When you decide to sell your home, the bottom line is get the best price as quickly as possible, with the most favourable terms for you, the seller. Seems pretty simple, but obviously there is a lot that goes into achieving that goal.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how your home is marketed. Your Agent has a lot to do with how this comes together, but you also have a role to play as well. In my opinion, there is a sweet-spot in terms of what your role is. I should also point out that there is a difference between being actively engaged by your Agent throughout the selling process and actively contributing to the marketing of your home.
Active engagement is mandatory in my mind. As your Agent, I will be making sure you have as much information as is possible to ensure you feel comfortable making decisions on things like price, strategies and the eventual offers you will receive. You are fully engaged in the process. You shouldn’t ever feel like something important is going on, but you really don’t know what that something is. You should always have ‘trust’ in your Agent, but that doesn’t mean blind trust. You should be aware, and shouldn’t ever feel uncomfortable asking for clarity on what plans are being made, who your agent is engaging as part of the process or really anything you might simply want to better understand.
When we talk about active participation, people have different views on what should be expected of them. Now as a Seller, you can decide what you are prepared to do to get your home sold. It really is entirely up to you. However, every Seller should know that their participation can make the difference in how well a home is marketed. Some examples are as follows:
Getting your home ready for sale is key, and although there is a broad spectrum of activities that can go into this (and a number of services available to assist a Seller on this front), some of the basics are:
- Making sure your home is clean at all times during ‘showings’
- Making sure your home has been de-cluttered
- Making sure anything that is visibly damaged has been repaired
- Making sure your home ‘s exterior is being regularly maintained
Generally, these things don’t cost money unless damage requires some sort of trade to come in to affect repairs. It is really a time investment by the homeowner. Often the Agent will provide some guidance on what really needs to be done.
From a marketing perspective, these activities almost always pay off. And this is not something your agent can do for you. You need to ‘participate’.
Now ‘staging’ has become a fairly common term in Real Estate, and it’s value is relative. It can also mean a lot of things, so don’t get ahead of yourself on this. I would throw all of the following things into the ‘staging’ category:
- Putting a new coat of paint on one or more rooms in the home
- Replacement of flooring, cabinetry or fixtures
- Temporarily substituting furnishing in one or more rooms in the home
The list goes on and on here, and the big difference between ‘staging’ and ‘readiness’ in my mind is cost. And as I’ve indicated, the value is relative. I have seen people pay to have brand new flooring put down to make their home ‘more marketable’ and then see the buyer take possession and promptly pull all that new flooring up and throw it out. I would suggest you & your Agent should feel pretty sure that any money you sink into the home is going to have a net-benefit to the selling process. And you need to be careful how you approach it. For example, putting a fresh coat of paint on things does often have a net benefit in the overall marketability of the home. Neutral colours will help a prospective Buyer visualize their furnishings fitting in better. However, if you chose to pick some bold colours based on your personal preferences, it may look great to you, but ultimately it might put someone else off altogether.
So to recap, the things just outlined would fall into the category of ‘participation’. Activities you as a Seller undertake to improve the overall marketing picture. Now there are some additional things that you may be involved in, but more in terms of agreeing to the strategy. That said, it is becoming more commonplace for Sellers to suggest these strategies, and that is certainly welcome participation. However, I think its important to know what you are asking for. Not every strategy works for every situation.
Creating a Bidding War
Now this one has been around for a while, and yet many Sellers are not always clear on what might be involved. In short, the idea here is to put the home on the market, allow people to see the home but do not accept bids on the home until sometime after the showings have begun. In doing so, they hope to get competing bids on the home, thus pushing up the price of the offers received.
Now depending on the market at that time, this alone can result in more favorable offers due to the increased competition. However in some cases, an Agent may suggest a list price, which is slightly lower than the anticipated ‘market’ price, simply to attract more Buyers to the home because it has a ‘bargain’ price. Again, this does work under certain circumstances, but in some cases the bidding may only takes the price to that original ‘market’ price. No real benefit but a lot more activity. There are no guarantees here.
One new twist in this approach is the concept of a ‘bully’ offer. This means that someone submits an offer (often an attractive offer) in advance of the date when offers were originally to be accepted. It is still up to the Seller if they want to accept a bully offer, but if it is to be considered, the Agent is obliged to notify anyone who might have looked at the property up to the point that a bully offer is being considered and give them the option to submit an offer as well.
Overall, this strategy has become popular (one would assume) because it gets the desired results. I have seen it work well and occasionally not so well.
This seems to have become a very popular strategy recently. So much so, that many Sellers are demanding their Agents that they want their home listed as ‘Coming Soon’. Myself, the approach seems to run contrary to most marketing logic.
How this works is, when a Seller is ready to list their home, the Agent will market the home as ‘Coming Soon’, which means most of the marketing tools are used (the sign goes in the front yard, the promotional materials are prepared, it may be put on the Realtors website in a Coming Soon section, etc) but it is not put on MLS right away. Now for those of you who don’t know, the MLS listing is considered the biggest and most effective promotional tool an Agent has a their disposal. Most people who are looking for a home, will almost certainly have visited an MLS Listing Site.
So in my mind, I cant reconcile holding back on using one of the most effective tools available to reach prospective Buyers, simply to be able to say ‘Coming Soon’. But that’s just me. And if my Client insists, well….. they are the Client. But I would definitely explain it as I have here.
Ahhh the old standby. Once again, depending on the market, the Open House can be very effective in terms of allowing people to go beyond the information and pictures available online, and really look at a place. Often times, Open Houses can turn a Buyer who might not yet be serious about buying to a real player. And for serious Buyers, it can be a convenient way to look at homes without having to coordinate directly with an Agent (who typically book and attend client showings on a case by case basis).
Now some will argue that an Open House is often an opportunity for nosey neighbors to come and look at your stuff. Others worry that if the Agent does not manage an Open House properly, light-fingered individuals may help themselves to things along the way.
As with all of these approaches, the market will always dictate how successful the sale is. These can all be combined as well. And as I said initially, Client Engagement and Client Participation will ultimately strengthen the overall marketing strategy for a home.
Generally your Agent will provide you with sound advice on this topic, and hopefully any efforts you do make will pay off in spades. Best of luck!