here's YOUR CHANCE TO show THE WORLD why your home is fantastic
saying goodbye is often difficult. but with it, a new chapter in your life begins.
The first thing I want to know about your home is not the reason you’re looking to sell it – I want to know the reason you bought it in the first place.
Your reason for selling is important, no question. But whether you’ve outgrown your home or grown tired of its upkeep, I want to know what made you choose it so many years ago. Perhaps it was a practical reason – the number of children you had living at home, the house’s location for commuting – or because the home possessed a feature you really liked – a spacious master bedroom, a bonus room above the garage. I ask this question because, chances are, what drew you to your home may draw in the next buyer.
But I also want to know what you’ve learned to love about it. I want to know the thing you couldn’t know when you bought the place, the thing that you’re going to miss when you’re gone. That’s something that the next buyer might not see, either. And maybe what you love about your home is how the neighborhood comes alive on Halloween, costumed children scampering down the street, breathlessly knocking on your door. Or maybe it’s how the sunrise streams in through the kitchen window at just the right time nine months out of the year, so that when you’re sitting down to eat breakfast you have the overwhelming feeling of home.
These are the little details that will help me to sell your home. Sometimes it happens very quickly; other times, it may take a year. But the right buyer for your property is always out there. Here’s what we do to find them and here’s what we do to make the sale happen:
1. Analyze. Upon first contacting me to potentially list your property, I will need to visit it in person. As much as I can create a projected list price based on the information available through your town assessor’s office and my knowledge of your home’s location, being on the outside does not indicate to me the quality of your home’s flooring or show me the beautiful wainscoting in the dining room. Just as the average buyer wouldn’t purchase a home without first getting an in-person feel for it, I cannot properly analyze a home’s value without walking around and taking it all in.
2. Report. Once I have visited the property, I will utilize online analytics to generate a list price. What these computer models lack is what I have seen in person, and so I can adjust the models based on what I have and have not seen. I will also send you a list of comparable properties, including homes that have sold, are currently listed, or currently under agreement. Because I am actively involved in the real estate community, I generally have had a chance to see many, if not all of the homes I am using in my analysis so that I can thoroughly compare these homes and accurately share what the market indicates about yours.
3. Begin the listing contract. After I have shared my report with you, and if we have decided to move forward to list your home, we will sign a standard listing contract. At this point, we can decide where in my recommended price range you would like to place your home. While you are under no obligation to follow my pricing analysis, it is worth noting that competitively pricing a home often leads to a faster sale time and generates a higher sale price. Though there can be the rare buyer who overpays for a property, most people out there – and the agents representing them! – know enough to identify when a homeseller is hoping to receive too high a price.
Often, homes that linger on the market sell for an undervalued amount. However, in the case of antique homes, market time tends to be longer due to a smaller pool of buyers.
4. Presentation. Before placing your home on the market, you may consider making some small changes, such as reducing clutter or attending to minor issues, such as a broken door hinge. When visiting your property, I will have the opportunity to make note of things you might change. The idea here is to prevent buyers from being distracted from unimportant issues in an otherwise beautiful home.
This does not mean that the house needs to be perfect. The reality is that you live in your home, and buyers will understand that. This also does not mean that making suggested changes will mean that your home may sell for more money. Often, reducing distractions means the home will sell more quickly, but unless you’ve recently installed a new roof, your improvements may not be seen as capital investments by a potential buyer.
5. Marketing. In today’s world, most buyers first see your home online, meaning that professional photography has become the industry standard. Along with that, however, is the importance of a wholly professional presentation, from the listing description text to how the property is marketed on social media, primarily Facebook and Instagram. What we want is for buyers to not only locate your home online, but obsess over it. To click through the property photos and linger on a certain room, to watch the property video in a continuous loop, to digitally return to your home again and again, reading the description over and over, the buyer developing their love for your home before they even enter it, and cementing that love upon their first visit.
Print marketing is still a very useful tool, and your home will be presented in local publications, as buyers are often located in the very same town in which you currently reside. Print collateral materials are vitally important, and in addition to creating a glossy beauty sheet, I create fantastic multi-page brochures that list property information and include the property photographs. Digital content is easily and rapidly consumed, but a physical print object forces a buyer to hold on to the property, at least temporarily.
6. Reevaluating. As your home remains for sale, we will continually reevaluate the market and your home’s location in it. Often, this may require a price break on your home. Dropping the price does not mean that the home was initially priced too high, but rather that market conditions have changed and we must remain competitive. There is no hard and fast rule about when a price break should occur – each seller has different objectives in mind, and as a result, I change my strategies accordingly.
When listing your home, my goal is to achieve the maximum sale price in the shortest amount of time. Sometimes, the best way to do this is by aggressively lowering the price in successive weeks. Other times, we remain patient, and hold our price point for a longer period of time.
7. Negotiating. When an offer comes in, we will evaluate by looking at several criterions, including offer price, contingencies, and estimated closing date. Though there is no perfect algebraic equation or formula for breaking down the benefits of an offer, there is always room to push on sale price or performance date and determine what aspects of an offer most affect your willingness to move forward.
After we receive an accepted offer, the next step is typically the home inspection, where the buyer will bring in a certified professional to assess the condition and quality of your home. There are times when I recommend that a seller conduct their own home inspection prior to putting the house on the market, so that all potential home inspection issues may be addressed before a buyer comes in. However, this can be cost prohibitive.
Though home inspections are for informational purposes only, there are times when buyers and their agents will want sellers to address issues that are neither safety nor structural concerns. In certain instances, such as when the buyer has given us the closing date that we wanted or come up to our perfect number, I may encourage my sellers to make minor repairs in order to move the transaction forward. However, I will never tell my seller to make any needless concession just to keep the transaction together.
If a safety or structural concern has come to light as the result of a home inspection, I will often encourage my sellers to address the issue, as another buyer likely will have the same concern, should these initial buyers choose to leave the transaction.
8. Moving forward. If you’ve bought and sold in other states, you may have signed a Purchase and Sale prior to home inspection, but in Massachusetts, the Purchase and Sale is the last document that finalizes the purchase price and any all concessions between buyer and seller, barring any unusual, unforeseen circumstances.
As a result of this, it is important that sellers who have a home connected to a private septic system test this system prior to signing the Purchase and Sale. Because all homes cannot be sold without a passing Title V certificate indicating a properly operating septic system, it is important to conduct these tests as soon as possible, as a septic-based contingency must be placed into the Purchase and Sale. You can estimate that the price of a Title V inspection will likely be in the range of $600 to $800.
I strongly encourage my sellers to hire an attorney to draft and review the Purchase and Sale agreement. While a standard form is available to all attorneys and to real estate agents, the attorneys have the ability to modify the document and add addendums and riders that best reflect the needs of their clients.
Sometimes, my sellers already know an attorney they wish to use. However, I always recommend that they utilize an attorney who specializes in real estate law and so I provide my clients with the names of several attorneys, from which they can choose their ideal representation.
9. Heading toward the closing table. After the Purchase and Sale has been signed, the seller must prepare to have their home evaluated by an assessor for the buyers’ mortgage lender, should the buyer choose to finance their purchase. Once the buyer has received their mortgage commitment, if applicable, and once the seller has fulfilled all of their obligations in the Purchase and Sale, if applicable, the road to the closing is clear, and the seller must start preparing to pack up and move out.
I am always happy to recommend moving companies or estate sale facilitators to my sellers and assist in any way that I can with their move. In order to arrive at the closing table, I must also make sure that your property has passed a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector inspection, which, if new detectors are required, may mean you incur a device and installation fee, should you choose to not purchase and install these yourself. After that, I will take the final water reading for your home and make sure that you have contacted all relevant utility companies.
10. The day of closing. Typically, a walk-through by the buyer will occur the day of or the night before the closing. At this point, all of your personal property should have left your home and the home should be in broom-clean condition, which does not mean that you need to clean out every drawer with a toothbrush, but that the home should be generally free of dust, dirt, and debris.
At the closing, you will receive a check for the purchase price of your home, minus the amount due on your mortgage, the fee for state tax stamps ($4.56 per thousand of selling price), the fee for your attorney, the fee for the deed, and, as we will have discussed when listing your home, the fee for both my services and the services of the buyer’s agent.
In the future, I will check in, whether you have purchased another property with me or have moved out of state. Part of working in real estate means that I am always happy to help, whether it is answering a simple question you need answered or assisting with a future transaction.