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For many couples, getting their house to sell for top dollar can help them hit crucial financial goals. Today we’ll go over what you need to know to get a great price when selling your home! 

Selling Your House for Top Dollar

Before we begin, I want to give a disclaimer that this episode’s topic and interview were done before the volatile landscape we find ourselves with the stay at home order in NC due to the coronavirus. 

I’m releasing it now for a few reasons:

  1. At some point in the future, these restrictions will be lifted and so now could be a time to start taking steps around your place to get it ready for sale
  2. I just saw a house in the neighborhood put a for sale up this week (dozens of listings new – or within the last 24 hours)- so people are trying to move on as best they can
  3. With things shifting including jobs, many couples in the relatively near future may have to move 

So while there may be an immediate slow on house tours in some areas, with this time many of us have at home, I thought it would be practical to get into ways to prepare so if you do sell when it’s time, you have what you need to get it done. 

I’m very grateful to have one of my favorite real estate experts back. Louis Guillama is the Vice President of Real Estate Operations over at Coastal Credit Union. 

In this episode we get into:

  • The biggest mistakes couples make when selling
  • How to Stage Your House to Sell 
  • How to decide if you should fix and update your place to able to sell it for more

Let’s get started! 

Handy Money Resources for Selling Your House (and More!)

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

If you need an agent, Daymark Realty has a fantastic team ready to help find the perfect house for you in the Triangle area!

For many couples, getting their house to sell for top dollar can help them hit crucial financial goals. Today we’ll go over what you need to know to get a great price when selling your home!  #realestate #fi #financialindependence

Are You Ready to Sell Your House?

One of the biggest mistakes that sellers make is not being prepared for the process, even before you decide how you’re going to fix up your home or if you’re going to go with a real estate agent.

There is some homework that you have to do to make sure that this makes the most financial sense. For example, if you are going to sell your home, have you built enough equity in your house in some hot markets?

Some sellers have found that they’ve had equity simply by being there and buying at the right time. While others may be surprised that they don’t have as much equity as they thought they did.

Second, can you afford the cost of selling? It could be that you need to rent a temporary storage unit, maybe hire some cleaners to get it ready. Or if you go with a real estate agent, there are some costs with that as well.

The closing [process] for your house has its own expenses.

And then, of course, after you sell your home, what are you going to do next? Are you going to stay in the area and buy a home or are you gonna go to another area where it may be more expensive or less expensive?

Answering those questions beforehand can make you better prepared and know your next steps for selling your home.

Another major decision that you have to make is how exactly are you going to sell your home?

Should we Use a Real Estate Agent or Try to Sell Our House Ourselves?

Now, I’ve mentioned on the podcast before, buying a home is typically the largest purchase that a couple makes.

On the other hand, selling your home can give you that windfall, so to speak, to help you hit crucial money goals that you have.

Depending on where you live, you may have to do three basic options in certain markets like here in Raleigh.

Get an Offer on Your Home with No Showing: Opendoor, Zillow Offers, and iBuyer

You may be able to use services like Opendoor, Zillow Offers and iBuyers where you reach out to these companies and they give you an offer on your home.

For some sellers, it’s a quick and easy option that fits their schedule, but it’s not available everywhere and you may not get the price that you’re looking for.

For Sale By Owner (FSBO): Is That Right for You?

The second way is to sell it yourself. You’ve seen those signs the FSBO – for sale by owner.

Now, this entices some sellers because they feel like they can save a significant amount of money not having a real estate agent. And that could definitely be a draw for you.

I did see a report, though, where it stated that thirty-six percent of sellers attempted to sell by owner, but only eleven percent actually followed through and sold it on their own.

Part of the reason could be the whole process of selling a home includes things like getting the price and listing up handling and scheduling all the showings, making sure that you have the paperwork and documentation done.

Of course, negotiating in that might be your wheelhouse. But if this is your first time selling or you just have a busy schedule and you rather have a professional handle it, you might want to pass on the for sale by owner route.

Working with a Real Estate Agent

And then finally you could go with the real estate agent. Now, a downside for some couples is the amount that the commissioners typically make is 6 percent, 3 percent for the buyers and 3 percent for the seller’s agent. However, there are a few things to consider.

One, depending on where you go, it could be a smaller commission. There are options like Redfin and even here in Raleigh, Coastal’s Daymark Reality which offers lower commission rates than typical.

Another crucial thing to consider is whether you’d want to have that expertise by your side.

Real estate agents come with various different backgrounds and levels of experience.

A really good real estate agent can not only make the process much easier to handle, but they can help out with the pricing and negotiations so that you can sell your house faster and for more money.

It’s not a guarantee, of course. So my piece of advice, if you go with an agent, make sure you interview them beforehand.

You want to feel comfortable with their strategy for selling your home and make sure that you guys are on the same page.

Most Common Mistake with Sellers? Pricing

All right, so let’s say that you decide that either you can sell it on your own or you’re going to go with an agent. That means that you have to prepare your house to get top dollar and to sell quickly. How do you do that?

With his decades of experience, Louis was kind enough to go over some of the biggest mistakes couples make with selling their home.

Louis Guillama: But the biggest mistakes that we see sellers make when it’s time to sell our house is deciding on a price.

A lot of those people make a mistake and confuse sentimental value with market value.

That’s where it will stay professional. Is she helping guide them in making that decision? You’ll look at the numbers and honestly evaluate where your house is in terms of price. That can go a long way to making the process a pleasant one. And again, quick.

Why Home Stage Matters

Another area where sellers struggle is how to set up their home to make it appealing to buyers. Staging your home properly can make a huge difference.

Louis: Staging is a key component of a successful transaction. We feel so strongly about it, we provide staging as a free service on every single listing.

Once we started that program, we saw a significant reduction in days on market. So there is definitely a tangible benefit to doing some staging.

Now staging can take on many forms. It can be is as elaborate as renting furniture and really redefining the interior space of a home.

But in most cases, those staging can be something as simple as just decluttering the home and presenting it in such a way so that people are able to focus on the property and that the personal belongings that you want people coming in and focusing on the product, which is your home.

You don’t want them focusing on your accomplishments, your personal interests and things like that.

Elle Martinez: And if you think this is a small thing that you can skip out on or it seems like it’s not going to make a big difference. Let me tell you, buyers are particular. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to imagine your home as theirs.

So I’ll tell you two quick stories of our experience, both as sellers and as buyers.

When we were selling our townhome, we followed the direction of the Daymark Realty staging expert. We made sure we declared depersonalized and we also made sure we had neutral paint colors throughout the house.

But there was one room that was the exception. It was the girls’ nursery. We wanted them since they were young, to have at least this stability as we were going through all these showings.

But with the feedback, that room kept coming up over and over again, even though we left specific guidelines to all of the agents that we are more than willing to paint that room, whatever color they want, should they make an offer.

Now, the second one was when we were searching for the next place and we were looking at houses. And my husband and I are savvy enough to know that there are plenty of things that we could change that were cosmetic, but it was still hard to separate and imagine living in a space because some of the sellers didn’t even do the basic preparations.

We had to move around a ton of furniture, making the places just feel too small for our needs. The rooms were not well lit. So again, it gave the sense that even though on paper the square footage was OK, it just didn’t feel like it would fit our family.

So at the basic level, make sure you take care of those key things. Make sure that you have declared as much as you can depersonalize it as much as you can have it with neutral paint colors. Those are key things.

Pull back the curtains, let the natural light in. And then when you are trying to figure out the furniture in the room, give each room a definite purpose.

You might have a very large multi-purpose room, but it helps to break it up and show the multiple purposes that you can do in each section versus having that all together. Again, you want to remove any mental barriers that buyers may have about choosing your home.

Louis: I can share one experience. We had several years ago where a member had a property listed with an agency for six months and it didn’t sell.

They had a chart showing there was over 30 showings and it didn’t sell. And then when we did the listing, we simply recommended they paint one single wall which has an accent wall, your master bedroom.

It was painted a very dark blue creature. Right. Really stark contrast. We walked into that exact room. So we recommended they just neutralize that color. They did what we asked.

And it’s all within two days with the same asking price. There was no material change except just the color of that one wall in the bedroom.

So, yeah, I mean, small changes can have a big improvement.

And it’s all about aesthetics. It will have a concept or idea of what their whole looks like and feels like. And so you wanna try to achieve that for them.

Gaining Curb Appeal

Staging your home on the inside is absolutely key, but don’t forget the outside.

As the buyer pulls up, what impression do they get with your home?

So some things to keep a lookout for and make sure that you’re on top of while you’re selling your home:

  • Trim the shrubs and any overgrown tree branches
  • Clear your walkways and paths
  • Windows are clean
  • A fresh coat of paint
  • Plant some flowers.

And if you have anything broken, maybe it’s the mailbox or lights. Take care of that.

Update Your House Before Selling It?

Elle Martinez: And speaking of small repairs, you may be wondering, do I need to do a big update to get a higher price or what are some things that I can do within my budget that really matter when it comes to selling my home?

Louis Guillama: We never recommend doing any heavy lift changes to the property.

I mean, substantial changes like that in my feature kitchen update. Those are better done when you first move into a house where you can have value and use and enjoy those upgrades when you’re living in a home.

You’re really not going to realize a great return on those improvements. We try to do what’s right for somebody else. This can go a long way in that only short in today’s market maximizing the sales price. So sure, I can have a big impact on betting on a condition that would definitely be something that do you consider.

Elle Martinez: And we actually had to do this with our townhome. We had carpets when we moved in, but after a few years, two kids and two cats. Well, it didn’t look that great. So we’ve replaced the flooring.

I think it made a huge difference, especially with the feedback that we got with the buyers.

Tips on Taking Incredible Photos to Sell Your House

And two key things that pulled in. The buyers were great photographs and fantastic descriptions.

Now here’s where your real estate agent can really shine and show that they are earning their commission as part of their service.

Some real estate agents do offer photographer. But all agents should be able to write up great descriptions for your home to make it appealing to potential buyers.

Now, if you are doing your own photography, there’s a couple things to keep in mind.

Get the best camera that you have. You want to make these pictures really pop?

Go for a wide-angle and make sure if you’re trying to get the size of the room. One of the best ways you can do that is going into the corner and getting a few shots from there.

If you can edit it to make sure that you are showing it in the best light.

With many buyers starting online with their search, having great photography really does matter.

Well, there you have it. I hope these tips make you feel more comfortable and confident when it comes time for you to sell your own.

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Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere.

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..