All home sellers seek the maximum price for their property. Yet many sellers miss profit-making opportunities because they do not fully understand the real estate selling process.
Sellers in general, and people who sell their own homes in particular, should consider three "hidden" factors when marketing a house: time, psychology and a sense of reality.
It can take many months to properly market a house. How long will it take to fix up your home? Make a list of the tasks required to have each room in "show" condition. How much painting will be needed? What can be thrown out to create an impression of roominess? How much work will be required outside the home?
The repair list can be lengthy, byt buyers expect the average home to be in top form. Anything less than show condition will raise the buyer's overall anxieties about the house and reduce the seller's bargaining position.
Once a home is in show condition, sellers can order an appraisal if desired. It takes three to four weeks to get the results of an appraisal. For individuals selling without a broker, the appraiser's independent evaluation can be a useful selling tool. Buyers can use an appraisal to help obtain financing. The cost of an appraisal generally runs from $60 to $100.
Another time consideration is the direct selling process. How long will your home be on the market? Since no two properties are identical, this is a difficult factor to judge. Brokers commonly seek listing agreements to represent a home for 30 to 120 days. Some believe the average selling time is 45 to 60 days. Set aside as much time as possible for direct selling.
Settlement typically occurs 30 days after the actual sales, although it can be much later. Even at settlement the selling process is not over. Checks frequently are not issued for several days after the settlement of "closing."
So, whether you are selling by yourself or through a broker, plan for as much preparation and marketing time as possible. Your bargaining power can only be improved when time is literally on your side.
One of the most important services provided by real estate brokers involves psychology. Brokers often serve as an "authority figure" in the marketing process. Buyers will look to a broker although he is the agent of the seller, for information and advice needed to complete a sale. Sellers who do not use a broker must themselves become authority figures and have a current knowledge of the mortgage market, an understanding of contracts and good negotiating skills.
Savings and loan associations, commercial banks, mortgage companies and credit unions will explain, by phone, their loan rates and costs as well as the qualities they seek in potential buyers.
Attorneys can provide contract forms and specific legal advice related to a seller's particular needs. Legal fees for such work run from $200 to $400.
It is commonly estimated that at least 10 per cent of all homes are sold directly by owners. This means that if you try to sell on your own, you can be successful. Indeed, about 300,000 homes were sold by owners in 1976.
While it can pay to sell ye yourself, there are cases where using a broker is the best choice. If you are moving quickly, are not a good salesperson or hate to haggle, then you should contact local brokers and discuss the specific services each can offer.
Peter Miller teaches a course in "How to Sell Your Own Home - With or Without a Broker" though the Consumer Information Institute here.