With Buyers moving away from “original condition” properties Sellers perceive as needing upgrades, homes that appear in the middle tier are being forced down into the bottom tier and need to be priced accordingly. Sellers who do not understand this new reality stand to end up with far less than they imagined. With this in mind, here are the top five seller beliefs that are no longer true:
1. I do not need to have the listing agent visit until my home is ready.
Wrong. In reality, the sooner the agent can get in, the better. Sellers, assuming the old rules still apply, might spend money on things that could harm a home’s potential and, conversely, fail to spend money where it matters.
Agents can not only help sellers maximize their potential, but they can also connect them with the trades and other professionals required to do it right.
2. I do not need to upgrade the property for sale.
Since increasing numbers of buyers are looking for move-in ready homes, the more a seller does to get the home to that level, the higher the returns. In an up market, sellers can reap a $2-$3 dollar return for every dollar spent.
In a declining market, they may not get 100 percent back, but they will get a sale. I frequently hear sellers ask, “Why should I upgrade? Won’t the new buyers come in and rip out all the stuff I just put in?”
That is not the right question. A better question is, “What can I do to make my online pictures sizzle to get the highest number of buyers through the front door regardless of what a buyer does once they own the home?”
If a seller can invest $1,000 on carpets and in the process make $3,000, does it matter what the new owner does once they move in?
3. I need open houses to sell my home.
The myth here is that buyers need to visit your home in person to decide whether they like it or not. In the new reality, buyers are visiting because they have already seen the home online and decided it was worth seeing in person.
Open houses simply make it easier for buyers who are already going to visit to actually get in. They also make it easy for the neighbors to come through — which is good because they frequently know someone looking to move into the area.
4. I need many open house signs at multiple key intersections.
Wrong again. Savvy listing agents put out tons of signs because they are free advertising. Buyers who have seen the home online do not need directional signs to find the home. With open houses dates and times syndicating to all the major web portals, buyers simply use the GPS feature in their phones.
As for the neighbors, they will not come because you posted signs at far away intersections. To get them, you want signs close to the open house.
5. If buyers really want my house, they will pay more than market value.
Buyers are not running charities. Due to online automated valuation models — think "Zestimate", buyers know when a property is overpriced and generally stay away, assuming the seller is unrealistic.
While pricing strategies vary from region to region, most agents know to recommend that sellers price listings close to market realities. As more listings come onto the market, buyers have more choices and migrate toward those they believe represent good values.
Sellers who insist they must net a specific amount, which in turn pushes the price too high, are only kidding themselves.
For sellers who have not sold a home in recent years, the new rules can be a shock. Ironically, since most sellers are also looking to buy a replacement home, all I usually have to do to change their thinking is to ask them how they are personally searching for homes in their new location. They walk me through their process, and suddenly, in most cases, they get it!