Choosing Your Real Estate Agent:
When choosing your agent, there are several factors to consider. First of all, you should feel comfortable with your agent. You should feel confident that the agent has thoroughly researched the market, and has evidence to backup his/her proposed listing price. And finally, you should choose an agent who can insure that your property will receive the most exposure possible. Good exposure comes primarily from two sources, print ads and internet exposure. Ask the agent what publications they advertise in, how often they advertise, and ask for copies of previous ads that have been run. Also ask that during the course of your listing, you be given copies of all ads that are run on your behalf.
Another very important factor to consider when choosing your agent, is his/her ability to successfully market your property on the internet. It is a proven statistic that 80-90% of all buyers are generated from Internet Advertising, rather than printed real estate publications. This issue is of major importance. The best way to verify the exposure your listing will receive, is to go to one of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc), and type in popular key phrases that buyers would use to search for real estate in your area. If you want to know how a company is really doing, you need to do searches using the same phrases that potential buyers are using. It is a fact that the vast majority of buyers use search phrases containing three items; the 'State' name, the words 'real estate', and the general area of the state, ie 'western', 'southern', etc. For example, if a buyer is looking to buy in NW Montana, you might want to type in some of the following phrases: 'Northwest Montana Real Estate', 'Western Montana real estate', and/or 'NW Montana real estate'. You may also want to type in the above phrases with 'for sale' at the end; For example, 'Western Montana real estate for sale'. When the search engine returns the results for those phrases, check to see if your agent's website shows up within the first page of results. This can make a HUGE difference in how much activity your listing will see. If realtor 'A' has a website that appears on the first page, and realtor 'B's website is on the 4th or 5th page, then your job of choosing a realtor will be that much easier!!
Also, check to see how widespread your realtors internet exposure is. Here at Realty Northwest, you will find your listing on the following websites:
Finally, once you get to the real estate website, browse through the site, and see how easy it is to navigate. How may photos does the agent use, and are they of good quality? Do buyers have plenty of available information for each listing? When buyers are looking for real estate, research shows that photos and quantity of information are the two most important factors.
So to sum up choosing your realtor, simply ask yourself these questions: Does your agent know the market, and has he/she done the research to come up with an accurate listing price? Does your agent advertise in quality print publications? Can your agent's website be found on the internet, using the most popular key phrases? If so, does the website contain plenty of valuable information and good quality photos for each listing? Being able to answer these questions for yourself will take most, if not all of the guesswork out of choosing a competent real estate agent!
Pricing Your Home:
When you first decide to sell your home, you should schedule appointments with a few local realtors who will be happy to prepare a Competitive Market Analysis. It is important to listen to their opinions of value for your home. If you find yourself in a situation where two or three realtors come up with similar prices, but another realtor comes up with a value that is significantly higher, it is a natural reaction to want to list with the realtor who places the higher value on your home. It is also common for homeowners to feel that their home can support the higher price because of it's quality, or 'uniqueness'. It is important however, to listen to all of the opinions, and beware of real estate agents who will tell you what you want to hear in order to get a listing. If you want to list at the higher price no matter what, it can greatly increase the length of time your home is on the market, and you will most likely need to reduce your price down the road, anyway.
Once Its Listed:
Once you have chosen an agent and listed your home, it is best to keep your home in 'showing' condition. When a showing is scheduled, try not to be home. Buyers will feel much freer, and take more time to view your home if you are not there. When sellers hover around buyers, it makes them uncomfortable and they feel like they are under a microscope. If you do have to be there, try to remain outside, or somewhere where you will not be noticed as much. If you are asked questions, go ahead and answer them, but do not offer information. Trust your realtor to handle questions from the buyers. If you hear the buyer ask a question, and your realtor tells them he/she will find out and get back with them, you can assume that he/she plans to do just that. Do not offer to answer the question. There may be a reason the realtor wants to discuss the answer with you in private first.
Before the agent and the buyer arrive, turn on all of the interior and exterior lights. At night, this will give the home a comfortable feel, and during the day, it will soften harsh shadows from sunlight and brighten up dark corners.
If you have pets, make sure that the realtors know there is a pet in the house. You do not want to lose a pet who runs out the door when an unaware realtor comes through. If you are able to take the pet with you when you leave, or keep the pet in a fenced area outside, that is even better.
Finally, it is best to keep the house tidy at all times if possible. That way, it is not such an imposition when the realtor needs to show the house. The cleaner you keep your home, the less notice the realtor will need to give you. Many times, qualified buyers will come into a real estate office with no prior notice and want to look at homes. You do not want to lose these potential buyers by being unprepared. Please refer to the list at the top of this page, "Preparing Your Home" to remind yourself how to best showcase your home for potential buyers. If a tidy home is not practical with your lifestyle, and you have a short notice showing, try to at least run a quick vacuum, wipe down counter tops & faucets, and empty the trash! If you'd like your home to have a homey aroma, try heating some water on the stove with a few drops of vanilla and some cinnamon sprinkled in it.
Preparing Your Home for Showings:
- Make your home non-personal: When potential buyers view your home, it is more beneficial if they can envision it as "their" home. If they see family photographs, collectibles, etc, it is a reflection of you. Take down these types of items and store them away so that they will not interfere with the buyer's vision of your home.
- Remove clutter: Clutter affects the way your home is perceived by potential buyers. It is easy for sellers to become used to the nic-nacs, gadgets, and personal items that accumulate on counter tops, shelves, closets, etc. Buyers will look into closets, cabinets, under sinks, and in drawers. If these areas are packed full, it will give the illusion of inadequate storage space. The best way to convey an image of plentiful storage space is to create as much empty space as possible, especially in kitchens, bathrooms, and bedroom closets; and don't forget the garage! Your agent will be happy to assist you in working with these areas, and can give helpful advice on what needs to be organized.
- Maintenance and Repairs: Make sure that the little things are in working order. Buyers will turn on faucets, flip light switches, and open anything that has a handle. Make sure knobs are tight, faucets do not drip, and be sure to have working light bulbs in all light fixtures. If you have hard water stains on your faucets, buy an inexpensive cleaner such as "CLR" or "Lime Away" geared for removing mineral deposits. Sometimes a simple scouring powder will do the trick. If the faucets leak, it is simple and inexpensive to replace the washers, or have someone replace them for you.
Also, check the walls and ceilings for smudges and scuff marks. If you have touch-up paint, use it. It can make a big difference in how clean and well kept your house looks. If you do not have touch up paint and cannot afford to completely paint the walls, try a mild spray cleaner such as "Fantastic" on smudges and scuff marks.
- Clean Your Home: A clean home can make a huge difference in how fast your home sells. If you pay attention to the first three items above, it will be much easier to maintain a clean home. For those of you with time restrictions or physical limitations, you may want to hire a professional cleaning person to at least give your home an initial thorough cleaning. Then it will be easier for you to maintain after that.
- Household Odors: If you are a smoker, it would be beneficial to minimize smoking odors while your house is on the market. The best solution would be to move smoking outside. You may also want to consider purchasing a good indoor air cleaner, or even an ozone based spray that will help remove odors without depositing any cover-up scents. If you have cats, be sure to clean and empty the litter boxes regularly. If you can't afford odor reducing litter, you may want to try a little baking soda sprinkled in your litter boxes.
And finally, please see our Moving Checklist to help you remember to take care of all those little things that come up during this hectic time!
The advice and tools listed above should go a long way towards making your home selling experience a pleasant and rewarding transaction!
Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about selling your Montana home, land, or commercial real estate. Our agents are eager to assist with all of your real estate needs. For more information, you may want to visit our Seller's Useful Links page. Or, you may visit our Thompson Falls page, which contains a very comprehensive list of the area services available.