How to Start a Bidding War

It’s no mystery that Raleigh-Durham is a tumultuous seller’s market. Inventory is at an all-time low and demand continues to rise. But there are some sellers who simply sell their home while others make big bank. Here are a few tips on how you can start your next bidding war and make some real money.

Curb Appeal

For many homes that go on the market curb appeal tends to be one of the more neglected areas.  If we do a better job preparing the introduction of the home (the curb appeal and exterior) it could certainly result into a faster sell. Consider this for a moment.  If you stop by our real estate office to talk about me representing you and notice that as you walked inside agents were wearing dingy t-shirts with un-pressed jeans and messy hair would you think we were the type of company that was professional and could give excellent real estate service?

That’s exactly what it’s like for buyers when they drive up to homes with poor curb appeal. They start telling themselves a story before they even walk through the door. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, more than 10% of buyers make the decision not to even go inside when the curb appeal is not presentable.

These are missed opportunities and we want to make sure we capitalize on each of them.

So, here’s what I want you to do. Let’s start with power washing the exterior. Not just the front!! (Lot’s of people try to take the cheap way out). The entire house. Also, power wash the driveway and the sidewalk (if you have one). We want it to look pristine! Like the house was brand new.

Next, let’s deal with the weeds in the yard and plant some new grass seeds (something that grows fast by the way). Then don’t waste time, pick the day you’re going to do the work and let’s get it done! Or, hire someone to do it which is usually the most efficient way to go.

Okay, so we got the house power washed and the lawn is getting squared away. Now, let’s do some landscaping. Let’s put down some fresh mulch and get some color in the flower bed. Pick some flowers that everyone would like. Don’t over spend and buy something exotic. Let’s even consider buying a few more flower pots for the porch. It adds to the “flow.” Plus, it’s a nice touch.

Paint

Okay, let me tell you something that your spouse and friends have been trying to tell you for years. Your choice of paint colors are horrible! Okay, yours may or may not be, but I can promise you after the hundreds of homes I’ve sold I will tell you that the people who choose great paint colors are certainly part of the minority.

Most people choose colors that are personal to them. And that’s fine, for when you’re not moving, but when you decide to put your house on the market your home becomes a product for sale, and it needs to appeal to the general market.

So, there’s a couple of things you need to do to ensure you don’t shock the world or try to start a new trend with paint colors. Let’s start by talking about the old saying “use neutral colors.” I’m sure you’ve heard that one before right? They say to use colors that are neutral like egg shell or beige. These are probably not the best colors to use, and let me explain why.

They’re boring, they don’t make the other placement items in your home “pop” and they don’t give an emotional response to the buyer. Remember this, part of the buying process is an emotional one. We always want to appeal to the emotions of the buyer.

Therefore, we want to focus on the colors that are “In.” You know, the one’s you see in model homes. So, what would those colors be? Glad you asked.

Colors that are part of the light gray and blue family tend to elicit positive emotions that are inviting and comforting. They also tend to work well with a wide variety of other colors and furniture pieces.

Oh yeah! Let’s not forget the trim, the doors through out the house, and the stairs (if that’s an area where you don’t have carpet). Those can all use a fresh coat of paint as well. Little scuffs tend to hide in these areas. Furthermore, the deck is another item you should add to the list that may need a fresh coat of paint or be restained.

People are often surprised by how much paint can change a home. But what they also find out is that it’s a cheap way to bring in a heck of a lot more money. The ROI (return on investment) on paint is hugely underrated.

Replace the Carpet

Carpet can be a small expense but I promise you it’s worth every penny. Old, worn, dingy carpet tends to make a house feel dirty. In addition to that it absorbs odors of all kind, pet odors, cigarette odors, and different spices you may cook with.

Those stains don’t always come out from steam cleaning. So my recommendation is to spend the money and replace it. I get it, you feel like you’ve already spent money on so many other items but trust me when I tell you, like the paint, this is one area where you’ll get way more back than what you invested. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, right?

Buyers who visit your home are going to know right away that they’re dealing with a seller who means business and fully expects to sell their home without any back and forth negotiating over the price and rather the home is actually worth what’s it’s listed for.

De-Clutter

If your house has been on the market for an extended period of time, or, if it expired from the market, one of the problems you may have been suffering from is having too much of your personal items not stored away.

Remember, you’re moving! Do yourself a big favor and purchase a storage unit then clear everything that’s unnecessary out!

I totally agree with the old saying that you need to remove all personal pictures. But I want to take it step further. Remove your art pieces, college memorabilia, religious artifacts, everything that is personal to you. This house is no longer your home. It is a product for sale.

On the otherhand, you may not want to have a huge wall exposed where there could be a painting or mirror that hangs to make the space feel more “homely.” But you want it to be generic. Something that doesn’t bring any attention to itself – just a place holder.

This gives buyers the opportunity to see a clean canvas where they can begin to picture their personal items and understand how the home fits their family’s situation. And that’s the point, you want them to see the house as their home.

Pre-Home Inspection and Repairs

This is one area where the money you spend won’t necessarily make you more money or sell the home any faster. But it will certainly keep you from losing money.

Inevitably, when a seller goes under contract and the buyer conducts inspections the report usually come back lengthy with a large list of things to do.

Suddenly, the sellers become nervous. If they don’t do something about the repairs the buyer may walk, leaving them having to go back active on the market which will cost them money. So what does the seller do? They either spend the money to take care of the repairs or they negotiate it from the price of the house. In both cases the result is the same, money coming out of their pocket.

But savvy sellers conduct a pre-home inspection. They hire an inspector and have them to produce a report showing everything that needs to be addressed. From there, they either make repairs to everything found on the list, or, if they don’t have the time to address it or can’t afford it, they get estimates from a few contractors, negotiate the best price, and keep the report and the estimates in their files so when they do go on the market, and the buyer presents these items from their inspection report, the seller can show them that they’ve already gotten estimates and negotiated the best deal with several contractors and that the repairs have already been worked into the price of the home. This is called negotiating from a position of strength. I strongly encourage you to do a pre-home inspection.

Staging

Staging is all about finding the most attractive placement and spacing for furniture and items in the home. The better a home is staged the more imagination it gives to a buyer. It helps the buyer along with envisioning how they might be able to situate the home once it’s their own. Believe it or not some buyers really need this sort of help as it can be difficult for them to see how their things fit inside the home.

Staging can also give a glimpse of perfection. When the sofa is centered perfectly, the mirror is in the right spot, and the fruit bowl is filled with apples and bananas with beautiful bright colors it brings an emotional response to the buyer that this home is perfect! That’s the exact feeling we want them to have. Remember, buying a home is an emotional process.

Price it to Sell

One of the biggest mistakes many sellers make is they price above or at the top of the market. Their logic is that if they go on the market at a higher price they can negotiate down to the number they were actually thinking, or, if no one makes an offer they can lower the price in minor increments.

This is not a good strategy! In fact, it almost never works. Think about it, as a home sits on the market and days begin to go by how likely are buyers thinking that the home is worth what the sellers are asking? Hardly ever. I can assure you buyers are thinking that the home is overpriced and it needs to come down.

The longer you stay at that price the longer the home will sit and the more doubt begins to travel through the market about your listing.

Therefore the best pricing strategy is to price the home just a hair under the market. Remember, people like to think they’re getting more value for what they’re paying. Placing a home on the market for $325,000 where it may actually be worth $330,000 will most certainly get people interested.

And here’s what usually happens, if you’ve done all the other things mentioned in this guide, you won’t just get one buyer to make an offer, you’ll get several. They’re all competing for your listing! What do you think happens to the price of that home? That’s right, you got it! It goes up, and sometimes, way up! What was priced at $325,000 ends up selling for $335,000 or more.

This pricing strategy puts sellers in a very strong negotiating position. Remember, negotiate from a position of strength and this is a much stronger position to be in than if you’re attempting to negotiate from a price that is too high.

So, now you have seven tips that will help you not only get more buyers to come view your home but you also have tips that will put more money in your pocket!

*This was a re-post from the article “Quit Screwing Around and Let’s Get This House Sold” we posted on Feb. 26, 2017

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