Although “Home Makeovers That Sell” by longtime Realtor Sid Davis is intended primarily for home sellers, the smartest real estate sales agents will also study it to advise their home sellers how to earn top dollar. Throughout the book, the author shares many examples of how simple fix up, painting and clean up resulted in fast sales of homes that had previously languished unsold for many months.
An important aspect of getting homes sold quickly that is rarely mentioned by real estate agents to home sellers is the extra carrying costs of an unsold home. But Davis emphasizes by making a home show its best, such as sprucing up the landscaping and making cosmetic repairs to eliminate buyer objections, sellers can earn thousands of extra dollars by cutting their ownership carrying costs with a quick sale.
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Rather than reducing the asking price of an unsold home that needs work, the author explains spending a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars on fix-up will make the home appeal to more prospective buyers. An example he uses is how he counseled a new agent to give his listing sellers a “to-do list” to make their home have more curb appeal so prospective buyers would stop at his weekend open houses.
But this book isn’t just about fixing up a home to prepare it for sale. “Cut to the chase and eliminate hype when you interview agents to list your home. Ask them for MLS (multiple listing service) printouts of their last 10 sold listings. Note the days on market (DOM), list price and sales price. A top agent will be happy to give you this data,” Davis advises.
Heavily emphasized is the importance for each agent interviewed by home sellers to present a CMA (comparative market analysis) form showing recent nearby home sales prices, current asking prices of similar neighborhood homes, and homes under sales contract that have not yet closed. “Because CMAs can be more proactive than an appraisal, they look at what’s currently for sale and what has recently sold but not yet closed. With this data, a good agent can anticipate where the market is going and price a home at the top to get the most money possible,” the author notes.
Davis gives major attention to home fix-ups, which make homes more attractive and saleable to buyers. However, he advises not making major improvements just before the sale.
An example he shares was a seller who spent $20,000 remodeling his kitchen to make the house more attractive and competitive. Although the home sold quickly, when he stopped by the house shortly after the sale, Davis noticed the buyers had torn out the almost-new kitchen to remodel it to their tastes. It turns out they bought the house because of the neighborhood, not because they liked the renovated kitchen.
The author warns about the pitfalls of selling a home “as is” and not sprucing it up before listing it for sale. “You end up selling by price, and that attracts bargain hunters who never pay full price for anything,” Davis shares. He calls those buyers “bullies” who track homes that need a little work and have a high number of days on market (DOM) to get a good deal at the home seller’s expense.
The book is filled with valuable checklists, such as questions to ask prospective listing agents, curb appeal improvements, house cleaning tips, and ideas to make a home appeal to virtually every buyer. There’s even some humor. For example, Davis says if a home doesn’t excite prospective buyers, “The emotion of ‘this is my dream home’ is replaced by a pillager’s lust for a good deal.”
The book’s most important “take away idea” is: “Cost does not equal value. Cost is what you pay for something. Value is what the market says that item is worth. Value is established by what other similar upgrades have added to the price of homes recently sold in your area.”
Only a very perceptive, experienced realty sales agent such as Sid Davis can understand what home buyers are thinking and how sellers can make their homes appeal to their desires. He reveals buyers are in “elimination mode,” and they are looking for reasons to cross homes off their list. First impressions control their pen, he advises.
Chapter topics include “Finding Your Home’s Highest Sales Price”; “Take Control: Decluttering 101”; “Cleaning for Dollars”; “Repairs and Upgrades That Make or Cost You Money”; “Upgrading Your Home’s Exterior”; “Putting Your Landscaping in Selling Condition”; “Showtime: Putting It All Together”; “Marketing Your Home for a Quick Offer”; “Working with Offers and Counteroffers”; “Solving Difficult Selling Problems”; and “Showcasing: How the Pros Do It.”
This outstanding new book should be required reading for every home seller and their listing agent. It unlocks the secrets why some homes sell fast, even in a slow buyer’s market, and why other nearby homes languish unsold. On my scale of one to 10, this superb “how to sell your home for top dollar” book rates an off-the-chart 12.
“Home Makeovers That Sell,” by Sid Davis (AMACOM Publishers, New York), 2007, $15, 207 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.Amazon.com.
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