If you’re considering selling your airbnb investment property, there are quite a few things you should consider. Listing your Austin area vacation rental for sale is far more complex than listing your personal home for sale, and is entirely different than listing a long term rental for sale too. You’re going to need to think about your market seasonality, existing bookings, furnishings and much more. Here are five things to consider before selling your Austin area vacation rental investment property.
1. Timing the Sale
The most popular days for buyers to tour properties for sale and the most frequently occupied days for an airbnb both fall on the weekends! Naturally, this creates a bit of a predicament. If you want to sell your active short term rental you’ll want to ensure prospective buyers can actually get into the home to see it! As you can imagine, most airbnb guests would not welcome this inconvenience. Thus, you should likely block off your calendar for a few weeks following the date you list the vacation rental for sale. I can already hear your anxiety, “Block the calendar!”, she says, “We can’t do that, we will lose bookings and revenue!” Yes, you may. However, if your calendar is fully booked and you list your home for sale, you will sacrifice revenue on the sale.
See, the thing is, when your home just sits on the market, buyers start to worry. They don’t consider the fact that the only time for a prospective buyer to see your home was during turnover last Tuesday. All they see is that your home has been on the market for 20+ days, and that will cost you far more than a few lost bookings. The best thing to do when considering the timing of your airbnb sale is to compare the seasonality of the sales market with the seasonality for your short term rental. March is a great time to list your Austin property for sale, BUT this is SXSW season in the short-term game and obviously not the time to block off the calendar! Identify a month where sacrificing a few stays won’t kill you, and median sales prices are historically high.
2. What Will Convey with Your Airbnb Sale
When listing your Austin area vacation rental you are selling real estate, but you are also selling a whole lot more! You’re selling all the furnishings, the business, and the property itself. Do you know what all is even in the house anymore? Do you have a detailed inventory list? Do you have personal items you don’t want to convey? You need to get a full grasp on all of these things before you list the vacation home for sale. What about your short term rental listing? Do you plan to transfer this to a new owner? Can you transfer this to a new owner? Will you give a new owner all of your previously earned reviews, maid connections, contractor relationships? These are all questions you will want to ask yourself.
3. Rental History and Performance
If you’re selling your vacation rental, you will most likely be advertising your property to savvy investors who will want to know what kind of ROI they can expect from your home. Thus, you have to know your numbers! Do you have a detailed profit and loss statement you can provide? If you don’t, can you make one? You need to make it as easy as possible for an investor to see the income potential in your property. Did you block the calendar for 2 months so Aunt Nancy could stay there last May? You’ll want to make note of that fact, and show what revenue you could have brought in if Aunt Nancy wasn’t such a freeloader. Did you not know about variable pricing until two months ago? Make note of that too. Show investors how with a few tweaks, your property could be a profit house!
4. Marketing Your STR Effectively
While in no way is simply listing your property on the MLS an effective marketing strategy for any real estate sale, it’s particularly ineffective when you are marketing the sale of an airbnb. Your STR should be listed on the MLS, but it also needs to be marketed to those most likely to buy it- investors searching for a vacation rental investment opportunity. There are plenty of platforms out there for just that! These should be utilized, and networking with other local Austin airbnb owners and managers is also a great way to get the word out about your airbnb for sale. Effective marketing for a vacation rental home includes advertising the property, the airbnb listing, the furnishings, and the revenue! When you get the word out about all of these features to the right people in the right way, your vacation rental will sell quickly!
5. Choosing the Right Person to Sell Your Vacation Rental
Given that selling a vacation rental property is drastically different from selling a regular home, you need an experienced real estate agent who understands the process for selling your Austin airbnb. A thorough, knowledgeable real estate agent in the STR space will ask you about many of the points above during your very first interaction. They will know where and how to market your vacation rental, and they will have the technical experience to make sure all the details are appropriately addressed contractually.
If you’re considering selling your vacation rental in the greater Austin area, the E-Rae Realty team has the skills and experience to assist you with your sale.
Thinking about selling your rental property? Here’s everything you need to consider.
Selling an investment property is quite different than selling your primary residence. When you are considering selling a property that is tenant-occupied you will need to think about how the tenants may impact the sale of the home. The lease terms and your selling timeline will dictate how you can sell the home. You could sell the home with leases in place or wait for the leases to terminate before listing the property. If you wait for the leases to terminate you will appeal to a larger buyer pool, and the selling process can be facilitated more easily. That being said, there are benefits to selling an investment property with tenants in place ( hello instant rental revenue!) If you determine that selling with tenants in place is the best option for you, following the advice below will help you sell your rental property with relative ease.
When you’re considering selling your rental property, the first step is to locate your lease or leases if you have multiple tenants. Look at when the lease term ends and the monthly rent. Does the lease terminate at a time of year that is favorable for selling for the highest dollar? Does the monthly rent match the market rate? If you’re not sure, you should contact a real estate professional to find out! If your rental revenue is below market rate, and the tenants have a considerable amount of time left on the lease it may be better to wait until closer to the lease termination date to sell.
Next, you will want to look at the fine print in the lease that dictates how the property can be marketed. Identify what rights you as a landlord have to market and show the property. Some leases will allow for showings within a certain amount of days prior to the lease ending. Other leases may state that the tenant can pay a fee to waive the landlord’s right to allow showings during that time period. If you determine that listing your home for sale with tenants in place is the best strategy, you MUST adhere to the showing terms dictated by the lease. Furthermore, you will want the tenants to be cooperative in the process.
Communicate your intentions to sell early on; you will want to ensure they understand that the lease terms will stay the same when the property is sold. The only difference will be the landlord is changing hands. At closing, the security deposit will be transferred to the new owner, and the new owner will deliver instructions for paying rent to the tenants. You also need to make sure to have a plan for how showings will be allowed and how much notice the tenants need prior to showings. Will you communicate showing requests by a text or phone call? Do you need to inform all tenants or is their one point person with whom you can communicate? Are there certain times or days that will never work for showings? How much notice does the tenant need to allow a showing?
In addition to clearly communicating showing notice protocols, it’s also important to set expectations for how you would like the home to be presented fo showings (free of clutter, clean counters, beds made, etc). Ultimately, you can’t force the tenant to ensure your property appeals to buyers. However, you may be able to incentivize tenants with a discount on rent, a gift or you could offer a free home cleaning prior to an open house. In the end, this small expense is well worth it to ensure the home shows well and thus yields a higher sales price.
Selling your rental property with tenants in place means you are selling your property to an investor! Investors have one primary goal - to purchase a property that will provide a return on investment. In order to determine how profitable the property may be, investors will want to know all the figures. Make sure that the monthly rents are marketed. If you have detailed records of expenses and improvements to the property you should provide these. If you installed a new roof last year, or your property has a 10% cap rate, these are facts the investor will want to know! Make it as easy as possible for an investor to see the financial benefits of your property.
Do you have questions about selling your Austin area rental property? Give me a call, and I’ll be able to help you determine the best strategy for your unique situation.
If you are considering selling your Austin area home, you are likely wondering what fees are involved in the sale. In order to determine if selling your home is in your best financial interest you need to understand all of the costs associated with selling, and have a good idea of the price at which you can sell your Austin area home. Many of the costs associated with selling your home are negotiable items in the standard Texas real estate contract; however, there are items that are typically seller expenses and other fees that you are certain to pay when you sell your Austin house. Below is a break down of the various fees you can expect when selling your home in Austin, Texas.
Real Estate Broker Commissions
If you are going to be listing your home for sale with a real estate agent, you are going to have to pay commissions. Although there are no set commissions in Austin, the vast majority of homes listed for sale in the Austin Board of Realtors MLS will show a 3% buyer’s agent commission. Real estate broker commissions are negotiated when you sign a listing agreement with a broker. In the Austin real estate market, it’s quite typical to pay 6% of the sales price as a commission fee when you sell your home. 3% of this fee usually goes to the buyer’s broker and 3% will go to the listing broker. However, as I mentioned earlier these fees are negotiable, and many brokers such as myself will offer a discount to the commission fee when you are buying and selling a home at the same time. For example, if you are selling your Austin house and buying a new home in the Austin area, I will reduce the listing broker fee to 2%. These fees may seem like a lot to you, but they cover all of the expenses and work involved with selling your home. The listing broker will pay for all photos, videography, and marketing. In addition they will respond to all inquiries about your home, show the home, negotiate on your behalf and much more. If you’re thinking of doing this on your own, you can learn more about listing your home FSBO here. Spoiler Alert: It’s a lot more work than you think and usually ends up costing you more!
The title policy protects against any unknown claims of ownership to the property. The cost of the title policy is negotiable in the Texas real estate purchase contract. However, it is very common for the seller to pay the cost of the owner’s title policy in the Austin real estate market. Occasionally, in competitive multiple offer situations, you will see the buyer offer to pay the owner’s title policy. This is vary rare, and not something to count on when estimating the fees associated with selling your Austin home. The owner’s title policy cost is regulated in the state of Texas. No matter what title company you use, you will pay the same amount for the owner’s title policy. These rates are based on the sales price of your home. You can view the full rate chart here. As an example on a $400,000 home sale you can expect to pay $2,413 for the owner’s title policy in Texas. If the person purchasing your home is financing the home purchase a lender’s title policy will also be required. This is typically a buyer expense.
Another negotiable item in the Texas real estate contract is the home warranty. In the contract it is referred to as a residential service contract, and the contract is worded in such a way as to presume the seller will pay up to a certain amount towards a home warranty coverage program. This is a negotiable amount, and the buyer may or may not request the seller contribute towards this expense. Home warranty fees vary but you can expect to see a buyer request a seller contribution of $400-$600 towards the buyer’s home warranty.
There will also be fees charged by the title company to facilitate the transaction. These are known as escrow fees. These fees vary from one title company to the next, and are usually split between the buyer and seller. However, if you are simply looking for a rough guess as to what to expect, you can estimate $500 for the seller’s portion of the escrow fees. You may also have to pay attorney document fees, recording fees, or notary fees. These should total less than a few hundred dollars.
Property taxes are paid in arrears in Austin. Thus, you will need to pay your portion of the property taxes for the time you lived in the home at the closing. These will be calculated based on the number of days you occupied the home and the most recent property tax bill available. Your pro-rated share of the property taxes will appear as a debit to you (the seller) and a credit to the buyer on your final settlement statement at closing. You can look up your property taxes on the county tax appraisal district’s website by simply searching for your address; here’s a link if you live in Travis County. Find the annual tax bill amount, divide by 365 and then multiply by the number of days you expect to have lived in the home for the year.
You may encounter other fees when selling your Austin home. If you live in an area where there is a home owner’s association, you may need to pay for a portion or all of the HOA document and transfer fees. You may also be asked to contribute towards a buyer’s closing costs. You could need to make repairs or make monetary concessions for repairs found during the buyer’s inspection. Again, all of these items are negotiable and that’s why it’s important to have a strong real estate broker by your side to guide you through the process and negotiate on your behalf.
If you’re thinking about selling your Austin area home, contact me today. I can give you an in-depth evaluation of what your home is worth and provide a highly specific estimate of all of the fees involved in the sale of your Austin home. Don’t worry, if you’re not ready to sell I’m not going to pester you with consistent calls or e-mails either!
If you want to sell your home quickly and for a decent price you need to understand how today’s home buyers shop. When you truly understand home buyer shopping habits and market trends, you can take proper actions to ensure a speedy sale. You will want to consider how your home appears to buyers both online and in person, the timing of putting your home on the market, and proper pricing.
Presentation is Everything
Imagine you are swiping through tinder looking for an eligible candidate for a nice date. You see hundreds of images. Some of these are appealing, some of them are not, and then there are those people who have a photo that’s so blurry you can’t even tell what they look like or even worse, no picture at all. Those profiles are almost always going to get an immediate swipe left. You want to make sure prospective buyers swipe right on your listing!
First and foremost, your home needs to put on its best dress and get a killer selfie to show the public what she’s got. For a house, this means making sure the curb appeal is killer, adding flowers, power washing the driveway, and sprucing up the front door. You also don’t want to make your home like one of those profiles where the first pic is amazing and then you start swiping through a few more images and then inevitably swipe left. You need to make sure your killer presentation continues throughout the interior of the home. Ensure that any signs of wear and tear like a dog scratched door or worn carpet is rectified prior to listing your home for sale. Make sure all the clutter is eliminated, the beds are made, the furniture is an appealing configuration, and the house is clean.
Then, you are ready to call in the pros for a photo shoot that will have prospective home buyers knocking at your door in seconds. Proper presentation isn’t only physical. You also want to make sure you have some meat to your listing. A pretty profile with no details will still leave some people reluctant to swipe right. In addition to showing buyers the benefits of your home, you want to tell them what they can’t see. Explain how you have a brand new HVAC system, the home is minutes away from a beautiful park, and the schools are superb. The bottom line is that if your home doesn’t entice buyers online, most people will never even take it out on a date. Professional photos and a stellar description will get prospective buyers in your door.
Timing is Key
Even if your home looks amazing! You may not get as many people in the door if you don’t list at the best time. Every neighborhood will have it’s own peak seasons, market trends, and unique nuances that determine when the best time to list your home will be. It’s important to take these into consideration, and look at the historical sales data in order to determine when you should put your home on the market. You will want to time it well on a weekly level too. Listing your home on a Thursday has proven to lead to quicker and more profitable home sales across the nation.
Proper Pricing Solves All
Above all else, proper pricing solves all. Even if you ignore my other two tips for selling your home quickly, if you price your home properly it will sell. If a home is priced way lower than everything else for sale in the neighborhood and it down’t even have a single photo online, buyers will still make their way over to the home to take a look in person. On the other hand, a home with gorgeous photos, the best marketing you’ve ever seen, and a description that moves everyone who reads it will not get any showings if the price is too high. In order to sell your home quickly and for a decent profit, you need to incorporate all three of these items. Your real estate agent will pull relevant comps, comparable properties to yours that have sold recently, in order to help you determine the best asking price for your home. After comparing your home and it’s quality, size, and benefits to that of the recently sold homes in your area, the best asking price for your home will usually be quite clear.
If you live in the greater Austin area and would like help selling your home quickly, give me a call. I’ll have buyers swiping right in no time!
When a property is listed for sale in the MLS, the home can be listed under a variety of different statuses. Most commonly, you are looking at homes that are listed as active. However, sometimes you may see properties listed as active continent. An active contingent property is a property where the owners have accepted an offer on the property, but the buyers must sell another property before closing on the sale of the subject property.
In Texas, there is a promulgated contingency form that outlines the terms of this agreement. The Addendum For Sale of Other Property by Buyer form specifies when the buyers must close on the sale of their current home and what will happen if the sellers receive another offer on the home. This form stipulates that if the seller receives another offer on the property they must notify the buyers of said offer. The form also specifies a certain number of days in which the buyers must either waive their contingency or the contract will terminate automatically. If the buyer elects to waive the contingency, the buyer is stating that even if they don’t sell the current home, they will still purchase the subject property.
As a seller considering accepting an offer that is contingent, you should be sure to carefully read this contingency form. The date in which the buyers must sell their current home is important to review. If you are looking for a quick close, you want to make sure this date is not too far in the future. You will also want to ask questions to see how far along they are in the selling process. Do they have their current home on the market yet? If so, have your agent review the listing to make sure they are priced aggressively, and marketing appropriately. If the home is not even on the market yet, you will want to ask more questions to determine when they plan on listing the home for sale. You also want to make sure that the number of days required to respond when notice of another offer is received is not too long. In my opinion, three days is usually adequate. If the current buyers have too much time to respond, you may lose out on the second offer.
If you are a buyer submitting an active contingent offer, you should also consider how the seller will feel about the contingency. By providing proof that your current home is actively being marketed for sale and is priced correctly, you can ease the seller’s apprehensions about accepting an offer that is contingent.
One more interesting caveat in the active contingent scenario is that if you receive a second offer that is higher than the first, you can’t simply accept it. In fact, the only way you can accept the second offer is if the original buyers decide not to waive the contingency and the first contract automatically terminates. In this event, the earnest money that the contingent buyers submitted would be refunded back to them, and you could proceed to accept the second offer.
If you have any other questions about active contingent status in Texas or general real estate questions, I am always here to help. Feel free to give me a call or send me an email.
If you stumbled across this blog post, I’m guessing you may be curious when the best time to sell your Austin area home is. Generally speaking, homes in Austin tend to sell for more during the spring. However, this isn’t true for every neighborhood or every home. Regardless of what time of year you list your home, homes that hit the market on Thursdays tend to do better. This is why I always advocate for my seller clients to list their home on a Thursday. It may appear to be an arbitrary day; however, when you think about it, the rationale for listing on Thursday is quite strong.
Home buyers often shop for homes on the weekends. When you list on Thursday, your home is top of mind among buyers who then must coordinate with their agents to see your home. A 2018 study by real estate brokerage, Redfin, found that homes listed on Thursday sold for $3015 more on average than those listed on any other day of the week. Those homes also sold more quickly. The same study found that those listed on Thursday went under contract 6 days faster than those listed on Sunday, the worst day to list your home for sale.
So, there is certainly a strong case for listing your Austin home for sale on a Thursday, but which Thursday will yield you the most money on your home sale? The seasonality of the Austin Real Estate Market strongly correlates to the public school year. Most people want to move when the kids are out of school for the year. This is why you often see the highest sales prices in May or June. In 2019, the highest median sales price for Austin Area homes occurred in May. Based on the median sales price for the Austin area, you could argue that selling your home in May vs. February would result in an extra $60,000.
Now, you must be thinking, if you live in an area where there are families, you should list your home for sale on a Thursday in May. Not so fast, the highest median sales price usually occurs in May, but that does not mean that listing your home in May will result in the highest price paid for your home. If home sales in May are the most profitable, you must list earlier. It usually takes about 30 days to go from contract to the closing, and in May of 2019 the average days on market was 48. This means, if you want to sell your Austin home for the highest price, you need to list your home in March or April in order to sell for the most money,
What about the UT area condo you purchased as an investment property and now are thinking about selling? It may not follow these same trends. Every property is different, and determining the best time to sell your unique property is not black and white. If you’re curious about when the best time to sell your Austin Area property is, contact me today. I’d be happy to provide a thorough analysis of your unique market.
What happens if you just bought a home, and you suddenly realize it's no longer a good fit for your lifestyle?
Imagine this. You purchase your dream home. It has a great open floor plan, large windows that look out over the oak tree filled lawn, and a closet big enough for his shoes too. Then, six months later you suddenly get pregnant, and realize there is no way you could raise a family in what you thought was your dream house.
Well, you essentially have two options in this case.
1. You sell your current home
2. You rent out your current home
There are other options, but in order to determine the best option you really need to talk a REALTOR. A real estate agent will be able to give you a realistic estimate of what you can sell your home for and what you could expect to get in monthly rent if you decide to lease the property. They will also factor in your unique lifestyle and financial situation to help you strategize the best course of actions.
In an ideal world, you will be able to sell your home for more than you paid for it. A real estate agent can provide you with comparable home sales, and a net sheet showing what you would make on the sale after expenses.
But, what happens if that number is negative? This is where you need to get creative. Maybe, you can lease your home for enough money each month to cover the mortgage and any additional costs such as repairs, HOA fees, etc. But, what happens if you can't?
This is when you have to put your thinking cap on and start really looking outside the box. I love problem-solving and a few creative solutions could get you pinning insta-worthy nurseries in no time.
If you can't sell your home for enough money as is, maybe you could make some improvements that would yield incredible returns. Invest a few grand in flooring and paint, and sell your home for $30k more! It's possible if you have an experienced professional by your side who can advise you on the best home improvement projects.
Maybe, you can't rent your home long-term for a profit, but have you considered renting it short term? Airbnbs can provide way more rental revenue than a long-term tenant. You will have to look carefully at your HOA guidelines and city laws to ensure this is a viable solution. Many HOA’s limit short term rentals to leases of 30 days or more. This would eliminate the airbnb solution, but you could still rent your home furnished. I once had a client who was a traveling nurse, she told me about how traveling nurses often need a furnished rental for a few months, and they pay inflated rates for these brief leases.
Furthermore, I know first hand how a monthly rental can bridge the gap between homes. When we moved into our home, we had to find a place to stay for two months before our home was ready. We paid a premium for this brevity, and many families find themselves in similar situations when they are moving.
No matter what your unique situation is, I’m positive there is a solution that will allow you to move forward! Contact me today, so that we can start working on the solution that will be the easiest for you and leave the most money in your pocket!
What you should know about iBuyers
A few months ago, I spoke with a couple who were referred to me by a previous client. They were interested in selling their new home and buying a new one. They mentioned that they were considering selling their home with Opendoor. I’m not going to lie, my first instinct was to tell them to run in the other direction.
iBuyers such as Opendoor are causing quite a stir in the real estate industry today, and they are directly competing with agents such as myself. They prey on eager home sellers who value convenience, offering a smooth and simple sale with a hefty price tag. They offer almost instantaneous cash offers and charge a higher fee to allow sellers the convenience of selling their home without having to do any work. You don’t need to de-clutter or clean or stage, and you don’t have to allow buyers to come see your home either. All you have to do is inform the iBuyer about your property’s condition, and then a representative comes to verify what you reported is accurate.
Much to my surprise, about a week after I was cursing iBuyers in my head, I found myself advising my clients to accept the offer from Opendoor. I did not come to this conclusion quickly. I was turning down a potential commission. First, I reviewed the comparable homes in my client’s neighborhood. I looked at the recent sales, and I crunched the numbers. Then, I went and looked at the available homes currently listed for sale in their neighborhood. I noticed that there were homes that were sitting on the market, and had not sold yet – homes that frankly were in better shape than my client’s home, and they were asking for less money. After reviewing all of the data, I came to the conclusion that a fair asking price for my client’s home would be around $210,000. But, in order to get this, they would need to do a few things. The carpet was in rough shape and needed to be replaced. They needed to do some paint touch up; the back fence was in need of repair, and a deep clean and staging would be critical for my clients to get top dollar.
Assuming my clients were able to sell their home for $210,000, and I dropped the listing agent commission to 2%, my clients would be getting approximately $199,500 for their home. (I’m leaving out other costs such as the title commitment and loan payoff amounts for the simplicity of this post.) Additionally, they would have to put about $2,000 into repairs to get the home show ready – so they’re now at about $197,500. Opendoor offered my clients $216,600 cash with a $17,328 open door transaction fee. Selling to Opendoor would essentially yield $199,272 to my clients - almost two grand more than I projected they would make selling their home traditionally.
But, it wasn’t just the bottom line that accounted for my recommendation for my clients to sell to Opendoor. With Opendoor, they pretty much had a sure thing. There would be no question of if the right buyer would make an offer on their home, there would be no work preparing the home for sale, and there would be no unknown repair costs that came up after the inspection. There was no potential for a loan to fall through at the last minute, and there was no need to rearrange their lives to accommodate showings.
In the end, selling to Opendoor was absolutely the right choice for these clients. However, I did remain skeptical through the process, and made sure to advise my clients on potential pitfalls. With Opendoor, you are dealing with a lot of different people. You don’t have one main point of contact, and you don’t have anyone dedicated to representing your best interests. You need to pay attention to the contract, and understand the implications. There are deadlines, and fine print that if you don’t pay attention to may have significant repercussions.
Overall, it worked out great for my clients. They were selling this home to buy a new one, and having a “sure thing” deal on the sale side made facilitating the often challenging double closing much easier. Opendoor gave my clients what they refer to as a “late checkout” and what is commonly referred to in the industry as a lease back. This allowed my clients to stay in their home after the closing, and gave them extra time for the proceeds from the sale to be delivered to their bank account, and then used to purchase their new home. They also had a week with both homes so they could gradually move. They never had to clean up, or take the dogs out so that a buyer could see their home. They didn’t have to change their lives in any way.
In the end, they moved into a beautiful new home, and Opendoor is still trying to sell their old home. They fixed the fence, replaced the carpet, and currently have it listed for sale for $210,000. Will ibuyers change the real estate industry as we know it? It’s hard to say, but I can certainly tell you they are losing their shirt in this deal.
Are you thinking about selling your home? Maybe, you feel like the REALTOR commission fees seem awfully high, and you could save a ton of money by listing your home for sale by owner (FSBO). Possibly, you were ok with paying a listing agent fee, but then you found out the buyer’s agent fee would come out of your home sale proceeds, and that left you scratching your head.
Well, if you really want to sell your home by yourself, i’m going to walk you through all the steps to do it! First, you need to evaluate your home. Is it ready to go on the market? Are there little things that drive you crazy, like peeling paint, or a dead lawn, that you think may turn off buyers too? If so, and you have the resources to fix them, do it. If you were working with a competent real estate agent, he or she may call multiple contractors, provide you with quotes, and advise you on which actions will have the biggest payoff. But, you’re not, so just do whatever is easiest and feels right.
Next, you need to figure out at what price you should list your home for sale. Be careful this is the most difficult part for all FSBOs. If you price too high, you will royally f*** yourself. Your home will sit on the market. Then, you may reduce the price, but buyers will wonder why it's been on the market for so long. Eventually, it may sell, but probably at a lower price than if you had just priced it correctly from the start. So, how do you determine the asking price? You could look at zillow, and realtor.com, and ask Suzie who lived across the street from you how much she sold her home for when she sold it last fall, but this probably isn’t the best method. You need access to the sales data for the most comparable homes in your neighborhood that sold the most recently. In a state like Texas, this info can be hard to find. Since we are a non-disclosure state, you will probably need to enlist a real estate professional at this stage.
First, set up a new email address, something realistic, but something you will only use for this process such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you have the new email set up, contact ten agents and tell them you’re curious what your home is worth. Some of them may just respond with a rough estimate. This is somewhat helpful, but they don’t know anything about the current condition of your home so it's probably not the best estimate. A handful of agents will send you what’s called a CMA. A CMA is a comparative market analysis. This is gold. It will show relevant home sales to base your list price off of. Most of the REALTORS will now start emailing you non-stop to list your home, so this is the part where you will be glad you created a new email. If a ballsy one stops by your house, just tell them you decided to list with someone else. DO NOT tell them that person is yourself, unless you are genuinely considering listing with a REALTOR.
Once, you have some relevant sales, you need to compare your home to the homes listed on the CMAs. Do you have a nicer kitchen than the house four doors down from yours that sold last month? List your home for more than that one. Is your house also half the size? Maybe your home should be listing for less. You really don’t know what you’re doing here, so just google “remodeled kitchen value”, and then determine an asking price that seems right to you.
Ok, now that you have a list price, and your peeling paint is fixed, you can just put a sign in the yard and call it a day! Not so fast; first, you want to make sure your home shows well. You’ve been looking at homes online to possibly move into when you sell, so you know what I am talking about here! Are you “hearting” any of those homes with zero pictures, or clutter all over the countertops? I didn’t think so. You need to make sure your home looks its best so buyers fall in love. If you had hired a listing agent they may have paid for a maid, a stager, and helped you with strategies to de-clutter. But, you didn’t. So, watch ten episodes of Marie Kondo on Netflix, and then decide this spark joy method isn’t really for you. Shove half your belongings into the garage, turn the Roomba on, and call it a day.
Now that your home is show ready, you need amazing photos to showcase it! A real estate agent would pay for amazing professional photos from a pro who specializes in real estate photography. They may even have videography or drone footage done to show buyers how special your home is. But, since you’re on your own, you will need to find these professionals by yourself. Google "real estate photographer" and choose the one that can get out to your home the fastest, or just take some iPhone photos, apply a filter and decide these images are just as a good as any a professional would take.
Ok, now you have a beautiful show ready home, great photos to showcase it, and a listing price. Time to put a sign in the yard. You go to Home Depot, get a sign and a sharpie to write your number across it. You grab the hammer, wonder why its so hard to put a stinking sign in the Texas dirt, and then decide to reward yourself with a cold beer on the porch while you take all of the phone calls that will be pouring in shortly. You finish one, then another, and wonder why no one is calling. Then you remember your home is in the back of the neighborhood and no one really sees the sign besides your neighbors who already know you are selling.
You must re-strategize. You realize that your home must be on the internet! You put it on Zillow, and you wait. Finally, you get a call. It’s an agent who may have a buyer that’s interested. She wants to stop by and take a look. She comes over, looks around, says the home isn’t for her buyer, but asks if you would like to list with her instead.
After 15 or so of these, you finally get a real buyer who comes to look at your home. You leave work early, rush home, and open the door for them. They think they can afford your home, but they haven’t talked to a lender so they don’t really know. If you were working with a REALTOR, they would vet potential buyers before they came to your home. You wouldn’t have to deal with the inconvenience of all of these phone calls and physically being at the home to show it to buyers, but you are not. So, you stress out, and your work and personal life suffers.
After the fiftieth real estate agent calls you to list your home, you finally cave. You are sick of wasting your time and energy trying to sell your home by yourself, and you realize that the fees may be worth it. The real estate agent tells you about all sorts of disclosures you didn’t even know you needed. She explains that while your attempts at marketing were ok, that in order to really market your home you needed to do a lot more. Lastly, she explains that in 2017, only 7% of homes were sold FSBO, and those that did sell for sale by owner sold for about $66,000 less than those sold with a real estate agent. She shows you how she will do the hard work for you, marketing the home, following up with buyers after showings, making sure buyers are qualified before seeing your home, and most importantly, that she is here to protect your best interests throughout the entire process. She is going to make sure you understand all the forms, are kept in the loop with all activities related to the home sale, and she is going to walk you through the pros and cons of every offer you receive. This way, you can make an informed decision on the best offer to accept when you sell your home, and you can get back to doing what you are good at.
Do you remember the first time you met your spouses parents or the last time you went on a job interview? If you’re like most people, I bet you gave some thought into what you wore, or how you styled your hair. I can’t remember the specifics of getting ready for either of these scenarios in my personal life, but I guarantee you I was stressing about my appearance. I likely tried on multiple different outfits, played with my hair up and down, found unique ways to hide my tattoos and added a slight spritz of perfume before walking out the door. Preparing your home to go on the market requires the same amount, if not more energy, but if you follow these steps you can avoid the stress.
First things first, you want to fix anything that is obviously wrong with your home. Is there a back door that the dog scratched up or a leaky faucet? Fix or replace it now. If you leave it as is, the perceived cost to a buyer will be far greater than the actual cost to fix it. If there are other eye sores that make your home appear dated, you may want to consider making some changes. Updating lighting and plumbing fixtures or changing out knobs or pulls is an easy ways to modernize your home that is relatively low cost, and you can even spray paint them if replacement isn’t in the budget. One of my favorite ways to modernize a home is to add new address numbers. You can buy modern chrome numbers for about five dollars a number on Amazon and the difference they make in the perceived value of your home is incredible.
The first impression is usually the exterior of the home i.e. the front door. When a buyer arrives to see your home, the agent is struggling to open the lockbox and the buyer is looking around, taking it all in. Make sure this area is appealing! Spiders are not a good look-even if it’s Halloween. Oh, and that reminds me, if you’re selling around a holiday, please don’t decorate this year. While you may love Jesus and have a full nativity scene complete with LED lights that you put up every year, your ideal buyer may not. Your goal is to make your home appealing to the largest pool of prospective buyers possible. Make your entrance attractive by making sure the door is clean, the patio is swept, and a nice door mat greets your buyers. Clean your exterior windows, and add some flowers to make your house instantly scream, this is the place I want to call home!
Selling your home is about much more than selling a place to live, you are selling the idea of a better life - and this life does not include dirty dishes in the sink. You want your home to show it’s best self from the moment a potential buyer lays eyes on it. I once showed a home with feminine care products all over the master bed (luckily they were unused), but this did not make a great first impression on me or my client. So, first things first you want to clean, de-clutter and de-personalize the space. Although you may enjoy the framed photo of your grandparents that rests on your mantle, you want buyers to envision themselves living in your home, so remove all personal items. Countertops in the bathrooms and kitchen should be cleared off with the exception of a few items to add color and personality to the space - think a luxury hand soap or a bowl of fruit in the kitchen. I recommend my clients place bath products that are used daily in a caddy or plastic bin that can be tucked under the sink out of site when not in use.
Furniture placement is key too! First, you want to re-configure every room back to its original purpose. Have a bedroom that you use as an office? It’s time to pack up the file folders and bring in an air mattress on a frame. It doesn’t need to function as a bedroom, it just needs to look pretty! You also wan’t to make sure your furniture is best placed to maximize the natural features of the home. You don’t want a large bookcase blocking the gorgeous ten foot window, and you also don’t want bulky furniture that makes the space appear smaller. Any furniture that is ripped or broken needs to go. That’s not something I see in my “dream life” and it’s probably not something a prospective buyer sees either.
Oftentimes, it’s hard to figure out which items need to go, or how to arrange the furniture. That’s why I offer a complimentary staging consultation to all of my clients. I say offer, but really, it’s mandatory. I want to do a good job so that you are happy! That means we are going to work together to make sure your home looks picture perfect for buyers while also remaining functional for your life. If that fourth bedroom really needs to stay an office while your home is on the market, we will simply make sure it is the best looking, Pinterest-worthy office, and that buyers know it could be a bedroom too.
Last, but certainly not least, photographs are incredibly important! Almost every buyer who visits your home decides to because they saw the photos online first. That is why these photos need to be top notch. I know, you think that you can take wonderful photos with your iPhone 10 and its fancy camera, but this will not cut it. You need a professional photographer to make buyers fall in love at first sight. This is why I always provide complimentary professional photography for my listings- the pro has crazy lenses and tripods and a boatload of experience in photographing houses.
This may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s really not that difficult. Just put yourself in a buyer’s shoes and use that process to guide you as you make your preparations. Still feeling like you don’t know where to start? Contact me, and I’ll walk you through the details step by step.
Sharing Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.