• November 2012

Selling a Home? Here are 6 Essential Tips to Keep in Mind

By Shep Saltzman, Principal Broker
and Barbara Balsamo, Broker
Realty Investment Company

When you’re ready to sell your home, marketing is key. Having spent decades in the real estate business, we know that listing a home for sale is 90 percent preparation, and 10 percent marketing.

Here are six critical moves to keep in mind.

1. Rely on a network of experts. That means you get a very experienced realtor to help you establish the market value of the house.

2. Do not price the house too high, or it will sit on the market, get stale, and help properly priced homes get sold quickly (less than 30 days).

3. Do not list it too low, or you leave money on the table. Knowing the market value is the single most important skill for a realtor to use. The house will be appraised and the buyer’s bank will look closely at the appraisal, to make sure it was done properly.

4. Understand what the relevant “comps” are. If the selling price is unrealistically high, the appraisal will come in below the sales price and this usually leads to a re-pricing. Top dollar means it needs to pass the bank appraisal standards. Market value is based on “comps.” A “comp” is a house comparable to yours in size, floor plan, age, and design.

5. Get your property in selling condition. This means the house needs to show well, and be functional. Getting a house in selling condition is an art, and it requires knowing how buyers think and feel. This is about having someone fall in love with your house.

6. Remember that the process of selling your house is both emotional and practical. Emotional because you’re selling not just a house but your home. Practical because what appeals to the most buyers is not strong personal statements. Sellers make substantial judgment mistakes in this area. Following the home inspection, be sure to make the indicated repairs to avoid losing the buyer due to an unfavorable home inspection.

Create a to-do list.

In order of importance: Making the kitchen gorgeous is critical. Next is the bathrooms, followed by walls and flooring.

Remember, buyers want updated appliances, countertops, and cabinets, as well as fresh neutral paint, hardwood floors, and neutral colors and fixtures in bathrooms.

Of course, the exterior also matters. Mulching and a little landscaping, and some colorful flowers make your home more appealing and give it some warmth.

Repairs are important, too.

First and foremost, repair any water problems, get rid of mold, and fix broken windows as well as leaking roofs and exterior wood. Make sure nothing is peeling or rotten.

Inside, de-clutter the house. That means remove excess furniture from rooms, and “stuff” from closets, cabinets, and countertops. If the carpet is stained or torn, replace it.

Make the house appear as big and roomy and clean as possible. If you cannot do this, get someone who can. This is an excellent time to throw out things—and donate them to charity.

For the Fastest Fixes

It may cost a little more than you want, but hire a contractor to make all the needed fixes fast.

An experienced realtor usually can recommend contractors who can get the work done quickly and at reasonable prices. The best realtors will supervise this process to make sure it goes smoothly.

If the house is priced right and is in “showing condition,” it needs reasonable exposure to sell. Following are the essential marketing elements: excellent photographs, a detailed brochure, a few open houses that the listing agent attends, and a house that looks great and smells great.

You can have a quick sale with minimum stress if you follow these simple, time-proven guidelines. Sellers who follow my recommendations sell their houses in the first 30 days, and often in the first week.

So create a good team, and do what will sell the house—fast!


About Shep Saltzman and Barbara Balsamo

Shep Saltzman has been working in the real estate industry since 1985. He began his career at the Mortgage Investment Corporation, where he became a partner and worked until 1999, when the firm merged with Access National Bank (now Access National Mortgage). He also worked as an real estate agent with RE/MAX before becoming a loan officer and consultant with 12th Street Mortgage, which specializes in conventional, FHA, and VA residential loans.

In 1993, Saltzman and his wife, Barbara Balsamo, co-founded the Realty Investment Company. He is the principal broker, and the couple specializes in representing buyers and sellers of residential real estate throughout Northern Virginia. For more information visit www.realtyinvestmentcompany.com.