When you put a home on the market, the clock starts — and the pressure sets in. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression, and you don’t want the home to sit for endless days on market while your sellers get increasingly upset.

  • Physical and mental preparation are key to getting a home sold. Be flexible and adaptable.

When you put a home on the market, the clock starts — and the pressure sets in. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression, and you don’t want the home to sit for endless days on market while your sellers get increasingly upset.

There are variety of elements that come into play: price, condition, location, repairs, staging, presentation, photography, video, creative marketing, psychology and attitude — to name a few.

Here are 10 tips to help you avoid sitting on the market and get the home sold:

1. Set the right price

It has been said a million times before, but it needs to be stated again: If a home is not priced correctly, no matter how well it shows or how nice the location may be, it is going to sit on the market.

Just because a home is in its most pristine and immaculate condition does not mean it should be overpriced.

Conversely, a home that is full of deferred maintenance and does not show well has to be priced appropriately to reflect its condition; the price should take into consideration the work it is realistically going to need to bring it up to par.

At the end of the day, it always comes down to pricing a home right to get it sold.

2. Ensure the home is in the best condition

Condition is another key component to selling a home. The condition can either be an attractor or a detractor.

Has the home been maintained and to what degree? Are we talking the bare minimum, or has the owner really kept up with everything — both cosmetic and structural.

Are there any elements in need of repair or replacement? Have any updates been made?

Depending on the seller’s situation, reason for selling and what other kinds of properties the home may be competing with, getting the home in its best possible condition prior to selling is a must.

This may mean different things depending on the parameters or constraints of the situation.

Although some homes could clearly use more than a facelift to sell, there are always things that can be done to improve a home’s appearance whether it’s painting, pressure washing, freshening up landscaping or undertaking some basic improvements to enhance the home’s appearance.

3. Be prepared for repairs

Surprise is never a good thing when it comes to real estate and certainly when it comes to selling a home.

Have a prelisting inspection and determine how to address the items found before putting the home on the market.

If there are obvious things in need of repair, they should  get taken care of rather than kicking the can down the road for a future buyer to deal with.

If the decision is made to sell the home without doing any repairs, than a prelisting inspection disclosing the issues upfront is a wise move as well as pricing the home to account for the work needed.

Leaving any major structural items such as an older roof, outdated plumbing, electric or termite damage for a buyer to deal with can easily send them running for the hills or wanting to substantially renegotiate the entire contract.

4. Focus on staging and presentation

This one piggybacks on the property’s condition. As a way to enhance the property’s appearance, staging and presentation are key to properly defining the space so that buyers can relate to it.

This could mean editing the furniture and accessories in each room, rearranging and repositioning furniture and decor items throughout or bringing in new pieces to update, enhance or better define the home’s space.

Staging also means setting the stage for a home that is clean and free of smells. Professional cleaning to include carpets and tile and duct work is often in order.

And don’t forget closets and the garage, which can house many structural elements such as the electrical panel, water heater and air handler.

Impress buyers with an impeccably organized and clean garage that is free of cobwebs, dead bugs, gauges and marks on the walls.

Make it a place buyers will want to explore rather than just poking their heads through the door.

5. Use proper photography

Professional photography that accurately depicts the property cannot be underestimated. The photos should not be so over processed and touched up that the home appears so much nicer in pictures than it does in person.

How many times do buyers walk through a property only to remark: “It looks nothing like it did in pictures!” Especially avoid that “fishbowl” look that some cameras create whereby rooms appear much larger and wider than they are.

6. Pay attention to details

Citing accurate square footage and including all relevant information such as floor plans, surveys, an accurate and thoroughly completed seller’s disclosure, average utility bill information, association information including the covenants and restrictions along with rules and regulations and fees are all crucial pieces of the puzzle to have available.

The more information, the better.

Uncertainty creates fear and can make buyers hesitate. Give them more information and then some, so that the only thing standing in their way is their ability to make a decision if this house is “the one.”

If the property needs updates, obtaining estimates on various items that buyers may ask about helps give a general guideline when buyers are trying to ballpark how much money they will likely need to put into the home if they buy it.

When in doubt, do the buyers’ work for them, and be as proactive as possible.

7. Use video and virtual reality

In today’s super time-crunched society, more people are conducting the bulk of their home search online so that by the time they physically hit the ground looking at properties (if they even do — many are buying properties from afar), they have done a first look online and the second “serious” showing is in person.

The use of video and virtual reality is key to bringing a property to life, telling a story and conveying the lifestyle of that property in a way that photos cannot.

Virtual reality makes the buyers feel as if they are really there and allows them to walk into the house from the comfort of their computer.

Give buyers the luxury of these tools to be able to mentally buy the home before they physically come through. It will save time and may shorten the decision process as they are focusing on “the one” long before visiting the home.

8. Employ creative marketing

Creating engaging content in promoting the property is key to getting it sold.

Look for the story, the creative angle, and find the hook or wow factors that are going to reel in buyers.

Invite interest, and instill an exciting sense of urgency in all content that is created whether it’s digital, social, video, print or in-person with open houses or knocking on doors to tell neighbors about the new listing.

9. Set realistic seller expectations

Virtually all sellers have an inflated sense of reality when it comes to selling their home. It’s always better than the 10 others for sale that it’s competing with because of x, y and z.

Their perception is through rose-colored glasses, which is why a reality check from a real estate professional is needed. False expectations about what the market should bear for a seller’s home almost always result in an overpriced listing and disappointment when expectation does not meet reality.

Lack of showing activity, offers perceived as “way off the mark” and a home that doesn’t sell is typically how this ends up.

10. Instill a flexible mindset

Having the right attitude is key to getting a home sold. A seller has to be able to roll with the punches as the selling process can seem intrusive, inconsiderate and full of rejection at times.

The very things sellers love about their home are the same things that the buyer doesn’t see value in. Buyers may want to see the home on a moment’s notice, despite advance notice to show instructions. And sellers may jump through hoops to get the home ready, only for the buyer to barely stay five minutes, or worse yet, end up not coming at all.

There may be endless questions from buyers or requests made that can seem overreaching at times, with no sense of urgency from the prospects coming through. Feedback that seems overly critical, picky or makes no sense can become mentally draining.

Selling a home takes physical and mental preparation. The more prepared and realistic a seller is about the process, the greater the chance the selling experience will be positive and successful.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Cara Ameer.

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