5. Negotiate Broker’s Fee
When the market was booming, the rule was that the seller pays 6% of the purchase price for broker’s fees — 3% to the buyer’s broker and 3% to the seller’s. But in a market where brokers are desperate for business, there’s room for negotiation and sellers should try to press for a lower fee. The savings from the lower fees can allow sellers to lower the price of their homes, while still walking away with a profit.
However, real estate experts warn that pressing brokers for a fee that is too low may hurt the seller’s chances. Trulia’s real estate expert Corbett suggests caution when it comes to lowering the buyer’s agent fees. Sellers can ask their brokers for a discount in their fees, but they should leave the buyer’s agent fee untouched. While you can provide other incentives to your broker, you want the buying agent to have an incentive to show your home over others.
To offer your broker an incentive, set a time limit on the sale of the home — say, two months. If the house is sold within 5% of the asking price during that period, offer the broker a lump sum bonus.
6. Go Green
The environmentally friendly home may not appeal to all buyers, but there is a growing portion of the population that is conscious of energy consumption and the use of fossil fuels. Recycled bamboo flooring might not be a selling-point to everyone, but having a home that conserves energy — or even produces it — will not turn off buyers.
Jennifer DuBois, a director at Realtor.com, recommends that sellers point out features that are green and could save buyers money. People shy away from expensive heating system for example, but appreciate the savings they can generate over regular systems, especially if they did not have to install them. Does the home include new energy-efficient windows? Are the appliances and HVAC system “green?” If so, make sure the buyer knows too.
Some cities and states offer tax incentives for installing and producing solar and wind energy. If you do not advertise these opportunities to prospective buyers, they might not know they are available.
7. Form a Focus Group
If your house is not selling, research what the market thinks of it. A spokesperson for S&P advises to take it off the market and find out whether any major flaws pushed buyers away. Fix the flaw, if you can, and relist it. Your broker can talk to potential buyers who turned the house down. If there is a consensus among buyers about why the home was not attractive, a specific change can mean the difference between a sale and a home that sits on the market for months after a price reduction or a relisting. Buyers who rejected your house may be the best “focus group” you have to find out what appropriate adjustments you need to make.
8. Great Photos
Web appeal is the new curb appeal, according to Cynthia Nowak of Zillow.com. Before house hunting became an online affair, a manicured lawn and a freshly painted fence was the best way to attract homebuyers and make your house sell. Today, it is just as important that your home looks good online. And looking good online means having good-looking photos.
All of the experts agreed that photos are critical to capturing buyers’ interest. In March, Realtor.com had more than 370 million pageviews in searches and real estate listings. Meanwhile, on the site’s mobile app alone, which it counts separately, over 272 million photos were viewed last month. That’s more than 6,300 photos viewed per minute. Like other online sites, Realtor allows sellers to post as many as 25 photos per listing. According to director Jennifer DuBois, a typical buyer will look at as many photos as are posted.
It’s not uncommon for sellers to hire professional photographers. While it could cost several hundred dollars, Corbett of Trulia warns, “if your photos are bad, your buyer will move on to the next house with the click of a mouse.” With the abundance of listings, it is that easy for buyers to pass over yours if it is not attractive enough to capture their attention.
9. Fix It
A well-maintained home that is priced right will sell quickly, says DuBois at Realtor.com. While a seller should be cautious about installing new granite countertops or bathroom tiles, they should take fixes seriously.
Corbett recommends making as many obvious repairs as practical. Water stains, doors that creak and windows that do not shut should be fixed. They distract potential buyers from the best parts of your home. If they are not fixed before the sale, buyers’ estimates for the cost of the fixes likely will be far more than their real cost, forcing a lower sale price.
DuBois warns that the stricter lending environment means that buyers have less money for renovation. As a result, buyers want homes to be move-in ready. While not always cheap, new carpets, new floors and a fresh coat of paint may be the difference between selling the home or not.