Whether people are upgrading, downsizing, or relocating, one of the first decisions they must make is what to do with their current home, and selling is the most common way to go. Maybe that’s why over five million homes are sold in the U.S. every year as part of the multi-trillion dollar real estate industry — great news for real estate agents who work with sellers.
While helping someone sell their home can seem daunting if you are new and have never gone through the process, with the right approach, you can come out of a sale knowing you helped your client get the best possible price with the least amount of hassle.
This guide summarizes the major steps and questions that real estate agents must consider when working with a seller.
How to ace the real estate hiring process
Before you can even begin to help someone sell their home, you must first get hired by acing the hiring process.
Show your value.
Some potential clients might be asking themselves if they even need a real estate agent. While some states require people to have an agent to complete closing paperwork, others do not. That’s why it’s important you show the value that you can bring to the table. Real estate market analysis, pricing, listing, marketing, negotiations, and paperwork — these are all basic services that you provide as a real estate agent. It’s important that you make sure potential clients know this so that they have a reason to hire you.
Some common interview questions…
The sale of a home is often one of the biggest financial transactions a person experiences in life. It’s no wonder people are picky when it comes to choosing a real estate agent. Clients want their agent to be knowledgeable, dedicated, and highly accessible. So make sure this is the image that you portray when you go into that first meeting or phone call.
Below are some common interview questions to help you prepare.
- How long have you been in real estate?
- As a seller’s agent, how many homes did you help sell last year ?
- What marketing strategies do you use to help your clients sell their properties?
- Can you tell me the average time between listing and accepting an offer for the clients you work for?
- What are some things I can do to make my home more attractive to buyers?
- How often will you communicate with me about our progress?
- What are some ways I can contact you?
- Will you go to all of the inspections on my home? (The answer should be yes.)
- What are your fees?
- Will I be able to terminate our contract if I’m not happy with the results you’re giving me?
- What are your references? (Always have these prepared.)
How to prepare your seller’s home
Should they renovate?
Deciding whether or not to renovate comes down to comparing the cost to the value added. Sellers don’t usually renovate their homes right before selling because they find that the sales price will not fully recoup the cost of renovations. In some cases, though, small renovations can make a large impact on the property’s perceived quality and value. These types of renovations are worthwhile because they pay for themselves.
Some possible interior repairs and renovations…
Buyers decide to buy a home based on emotion as much as logic. Whether or not a property feels right is a common reason an offer is or is not placed. Can the buyer imagine themselves watching football on the couch in your living room? Enjoying a family meal at the dining table?
If a part of your seller’s home looks outdated or worn, giving it a makeover can add a lot of perceived value. The two most common places for these types of renovations are the kitchen and bathroom. In the kitchen, updating the flooring, cabinets, appliances, counter tops, and lighting can transform your seller’s home from a no to a yes. If they are on a budget, even small changes like newly painted cabinet doors will make a difference. Updating the bathroom in similar, small ways is very helpful especially in older homes. No matter which part of the home they choose to renovate, encourage your seller to choose neutral colors, good lighting, spacious storage, and energy-efficient upgrades, if applicable.
Here is a list of other small interior repairs or renovations for you to suggest:
- Tighten loose door knobs.
- Repair leaking toilets and taps.
- Oil squeaky door hinges and fix screen and closet doors that are not on their tracks.
- Replace or fix cracked molding or floor tiles.
- Replace all dead light bulbs.
- Clean vents and ceiling corners.
- Repaint walls with a new coat of paint, favoring light, neutral colors.
- Shampoo or replace their carpet and rugs.
- Clear out and clean the garage.
Some possible exterior repairs and renovations…
While important, the interior of your seller’s home is not the only aspect that requires consideration. The second a potential buyer parks in their driveway is the moment the first impression begins, culminating in a decision whether or not to place an offer. Here is a list of items to check to make sure that the exterior of your seller’s home is in top condition.
- Mend broken fences.
- Clear out the eaves and gutters.
- Fix or replace any broken screens, windows, shutters, or storm doors.
- Re-paint any worn surfaces on the exterior of their home.
- Fix and paint the patio and deck.
- Make sure their pool is clean or covered if there is one.
- Clean and re-paint the front door and consider a fresh Welcome mat.
- Plant fresh flowers and fix any dry patches in their lawn.
Marie Kondo before listing.
Part of boosting a home’s appeal to potential buyers is clearing out unnecessary clutter. Clutter can make a space seem smaller, darker, and even older. On the flip side, clutter-free homes make it easier for potential buyers to envision the home the way that they might occupy it.
If the house seems cluttered, encourage your seller to move their treasured belongings from the house to storage or a friend or family member’s place until you have sold the home.
Set the stage.
Staging may not be necessary, but it doesn’t hurt. Little things like buying some discounted pillows for a splash of brightness or putting fresh flowers on the dining room table provide a nice touch with minimal effort and cost. And all real estate agents know the importance of scent. Open the doors and windows and light a warm-smelling candle, or bake a pan of cookies. These small details add up to a quickly sold home and satisfied seller.
Successful real estate sales is about listing at the right price.
After you have completed the work necessary to get your seller’s home sale ready, it is time to set a price. Pricing a home is the single most important step in determining how quickly the home will sell and how many offers you will receive. This is where your real estate expertise and any persuasion skills will come in handy.
Convincing your seller to list at the right price is a balancing act between starting too high and idling on the market for months or shooting too low and getting flat out rejected or missing out on potential profits. A CMA, or comparative market analysis, is your best friend here because it not only provides you with necessary data but also gives your seller something solid to refer to.
The most common mistake that sellers make is overpricing, and many of these sellers are working with real estate agents who were not able to convince them to do otherwise. Knowing the market and the worth of your seller’s home and being straightforward with your professional opinion is the best strategy to take in most situations.
A few words on marketing…
Once you and your seller have settled on a price for the property and you have listed their home, it’s time to market.
As you know, listing your seller’s home is very much like putting a product up for sale on Amazon. It is now available for purchase, but there are other products just like it. Be sure to do the necessary marketing to ensure your seller’s home stands out. This marketing includes posting on social media and blogs, ensuring that listings are filled with attractive images and detailed descriptions, and hosting open house events that will attract potential buyers. This is your job and no one else’s.
Starting a bidding war
After you have listed your seller’s home and spread the word through marketing, you will begin to receive offers. A buyer makes his or her offer by using a standard contract. In this contract, the buyer specifies a sale price and conditions such as deposit amount, closing date, and date of possession. The buyer’s agent will provide this to you. You will then review it with your seller, whose options when faced with an offer are to accept, reject or counter. Countering an offer begins the negotiation process.
If you have multiple offers, then you have the advantage in these negotiations. A bidding war is where a seller has multiple offers on the table, more coming in, and is able to leverage the interest to obtain a higher price on the property. You can find yourself in this situation if you are in a seller’s market, if you have a unique and highly desirable property, or if you as a real estate agent have done a very good job.
Are you ready?
Selling your first home can seem daunting if you have only read about the process while studying for your licensing exams. However, with an organized approach and the guidance of your broker, you can come out of a sale knowing you received the best possible price with the least amount of hassle. After reading this guide, you should feel better prepared to undergo the process. Now that you have more of the knowledge you need to help your seller make the most of it, it is time to take that first step and find your first clients.
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