If you're selling your home, you don't have time to waste. After all, the sale likely has to coincide with the purchase of a new one, which may have to coincide with the date you start a new job or your kids start at a new school.
That's why making your house appealing before putting it on the market is of paramount importance. To draw in potential buyers, you should address the three major reasons homes don't sell, said Liz Venema, a 10-year veteran real estate agent and the owner of Venema Homes Real Estate Team.
Your house doesn't have to be in pristine condition to sell; however, if you want to earn top dollar, you'll need to make sure your house is as up to date on maintenance and style as possible.
"A seller must give some updates, even if the new owners tear them all out after the home closes," Venema said. "Updates sell a home if done right."
Fortunately, an experienced real estate agent will know which changes will give you a return on your investment.
"A little investment goes a long way," Venema said. "Sellers usually leave money on the table doing nothing for their home. I try to work with the sellers to be paid for updates at the end of close of escrow if they are tight for money."
If you don't want to update, your real estate agent may recommend you discount the list price, so buyers will have money in their budget to make necessary repairs.
A common misconception is that a house will sell for the price listed on Zillow or Redfin, Venema said. However, the value of other homes in the neighborhood is more important.
"Sellers cannot make up the price of their home, otherwise all would do so," Venema said.
Venema helps sellers price their homes by looking at comparable homes in the neighborhood that have sold in the past four months to match the length of time an appraiser will review. Comparable homes have a similar number of bedrooms and stories, along with similar styles and updated amenities.
If you overprice your home, you risk losing potential buyers who would be interested at the right price.
"You don't want buyers to tour the home with the thought of 'What is wrong with this home? Why is it so high priced?'" Venema said.
You can't change your home's location, so it's important to be honest with buyers about issues they may face there.
"Some investors won't care and will still purchase the home and flip, and some first-time buyers that can only afford it will buy it," Venema said.
What you can do is add curb appeal with fresh bark, sod, potted flowers, and new paint, Venema said.
You can also paint dated kitchen cabinets and install updated hardware. Additionally, add fresh caulk in the bathroom, clean thoroughly so floors are sparkling, and hire a stager to set up your home with pleasing design finishes.
Homeowners do not have to do the work themselves, and their Realtor can help them find trustworthy service providers potentially at a lower cost. For example, Venema Homes hires vendors with great reviews, experience and knowledge, and offering these vetted contractors repeat business can sometimes result in lower prices.
Once you've listed your home, the average length of time on the market is 24 to 28 days, with some especially appealing houses selling in seven to 10 days, according to Venema.
"Right now, we have very little inventory," she said. "In this market, we could see multiple offers over list price if updates are made, curb appeal enhanced and the property is priced correctly."
Venema Homes Real Estate Team specializes in luxury home sales in the East Bay.