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Selling your home

Comps vs. Competition: two factors on pricing your home

So your house is going on the market.  What can you do to make your home “pop”, and move to the top of buyer’s wish lists?  There are lots of good ideas to help make your house attractive:

  • Removing personal items and clutter. I like to think of de-cluttering your house as pre-packing!  Since you plan to move, why not put half of the 30 plastic Chinese take out containers you kept to store leftovers in storage!  Or throw away!  You know movers charge by the mile and the pound…and now your kitchen cabinets look bigger.
  • Repair any defects that will put off buyers.  Sliding door sticky?  Oil it now.
  • Have an attractive listing and marketing plan presented by your Realtor.  Check out how your listing looks on the internet.  Did the Realtor have a professional photographer take the photos?  Nothing worse than a photo of your bathroom with the Realtor and his flashbulb in the mirror!  Also find out if your Realtor has attractive flyers and an internet presence.  Many buyers start on the internet, and if your photos are not attractive you are going to get crossed off buyers lists.

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Probably the biggest factor in selling your home is the price.  Seems obvious enough, yet there are many factors that need to be considered in setting the listing price for your home.  Be aware that neither the home seller nor the Realtor set the price.  In the end the market sets the price.  This is where the two types of “comps” come into play.

The first of the “comps” we are all aware of is the comparables.  This is the prices of similar homes that have sold in your neighborhood in the last six months.  Appraisers will use “comps” to do an appraisal of your home in the event the buyer has to qualify for a loan, so if your buyer is using financing, be ready.  If other homes in your area that are similar to yours in square feet, age, condition, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms have sold at a certain price range the appraiser will value your house at that average price.  This is how the lender can get a fair market value for the home.  Neither the appraiser nor the lender are emotionally attached to your home, and they are looking at your home as an asset that needs to have a value assigned to it.  Period. If you home is listed for $340,000 and the appraisal comes back with a value of $285,000 the buyer will have a decision to make about going forward with the purchase.   Even some cash buyers will have an appraisal done to verify the market value before they go forward with a purchase contract.  When pricing your home, your Realtor will show you the “comps” in your area.

But there is another “comp” out there putting pressure on your price.  The competition.  You probably got your first taste of competition if you had a lemonade stand as a kid.  You had great lemonade.  Freshly squeezed!  Plastic cups not paper!  A great price of 25 cents a glass.  This gave you a nice profit of 18 cents a glass.  It didn’t take long until the snotty kid down the block opened a lemonade stand and sold freshly squeezed lemonade in plastic cups for 10 cents.  She makes only 3 cents a glass, but now she is selling all the lemonade.  You get nothing.

Your competition when selling your house may come from other listings in your neighborhood.  Listings are not used by appraisers as they may not reflect a true market value the way a sale does.  Listings are often set by the emotions of the home seller or the Realtor anxious to please the home seller.  Nevertheless, if the price of homes in your neighborhood are less than yours, and they have the same if not better features, buyers and other Realtors will be drawn to those listings.  Just like the 10 cent lemonade.  The more homes for sale in your area that are similar to yours, the more pressure they put on your price.  Your Realtor will also need to show you those prices too when you sit down to price your home.  It may not be a bad idea to have your Realtor take you to showings of those homes to let you see what your up against.  Know your competition!


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