You already know that the days of white-hot bidding wars for real estate are but a distant memory. But it’s not all doom and gloom either. Most markets across the country have started to see slight upticks in pricing, as the inventory of foreclosures and distressed properties has declined.
The other good news is that spring and summer are prime selling times. If you are ready to put your home on the market this sales season, employ these expert tactics from the Log and Timber Homes Council, part of the National Association of Home Builders. The Log and Timber Homes Council provides these strategies for FREE in its Buyer’s Guide, to help home buyers make their dream home a reality, quickly and effectively.
Develop Your Plan
Where will live once you sell your home? There’s no one size fits all solution. But your options include renting, bunking with friends or relatives during construction, or perhaps even something more adventurous—such as living in an RV at the building site. (The latter is not always allowed by local building authorities.) Some buyers have the forethought to build a small guest cabin on their rural parcel as a weekend getaway. Then when they are ready, they put their primary home on the market and move into the guest cabin. They live there during construction of their new home, which can range from a few months to a year or more, depending on needed infrastructure improvements and the size of the home.
Choose whichever scenario that preserves your marriage and sanity, your relationship with friends and family and your budget. Moving is stressful because it’s a dramatic departure from routine. So which option will be the least stressful?
Do We Have to Sell Before We Build?
Not necessarily. Talk with your lender. You may be able to obtain a bridge loan that will pay for your mortgage of your existing home and construction of your new log or timber home, at the same time.
Prepare Your Existing Home for Sale
• Make any needed repairs
• Paint inside and out
• Freshen up landscaping
• Wash all windows inside and out
• Reduce clutter
• Move all non-essentials into storage
• Clean or replace carpeting
• Have the home professionally cleaned
• If you have pets, develop a strategy for getting them out of the way during showings and open houses
Choose A Broker/Realtor
Try to avoid using the friend, uncle, sister-in-law that does real estate on the side (not that there’s anything wrong with that), you just don’t want to risk jeopardizing that relationship if something goes wrong. Instead opt for a hard charger, someone who will get you the most dollars in the fastest amount of time, so you can move forward on your Perfect Path to Your Dream Home. There are scores of free real estate referral websites, which can match you with the right Realtor in your area. You can even specify that you want the top five sales or listing agents in your county. Interview them in person or over the phone and ask for a “listing presentation,” to discuss your home’s value and to learn how they would market your home. Ask questions. How long is their contract period? Can you switch to another realtor if you don’t think they are performing?
Check References, Negotiate Commission
Ask for contacts to recent clients, to gauge how the agent or broker performed. If you want to negotiate on commission, realize you often get what you pay for. Agents typically use their own money to market a home. So if you eliminate their incentive to sell by negotiating lower than the standard 3% of the sale, you may get little beyond a sign in your yard and a listing on the MLS (multiple listing services.) Usually the most successful agents don’t market exclusively to the public; instead they market to other agents as well.
Pricing Strategy: Truth or Consequences
You can hire an independent appraiser to determine value. Or a savvy realtor can help with this vital part of the deal. But here’s a basic truth about home selling and pricing: A home gets the most attention when it’s a new listing. If the price is too high, it will be ignored and quickly become yesterday’s news. If you subsequently drop the price in a month or two, buyers will think you’re desperate and bid accordingly. Offers may then come in lower (and even lower) than your asking price. You may find yourself accepting an offer that is lower than what you would have gotten if you just priced it according to its actual value from the get-go.
Home Staging Services
Want a competitive edge? Hire a staging service. These talented pros can transform your house into a model home experience for prospective buyers—and put more money in your new home budget in the process. How much does staging cost? It will depend on your local market and the size of your home, but it can range from a few hundred to $5,000 or more. Using their talents for interior design, they will tap into powerful emotions of those touring your home. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the bottom line is it’s worth it. Statistics show an average of a 3% minimum increase in final sales price on homes that have been staged, versus those that weren’t staged, according to StagedHomes.com On a $300,000 home, that’s a $9,000 increase. You can turn that into a hot tub on the deck of your new log and timber home.
Use Professional Photographer
Here again, the goal is to make the most of what you have and increase the perceived value. A professional photographer can make all the difference in getting your home to stand above the competition. For anywhere from $500 to $1,500, an architectural photographer will make your home shine—especially in combination with a staging service. Use these photos on the MLS, fliers and other Internet avenues.
Use the Internet
You can help your agent market your home. If you belong to Facebook, Linked-In and other social networking, you can use all that professional photography to alert all your friends and family that your home is on the market. Put an ad on Craigslist. List your home for free on Google maps and, again, use your photography.
Get that house sold and then you can start packing and finalizing the design on your new dream log and timber home.