  • Clean up and dispose of pet mess.
  • Weed your gardens; add fertilizer and mulch and plant colorful flowers.
  • In winter, keep your driveway and sidewalks shoveled, de-iced, and well-lit.
  • Stack firewood, clean out birdbaths, repair and paint fences.

The Front Door
An attractive entry catches a buyer’s eye and says, "Welcome," so highlight this area of your house with decorative touches, such as a wreath on the door or new shrubs and flowers around the steps. For an even grander entry, clean and paint your front door, or replace it with a new one for a few hundred dollars. Don’t forget to fix and polish doorknobs, repair torn screens, and then put out that new welcome mat.

Cleaning and Maintenance Checklist:

  • Windows, sills, and screens
  • Walls and floor
  • Tile
  • Ceilings
  • Cupboards and drawers
  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Light fixtures
  • Ceiling fans
  • Carpet and rugs
  • Mirrors
  • Garage
  • Attic
  • Basement
  • Laundry room
  • Yard
  • Gutters
  • Replace furnace filter
  • Dust furniture, TV and computer screens
  • Closets
  • Remove clutter
  • Pack personal items

Repair

  • Leaky faucets and plumbing
  • Torn screens
  • Slow drains
  • Gutters
  • Loose doorknobs
  • Deck boards
  • Broken windows
  • Electrical fixtures
  • Water stain damage
  • Broken appliances
  • Damaged walls and ceilings
  • Worn carpet and rugs
  • Damaged sidewalks and steps

Improvements

  • Stain or paint deck
  • Store tools
  • Roll up garden hose
  • Paint or stain exterior
  • Prune bushes and hedges
  • Trim trees
  • Mow lawn, fertilize, edge, and trim
  • Weed gardens, plant flowers
  • Shovel driveways, de-ice
  • Stack firewood
  • Clean out birdbaths
  • Caulk windows and doors
  • Repair and paint fences
  • Seal asphalt driveway
  • Make sure doors close properly
  • Enhance entryway
  • Replace welcome mat

These elements are no secret – selling anything is about presenting it as favorably as possible, and a home is no exception.  With the right REALTOR® and the right presentation, you may find that selling your home is a painless, quick, profitable process!

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Surviving the Sale

Selling a home can sometimes be a long, stressful, and costly process.  Like anything, though, equipping yourself with the right tools and the right knowledge can eliminate a great number of the potential negative aspects of the process – and get you the maximum return on your investment.

Your Team
The importance of having the right allies in the selling process cannot be overstated.  Having an expert on your side, not only to assist you in making decisions and getting your home marketed, but also simply in terms of having an advocate in the process, is the single most important step you can take to reduce your stress.

The first step in selling any home should be to arrange to get Comparative Market Analyses for your home from three different REALTORS®.  Many sellers take this step, but what they do with the information they receive is not always in their best interest.

Once three CMAs have been prepared, the natural tendency is for a seller to hire the REALTOR® who produces the highest number.  This is often a mistake.  Competing REALTORS® sometimes inflate these numbers in order to ‘buy’ your listing, intending to later drop their price.  If one CMA is significantly higher than the others, be suspicious of how that number was reached.

More important to this process is getting an idea of these REALTORS®’ backgrounds, expertise, motivation, and simply their personalities – you may be working closely with this representative for many weeks, so it is important that it be someone you trust.

Your Goals
Goal #1:  Make lots of money.
Most sellers fail to move beyond goal #1, and that can cause some problems.  Another important goal that should be recognized is the attempt to minimize stress.  Will getting an extra percentage or two for your home be worth the inconvenience of having it on the market for an extra month?  Two months?

Your priorities are your own, of course, but sometimes sellers underestimate the stress that having their home on the market for an extended period can generate.  Constant showings, constant interruptions, and concerns about selling your home before buying its replacement are not minor concerns – each can have a major impact on your life.

Sit down and discuss just where you place the most importance in the selling process.  If profit is your only priority, perhaps you can afford to be firmer in your asking price, and can reject offers that are less than ideal.  Most sellers who have had their home on the market for an extended period of time, though, would agree that the few extra dollars were not worth it in the end.

Your Trust
The correlative to assembling a strong team is putting your trust in that team.

Few people would second-guess their heart surgeon and insist they could do a better job themselves, or question whether their lawyer’s knowledge of the law is more extensive than their own, but when it comes to selling a home, many homeowners find it difficult to put their faith in the knowledge of their REALTOR® fully.

For example, despite the fact that studies show that less than 1% of homes are sold through open houses, many homeowners insist their Realtor® hold one.  Indeed, if a yard sign and an open house were all it took to sell a home, there wouldn’t be many Realtors® at all!

If you’ve put the right team in place, put your trust in that team.  REALTORS® have access to many highly-advanced marketing strategies that you may not even realize are being utilized. 

It is your REALTOR’s® job to bring qualified buyers to the table – and keep in mind that he or she likely does not get paid at all if your house doesn’t sell!  In most markets, the combination of the right representative and the right listing price will result in a sold home.  If you recognize this early on, it becomes much easier to take a step back from the process, let your professional representative market your home, and minimize your stress. 

Don’t hesitate to speak up if you think that things are not progressing as they should, but likewise, don’t hesitate to sit back and be comfortable in the knowledge that the sale of your home is being handled professionally and effectively.

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The Right Selling Price

When you’re selling your home, the price you set is a critical factor in the return you’ll receive. That’s why you need a professional evaluation from an experienced REALTOR®. This person can provide you with an honest assessment of your home, based on several factors, including:

  • Market conditions
  • Condition of your home
  • Repairs or improvements
  • Selling timeframe

In real estate terms, market value is the price at which a particular house, in its current condition, should sell within 30 to 90 days.

If the price of your home is too high, this could cause several things:

  • Limits buyers. Potential buyers may not view your home because it appears to be out of their buying range.
  • Limits showings. Other salespeople may be more reluctant to view your home.
  • Used as leverage. Other REALTORS® may use this home to drive the sale of other homes that are better-priced.
  • Extended stay on the market. When a home is on the market too long, it may be perceived as defective. Buyers may wonder, “what’s wrong,” or “why hasn’t this sold?”
  • Lower price. An overpriced home, still on the market beyond the average selling time, could lead to a lower selling price. To sell it, you will have to reduce the price – sometimes several times. In the end, you’ll probably get less than if it had been properly priced in the first place.
  • Wasted time and energy. A bank appraisal is most often required to finance a home.

Realtors® have known it for years – well-kept homes that are properly priced in the beginning always get you the fastest sale for the best price! And that’s why you need a professional to assist you in the selling of your home.

Often, in a seller’s market, homes that are priced slightly below market value initially will sell for more, simply because of the extra interest they incite.  This can be a risk, however, and when it comes to such a decision, an experienced, trusted REALTOR® is your best ally.

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Common Selling Mistakes

Mistake #1 – Incorrect Pricing
Every seller naturally wants to get the most money for his or her product. The most common mistake that causes sellers to get less than they hope for, however, is listing too high.  Listings reach the greatest proportion of potential buyers shortly after they reach the market.  If a property is dismissed as being overpriced early on, it can result in later price reductions.  Overpriced properties tend to take an unusually long time to sell, and they end up being sold at a lower price than they likely would have had they been priced properly in the first place.

Mistake #2 -- Mistaking Re-finance Appraisals for Market Value
Re-finance appraisals can be very encouraging for homeowners, leading them to assume that the appraisal is the amount that they should expect to receive for their property. Lenders often estimate the value of your property higher than it actually is, however, in order to encourage re-financing. The market value of your home could actually be (and often is) lower. Your best bet is to ask your REALTOR® for the most recent information regarding property sales in your community. This will give you an up-to-date and factually accurate estimate of your property value.

Mistake #3 -- Failing to "Showcase"
In spite of how frequently this mistake is addressed and how simple it is to avoid, its prevalence is still widespread. When attempting to sell your home to prospective buyers, do not forget to make your home look as pleasant as possible. Make necessary repairs. Clean. Make sure everything functions and looks presentable, and remove as many possessions as you can prior to showing. A poorly kept home, or one with too much clutter, will make it dramatically more difficult for buyers to become emotionally interested in your property.

Mistake #4 - Trying to "Hard Sell" While Showing
Buying a house is always an emotional and difficult decision. As a result, you should try to allow prospective buyers to comfortably examine your property. Don't try haggling or forcefully selling. Instead, be friendly and hospitable. Pointing out any unnoticed amenities and being receptive to questions is advisable, but this is not the time for negotiation and salesmanship.

Mistake #5 - Trying to Sell to Lookers
A prospective buyer who shows interest because of a For Sale sign or an open house ad may not really be interested in your property. Often, buyers who are not accompanied by a REALTOR® are 6-9 months away from buying, and are more interested in seeing what is out there than in actually making a purchase. They may still have to sell their house, or may not be able to afford a house yet. They may still even be unsure as to whether or not they want to relocate.

Your REALTOR® should be able to distinguish realistic potential buyers from mere lookers. REALTORS® should usually find out a prospective buyer's savings, credit rating, and purchasing power in general. If your REALTOR® fails to find out this pertinent information, you should do some investigating and questioning on your own. This will help you avoid wasting valuable time marketing to the wrong people. If you have to do this work yourself, consider finding a new REALTOR®.

Mistake #6 -- Being Ignorant of Your Rights & Responsibilities
It is extremely important that you are well-informed of the details of your real estate contract. Real estate contracts are legally binding documents, and they can often be complex and confusing. Not being aware of the terms in your contract could cost you thousands for repairs and inspections. Know what you are responsible for before signing any contract. Can the property be sold "as is"? How will deed restrictions and local zoning laws affect your transaction? Not knowing the answers to these kinds of questions could end up costing you a considerable amount of money.

Mistake #7 - Signing a Contract with No Escape
Hopefully you will have taken the time to choose the best REALTOR® for you. But sometimes, as we all know, circumstances change. Perhaps you misjudged your REALTOR®, or perhaps the REALTOR® has other priorities on his or her mind. In any case, you should have the right to fire your agent. Also, you should have the right to select another agent of your choosing. Many real estate companies will simply replace an agent with another one, without consulting you. Be sure to have control over your situation before signing a real estate contract.

Mistake #8 - Limited Marketing
There are two obvious marketing tools that nearly every seller uses: open houses and classified ads. Unfortunately, these two tools are rather ineffective. Less than 1% of homes are sold at open houses, and less than 3% are sold because of classified ads. In fact, REALTORS® often use open houses solely to attract future prospects, not to sell that particular house.  Does your REALTOR® have a website?  There are very few successful real estate professionals who don’t, and for good reason.

Your REALTOR® should employ a wide variety of marketing techniques and should be committed to selling your property; he or she should be available for every phone call from a prospective buyer. Most calls are received, and open houses are scheduled, during business hours, so make sure that your REALTOR® is working on selling your home during these hours (many REALTORS® work part-time).

Mistake #9 - Choosing the Wrong REALTOR®
Selling your home could be the most important financial transaction in your lifetime. As a result, it is extremely important that you select a REALTOR® who is a good match for you. Experienced real estate agents often cost the same as brand new agents. Chances are that the experienced agent will be able to bring you a higher price in less time and with fewer hassles.

Take your time when selecting a real estate agent. Interview several; ask them key questions. If you want to make your selling experience the best it can be, it is crucial that you select the best agent for you. 

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Why List with Century 21 Real Estate

  • Search Engine Optimization is applied to all listings to ensure they rank high in search results.
  • Your home is listed for sale on our CENTURY 21 Real Estate Search apps for the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and iPad.
  • A video slideshow is created for every CENTURY 21 listing and syndicated to YouTube
  • Our state-of-the-art website makes buying and selling real estate easier. 
  • More than 1.3 million unique visitors* come to our site every month. Your home will get a tremendous amount of exposure. 
  • A smarter search box allows consumers to see your property address, city, zip code or MLS number, and C21.com responds with all matching results before the 
    first click
    .
  • All CENTURY 21 listings are pushed to more than 800 of the Internet’s most visited real estate websites, including: