Step 5: Listing Your House for Sale
As you are cleaning, decluttering, and depersonalizing your home, you’ll want to schedule a time for your real estate agent to come see your house. This is your chance to show off your newly spruced-up space and talk to your agent about the next steps to getting your house sold. It’s also a great time to talk about price.
What to Know About Housing Prices
The real estate market is constantly changing. There are a variety of factors that determine home prices. Mortgage rates play a major role in whether potential home buyers can afford a new house. Supply and demand – the number of houses available versus the number of buyers wanting those houses – also comes into play. Locally, you could be in a buyer’s market, where a lot of homes are available for sale so buyers can be choosy, or you could be in a seller’s market, which means there are more buyers than there are homes available, so sellers can get top dollar for their properties.
Take an ever-changing housing market, mix it with emotional attachment, and it’s easy to see why so many sellers end up overpricing their homes. Often, homeowners who do this will see their homes sit on the market far too long. Luckily, your real estate agent is an expert in your market. They’ll use comparables, or comps, to price your home correctly. Comps show recently sold homes that are the same size, have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and are in the same market as yours. Your agent may also do a market analysis to make sure your home price is in line with your neighborhood.
But while your real estate agent can suggest a price based on comps and a market analysis, you will ultimately set the price for your home. Try to take emotion out of the equation and look at your home objectively. Yes, for you, it’s a great place. Your home holds many precious memories. You’ve put a lot time, money, and effort into your home over the years, and for you it’s priceless. But buyers won’t have any of those attachments. They are looking at the condition of the home, the space, and the location. They aren’t emotionally invested in the home, so if your home is overpriced, they’ll walk away.
Creating a Home Listing
Once you’ve determined a price, the next step is to get your home photographed. Hopefully, you’ve already completed the cleaning and staging, and your home is camera-ready. If it isn’t prepared for the spotlight, take some time to complete your home upgrades, space clearing, and furniture arranging. Before the photographer arrives, walk around your house (inside and out) and make sure everything is in its place (that dish towel hanging over the sink could be an eyesore in the kitchen photos, so put it away). Lower the lids on the toilets, close the cabinet doors, and put away any bicycles, rakes, lawn mowers, or other yard clutter.
Next comes the listing description. Your agent or someone on their team can create the listing description for you, but it’s a good idea to work with your agent on this. After all, you know your home better than anyone and can describe what makes the home special beyond the square footage and number of bedrooms. It’s okay if you can’t write! You don’t have to be William Shakespeare to create a great property description. Here are some tips:
- You don’t have to include all the facts. The MLS will display the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, year built, and lot size, so it isn’t necessary to include all of that in your description, unless there’s something special you want to highlight (for example, if it’s a corner lot or the house sits at a higher elevation than any other home in the neighborhood). Instead, focus on special features (finished basement, pool, fireplace, etc.) and location.
- List the upgrades. Be specific, such as “new roof added in 2019,” “plantation shutters in the living room,” “screened back deck overlooking a wooded lake,” etc. Your agent will know what will capture the attention of buyers, but make sure you point out any recent upgrades that might not be as noticeable.
- Be specific. Saying your house is in a wooded location, for example, doesn’t provide a lot of information. Saying it is one block from a specific nature preserve, however, instantly gives the reader a sense of the location. Instead of “house with a porch,” give details like, “two-story, Victorian-style home with a wrap-around porch.” Be sure to list brand names for appliances, especially if they are high-end. You can do the same for cabinetry, chandeliers, flooring, and anything else from a recognizable and highly desirable brand.
- Keep it short, but not too short. The ideal length for your property description is about 250 words. Shorter than that won’t provide enough details but make it too long and potential buyers might lose interest.
- Use some real estate buzz words. Try to use some (but not too many) descriptive words loved by realtors everywhere: beautiful, luxurious, airy, light, elegant, lovely, breathtaking, open, stunning, magnificent, picturesque, relaxing, peaceful, pristine, etc.
- Be truthful. If your house isn’t open concept, don’t use the term “open” when describing your home. However, any feature can be shown in a positive light. For example, your home may not be open concept, but it does have dedicated living spaces, with cozy, private alcoves ideal for relaxing.
- Avoid excessive capitalization and punctuation. That’s because THIS IS ANNOYING!!!!! AND IT LOOKS SPAMMY!!! If you want to convey urgency or excitement, do it through your words. You’ll still capture the reader’s attention, and your listing will look much better.
Get Creative with Your Listing
Beyond photos and the property description, consider including drone footage of your home. By using a drone, the photographer can take aerial stills and video, giving buyers a better sense of the house and the neighborhood. Virtual reality (VR) or 3D tours are terrific when marketing your home. With these types of tours, a potential buyer can “walk around” your house to get a better idea of the space and flow.
Social media is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Beyond what your real estate agent is doing with social media, post about your home to your personal network. Sometimes, a friend of a friend will know someone looking for a house in your area. Old-fashioned word of mouth shouldn’t be overlooked, either. When people ask how you’re doing, tell them about your upcoming move and how you’re selling your amazing house. You never know where you might find a buyer.
Once your house is listed and being marketed, the next big step is the open house. Do you even need to have an open house? How do you prepare for one? Should you be there, or should you stay away? We’ll explore open houses in step six.