Marketing Your Home
Once you’re prepared and priced your home, you need to know about the many steps of marketing. Ask me as many questions as possible. The questions below are a good place to start.
· Now that I’ve prepared and priced my home for sale, what do I need to know about marketing?
· What strategies would you put in place to market my home?
· How important are Open Houses and when should they occur?
· What will be done “online” to promote my home?
· Should a “For Sale” sign be put on my property?
· How will your “Marketing Action Plan” give my home an advantage over the efforts of other agents?
Are You are Thinking About Selling Your Home By Yourself?
In a Premier Location, You Can Almost Always Sell Your House Yourself, However.....
In a premier location such as Amherst and Northampton, while you may be able to sell your home, you most certainly will not be able to market it properly and know if you got the best price for it.
Newspaper advertising and signs account for less than 5% of all buyers, yet it is the activity most heavily relied upon by owners attempting to sell their own homes.
Despite the professional expertise a good Realtor will bring in preparing and staging a home for sale, pricing homes properly, marketing property and driving buyer traffic to a designated home, showing property, handling objections, managing a transaction, keeping things on track and bringing it all to a close, owners are always tempted to try to avoid the fees associated with all these services.
Despite the fact that buyers who wish to do business directly with sellers are expecting to save the same fees the sellers seek to save, and expect to negotiate the sales price to reflect that, homeowners are sometimes tempted to go it alone without professional assistance.
Despite the fact that for most of us, our home is a substantial portion of our asset portfolio, and while we almost always seek professional guidance with other substantial financial investments, the temptation to handle a home sale alone with the hope of saving commission dollars sometimes leads owners to ignore their better interests.
Before you try to sell your home yourself, here are some things to consider:
Advertising and signs are not the best ways to sell real estate. Real estate companies spend money on those things to make their phones ring, not to sell your property. Targeted marketing plans designed to reach the best buyer pools for your particular property offer the best chance for highest and best price.
Over 70% of all buyers are beginning their search for properties on the internet. Web presence is a substantial factor in reaching a wide audience.
In low inventory communities, capitalizing on the high demand of a particular property is an opportunity to establish new price points by encouraging buyer competition. In order to do that, you need access to various buyer pools and only a Realtor with a broad reach is able to do so effectively.
Often the best purchasers are relocating from out of town. With limited time and high motivation, these are often your best and highest purchasers because of circumstances. Almost always, relocating buyers have chosen Realtors to assist them with their purchase and they are not scouring the newspaper ads for their next move.
Many, many purchasers are uncomfortable dealing directly with an owner, and prefer a skilled professional to negotiate the transaction. Buyers often feel that sellers cannot be objective, and are more likely to intentionally or not, make misrepresentations. Buyers often feel self-conscious about fully examining a property in the sellers' presence -- afraid of appearing intrusive may neglect to look in closets, etc. or investigate as thoroughly as they would have done with a Realtor. In fact, most buyers who want to deal with an owner directly, wish to do so to argue and insist in most cases on a reduction in price of at least what the commission would be.
A professional Realtor can save you money by recommending certain repairs to market your house properly and dissuading you from costly mistakes. Further, all studies indicate that Realtors net sellers more money for their homes than when they sell them on their own.
Handling buyer objections and moving purchasers toward a sale is a skill honed well by a qualified Realtor.
There is a tremendous amount of anecdotal information in a given community about real estate, and neighbors and family may be well-intentioned but often ill-informed. A professional Realtor has access to real information, unavailable to a homeowner.
Homeowner ads bring a great many lookers and curiosity seekers who aren't necessarily qualified to buy. Realtors are skilled at qualifying buyers and ensuring that frivolous appointments and intrusions are kept at a minimum.
Financing a home is a very complex process and keeping a transaction together through home inspection, purchase and sale, and bank appraisal is challenging in a market where homes are sold at premium prices and buyers are skittish about economic conditions. A good Realtor manages the inevitable real estate roller coaster smoothly and bears the distress for the homeowner.
Full property disclosure is not only an important ethical practice, it also prevents legal troubles down the line and more important, may pre-empt surprises and disappointments further along in the transaction. Again, many prospective purchasers may be more cautious about feeling fully disclosed by an owner.
If you still are interested in selling your home yourself, I'd be happy to speak with you more about it, and answer any questions you might have. Please feel free to contact me.
My Way of Marketing Your Home
All real estate agents are not the same. I feel that in many ways homeowners have lost the control over the sale of their homes with agents, and what has happened has been a deterioration of quality of real estate service. Many agents just want the commission. I want satisfied customers and clients. I don't just put up a For Sale sign and wait. I don't believe in that, nor do I do it.
I DON'T just list a home and hope someone else sells it. I have a marketing plan (see below) that keeps you informed while I get the results you want. My experience shows that most people have four objectives when selling their house:
1. They want to realize the best possible price.
2. They want the sale to go smoothly and quickly.
3. They want the least amount of inconvenience.
4. They want to know what is going on.
In addition, there are usually two questions that are of immediate concern when you are considering the sale of your property:
· How much can you expect to receive?
· How long will it take to sell?
The answers to these questions are a combination of factors, some of which you control, some we control, and many that no one controls.
I pre-qualify all prospects that come through me to determine their buying potential, and their wants and needs. I do not spend my Saturdays and Sundays showing people homes that don't meet their needs. Because of this I use my time more efficiently, and there is less of a hassle.
I suggest that buyers become pre-qualified with an accredited lender. This allows them to follow through on offers and purchase a home quickly. I follow through on all aspects of the financing side of the transaction. What this means for you is that you have fewer "browsers" coming to your home.
OK! You have an offer! Now What!?!?
When the offer comes in, we will sit down and discuss it. I will show you the pros and cons of the offer and terms, walk you through the paperwork, and explain each and every clause. I have a great deal of experience with Offers and the Purchase and Sale Agreement. I want to make sure that before you accept any offer you have the answers to any questions you may have. Note that sometimes the buyer and the Selling Agent will want to be present to discuss the offer, and possibly negotiate it. Certainly I will to be there to make sure you are comfortable with the terms before you decide to sign anything. Any verbal agreements must be written into the contract. I can help with this. Remember I work for you.
We can also negotiate the deposit. A serious buyer will place an "Earnest Money Deposit" with their offer. This means that they are "earnest" in their interest to purchase your property.
What if the price isn't what we wanted? If we determine that the price offered just can't be accepted, we can counter. Making a counter offer is a part of negotiating. Or if the offer doesn't even look remotely good, then we can merely reject the offer. But no matter what happens, I will always explain your options to you.
When it comes to negotiating, you want someone specifically working for you -- someone who knows the clauses in the contracts, and the minutiae. I’ve had many years of familiarity with the standard “Agreement to Purchase” form which starts the sale in Massachusetts. You can rest assured that I will go over this document with you and explain everything to you before you sign anything. Sometimes in a transaction, different points are brought up to be negotiated. The buyer wants you to leave the refrigerator, or they don't want to pay full price. Remember, I am representing you. If there is any negotiating to be done, you will have someone on your side, fighting for your best interests. I have been trained in the finer points of negotiating, and am not swayed by fast-talking, high-pressure sales techniques.
The closing is the culmination of the entire process. It can be one of the most nervous times for everyone involved. This is when you and the buyers and everyone's attorneys get together to finalize the transaction, and to sign all of the paperwork (the deed, mortgage papers, etc.). This is also the time to give the keys to the buyers.
I like to sit down and discuss everything that is going to happen at the closing before hand, just to get you familiarized with it. I'd like to give you a run down on what people are going to ask and what you are going to have to sign. I have found that many people have a lot of questions about what the closing actually is and what actually goes on, and I want to make sure that if you work with me, you know what is happening at all times.
My Marketing Plan of Action
After the property is listed, the next stage is a marketing plan. This starts with the property itself. I can help you by recommending repairs or cosmetic work that will increase the salability of the property. Many agents at this stage go to their managers and merely put the property in the MLS system, and maybe put an ad in the paper, but this isn't all that is available. I use a comprehensive marketing system. This generally leads to a quick sale and good price for you. No one is benefited by having a property sit on the market for a long time.
Jim Lumley’s ACTION MARKETING PLAN
My overall objectives are to: Get your property exposed to the market immediately. . . .
Make qualified buyers aware of your property. . . .
Maintain good communication with you. . . .
Get your property sold for the most possible money. . . .
My plan of action to accomplish these objectives is to:
· Consult with you on the sales process ....its about getting your house SOLD!
· Review Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) ....recommend pricing at Top Dollar
· Explain Massachusetts disclosures laws ....NEW required disclosures for 2006
· Fill out listing paperwork accurately ....correctness prevents miscommunication
· Help fill out Mass. Lead Paint and Sellers Description forms ....supports buyer confidence
· Install "For Sale" sign and Lock Box ....signage and access crucial for prompt sale
· Take photographs ....extensive photos in and out that skillfully illustrate features
· Produce "Visual Tour" ....Panoramic scenes attract buyers *****
· Order "Title V" if needed ....required in Mass but expense can be limited
· Make helpful suggestions to follow to gain top dollar ....observe lists in Seller's Guide
· Write advertising ....distinctive copy crucial, one of my books!
· Process listing and submit to Multiple Listing Service ....all processed within 24 hours
· Post on personal website ....visited extensively at www.jimlumley.com *****
· Distinctive "Showcase” at Realtor.com ....key internet advertisement few agents have *****
· Announce property to company sales staff ....done immediately on receipt of listing
· Schedule Jones-Town & Country office caravan ....every week on Monday mornings
· Schedule MLS all-agent tour ....typically on Wednesday mornings
· Produce custom property flyer ....special emailing to over 200 agents *****
· Custom property brochure ….printed brochure for mailings and Open Houses *****
· Plan Open House if appropriate ....schedule Open House early after bringing to market
· Report comments of buyers back to you ....marketing reports sent bi-weekly *****
· Discuss current market evaluation and competition ....update market information
· Review market position ....adjust price should market not support asking price
· Present all offers ....any offers will be presented regardless of price or terms
· Negotiate price and terms with buyer ....35 years of negotiating experience
· Send property and sale details to attorneys ....all contact info and details of sale sent
· Escrow deposit monies ....all deposit monies held in segregated accounts
· Schedule buyer's Home Inspection ....inspection limits future liability
· Gain signatures on Purchase & Sale Agreement as needed ....attorney or agent prepared
· Confirm all signatures on Lead Paint and Sellers Description ....limits future liability
· Order termite and wood-boring insect inspection ....schedule and send results
· Schedule fire department smoke detector inspection ....attend fire department inspection
Arrange buyer's final walk-through ....answer last minute questions
Above all, to get you the best price in the quickest amount of time
Steps to a successful sale:
1. Price: As your Realtor I will study area and neighborhood market conditions and recommend a listing price range. The price should be based on a detailed "Comparative Market Analysis" of homes in the neighborhood that most closely resemble yours in land and home size, features such as view, age, and condition. Actual closed sales show what buyers will pay, and homes on the market show what homes you will be competing with for the pool of qualified buyers.
2. Research: I have the tools to research your property's history including mortgages, building permits, ownership, encroachments, and any other public records data that will be available to potential buyers. Now is the time to resolve any title issues that could hold up a sale.
3. Prepare the listing documents: These standard forms will specify what price and terms you and I have determined for putting your home into the Multiple Listing Service. A typical listing term may be between 6 months and 1 year to include the marketing and escrow time needed. If you want me to invest my own time and money into marketing and advertising your home, enough time is needed to get market momentum and results.
4. Marketing Plan: Decide, in consultation with me, what specifically should be done to expose your home to the world. Open Houses, mass mailings, advertisements, and descriptive flyers are some of the commonly used tools. Make sure your home is priced to sell, or even the Goodyear Blimp won't do a thing!
ShowTime! In addition to the material in this Seller’s Guide, I can advise you on how to prepare your home for showing. This may be just putting fresh flowers on the table, or it may involve painting, carpeting, or even a kitchen facelift. You will get a great return for the effort if you make the right decisions on what your home needs and what work you are willing to do to maximize your home price.
5 Reasons Homes Sell
Location -- The single most important factor in determining the value of your home.
Price -- Pricing your home properly from the beginning is an important factor in determining the length of time it will take to sell your home. Reviewing Jim’s Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) is the best starting point to assist you in determining the best possible asking price.
The Condition of the Property -- Affects the price and speed of the sale. As prospective buyers often make purchases based on emotion, first impressions are important. Optimizing the physical appearance of your home will maximize the buyer's perception of value.
Market Conditions -- Property values are influenced by the current real estate market. As the real estate market cannot be manipulated, a flexible marketing plan should be developed which analyzes the current marketing conditions and individual features of the property.
The Agent You Select!!! -- This is why choosing Jim Lumley makes so much sense!
10 COMMON MISTAKES THAT CAN COST HOMESELLERS THOUSANDS
Selling your house can be a nerve racking, exhausting experience. Last minute calls, inconvenient showing, price adjustments, and the uncertainties of being stuck with a house that doesn’t sell for months on end can all take their toll. If you are not completely prepared you could end up losing thousand of dollars in profit!
The difference between a profitable smooth transaction and a miserable experience is often a fine line. The majority of house-selling nightmares are caused by a lack of knowledge.
1 – Improper Pricing
Improper pricing is by far the most common mistake that unsuccessful home-sellers make. If you set the price too high, your house will sit unsold and become “shopworn.” This will only help to sell houses competing with yours as buyers who see your house will compare it to properly priced comparables and will obviously choose the better value. On the other hand, if you price it too low, you may give away thousands of dollars to a total stranger. You must keep in mind that the market value is set by the market – not by Realtors, appraisers, or sellers – but by what buyers have paid for comparable properties.
2 – Not Providing Easy Access
Accessibility is a major key to a profitable sale. A lock-box allows buyers to see your house when accompanied by an agent at a minute’s notice. The more accessible your house, the more showings, and the better odds are of finding a person willing to pay top dollar. In today’s competitive market, buyers who can’t get a viewing will go on to other houses, and purchase elsewhere.
3 – Bad Housekeeping
First impressions are probably more important in real estate than in any other field. A staggering amount of house sales have been lost to cluttered rooms, un-mowed lawns, dirty kitchens and bathrooms, stained carpets and unpleasant odors. It is imperative that you clean every nook and cranny so that everything sparkles as when it was new.
4 – Failure to Make Repairs
Many times minor improvements will set the homeowner back thousands of dollars during negotiations. A leaky faucet, paint on trim, a cracked tile, any of these minor details can be used as leverage when dealing with offers and counter-offers. Another thing to keep in mind is that since there are so many houses for sale, what may seem to be a small fix-up job can make the difference between a closed sale at top dollar and a house that just sits on the market for months on end.
5 – Poor Showing Techniques
Your house should be neat and clean, but that’s just the beginning. There are lots of little details that make a big difference. If you should happen to meet a prospective buyer knowing exactly what to say or not say and do when they come through your house is crucial.
6 – Relying on Traditional Methods
The days of putting a sign in the yard and placing your property on the multiple listing service to get your house sold are long gone. Today, agents need to design a specific marketing plan that will maximize the odds of your house being seen by that one special buyer.
7 – Making Decisions on Emotion
You must realize that selling your house is a business transaction – not an emotional one. This focus should stay clear throughout the entire selling process. The buyer sees no benefit in the intrinsic value that you have created in your property. They are buying a property to make it their own.
8 – Not Understanding the Market
There is only one thing that determines value – that is the market. Basically it’s what buyers are willing to pay for comparable properties in your area. This figure fluctuates by supply and demand just like any other commodity. Since buyers are out there shopping – comparing values – it is very difficult to find a buyer willing to pay more than current market value. No single person, firm, or agent has any control over the market!
9 – Unqualified Prospects
A buyer who can’t purchase your house is not really a buyer at all. It sounds simple but thousands of hours are wasted every day by showing properties and negotiating with precisely this type of “buyer.” Buyers should be pre-approved for a loan before you begin to work with them.
10 – Choosing the Wrong Agent
The vast majority of all houses are sold by real estate agents – but not all agents are the same. The agent’s experience, knowledge, and marketing plan will have an enormous impact on your success. Choosing the right agent will make all the difference in the world.
20 TIPS TO HELP WELCOME BUYERS TO YOUR HOME
These proven suggestions, with a little effort, can make your home ready to sell more quickly and at a better price!
1. FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE IMPORTANT!
A first impression is crucial in selling a home. Remember that when a prospect comes to look at your home, the first impression (curb appeal) is vital. Your front lawn and other landscaping should be neatly trimmed and mowed. Make certain that your yard is clean of refuse and leaves. The walk should be swept and, in winter, remove ice and snow from walk and steps. The front door must be clean and fresh looking, the doorbell in working order. Seventy percent of the time a potential buyer will drive past your home to see the outside before they will make an appointment to see the inside.
2. WHAT YOU SHOW IS WHAT YOU GET!
Faded walls and worn woodwork will reduce the appeal of your home. Why describe how your house could look... when you can show how it does look. A minor investment in paint and wallpaper could pay bigger dividends to you in the form of a better price and a quicker sale.
3. LET THE SUN SHINE IN
Let the sun shine in. Open those drapes and curtains all the way, so the prospect can see how bright and cheerful you home is. Clean the windows. Dark and dreary rooms do not appeal to most home-buying prospects.
4. FIX THAT LEAKY FAUCET
Fix leaky faucets. Dripping water suggests faulty or worn-out plumbing. Discolored, rust-stained sinks should be thoroughly cleaned.
5. LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT
Take a few minutes to check to be sure that your doors don't stick or have loose knobs on them. Don't forget your windows and cabinet drawers. Get all those minor flaws fixed since they detract from your home's value.
6. SAFETY FIRST AND ALWAYS!
Keep stairways and hallways clear and clean of clutter since this will avoid injuries around your home, as well as avoid detracting by distraction.
7. FROM TOP TO BOTTOM.
Let prospects see the potential of your attic, basement, garage and other utility/storage spaces by removing junk and other articles. Neatly stack cartons, etc. If the storage spaces are dark, a coat of paint or extra lighting can do wonders.
8. BIG CLOSETS!
Love big closets! We all love closets and you can make them look even bigger by having them clean, neat and well organized. Get rid of old clothes and cartons that take away from the spacious look.
9. BATHROOMS SELL HOMES
Make these rooms sparkle! Check and repair any damage or discolored caulking in the bathtubs and showers, and be sure that the towels and area rugs are bright. Clean stained sinks and bowls, make certain all light fixtures and bulbs work.
10. BEDROOMS SHOULDN'T SLEEP!
Keep these rooms bright and cheerful. Remove any excess furniture and be sure and use attractive and colorful bedspreads and fresh curtains. Wake up your bedroom, keep them bright.
11. SHINE ON!
Can you see the light? Your home's illumination can be a "welcome" sign to that prospective buyer! Turn on all of your outside and inside lights --including the accent and picture lights-- when showing your home at night or a dark day. Let a buyer feel the glowing warmth as a result of your lighting.
12. TWO'S A COUPLE & THREE'S A CROWD
Neither should be present during a showing. If you can’t leave stay out of the way and let the potential buyers and their agent tour the house by themselves. Leave them alone so they can savor the home and not feel like an intruder by having to hurry through the space so you can get back your house.
13. MUSIC SOOTHES THE SAVAGE BEAST
But not the potential buyer. When showing your house, turn off that blaring radio or television.
14. CURB YOUR DOG!
A dog is "man's best friend," but not when showing your home. Keep your dog out of the way and not present when the showing occurs. Keep all pets out of the way and not underfoot. The primary danger of cats is that they usually need to stay inside, instructions to do same are too much of a responsibility for a showing agent and his or her client to shoulder.
15. SILENCE IS GOLDEN!
When your house is being shown, turn off radios and/or television sets. Let the buyers and their agent talk freely without having the noise of a radio. If you must be present be courteous and friendly, but don't try to "force" conversation with a potential buyer. He or she is there to inspect your home.
16. BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE
There's no place like home. Never apologize for the appearance of your home. If any objections or derogatory comments are offered, let me answer them - that is my job.
17. STAY IN THE BACKGROUND
I and/or the agent for the buyer know the buyer's needs and desires and can better emphasize the virtues of your home when you're not "tagging along." If there are any questions, we will call you. Stay in the background. And don't apologize for the appearance of the house. If something out of the ordinary should happen to mess-up the appearance, inform the salesperson when you are first called for the showing. Should any negative comments or objections be offered, let the trained salesperson answer them.
18. DON'T PUT THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE
This is not a garage sale. Trying to sell the prospective purchasers any of the furniture or furnishings which you're not taking with you, before they've purchased your home, can often lose the sale...so "cool it." These are details that can be discussed afterwards.
19. A WORD-TO-THE-WISE
Let me or the buyer’s agent discuss the selling price, terms, possession and other factors with the potential buyer. I've been trained and have experience, so let me bring your negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion.
20. GO AHEAD AND CALL ME
Never show your home to someone who appears at your door unannounced. Your home should only be shown to prospective customers by appointment. This will be sincerely appreciated and will help us make the sale more quickly. And it also allows me to pre-qualify buyers which will save you a lot of time dealing with "lookers".