The properties that sell best in any market are the irresistible homes. In red hot markets, just about everything sells, but when things cool even a little, it becomes exponentially harder to sell a house or condo at all, let alone hit a great price.
Right now, we have an oddly bifurcated market where some homes sit and don’t sell easily while others are sold quickly, with multiple offers, and steep overbids.
Irresistible homes and what puts them into so much demand
A few years back I sold a listing in San Jose with 10 offers in a market where 3-4 might have been expected. What created that level of interest? What can you as a Silicon Valley home seller do to elicit that buyer frenzy which results in many more offers than is normal, and thus a far higher sale price than you might otherwise expect?
The answer is both simple and difficult:
my seller went above and beyond to make her house an irresistible home.
She could have done all of the basics and gotten the predictable 3-4 offers. Instead, she said to me, “buyers will worry about these things, so I’m going to just take care of them”.
As you probably know, most sellers will move out, paint, stage, do presale inspections, and take care of some items, while leaving others for buyers to handle later. In the case of the sale I’m discussing, my client actually did big things that don’t look great in photos, such as replacing her electric panel and taking care of similar un-photogenic repair items. In that sale, buyers felt like there was nothing major left to do. It made them feel confident in the home and that there would be no big, expensive surprises later.
Tips on preparing your residence to become an irresistible home for the market
- The property needs to make the home buyer feel confident that there are no hidden costs or surprises (so do presale inspections and make them comprehensive – many properties will need a home, pest, chimney and roof). If you have a pool in your back yard (not a common area or condo pool), inspect it. If the home inspector calls out the need for a foundation inspection, get it upfront.
- The property should have good working systems that will not be a health hazard or expensive to repair (if the roof is at the end of its usable life or the water heater is on its last leg, replace it). This is where most Silicon Valley home owners are falling short right now. The market had been so hot, they reason, that they don’t need to “do anything” and the home will still sell. That’s true, but it won’t sell with as many buyers and won’t sell for as much. If your goal is to sell for top dollar, then make yours an irresistible home and take care of the fundamentals like replacing your electric panel if your home inspector deems it unsafe, fix significant foundation cracks, and so on. If you do not have the cash to do these repairs and replacements, at a minimum provide bids so that buyers fully understand the cost.
- Make the home attractive by decluttering, cleaning, applying fresh paint, new floor coverings, and surface level things like lighting, if needed.
- Hire an experienced, successful, strong Realtor to guide and represent you, so that you get good advice on pricing, staging, inspections (and providers), etc. A good listing agent will hire a professional photographer so that your home is in its best light on the MLS and the many websites which will showcase it. Lesser agents will take photos of the home with their mobile phone, will not create good marketing pieces, and may not be able to tell you want you need to hear (only what you want to hear).
- Make yourself scarce at showings. This is always a strategy for success. You may feel that you should be there to point out the many features of the home, but often this is not as helpful as you might think. Buyers like to look, or have their own real estate agent point out things, and be able to chat privately – and they cannot do that if you are there. If there are special features that you do not want buyers to miss, please make sure your Realtor knows and it can go into the multiple listing description, the flier, or both. (Or you could even have a note on the wall “hardwood under carpets” or whatever it might be.)
- Price the home competitively, just below what you believe to be market value. Don’t just consider the sold properties, also look at the pendings and the available homes for sale as the latter are your direct competition. If you price it too high, especially today, buyers will think you want even more and will not offer at all. Each house or townhome is unique, but in many cases, listing a home 5% under where it ought to comp out will bring in enough offers to send the price much higher, perhaps 10% or more over list price if all other conditions are right.
So often, home sellers want to maximize their return on the sale of their home but may not have been told what is involved in getting that result – that is, in making their house, townhouse or condominium an “irresistible home” that buyers will fight to buy. It does take time, effort, and money but if you’re able to do that, it will often pay back many more times over what you’ve put into it.
It’s all about creating a product (a home for sale) that buyers can see themselves in without fear, one where any big issues have been addressed and which feels safe and inviting. Some of that is visual but not all – some is simply how they will feel about it. Most sellers understand the visual element but will not want to address the need for a new roof, furnace, and so on, but homes which have those covered in addition to the way a property looks will cause buyers to be far more interested in calling your address their next home.
Want to sell your Santa Clara County home for top dollar? Please contact me and we will set up a time to go through your home and discuss working together, the current real estate market climate, timing, and some strategies. I’ve been selling homes in the South Bay since early 1993, am a second generation Realtor, a consistent top producer and co-authored the book, “Get the best deal when selling your home in Silicon Valley”.