12 Things You Should Know About Real Estate

1. A home is worth what a buyer is willing to pay.

You may think all the time and effort you have put into your home before listing it, even what you paid for it previously, makes it worth a certain price. Even an appraiser may come in before you list and say it’s worth close to a price you like. But at the end of the day, it is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. They may think your upgrades don’t match up with the asking price. It may be that the home does need renovations and the asking price is too much to justify buying it and immediately pouring more money into it. A buyer would rather purchase a home at $125k, put $25k into it, and have it be worth $180k instead of buying a home at $180k that needs the same work of the $125k home.

2. Upgrades may not increase the value, but they’ll increase the chances of getting it sold.

It’s normal to think or hope that you’ll get back every penny spent on a home renovation. Unfortunately, in most cases you really only receive back a percentage of what you spent (or sometimes no hike in value at all). Different home improvements generally offer different returns, and that amount can vary depending on the area that you live in. Other factors include quality of craftsmanship and the personal taste of buyers.

3. Cleanliness is godliness.

No house is ever going to be perfect, especially with a dog in the summer, but it is important to make an effort to keep your home as clean as possible during listing photos and showings. You want potential buyers to remember what they love about the home after they leave, not talking about how much of a mess your home was instead.

4. Curb appeal is the first (and strongest) impression.

We all know what they say about first impressions. It’s hard for someone to change their mind after a bad first impression. Take a look at the front of your home. As a stranger, would you buy it? Just in case you’re biased, look next door. What about your neighbor’s home? Would you buy theirs? If no, imagine if they made it more presentable. Then would you buy it? Yes? Remove the kids’ toys from the front yard. Hide the trash cans and recycling bin. Mow the lawn and trim the bushes, especially before your professional pictures are taken! But continue to maintain the lawn for showings, and for the chance that someone might just drive by and notice the for sale sign in your yard. If you have shutters, make sure they’re all still attached and if needed, slap a fresh coat of paint on them. And don’t forget to pressure wash!

5. Pet odor and clutter leave the longest lasting impressions.

Just because we love our furry friends, doesn’t mean that everyone does. It’s hard to erase every piece of evidence that they exist in your home. No matter how many times you vacuum, there will be pet hair that you miss. Just make an effort. And if you can, hide their bedding and food bowls. Pet odor is extremely hard to hide, especially if you have a puppy learning how to be potty trained or a senile dog with a bladder problem. It might be worth your while to replace your flooring, or offer a flooring allowance in the deal. For now, stick a few air wicks in each room.

6. Neutral paint and decor will always appeal to the masses.

Get rid of those dark colors and bright purple accent walls now! That will stick out like a sore thumb in your listing photos before a potential buyer even schedules a showing of your home. The first thought going through their mind is, “How many coats of paint is it going to take to cover up that hideous color?!” Neutral is in. Neutral is always in. As for decor, minimal is best. Go ahead and pack any extra decor that is unnecessary while you’re trying to sell.

7. Cheap fixes or updates will result in cheap (low) offers.

If you can’t afford to update the whole house, don’t. Trying to cover everything will result in cheap updates that the potential buyer will most likely want to have redone. If nothing else, as stated above, at least paint. A fresh coat of paint in the whole house, as long it’s a natural color, is never wasted money.

8. Everything is negotiable.

Seriously. Everything is negotiable. While the refrigerator seems to be the biggest thing that buyers want or sellers note that it can convey with an acceptable offer, many other items have been negotiated. Blinds, curtain rods, curtains, furniture, even tractors. However, it is very important to make sure negotiations are done right and documented correctly in the contract.

9. Time is of the essence.

Because we’re in a seller’s market, it is the perfect time for you to list your home if you’ve been considering it. Homes can barely be put on the market before there is a contract put on them. This being said, time is of the essence for buyers. If you fall in love with a house, you need to put an offer in now, and a good one at that. There’s no time to waste going home and talking about it or sleeping on it. That home might not still be on the market tomorrow.

10. Location! Location! Location!

Why does location matter so much? For starters, you can’t move a home — at least not easily or inexpensively. When you buy a home in a good location, it’s usually a solid long-term investment. It’s often wise to buy the worst house — a property that could use some TLC — on the best block. Why? Because fixing up a home in a great neighborhood will give you the best return on your investment. Quite simply, it will be easier to sell later on. Conversely, you can buy a beautiful home that doesn’t need any work. But if the block is sketchy or just plain bad, you could have a hard time selling the property at a decent price.

11. Buyers notice things they want to change before noticing any updates.

Like previously said, it’s hard to please everyone. Even though you just spent $30,000 on an upgraded kitchen and $10,000 on a remodeled master bathroom, a buyer may be groaning because they’re not looking forward to having the carpets ripped up and hardwoods laid. Or, they just might not like the choices you made during the renovation process. One fail-safe move you can make is to allow a flooring allowance or paint allowance, therefore you’re not wasting the money while getting the home ready to sell and they can pick out the details they like.

12. When priced right, it will sell.

Even if you’re in a hurry to sell and price isn’t your main concern, you still need a baseline to start marketing your home. One thing’s for certain: Pricing is one of the biggest decisions in the selling process. Set too high a price and you run the risk of turning off potential buyers. It also means your house will not compare favorably with other similarly priced homes. Even worse, buyers may not even see your listing when they search online since they will be using lower price points.