Warmer weather is here, and as the trees and flowers bloom, the home sale market is coming alive as well.
Simply put, now is a great time to buy or sell a house. Mortgage interest rates remain near historical lows. That means the cost of home ownership, in terms of long-term interest expense, is lower. That benefits both buyers and sellers.
This year, buyers and sellers also benefit from a healthier economy. With the job market and forecasts for consumer spending stronger, buyers are more confident and are out looking for homes in larger numbers. Prices have firmed up but have not shot up. Both situations benefit both buyers and sellers.
If you’re a seller, there are few things you should and shouldn’t do when preparing to sell your home. Consider this my list of what works and what generally doesn’t work in the home-sale process, informed by years of helping home buyers and sellers as their banker.
Any decision to buy or sell a home is wrought with emotion. That’s not surprising, considering that our homes are generally our biggest investment. But if you follow this list of what to do and what not to you, you generally can filter at least some of the emotion out of the process, which usually helps get a deal done.
Don’t go it alone. It’s true that some people sell their homes by themselves. But a sale by owner is a rough road for most of us. Unless you have sold a home or two before, I generally don’t advise doing this. Hiring a real estate agent is one of the best decisions you can make. Selling by yourself can be exhausting and confusing. Having an expert there to help you market your home, price it properly, bring qualified buyers to the table and close the deal is well worth it.
Accept constructive criticism. If you do bring in an expert, don’t react emotionally if your agent suggests that you make changes to better market your house. Instead, accept the constructive criticism, even if it means swallowing hard when he or she suggests repainting the bedroom from your beloved bright red to something more neutral. Your agent has been involved in many sales before. He or she knows what will help sell your house at the best price.
Don’t lose a sale over small stuff. It’s not worth watching a sale disappear over a minor fix such as replacing a broken window or repairing a deck railing. Sure, that extra fix will cost you. But don’t assume that another acceptable offer is just around the corner. A minor repair—or even a small difference between a prospective buyer’s offer and what the seller considers acceptable—may end up looking quite small, indeed, if it sinks the deal and the house continues to sit on the market. Be willing to compromise and keep your eye on the prize—selling the house at a reasonable price.
Know what improvements help. Sometimes, even small enhancements can improve the curb appeal of a house for sale. Better landscaping, including updated or refreshed walkways, patios, lawns and flower beds, make any home look better. Likewise, outdoor lighting, a new front door and improved house hardware—a new mailbox, house numbers, door hardware and even a flagpole and flag can make a difference.
If you think you need to make bigger improvements, such as new paint, siding or interior remodeling, ask your agent whether the work is necessary and whether you can recoup the cost in a higher sales price. That’s part of the expertise you’re getting when you hire an agent to help.
We’ve officially entered the home sales season in the Twin Ports. This spring has brought a stronger housing market. At the same time, we’re still enjoying interest rates near historical lows. It’s a great combination that makes for a great time to enter the market as a buyer or a seller.
Steven Raj is vice president of lending at Park State Bank in Duluth. You can reach him at email@example.com or 218-727-8001.