Preparing a home for a quick sale when relocating
When relocating to another city, the general goal for homeowners is to sell their current home for the highest price, within the shortest timeframe. This is also the goal shared by listing agents, who truly understand the unique circumstances and priorities of their relocating clients.
To accomplish that goal requires a concerted effort between the client and listing agent. They must work together to prepare the home for market, and ensure that it will be competitively priced based on present market conditions.
According to Heidi Dugan, a Realtor with Greenwood King Properties, it is essential for the listing agent to be experienced and knowledgeable about the specific area or neighborhood where the home is located.
“It’s important to have an agent who has actually seen all of the houses that have sold and are for sale in the area, and who does a lot of business there,” Dugan said. “Otherwise, it’s hard to understand comps from just looking on the MLS. Locations from one block to the next could be very different, as well as the finishes of the house and the way that it has been maintained.”
Another factor for determining price has to do with how well the home will show to potential buyers. For example, a home that looks dated might not bring as much money as one that has been updated.
“Doing things like painting the home with some current colors or decluttering can make a difference, because if buyers can’t see past all of your stuff or your colors, then they will think that the house isn’t a fit for them. They have to be able to picture themselves living there,” Dugan said.
An agent who lives and works in the area will be able to provide appropriate guidance based on what is typical for that neighborhood.
So, what’s the best way to test an agent’s market knowledge and relevant experience in a particular area?
Dugan suggested that sellers ask several questions, such as:
How long have you been an agent?
What properties have you sold in this general area?
How many properties have you sold in the last year or two?
What’s your advertising budget?
Are your listings accompanied, or will there be a lockbox?
She added that the last question is crucial, because if an agent just plans on having a lockbox, the house won’t have any lights on when buyers arrive. This can make the home look dark and turn potential buyers away.
“I accompany my listings, because I want to be there when buyers walk in, so that I can really tout the house, and tell them all the great things about it,” said Dugan. “I can talk about the neighborhood, the neighbors, the quality of the house, and I can meet any objections people might have when they walk in the door.”
Arlene English, a Realtor with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty, said that when meeting with relocation sellers for the first time that it’s important to walk through the home and make recommendations that will best prepare it to go on the market.
“I start with the outside, because that’s the curb appeal, and you want it to look pretty. I suggest seasonal flowers with a pop of color. The front door also needs to be clean and re-stained if necessary. If needed, they should definitely power wash the outside,” English said.
In looking at the inside of the home, she said that if it is very personalized, that it’s best for the homeowner to try to tone that down as much as possible. That could be as simple as neutralizing paint colors, or removing portraits from the walls.
And while stacks of boxes are a necessary evil when moving, English said that she recommends that the seller place them along one side of the garage, so that they are out of the way.
In some situations, English said that relocation sellers could really benefit from having their home professionally staged.
“I sometimes suggest that my relocation sellers get a stager, especially if they are in a time crunch and they’re out looking for houses in their new location,” English said. “A stager can help the seller get things done much faster. It does cost a little bit more money, but it’s something that some sellers should definitely consider.”
Another option is virtual staging, which is often utilized for vacant properties to help prospective buyers visualize the home when viewing it online.
“Virtual staging is something that I offer my clients too. So, when people look online at the pictures, they can see what different rooms look like when furnished,” English said.
Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit “On the Move” at blog.chron.com/onthemove.