Spring is almost here, and many Westchester County home owners will be listing their homes for sale. Given that the market in New York is still weak, I am often asked what sellers can do to gain a competitive advantage. Here are a few guidelines:
1. Choose a good Realtor. Look for track record, references, experience and a sensible marketing plan. Don't list because they are a friend or relative, quoted you the highest price, or lowest commission. That is fool's gold. A good agent gets the job done and is worth their fee. Here is a post I wrote on choosing an agent:
If you are considering selling "by owner" give it 30 days tops. Don't languish invisibly from now until August and then give it to an agent right when Autumn is around the corner. And just so we're clear, you probably aren't as good a salesperson as you think you are, you probably won't save money, and your attorney won't fill in all the gaps you have without an agent. More on that in another post.
2. Price the home right. Here are a few posts I have already made on the subject:
- How NOT to Price Your Home
- The Secret to Getting a Bidding War
- NY Home Buyers Extremely Price Conscious
- Buyers Want Cheap Dirt, Dirt Cheap
One suggestion as far as pricing goes: look at SOLD properties in the last 6 months, not asking prices on the Pennysaver or Craigslist. If you don't want to have an agent over to go over comparables just yet, you can search the sold listings yourself with a free Listingbook account.
3. Accommodate showing requests! Often, Westchester buyers are in town just for the day from Manhattan, Long Island or New Jersey. Some have flown in for the weekend from far away. They have to be allowed in, even if it is inconvenient. There are few things more frustrating to your listing agent (who is spending money on marketing) to bring a buyer to your door and have you not answer the bell. People cannot buy what they cannot see. Even if the place is an unholy mess and you have guests in from Europe, there is a 100% chance it will not sell if these buyers cannot see it. Err on the side of showing the home.
4. Clean up or, better yet, stage! Clean, well presented homes sell faster and for more money than cluttered, unkempt places. More thoughts:
5. Have your compliance act together. Now is the time to make sure that your finished basement, new bathroom and deck are legal with permits and certificates of occupancy. Illegal improvements slow down and often kill deals. Westchester municipalities are typically very strict about permits and COs. Title companies will not insure a home out of compliance and that can scuttle your transaction.
If you follow these guidelines, you have more than a competitive edge, you are likely to be packing in the near future. Once you get an offer you have a whole new set of suggestions to get you across the finish line, which will be posted soon.