Some properties sell quickly for top dollar while others linger through multiple price reductions and sell for less. Why is that? While I've often written that the market, not the agent or the seller, will determine the final selling price, there are more than a few instances of properties selling for a lower price based on some avoidable miscalculations.
Here's some Pro Tips.
DON'T LIST WITH AN "OUT OF AREA" AGENTLet's define what I mean by "out of area". I'm not referring to listing your Redondo Beach home with an agent from Torrance or even Palos Verdes (although there are plenty of agents who specialize in Redondo Beach). What I'm talking about is someone from the Valley or Orange County. I would probably include Westside as well.
I very rarely see the out of area agent hit the maximum price. What I more often see are price reductions and expired listings. The out of area agent just doesn't know the market.
These days, every market is really a micro market. For those of us who specialize in Redondo Beach, we have seen hundreds of listings over the years, network with other local agents, and really know a) what properties will sell for and b) how to achieve the maximize sales price and get it to appraise. There are a lot of very subtle differences in what can appear to be similar properties to someone not from here. And here's a secret no one will tell you: many local agents don't like it that one of us didn't get the listing and often avoid those listings if we can - if for no other reason than it is perceived the unknown agent will be more difficult to deal with.
DON'T LIST WITH YOUR FRIEND OR RELATIVE WHO JUST GOT THEIR LICENSE
They simply don't know what they are doing yet and may cost you time and money. Or a lawsuit. No matter how well they mean and how close you are.
By "just got their license" I am referring to the last 1-2 years and possibly longer depending on how many deals they've done.
Truthfully, most of us got our start working with Buyers. (I actually still enjoy working with Buyers, but that's just me.)
A smart agent starting out will learn from the listing agents (assuming they know what they are doing) when representing Buyers.
DON'T LET YOUR AGENT POST PHOTOS FROM A SMART PHONEEven if it is the latest and greatest model from Apple or Sansung.
Yes, agents are still doing this. And not even good iPhone pics. We've all got some great photos from our phones for sure but we're talking about selling your house, your most valuable asset, not posting a selfie to Facebook or a concert pic to Instagram.
While professional photographers are not inexpensive, they aren't that costly compared to the commission the agent will make. You also have to remember that your buyer may be viewing these photos on their phone or a 4K or even 5K screen. Either way, you need the best presentation possible.
When your agent doesn't treat your home as the castle it is, it is hard for the buyer to show the respect it deserves and pay top dollar. Really.
Because of the persistent low inventory, may agents have become somewhat jaded and cynical (not me) and think they can do the minimum and the listing will sell. It will, just not for top dollar.
Same comment as for phones holds holds for tablets or other devices with cameras as well. Make sure your agent hires a professional.
I get it. You have kids, maybe even a baby. And a few pets. And when you and your spouse or significant other get home from work about the last thing you want to do is to start straightening up for a showing and take the dog for a walk around the block so some looky loo can see your home.
YOUR LISTING HAS TO BE EASY TO SHOW
Here;s what you need to know.
Not every listing will sell at an Open House. There are people who have commitments on the weekends (families, kids, work, other) and can't make it between 1-4 on Saturday or Sunday. That doesn't mean that they aren't good Buyers or possible aren't the ones who will pay the highest price.
And not everyone wants a lockbox on their home with people able to come in whenever.
There's nothing wrong with doing "appointment only". Yes, you may miss out on a few Buyers because it is too much for their agents to pick up the phone and schedule something but those deals were never going to close anyway. And no, you do not have to accommodate every showing request. But make sure that your listing agent knows your parameters and when to ask for an exception. If you don't want any showings before 9 AM or after 7 PM, the agent can notate that in the private agent remarks in the MLS.
Your goal as a Seller is to get as many people in as quickly as possible because that's your best shot at multiple offers and the price getting bid up. That may mean a Broker's Open on Thursday and Public Opens Sat-Sun the first weekend plus a flurry of showings on Friday and Monday. Make it easy, you'll get more money.
DON'T OFFER "ONLY" 2% COMMISSION TO THE SELLING AGENT
This is just a really bad idea. The standard selling side commission (for the agent representing the buyer) is 2.5%. Agents won't tell you this but listings that pay 3% are the shown a lot and ones that pay 2%, not so much. Make sure that your listing agent is offering the full 2.5% amount.
PRICING HIGH TO LEAVE ROOM TO NEGOTIATE
Very old school. If your listing is priced too high Buyers either won't look or will wait for a price drop until they make an offer. Not where you want to be in this market.
SELLING YOUR PROPERTY "OFF MARKET" BEFORE IT IS LISTED IN THE MLS
Many agents belong to networking groups and we market our "coming soon" listings to other like minded agents. In almost 100% of the sales you are better off exposing your listing to as many potential buyers as possible.
There are times when an off market sale or pocket listing makes sense. That might be for personal privacy issues such as divorce, ill family member, celebrity or you have a very expensive art collection.
Unless you can get 3-5% above your absolute aspirational price, which is maybe also 3-5% above the market, and very favorable terms, best to get as many potential Buyers as possible in to see your home.