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9 Selling Pros Spill Their Secrets

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From curb appeal to preinspections, these real estate pros share their proven selling strategies.

Although my neighborhood doesn’t allow people to park their cars (or pickup trucks) on the front lawn, not everyone complies. But when these iconoclasts are ready to sell? Let’s just say they find a new use for the garage.

Sometimes all it takes is a professional point of view. A real estate agent who suggests the seller work on curb appeal can do more than any homeowners’ association ever could — a recommendation to spruce up the lawn becomes a done deal before you can say “unsightly” three times fast.

Improving curb appeal is only one important strategy when selling your home. Read on for seven more home selling secrets from nine pros at the top of their game.

1. Consider underpricing

“Pricing too high means your home reaches fewer buyers,” says Indiana real estate broker Deb Tomaro. It’s better to expose your home to the greatest number of people. An inflated price can turn off otherwise qualified buyers.

But don’t feel as if you have to negotiate 3%, 5%, or — horrors! — 10% off your asking price. You can, and should, dig in your heels and hold firm if you feel that your asking price is fair.

The following might go against what you consider rational, but Bill Hamberg, president of PAHouseLink, a full-service real estate agency, tells one of his success stories.

“We priced at $325,000, below the fair market value of $330,000. We received two offers sight unseen — one over asking and another at full price. The home sold for $332,500 before the day was out.”

2. Pay attention to energy

“I walk into a house and get feelings and vibes about the people and the home,” says Chris Leavitt, star of Million Dollar Listing: Miami.

But Leavitt, admittedly not a psychic, also talks with his sellers to ensure everyone shares the same goal.

“I make sure they’re on the same page about selling. Sometimes one spouse wants to sell and the other is more reluctant. That creates a conflict and an energy block that stops the sale.

3. Use “show and tell” to your advantage

Although you might not get your home to look as if the Property Brothers just finished it, you should get it to look as much like that as possible, says Virginia real estate consultant Peggy Bouchard.

When you’re working with your agent to describe the newly spruced up house online, choose your words carefully.

“Tell a story without using the word ‘stunning.’ Nobody wants to be stunned,” she says.

To make your house look even better, she suggests that you open your blinds and turn on all the lights — yep, all of them — for showings.

But make sure you first throw out any dead flowers.

Leavitt was once called in to move a Palm Beach, FL, house that just wouldn’t sell, even though it was priced right. Reason being? “There were dead flowers everywhere. It was like dried-flower central.”

After clearing out the flowers, Leavitt held an open house — and the house sold to the first person that walked in.

4. Supercharge your staging

Certified home stager Tori Toth says to first think like a buyer.

“Rather than focusing on how you and your husband painted the bathroom pink together, shift your mindset to what buyers want: a spa-like bath, not an ’80s nightmare.

Toth also says to use psychographics. If you’re scratching your head right about now, this should help: if demographics are the study of who a buyer is, psychographics studies why people buy.

“Watch to see what type of people live in the area: what sports, art, food, and stores do they prefer? Once you figure that out, you can display that subliminally in the staging,” Toth says.

5. Fix all your problems

When someone withholds information, you imagine the worst-possible scenario. Perhaps your significant other didn’t tell you where he or she was the night before, so you suspect cheating — when what really happened was totally innocent?

Same thing goes for your house.

“When buyers see repairs that need to be done, they don’t deduct the actual cost, but rather imagine thousands of dollars,” says Theresa Bond, a Michigan real estate agent.

North Carolina real estate expert Renee Hillman says that in her area, between 10% and 20% of homes under contract fall through because of inspection issues. She suggests that sellers invest in and attend a professional home inspection and address any items before the first potential buyer steps foot on the property.

6. Consider an outdoor living space

Cannon Christian, president of Renovation Realty in San Diego, says he has seen a growing demand for outdoor living spaces. “Adding decks, patios, garden sitting areas, and outdoor dining spaces captures buyers’ attention.”

You don’t need to sink a lot of money into upgrading your outdoor spaces either. Simple yet smart outdoor staging can add visual interest to areas that buyers might otherwise overlook. Potted plants, a rented patio set, and even freshly installed grass turf can increase the appeal.

7. Know when to switch agents

Chances are, you’re not selling this house on your own. You might have picked a real estate agent based on a recommendation or because you heard he or she was a top agent — but if that agent isn’t giving his or her all for you, it might be time to switch.

Gary Lucido, president of Lucid Realty Inc. in Chicago, offers the following signs of possible agent deal breakers:

  • Poor photographs
  • Lack of responsiveness
  • Listing errors
  • Poor communication
  • Negotiation blunders

If the agent isn’t enthusiastic, he or she might not be for you.

As Leavitt says, “The right energy sells a house.”

Do you have proven techniques for a successful sale? Share in the comments below!