Home Selling Process — Step Two
This is the second in a series on the home selling process.
Selling your home is one of the most complex decisions you’ll ever make. Timing the market, prepping for sale — not to mention finding your next home and moving — can be complicated for even experienced homeowners who’ve bought and sold in the past.
While every real estate transaction is unique, there are some basic steps to follow to ensure the process goes as smooth as possible. The first post in our series of the Home Selling Process focused on Step One, which is choosing an agent and prepping your home for sale. This post will move onto the next step: marketing, showings and open houses.
Marketing Your Home
Marketing your home ensures you get the best price under the best terms. Although sellers have little to do with the marketing efforts, it helps to understand the process and know what’s going on behind the scenes.
Lyon agents are well-versed in real estate marketing. With each client, they develop a strategic marketing plan that includes professional photography, videos, and virtual tours. They then list the home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and on top consumer websites. Agents also promote your home on social media (including paid social media ads) and make email announcements to local agents. Flyers, postcards and print advertising are also part of the plan, as is a highly recognizable yard sign.
Interpersonal marketing is also a part of the home selling process. This means that in addition to print and digital marketing, agents will often provide a tour to other agents in your local area. They also formally present your home to other agents in their office.
Showings & Open Houses
Perhaps the most well-known interpersonal marketing efforts are showings and open houses. Once your home has been officially listed, your agent will begin scheduling showings and open houses. As an owner, there are several ways to prepare for each. For starters, it’s imperative that you give your home a once-over to make sure it’s clean, updated and in good working order. See The Home Selling Process — Step One for more details on cleaning, repairs, and staging your home for sale.
One of the most important things you can do to get ready for showings is to make your home available when a potential buyer wants to see it. Scheduling conflicts are sure to arise, but for the most part, you should be amenable for showings, even if it means loading the kids and the dogs into the car at the last minute and making yourself scarce for an hour. Similarly, it’s best to keep your schedule open, meaning you should skip hosting book club or offering to babysit while your home is on the market.
Although owners aren’t required to leave the home during a showing, it’s highly recommended. Buyers aren’t comfortable being tailed while looking at a home, and they may feel uncomfortable asking questions. Similarly, don’t wait outside or sit in your car — a buyer may feel rushed. Take advantage of the break and take the kids to the park or run an errand.
Because potential buyers may want to see your home any time of day, even while the kids are at school or you’re at work, many agents will install a lockbox on the door. Rest assured that only agents, not buyers, have access to the lockbox. You can provide instructions to indicate when you are — and aren’t — comfortable with showings. For example, no showings after dark or early in the morning while the kids are scrambling to get to school.
Because you may have people in your home while you’re away, it’s important to set the stage before you leave the house. Make sure your beds are made, the sink is free from dirty dishes, and clothes and toys are picked up. If you have pets, consider making arrangements for them ahead of time.
In addition to individual showings, an agent may schedule an open house. These are typically held on weekends and can last anywhere from two to four hours. During this time, prospective buyers and agents (and a few curious neighbors) come to see the property, ask questions, take notes, or jot down measurements. Like showings, the owners are not home during this time.
Although there’s not much for owners to do during the open house, they may need to attend to a few things ahead of time. Yes, it’s important to make sure the house is squeaky-clean, but there are also a few other tasks to take on to ensure a successful open house, as follows:
- Boost curb appeal. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so pick up a couple of planters filled with colorful flowers and invest in a new welcome mat to brighten up your stoop.
- Depersonalize. If you haven’t done so already, remove all family pictures, kids’ drawings and anything else that identifies your home as “yours.” The goal is to help buyers imagine themselves in the home, and they can’t do that with pictures of your great aunt staring at them.
- Organize storage spaces. Odd as it may seem, visitors will peek into cabinets, cupboards and drawers. Storage space is a big deal in home purchasing, so people want to see what your home offers. Tidy up and keep any questionable items out of sight.
- Hide valuables. It doesn’t happen often, but valuables have been known to go missing during open houses. Lock up anything with monetary or sentimental value. It’s also a good idea to lock away medications.
- Clear the air. Did you know odors are the number one turnoff to prospective home buyers? The night before an open house may not be the best time to have a fish fry or to microwave leftover broccoli. To rid your home of unwanted smells, open all the doors and windows and turn on fans. Some say leaving a bowl of vinegar or baking soda on the counter overnight can eliminate smells. Be wary of air fresheners — some people are sensitive to artificial fragrance and they may wonder what you’re trying to hide.
- Hide pet items. Similar to cooking smells, pet smells can be a huge turnoff for buyers. Store your pet’s bed, toys and bowls during an open house, and stash away litter boxes. Wash any pet bedding and talk to your agent about odor neutralizers.
Marketing you home is at the heart of what a seller’s agent does. Quality photos coupled with a strong network of eager buyers can get your home sold fast, and at top dollar. Showings and open houses increase the number of eyes on your home, which in turn will help get you the most offers. Our next installment will focus on the last steps of the home selling process, including offers, negotiations, inspections and closing.