Q1: What is the most significant challenge to getting my house sold?
A: Pricing your home to market value. Yes, I know it seems obvious, but pricing a house at it's competitive market value is one of the biggest advantages that you can have over sellers who are priced above market value. Even in a Seller's Advantaged Market--pricing a home above market value means you will likely not get offers right away and you will be disappointed with the offers that are presented on your home when they do come in.
Q2: What is the second biggest challenge to getting my house sold?
A: Curb appeal and first impressions inside the house. Buyers want "move in ready" homes these days. Typically only investors are willing to make significant changes to a home and investors don't like paying "move in ready" prices.
Q3: How do Buyers find out about my listing?
A: Online. Very few buyers will find out about your listing in any other way. It is what you are doing right now and it is what buyers do to find a home. Having the very best online presence and online marketing is critical to getting your home seen and sold.
Q4: How many Open Houses should I have?
A: One or possibly none. In this day and age Open Houses are not a strong vehicle to sell your house. When a buyer can see dozens of homes online in less than an hour, homes that fit the size, price and features of their search, why would they drive through communities looking for open house signs to see one house that probably meets very few of their specific needs? The truth is, Realtors conduct open houses to meet neighbors and get new listings. It is another one of those little industry secrets that made me want to start this blog in the first place ("Real Estate Secrets").
Q5: Does the Listing Agent sell my home?
A: The Listing Agent's job is not "Salesman", but is tasked with role of marketing your home. The Buyers Agent is the Realtor who works directly with potential buyers to find and "sell" your home. The best thing that a Listing Agent can do to "sell" his client's listings is to provide good pricing advice, staging advice, full listing and online marketing for his clients. When an offer comes in--the Listing agent is your trusted adviser, coach and negotiator--but this part of the process does not start until buyers start crossing your threshold. My advice: Hire a Realtor with strong marketing credentials--not an old-school "pitch-man" to sell your house. The Listing Agent seldom talks to buyers, so having a good pitch-face won't help.
Q6: Should I hire a Professional Stager?
A: Yes. Ask your Realtor who he recommends. Every Realtor should have industry professionals that they know, trust and recommend--including a great Stager. Of course, an experienced listing agent may also have some staging experience, but a professional stagger is hard to match.
Q7: What about the competition?
A: Know what is going on around you. Similar priced homes with similar features and size will bring more attention to your listing--if you do everything else (above) correctly. Like any other business, competition while you are listing does matter.
Q8: How important are the listing details?
A: Critical. We live in a digital age where information is the key to everything. A MLS listing is a digital database with information about your property for sale. Missing pieces of information mean that the person who was looking for your home will not be able to find it because the database did not have enough information to point that buyer to your home. Database data is one business case where more is almost always better and your listing agent needs to fill out every available field of information.
Q9: How important are photographs?
A: Critical. Photos need to depict the home and property as it is. Extreme wide angle lens and missing photos will only lead to buyer disappointment and Realtors may boycott your listing. It is a common misconception that making a house look better in photos than real life will help you sell faster. My recommendation--get as many photos as possible and make sure you post as many photos as the MLS will allow (in Austin today that number is 25).
Q10: What about selling FSBO?
A: My professional and personal opinion is that while FSBO sellers were a fad in certain Seller's Markets where and when buyer traffic was on Auto-Pilot, I think FSBO homes sales have faded into the shadows and the published statistics seem to support this belief. My own personal experience with FSBO marketing tells me that it is expensive (you pay hundreds of dollars whether you sell your home or not), has no built-in marketing, and has no real coaching to help you sell your home (seminar style--one size fits all advice). Today's attempt to sell FSBO learn the lessons of real estate the hard way--with their own time and money.
Price to market. Make sure your home shows better than anything around you. Make sure you have the best possible online marketing presence and database coverage. Make the photographs count. Put the best Realtor you know on your team. And if you don't have a trusted Real Estate professional, call me--I will be happy to help you.