Sunday, May 9, 2010

SELLING: Selling? Make a good impression, especially online.

If your home is currently for sale or you’re planning to put it on the market, you surely know times are considerably tougher than they were even a couple of years ago. If you can’t wait out the market, here are some tips to make the selling process go more smoothly.

PRICE THE PROPERTY ACCURATELY. REALLY. Markets and the prices houses fetch are very local, says Colette Casey-Brenner, sales manager at Coldwell Banker’s Arlington office. What’s true in one town could be different the next town over. “You really have to look at the location of the property and the type of the property,’’ she says. “When you’re looking at comparables, you have to see what’s sold in the past three months. Look at your competition and what’s under agreement.’’

Buyers are savvy, Casey-Brenner adds. Many have been looking for a while and are ready to write out a check when they see the property that offers the most value for what they want. Sellers have to be ready for that.

CAST THE WIDEST NET YOU CAN. You want to get the word out to as many buyers as possible, Casey-Brenner says. The Internet is obviously critical, since whoever ends up buying the property could be very local or searching from afar. Today, photos and video almost serve as a first showing, she adds, so it’s a good idea to consider staging and, of course, to de-clutter, just as you would for an in-person showing.

And what if your home isn’t in the best shape? Posting photos might help potential buyers make a long-term plan: They’re buying a house they can afford now, and perhaps can budget to update the kitchen in a few years. Or, if the house needs more substantial work, posting photos can save sellers the time involved in dealing with buyers who aren’t interested in putting in that much work, Casey-Brenner adds. (Not to mention that omitting photos might raise big red flags to searchers.)

DISCLOSE UNDESIRABLE FEATURES BEFORE THEY’RE REVEALED SOME OTHER WAY. Deferred maintenance is a deferred cost, particularly in a tight market, says Meller. “If
people aren’t smart enough to keep up their homes, it’s going to bite them. That’s why people are going to pass their house by,’’ she says.

If you’ve put your house on the market and there are things that a buyer might find less than desirable — say, an old furnace — it’s much better to be upfront about it than to have it come up during inspection, Hillman says. Disclosing everything early on means less of a chance of having to negotiate farther along in the process, she adds.

MAKE THE FIRST IMPRESSION COUNT. As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. What the buyer is left thinking is especially important in this economy.

“Now, a buyer is looking at every nook and cranny of every house,’’ Hillman says. “Buyers have become super-negotiators. If a property doesn’t have what they need, they’ll move on to the next one.’’

And be sure to attend to the little things: paint scrapes, cracks in tiles that might make buyers wonder where he other flaws are.

De-cluttering can help buyers imagine the property’s potential, and perhaps even make them inclined to pay a little more, says David Kelman, a realtor with RE/MAX Landmark whose focus includes Dorchester and Milton. Even having windows professionally cleaned can make a place look much brighter, Hillman says.

LOOK FOR BUYERS WITH THEIR FINANCES IN ORDER. Financing is important to sellers for the same reason it’s important to buyers: All parties want the deal to go through. Buyers should have a pre-approval letter from a bank that does business in the area and whose name the seller will recognize, Dwyer says.

Amy Albernaz Boston Globe April 29, 2010

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