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How to Sell My House
Tips and Techniques to Get the Most Money
Do I Need a Real Estate Agent?

As the seller, you want to get the most money possible, you want to sell quickly, and you want to avoid hassles and problems.

There is a buyer for every house. Your potential buyers have many reasons to move. Perhaps they need a larger house. They may want a more desirable neighborhood. They want to be closer to work, schools, friends and family. Maybe they are looking for a smaller home, or a retirement home.

How to Price My House for Sale

To price your house, many factors come into play. How quickly do you want to sell? How strong is the real estate market in your area? In a weak sales market, there more sellers than buyers, and houses remain for sale longer. Determine the average sale price of houses in your neighborhood and the average time a house stays on the market. You can ask a realtor for a comparative market analysis, which is usually a free service. You can check house prices at the Multiple Listing Services online. Your county tax assessorís office has public statistics on the value of houses and their purchase prices. When you need more help, you can contact a professional appraiser to determine the fair market value of your house. If youíre like most of us, you follow local real estate prices carefully, even when youíre not in the market to buy or sell.

Preparing to Sell My House

The selling process starts long before you put out the For Sale sign on the lawn. Most buyers are looking for a well-maintained house in apple-pie order. The down payment on your home will take most of their savings. The buyer will buy as much house as they can afford, or maybe even more. After the monthly mortgage payments, taxes and insurance, there is no room in their budget for major repairs. Many buyers today will not consider a house that needs remodeling and improvements.

Your house stands a better chance of selling if it has an up-to-date kitchen, recent improvements and regular maintenance. Inside, the building and all equipment should be in good repair. Fresh paint improves the curb appeal of any house, along with blooming flowers and a green mowed lawn. Cleanliness will make a good impression on the buyer. Clean gutters and downspouts, weeded landscaping, fresh mulch and pressure washed sidewalks all say that this house is well-cared for.

Staging the Interior to Sell My House

For guidelines on what sells a house, visit recently built houses. Your house should look like a builderís model home, as much as possible. Replace out-of-date wallpaper with fresh paint in neutral colors. The rooms will seem larger if you remove excess furniture. Take down family photos, knick-knacks and your collections. Replace ceiling light fixtures with new stylish ones. Empty and clean closets. Put your accumulation of odds and ends in storage somewhere off the premises. Stylish new bed coverings and pillows, a few green plants and sparkling mirrors add a touch of luxury. To brighten up a dull room, include the color red in a new area rug, pillows or lampshades. Your efforts will allow the buyers to feel relaxed, calm and comfortable as they tour your home. Make your house memorable and it will sell.

Do I Need a Real Estate Agent to Sell My House?

In a perfect world, most people could act as their own sales agent. No one knows the house better than the owner. You are perfectly capable of writing a sales flyer, posting a For Sale sign on the lawn, answering the phone and showing buyers through your property. If you sell your own property, youíll save the substantial sales commission the agent charges, up to 7% of the sales price of your property.

How Will a Real Estate Agent Help Sell My House?

Nevertheless, there are advantages to using a real estate agent. He/she will list your house on a Multiple Listing Service, and post the info and pictures on the Internet where the majority of buyers will be searching. The most effective online marketing tool is almost always the local MLS. The agent will have contacts with relocation services to find buyers who are moving into town. The agent has hard-nosed negotiating skills, knows how to overcome buyer resistance and can answer all the questions about the closing.

The Chief Benefit of Using a Real Estate agent to Sell My House

There is one particularly valuable benefit to using a real estate agent. It is the most significant benefit that tips the scale. An agent has a psychological sales advantage. Buyers just feel more comfortable with an agent. Even though the agent represents you the seller, buyers, particularly young and first-time buyers, implicitly rely on the agent. The agent adds brand credibility, like a Seal of Approval for your house. Thatís why 84% of all home sales are made with a real estate agent.

Drawbacks When I Use a Real Estate Agent to Sell My House

There are drawbacks to using a real estate agent, too. But if you know them in advance, youíll be prepared to handle them. First and foremost, the agent wants to get your listing. Until you have signed a listing contract, agents will agree with any selling price you suggest. They will propose a long-term listing contract, even six months long, which is to their advantage. The listing contract drawn up by the Board of Realtors is boilerplate legalese, which obligates the agent to use his/her best efforts to sell the house. Unless you request changes to the contract, the agent need not hold open houses, mail flyers, place newspaper ads, or be present when your house is shown. Sad to say, there are some listing agents who rely entirely on other agents to sell your house.

After your house has been shown once or twice, your agent will report back to you with a to-do list of repairs and eyesores. It will feel sometimes that you are working for the agent, rather than vice versa.

Pricing Pressure to Sell My House

After your house has been for sale for a few weeks, the agent will ask that you lower the price. Agents like to advertise a house as Price Reduced. It motivates buyers to take a second look at your property. You should set your original price higher, knowing that the agent will request a price reduction early on. You may think that the agent would support a higher price, knowing that a higher price brings him/her a higher commission. Thatís not how it works. Agents know that many for-sale listings expire unsold. They want to get their commission on your house, even if it is not the maximum possible. The lower your price, the better the odds that they get a commission. You must be alert to undue pricing pressure from the agent.

Negotiating to Sell My House

The agent is legally bound to present every purchase offer to you. Once a qualified buyer makes you an offer, the agent will try to negotiate your price down, so that a sale can be realized. You may want to hold out for a better offer, but the agent looks at any offer as a bird in the hand, and will try to reconcile buyer and seller to close the sale. Do not disclose to your agent the lowest price you would accept on the house. Do not indicate how anxious you are to sell. Instead, to facilitate the negotiations with the buyer, counter-offer with a very small price reduction. Rather than lowering your price, you can offer the buyer a small cash payment at the closing, to help cover remodeling or closing costs. This cash-at-closing sales promotion works for car dealers and it can help sell your house.

I hope life brings you much success. I wish you a very happy day.
-----     Surfer Sam  

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