Q: When is the best time of year to list my home?
A: Right now! Most people are surprised to hear that our busiest times for actually closing transactions are late fall and winter. The reality is we sell properties all year long and there's really no bad time to list. If your property isn't on the market, it surely won't sell and the perfect buyer for your home will end up buying someone else's.
Q: Why does Zillow say my home is worth so little?
A: Automation is the simple answer. Zillow gets data from a ton of strictly objective sources and it puts that data into an automated valuation model that spits out a number for your home. It's often way above or way below what the actual market value would be. Buyers take into account much more subjective items like condition, setting, floorplan, waterfront quality, views, and other factors. The true way to measure a property's value is to look at the most recent comparable sales, just as an appraiser would. A good agent will use that comparable information to provide an accurate value that should be used when setting a list price or helping a buyer make a solid decision. Fortunately, the general public is recognizing that those Zillow algorithm values are inaccurate and relying on them less often.
Q: What can I do if I'm not getting any showings on my home?
A: Most likely the price should be reduced or the home should be updated or properly staged. First, the home must look fantastic online. This means that you must have high quality photos and a description that makes buyers online want to come see your home. This only works if the photos show that the home is tidy, not outdated and in need of repair or remodeling. A good agent will recommend staging items to ensure that the home shows well, looks good online, and has the best chance of selling. If these upgrades aren't made, there's not much that can be done to attract buyers to the property other than reduce the price so much as to make it attractive. That leads to the second reason a property sees a lack of traffic...price. Again, take the advice of your agent. They will recommend a price that is within what the market will bear. Sellers who choose to ignore this often over-price their home and buyers are simply too savvy today to over-pay for a property. The market ultimately dictates what price a home will sell for. If you've done the right things to spruce the place up and it's still not getting interest, you must reduce the price.
Q: I'm going to have to negotiate on price when I get an offer, so I should build in some "wiggle room", right?
A: Actually we've found that the most successful strategy is to price the home close to the high end of what we believe the market will bear. By doing this and listing at a lower, more realistic price, we get more traffic to the property and are more likely to get offers. If, in the end, we cannot negotiate acceptable terms in an offer, so be it. At least we got the interest and, more likely than not, that buyer will be back when they realize a small difference in price should not keep them from owning the home that's right for them.
Q: I know we need a new roof and maybe carpet. Should I just offer a concession to prospective buyers?
A: If there's a budget for these items, we'd recommend making the improvements before putting the home on the market. One way or another, these items are going to impact the sales price. If the repairs or improvements are done in advance, you'll be out the actual cost of the improvement but will be much more likely to find a buyer. If you choose to offer a concession or list at a lower price, it will end up costing you a lot more than the actual price of the improvement and make it tougher to find a buyer willing to take on a project.