So you think you’ve got this real estate stuff figured out. How hard can it be to sell a house in Alabama’s current market, where homes might receive multiple offers within 48 hours of listing?
According to Bluff Park Realty Broker Hal Harris, Jr. and A Prime Location Real Estate Broker Jessyca McKnight, for the novice, the entire listing-to-closing process can be harder than it looks.
“First, the agent must help the seller determine a realistic price, and then help the seller determine what must be done to prepare the home for the public,” McKnight says. “If a home is priced and prepped correctly, based on an agent’s guidance, it could sell 60 percent faster and for more money, too.”
“Much of the agent’s work is done behind the scenes,” says Harris of the initial part of the sales process, which includes not only price and prep, but security. “Not only have real estate agents been through criminal background checks, but they are also trained to screen buyers before bringing them into a home. Agents know how to make sure potential buyers have been pre-approved by a lender and are who they say they are.”
How equipped are you to sell your home? Take this true/false test and then score your answers below:
1. The best way to price my home is to start with my investment, including the cost of all improvements, and then add another 15 percent. If there are no offers within a month, I should reduce the price in five percent increments until sold.
2. The best way to price my home is to assess recent sales, pending sales and current For Sale pricing on comparable area homes, with an emphasis on per-square-foot pricing.
3. The best way to elicit multiple offers is to price and prepare my home according to market demand.
4. The best way to prepare my home according to market demand is to seek a decorator’s advice on the latest trends, and redecorate accordingly.
5. I should try to sell my house in June and July, when schools are out.
6. Once I accept an offer, I cannot break that contract to accept another buyer’s offer, even if they offer a much-higher price.
7. I should expect a buyer’s offer to include not only price, but complex contingencies and terms.
8. If I hire a seller’s agent, it will be their responsibility to monitor contract-to-close processes such as back-up offers, contractors, appraisers, termite bonds, warranties, insurance, surveys and other closing-dependent factors.
9. That seller’s agent shouldn’t be expected to monitor title searches, closing attorneys, septic tank inspections or Home Owner Association letters.
10. Sellers’ agents routinely insure their clients have arranged the appropriate mortgage payoff, cleared all liens and provided all information necessary for electronic transfers.
Answers: #1-False; reductions can stigmatize properties. #2-True; good comps raise likelihoods of appraisals at contracted prices. #3-True. #4-False; neutral, decluttered homes sell best. #5-False; Alabama has a 12-month selling season. #6-True. #7-True. #8-True. #9-False; agents also monitor those processes and more. #10-True.
So, how did you score? Harris and McKnight say that although Perfect Tens might consider real estate as a profession, such smart sellers still may not be For Sale By Owner candidates. Harris says that even as a broker he would never try to sell his own house.
“Every seller needs a third-party negotiator,” Harris says. “Selling your home is an emotional experience, and everyone needs someone to handle issues for them. Even though I’d lose the commission if someone else sold my house, I believe I would come out better financially with a third-party negotiator.”
McKnight says many consumers don’t realize how complex the contract-to-close period can be. “Often we’re in the position of patching the process back together when things are overlooked,” she says. “If the warranty or termite bond hasn’t been ordered at the right time, we have relationships with professionals who can help. We can solve many problems just based on the years we’ve been in the business.”
“Even a relatively brand-new real estate agent has typically completed 40 to 50 transactions,” says Harris. “Each transaction helps them avoid For Sale By Owner issues. Every buyer or seller needs their own agent.”