Tips to Selling a House for More Money

Talia Lee-
July 03, 2024

Even in a seller’s market, characterized by limited inventory and frequent bidding wars, it remains beneficial to devote effort and attention to preparing your home for a top-dollar sale. This process includes several strategic steps, such as collaborating with a knowledgeable local real estate agent and investing in enhancements to showcase your home in its best light for potential buyers. Here are 10 expert tips from Realtors that can set your home apart from the competition and potentially increase its selling price:

Partnering with an experienced local real estate agent who possesses in-depth knowledge of your neighborhood can expedite the sale of your home and frequently lead to a higher selling price. According to statistics from the National Association of Realtors, homes listed without the aid of a Realtor fetched a median price of $310,000 between July 2022 and June 2023, whereas those sold with a Realtor achieved a median price of $405,000. Before making a decision, consider interviewing multiple agents to find the best fit—building a good rapport can enhance the overall transaction experience.

Deciding which home improvements to invest in can be overwhelming, with costs escalating swiftly. The key lies in allocating funds to projects that yield the highest return on investment.

According to Jade Lee-Duffy, a Realtor in the San Diego area, minor kitchen upgrades are generally a prudent choice. “The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home, and many buyers prioritize this area,” she advises. However, she cautions against extensive renovations, suggesting instead focusing on cost-effective updates like cabinet resurfacing, countertop replacements, a fresh coat of paint, or updated fixtures and hardware.

Similarly, Katie Severance, a Realtor with Douglas Elliman in Palm Beach, Florida, and author of “The Brilliant Home Buyer,” recommends updating bathrooms as another savvy investment. “Renovating kitchens and bathrooms are pivotal because these rooms typically add the most value to a property,” she explains.

As the adage goes, first impressions matter greatly. “Ensure your front yard is tidy, with trimmed bushes and well-maintained grass,” advises Lee-Duffy. “Consider adding vibrant potted plants near the front door to create a welcoming atmosphere for potential buyers.”

Here are some other simple enhancements that can enhance curb appeal:

  • Freshening up the exterior paint
  • Installing window flower boxes
  • Upgrading the mailbox
  • Adding fresh mulch around shrubs and trees

Getting a home inspection before listing your property is another important consideration. “You don’t want any surprises,” advises Lee-Duffy. “It’s better to identify any issues beforehand that you can address, rather than letting buyers discover them later.” Addressing issues proactively can prevent buyers from gaining negotiating leverage for a lower price or, in the worst-case scenario, backing out of the deal. Spending a few hundred dollars on an inspection could provide peace of mind.

However, there is a potential drawback to a pre-listing inspection. “Be cautious, because once a seller is aware of an existing defect and fails to rectify it before listing, they are obligated to disclose it to a buyer,” warns Severance. “Defects that buyers learn about after making an offer, which were known but not disclosed beforehand, can jeopardize the transaction.”

Investing in professional photography can significantly enhance your home’s selling potential. “Since most people begin their property search online,” notes Lee-Duffy, “eye-catching photos can lead to a higher sale price and a quicker sale.”

However, maintaining a sense of mystery in your online listing is important. “I recommend against photographing every inch of the home,” advises Severance. “The goal of photos isn’t to reveal everything online; it’s to create intrigue and make buyers eager to see more in person. If they don’t visit the house, they’re unlikely to make an offer.”

When it comes to staging your home, Severance advises following two key principles: less is more and stick to neutral decor. “Capturing buyers’ interest starts right at the front door,” she emphasizes. “Pay special attention to the entryway: Consider repainting, adding flowers, investing in a new area rug, a striking mirror, or a bold piece of art.”

To create a sense of spaciousness, remove items that visually crowd a room, like oversized ottomans or excessive plants. In the kitchen, clear off all but one or two new-looking appliances from the counters. “And don’t overlook staging the deck or patio,” adds Severance, “as these areas can expand the perceived space of a smaller home.”

You can undertake staging yourself or opt for a professional stager to elevate the presentation. Hiring a professional typically costs around $1,800, according to HomeAdvisor.

Determining the optimal price for your home can significantly impact your selling success. “Setting the price too high could deter potential buyers from even stepping inside,” warns Lee-Duffy.

So, how do you strike the right balance — aiming for profit without overpricing? Your agent’s expertise is invaluable here. A seasoned agent understands the fair market value in your locality, accurately gauging what your home is worth and its potential selling price in the current market.

“Pricing effectively requires a delicate approach,” notes Severance. “Listing slightly below comparable properties can attract more interest, yet not so low that you risk disappointment if you receive only one offer at list price.” Generating enough interest might even set the stage for a competitive bidding scenario.

“The ultimate goal of any showing is for the buyer to envision their own belongings in the space,” emphasizes Severance. Therefore, while family photos and personal trinkets may seem insignificant in determining your home’s market value, they actually play a crucial role — especially if you’re still residing in the home during the selling process.

“If buyers are distracted by personal items, they may struggle to visualize themselves living there and might not proceed with an offer,” Severance explains. “Buyers focus on imagining their own furniture, how it will fit, and where it will go. They’re here to see the house itself, not the items inside it.”

Once your property hits the market, the pace can accelerate swiftly. Preparation is key to staying responsive to potential offers. “Ensure all essential documents, like seller disclosures, and records of recent repairs, renovations, and utility bills are ready for any buyer inquiries,” advises Lee-Duffy.

Severance emphasizes that sellers must be prompt and attentive to avoid losing prospective buyers. “Delayed responses or perceived unfair treatment can easily lead buyers to walk away,” she warns.

Lastly, aim to detach emotionally and view the process as a straightforward transaction — your former home is now a product for sale. It’s common for prospective buyers to request credits or repairs, which sellers may find personally challenging. It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of which issues and items you’re willing to negotiate on.

“It’s essential to remove emotion from the equation and recognize that buyers typically don’t expect to receive everything they ask for,” advises Severance. “Evaluate the validity and fairness of each request and consider offering a compromise. The real cost isn’t in making concessions but in potentially losing the buyer, relisting the property, restarting the process, and potentially receiving a lower offer.”

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