When I sit down to talk with homeowners to discuss listing their house for sale, I often hear them express feelings of anxiety about entering the selling process. There are many common concerns that initially come up for sellers. How can we get the most money for our house? How can we navigate this process with the least amount of stress on us? This anxiety can be compounded when sellers need to get their home sold quickly. There is often a perception by buyers that sellers will be willing to accept a lower offer in order to sell their home right away. However, in today’s market, there is no reason why a home can’t sell extremely quickly at a high price. Understanding the main three factors that affect a home’s length on the market can help sellers complete the sale process with a quick and positive outcome.
One of the most overlooked factors contributing to a home’s length on the market is accessibility. How easy is it for buyers to see the house? It can be inconvenient for sellers to accommodate showings if they are still living in the house, but making the house available for buyers to view is a vital part of the process and is especially important if you need a quick sale. The best way to allow for increased showings is to have your Realtor install a lockbox at the house. This allows licensed agents to access the house without relying on your listing agent to be present at every showing (which isn’t always possible or practical). Typically if you are still living in the home, your agent will direct other Realtors to contact her to set up appointment times that she will then confirm with you. Ideally, you would leave the house during that viewing window and allow the buyers to walk through with their agent alone. Having your listing agent hold public open houses on the weekends can also help to increase showing traffic.
The second factor that affects length of time on the market is perhaps the most obvious one: How does the house look (or in industry speak, does it show well)? Putting in the time and energy to present your home in the most positive light can be crucial to making a quick sale. You don’t necessarily have to spend thousands of dollars on staging to give your home popular appeal. Most sellers can make a huge difference by simply putting 50% of their belongings into boxes and stacking them in a closet or the garage. Buyers want to be able to envision themselves in the home and it is much easier to do that when sellers remove personal items and the excessive “stuff” that often clutters up a home. Some houses may need more help than others – your listing agent can help you determine whether you might benefit from some new paint, landscaping or minor repairs around the house. If you need to sell quickly, you may be tempted to simply throw a sign in your yard and let buyers in without making a single change inside. However, these kinds of changes can usually be made within a few days and you’ll find it’s well worth the minor delay in order to increase the value of your house dramatically.
Lastly, sellers obviously need to carefully consider where they set their list price when they are aiming for a quick sale. This doesn’t mean undervaluing the home by setting a rock bottom price – but it does mean avoiding the “let’s just put it at this high price and see what happens” kind of approach. Listen carefully to your Realtor’s advice about the comparable sales in your neighborhood and try to stay objective. Every seller feels their home is worth more than “that one that sold down the block” but try to see your home through the eye of a buyer. Along with your home’s selling points, make sure you understand potential negatives to your home as well and how those issues might affect the overall value. The advantage that you hold in a seller’s market is that it is very difficult to sell your home for less than what it is worth. If your agent somehow unintentionally advises you to list your home for to little, the market will likely bring in hordes of buyers and the price will be driven back up to where it should be through the bidding process. However, if you list your home to high, it is likely to compare poorly with similar, lower priced homes and could sit on the market for months with few buyers coming through. You only have one chance to make a good first impression – once buyers identify your house as overpriced, they are more likely to submit lowball offers under the assumption that you are now desperate to sell.
The Los Angeles area is currently experiencing a healthy seller’s market, which is great news for homeowners looking to sell. However, taking the time to educate yourself about the selling process is still important and can greatly increase your chances of having a positive selling experience. If your home is priced appropriately, shows well, and is easy to see, it’s likely that your home will sell very quickly for a strong price!