A 3-Part Series.
Are you selling your San Carlos home in 2014? If so, congratulations! You’re going to reap the benefit of two consecutive years of unprecedented home price growth here in the Bay Area. As we discussed last week in the 2013 Year in Review, home prices have appreciated over 30% on average in San Carlos since 2011, and the economic conditions are still in place for another solid year in the real estate market in 2014. Interest rates are still low, and there are still far more buyers than there are available homes for sale.
But just because this market still strongly favors sellers, it’s still critically important to adhere to the basic best practices of selling your home. In this three-part series on the White Oaks Blog, we’ll highlight several common mistakes that sellers should avoid in this frenzied market.
#1: Don’t Cut Corners.
When you’re selling a home in a market that favors sellers as much as this one does, it would be very easy to adopt the attitude of “I can just put a sign on the front lawn and it will sell tomorrow.” While this sentiment may be true in some respects, it’s a dangerous mindset to adopt, because it could easily lead to cutting some costly corners that you would never think of doing in a normal market. Here are two of the most common areas where I see it happening:
Home Presentation: It seems like the first thing that goes out the window in a hot, seller’s market like this is the proper presentation of the home. I can’t tell you how many homes that I’ve been through the past few months that were obviously rushed to market with absolutely zero effort put into preparation. From something as basic as de-cluttering and staging of the house, to simply cleaning it, it’s appalling how much of this is simply getting skipped over.
Staging is one of those preparation expenses that sellers still have difficulty comprehending the return on investment, especially when homes are selling so quickly in this market. But it’s even more important than ever to achieve that “wow” factor when people walk into your home, because they are more likely than ever before to stretch their budget to get into the right place. The $5,000 (or less) that you’ll spend on de-cluttering, staging, and cleaning your house will almost always come back multiple times over when you sell it, especially in a strong market.
It’s inexcusable to expect top dollar for a house that’s devoid of furniture, has an inch of dust everywhere, and the windows are so dirty that you can’t see the million dollar views that you’re being asked to pay for. But sadly, that’s how some homes are being marketed today.
Disclosures: That same dangerous, complacent mindset that persuades people to cut corners on preparing the house for sale is also becoming pervasive in the quality of the disclosures that accompany the house. That’s pretty evident when you read through some of the disclosure packets lately — if they’re even filled in completely at all, every single box is checked “no”. You’d think your buying a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood.
It’s understandable to wonder why one should take all of the time and effort to fill in the disclosure documents completely and honestly when the home will sell with multiple offers and no contingencies. If the buyer doesn’t seem to care about the condition of the home, why should you? Right? Here’s one great reason why you don‘t want to do that:
The statute of limitations on known and discovered items will far outlast this seller’s market. In other words, you can very easily get sued years down the road for things you didn’t bother to disclose today. This will be especially true when this market begins to level off. People will not hesitate about taking legal action if they don’t think they were dealt with fairly — even years after the fact.
The bottom line is that the same fundamental rules always apply when you’re selling your home, regardless of the market conditions. Unless you don’t care about getting top dollar for your home or getting sued years later when the market cools off, it’s imperative that you exercise the same level of care and diligence in preparing your home for sale as you would in any other market.
In other words, don’t cut corners.
Tomorrow: Don’t Under-Price.
Tomorrow in Part 2 of this series, we’ll talk about the importance of resisting the urge to massively under-price your home to get multiple offers.
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