If you’re thinking of selling your Palos Verdes property, these seller tips may answer a few of the questions you have about putting your residence on the real estate market.
Seller Tip: This advice from an article I wrote in 2008 is as applicable in 2016 as it was seven years ago. However, the buyers’ market of 2008 has been replaced with today’s raging seller’s market. Being thoughtful and considerate, no matter what the real estate market conditions may be, is always appropriate.
I’m not one for studying tea leaves, but today I did buy a new bamboo plant for my office. My resolution to remain calm and steady throughout these unstable housing market times wavered a bit yesterday. I felt like I was experiencing a Brittany-like bad day!
My sellers and buyers remain oceans apart. Buyers, I’m sorry, but there are no blue light specials in Palos Verdes. Those low ball offers will likely be shredded. Sellers, I’m equally distressed to inform you this is not a good time to increase your asking price. This is the time to make sure your property is playing her best hand. Yes, I had these discussions yesterday.
Sellers, the buyers are venturing back into the marketplace. They want to purchase a home in 2008. Many are pre-approved. Most are market savvy. These are not 2005 buyers. They will not overpay for a property. It’s important to move from being the owner to becoming the seller. Please remember, the buyer of your property will propel you to the next stage of your life. He will help you move on.
Buyers, most sellers are reasonable. They want to sell, or they would not go through the inconvenience of placing their home on the market. If your offer is significantly lower than the asking price, submit a personal letter justifying the price and terms of your offer. Submit comparable sales in the neighborhood. Your agent can help gather a convincing bundle of evidence to substantiate the offer. Your offer will be viewed as a genuine effort to purchase rather than a low-ball insult. You desire what the seller has, and insults rarely foster a cooperative spirit. Your mission is to court and impress the holder of the object of your affection. Win them over!
With a few steps toward each other, you may find the current market a bit more user-friendly.
Seller Tip: I often tell new clients, whether they are sellers or buyers, I’m going to be their new best friend during the selling or purchasing phase of their real estate transaction. For instance, this morning Josh and I installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors prior to the appraiser’s visit later this week. We watered (and deadheaded) the roses and other flower beds, filled the pool and collected mail for a seller who is out-of-town.
Later this week we will meet with plumbers, electrician and handyman to complete a short list of repairs that must be made before the close of escrow. Earlier in the transaction, we met with a home inspector, termite inspector, roof inspector and city officials as we prepared the property for sale. There were painters, window washers and a three-day staging event on the pre-listing chain of events. The list goes on and on.
It’s always a pleasant surprise when every link in the real estate chain works toward a smooth and timely close of escrow. Again, I visit the archives of my real estate blog to find an article that is apropos to this topic.
When moving through the stages of selling a property–from showing to closing– I often think of the quote, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It also takes a group of committed professionals to close a real estate transaction. One weak link, whether it be the agent, lender or escrow officer can turn a positive experience into a painful memory.
I’ve enjoyed many seamless closings and many more with only minor glitches that all parties worked together to resolve. Naturally, if you do something long enough, you will build a body of work that includes a few transactions you would like to forget. Usually, these unpleasant surprises are the direct result of one member of the team dropping the proverbial ball.
Sellers, it’s important to select the real estate team members who will represent you with care. You will have a daily relationship with the parties and players well past the close of escrow.
Each member of the team, including the seller, can avoid being the weakest link by:
1. Provide information and documents promptly to the appropriate party.
2. Pay attention to deadlines and meet them.
3. Return calls, acknowledge emails and in general keep all people informed of any changes or delays. Surprises are usually not well received!
4. Be respectful of the time others are spending to effect a timely and successful closing.
5. Take time to thank the individuals involved in playing a valued role in selling or finding a new home for a client.
This is important work we do. Not only is it big business, but it is also a very personal business, and it requires the combined efforts of more than a few team players. A simple note expressing your gratitude will strengthen the “chain” the next time it is called upon to be a part of a real estate transaction.
Seller Tip: Setting the listing price of a home is a mix of science and art. The science of pricing a home for sale is the knowledge and analysis of recent sales in the neighborhood and market trends. The art is understanding the unique nuances, amenities, and qualities a home brings to the marketplace.
While sorting through some books I plan to donate to charity I came upon Donald Trump’s book “Think Like a Billionaire.” I gave it one final thumb through and paused at the chapter titled How to Sell a House. Written in 2004 it contains some sage advice whether you’re a fan of The Donald or not. Here is the first paragraph:
If you are selling your home and there is no or little activity, or activity but no offers, you should revisit the price. The real estate market is volatile, and prices change daily. I always keep in mind the saying “Old listings, like old soldiers, never die–they just fade away” when it comes to pricing. Also, don’t worry about competition; count on it–you will save yourself a lot of time. Competition may even help you by drawing in prospective buyers within the same market.”
In paragraph three Mr. Trump goes on to state: If you have a broker, make sure he or she understands what the value of the property is to you. But don’t be too stubborn if your broker thinks the property is worth far less than you do. The broker should be the expert, and you’re paying him or her not only for service but advice and local market knowledge.
This is timeless advice from someone who understands the art of selling and acquiring real estate. I dusted off the cover, and since Trump is now building multi-million dollar homes in Palos Verdes, I may enlist his help the next time I need a price reduction or a little added help in establishing a realistic asking price.
As the staging company representative advised one of our recent sellers, “The worst mistake you can make is overpricing your property. Even fabulous staging will not sell an overpriced home.”
Seller Tip: The number one reason a property fails to sell is PRICE. Today’s buyers are much too savvy to overpay for a home. They know local values and they comparison shop.
One of my former brokers told me, “There is a buyer for every property, but first the price must be right.” If a property has deferred maintenance, then the price must reflect the condition. Busy street–ditto.
Your property was prepared for sale. You painted, packed away box after box of personal photos and your children’s treasures. You even spruced up the landscape with new sod and flats of flowers. The trees were trimmed, and the hardwood floors gleamed. The location is prime. The neighborhood is picturesque, and the neighbors are quiet. It was debut ready and then some.
You selected your agent with the greatest of care. Your home was listed with the appropriate fanfare, and agents and buyers paraded through it. You made it easy to show and a delight to see, but although the comments were positive, the offer never arrived. Now, what?
Let’s Start with the Big Picture First:
The Economy: Today’s consumers are a savvy lot, especially the move up buyers who are the bread and butter purchasers of Palos Verdes luxury homes. They are not novices in the game of real estate. They want the best deal in town, or they will stay put. Your property needs to scream VALUE. It does not have to be the cheapest, but it better be the best value, or you’ll get to keep it.
Counter this by keeping up with the comparable. See your competition and keep track of sales in your area. Offer the best value on your street and immediate neighborhood.
The State of Real Estate: The real estate cycle is always spinning. It’s rising, it’s falling, it’s flat, and it’s certainly local. It can often feel like a ride on a merry-go-round, and there’s no music playing to let you know when to get off or on.
Counter this by forgetting about the hot market of 2005 or projections for 2016. Make your decisions based on present market statistics for your locale, not on what was or what might be.
Now, Let’s Get Personal:
Your Why: Change drives real estate sales. If your life is changing from one phase to another, chances are it will involve some real estates changes also.
Counter this with a hard look at why you are selling. You can’t put your life on hold while you wait for the glory years of real estate to return, but it might be prudent to consider leasing or delaying the sale if your price does not match today’s value.
Your Property: Does it stand out from the crowd? Is it elegantly showcased for sale? Is it well maintained?
Counter this by making improvements and repairs before placing your property on the market. Give serious consideration to staging your property to enhance its best assets.
Your Price: When all is said and done, PRICE SELLS!
Counter this by adjusting your property’s price to present day market values. Armed with knowledge, facts and preparation the odds are in your favor–and you can take the results to the bank!
Seller Tip: Selling your primary residence involves a significant number of decisions. It also includes hours spent preparing the property for sale and organizing the actual move. There are inspections, showings, offers and escrow to manage. It is with a collective sigh of relief when the closing day and moving day become a part of your life’s history. One of the most frustrating aspects of moving can be the unwelcome lingering or return of issues with the property you thought occupied a page in your real estate past.
It’s a wonderful feeling when a property closes escrow, and everyone walks away feeling like a winner. It’s quite an accomplishment when you consider how many people and variables must come together before a legal change of ownership can occur.
If one piece of the puzzle is missing, neglected or ignored the transaction may be doomed. If a material fact regarding the property is not disclosed, a legal letter may find its way to your mailbox at some future date. Full disclosure will help you avoid the headache of dealing with problems after the property is sold.
It is important to begin with the end in mind. Yes, sellers we really do want a fairy tale ending to the story of the sale of your house! As the story unfolds, bear in mind there will be moments of uncertainty, drama and a plethora of issues to resolve. There will also be moments of joy, fulfillment, and utter relief.
Sometimes it helps to think of the sale or purchase of your residence in business terms instead of emotional baggage. You’re selling or buying an asset. A dollar value will be placed on it, not an emotional value. No one said this would be a cakewalk. It will take your time and your energy, as well as a small army of real estate professionals to move from listing the house to closing escrow.
Life dictates most moves. A growing family, a shrinking family, a new job or loss of an old one propels us forward on our life’s journey. When it’s time to move on, leave your old home with fond memories and a clear conscience. Disclose its history, its assets, and any major issues.
New beginnings are much more enjoyable with no problems from the past tagging along.
I’m certain I only touched the surface of the many questions you may have prior, during and after the sale of your Palos Verdes Peninsula residence. Perhaps one of the most important decision you will make in the entire process is who will act as your real estate guide during the full spectrum of the sale. Charlemagne Int’l Properties will consider it an honor to help you maneuver each phase of the selling process.
We consider it an honor when we are chosen to help purchase or sell a property, and it is our privilege to help our clients through every stage of the process.