Can you really sell my house?

If you are getting ready to list your house, two of the greatest temptations you will have when interviewing listing agents is to (1) choose the listing agent that tells you your house is worth the most money or (2) pick a listing agent based on the number of signs you have seen with their name or their company name on it. So, it seems to make sense that this kind of logic will sell your house, and give you the highest possible price for your house--right? Well, probably not.

While this seems to make sense on the surface, there are several potential problems with this strategy. First of all, any Realtor that tells you that your house is worth more money than the price that similar houses are selling for in your community, and can not back that up with hard numbers and SOLD comparable's in your community, is pulling your leg to get your listing. This tune will change in a few weeks or a few months when "the market has changed..." and the numbers of what is really going on in your community are revealed to you. Unfortunately, you will have paid 1, 2, 3 months additional mortgage on your home, and buyers who may have been interested in your house at market price will have already gone on to buy another property. This is a very common mistake that sellers make--perpetuated by some Realtors who may be willing to say what you want to hear--to get your business.

The next problem with this strategy is that this creates a longer Days on Market (DOM) number. Because this information is available to buyers and Realtors, homes that have been on the market for longer than the average DOM, have a stigma. Buyers want to know "what is wrong with the property that no one wants it". These homes will often get over-looked and pushed to the bottom of the list of homes to see (read: lost in the noise). The longer your home is on the market, the harder the sell and the fewer potential buyers to see your home.

Now, on to the "top listing agent" in my community. Driving around and finding the Realtor with the most signs in your community does not assure you of anything more than they have lots of houses for sale. This is not an indication of how many homes this Realtor has sold, of what percentage of their sellers are satisfied with their services, how much advertising they do, or how many buyers will see your listings. In fact, buyers don't really care who lists your home. It can be the largest or the smallest listing agent in the city. They only care about your home--not who lists it. But you should care who lists your home.

Homes sell due to three basic factors: (1) Who sees the property, both in terms of quantity and "quality" of buyers (2) How well the property shows (3) How well it is priced compared to other homes in the market, active and sold. Of course, there are other factors that can affect your home selling, such as the broader market where you live, but in general, these three factors will have significant relevance to and speed of you selling your home. A Realtor having a lot of homes for sales is not an indication of how good or how successful your Realtor may be.

To get visibility you need advertising. If your Realtor's only advertising is a 24" sign in the front yard, and a listing on the MLS, your listing may not stand out over the competition. It does not mean that you will not sell, it just means that you may not have any advantage in this market. It used to be that sellers sold houses by having open houses--this is simply no longer the case. Because most buyers do their research online today, not behind the steering wheel of their car. Your Realtor needs to be spending money to bring buyers to your online listing. The broader the internet coverage, and the more money spent to highlight your listing online, the better the visibilty. The more buyers that see your online listing (assuming the right price and good showing potential of your home), the better your opportunities to get showings. The more showings you get, the better your opportunities for offers. Offers to contract to close...

First impressions. Very simple principle here: as inventory in a given market increases, and a seller's market becomes a buyer's market, buyers get very picky and do not want to fix or remodel their new home purchase. If comparable homes do not require painting or new carpet, and your house does, you will most likely lose out to the properties that are "move-in ready". Even curb appeal impressions are important to getting interested buyers into your house to see it.

Price. Your house may be the best showing home in the community by far, but if a buyer feels as though your home is not worth the price differential between houses that do not show as well, you may continue to lose out. Houses are first judged on whether the price is in the buyers budget or not. Secondly, compared to how it shows and is priced compared to everything that they have seen recently. And lastly, they will compare the price per square foot to sold comparable homes when they are ready to make an offer. It is a complicated series of decisions that the buyer goes through. Putting yourself in the buyer's shoes when listing your home is a good way to take emotion out of the process and get your house sold faster.

Make sure your house is ready to sell, and your Realtor is doing more than putting a $100 sign in your front yard and hoping that buyers drive by to see it...


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