How to Sell Your House Fast
Before you set the price, it's smart to walk in the shoes of a buyer. Start by shopping online for local houses similar to yours. If your house has four bedrooms, a brand new kitchen and no backyard, that's exactly what you should look for. Don't be tempted to include houses that have features yours doesn't, because that's the kind of stinkin' thinkin' that starts sellers down the road to overpricing. It really does make a difference that your house only has two baths when the other has three.
Next, invite three competitive brokers in to see your home and estimate its value. Ask them this simple question: "What would I have to price my home at if I wanted to sell it in 30 days?" This is the surefire way to get the brokers' gut reactions based on what's happening in the market right now. Even the best brokers feel pressured to flatter the seller when asked to price a home, but the truth is the broker who gives the lowest price is always right.
Take out your list of the comparable homes you found online and pull out the five least expensive. Average only those along with the three broker estimates given for your house. Now, price your home 10 to 15 percent lower than the number you get. I know, I know, you think I'm crazy. I'm not. Don't ever be afraid of underpricing your home, because market forces always correct an underpriced property. It's called a bidding war, and you'll be smiling when it starts.
You should also spend a couple of weekends visiting neighborhood open houses. It will give you an instant education in what not to do when marketing your own home. You'll see that the most important change to make is to get rid of all your clutter. Stuff makes homes look smaller, and buyers just can't see past clutter. They can't picture themselves living there. Pack and store two-thirds of your things, including your furniture.
Will remodeling your kitchen make a difference?
Next, scrub your house clean as a whistle. Make it spotless! As people buy with their noses too, eliminate all the odors that accumulate from smoking, old clothing and kitty litter. Right before the first open house, open all your windows for a full eight hours. And since no one wants to move into your bathroom, freshen it with a new shower curtain, a new toilet seat and some pretty new towels.
It rarely pays to renovate your kitchen, but consider painting or replacing your cabinet fronts instead or adding a new countertop. Sometimes simply updating the cabinet knobs and drawer pulls makes all the difference.
Don't overlook your front yard and entryway. I've shown properties for years, and I'm convinced that buyers decide if they're going to buy your house within the first eight seconds of seeing it. So set your stopwatch, get out of your car, and see what you see in the first eight seconds. Chances are you'll do some yard work and paint your front door and trim. Also check to make sure your doorbell works.
Now that you're ready to rock 'n' roll, it's picture time. Rent a professional camera with a wide-angle lens and be sure to take the photos on a sunny day. A wide-angle lens will make your house and property look much bigger. One in three houses are sold online today, and people skip properties with poor pictures. Post at least six good, bright house photos, both inside and out, online. The more good pictures the merrier.
Finally, hire yourself a killer broker to sell your home. Eighty percent of all commissions today are earned by the top 10 percent of agents out there, and you want one of them working for you. To find the right one, call your local real estate office and ask the sales manager for their personal recommendation. And don't be cheap. Don't try to negotiate their commission. If you've hired the right broker, you'll know you're getting more than your money's worth.
Barbara Corcoran is the founder of real estate company The Corcoran Group. She is the author of If You Don't Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails , an unlikely business book and a national best-seller. Barbara is the real estate contributor for NBC's Today Show and CNBC, and she's a columnist for The Daily News , MORE magazine and Redbook .