For the past five years or so, millions of homeowners have been stuck in their homes, unable to refinance or sell because they were underwater. That situation began to change in 2013 when the housing market finally began to show signs of life. Buyers across the country were back in the game and home prices rose in many communities.
For many sellers this meant they could finally move out of a small house, cut down on their commute time, or simply go on with their lives. Almost 2 million homeowners came out from negative equity positions in 2013.
If you plan to sell your home in 2014, be aware that buyers have changed since the economic downturn. They’re savvier than ever, and they’re not desperate. Many of today’s buyers are Millennials (also known as Generation Y) who’ve come of age with access to endless information via the Internet. It’s in their DNA to search, and they love photographs and sharing.
Here are three bits of advice that will make you a smart seller in 2014:
Take your photo shoot seriously
Today, many buyers get their first impression of your home online. Too often, listings go online with photos of a dark room, lights off or blinds closed. Even worse? A new listing without photo or that has only one. If your real agent isn’t hiring a professional photographer to take high resolution photos, then you should invest the few hundred dollars to do so. Have them taken at the best time of day. Clean the home in advance and put away clutter. Prepare for the photo shoot just as you would for an open house. If buyers don’t like what they see online, you may never get them in the door.
Have your home inspected before listing
Nothing is worse than waiting months or even years for an offer, only to have potential buyers discover that your HVAC system is on the fritz or that there is dry rot. When that happens, you’re forced to reduce the price or give credits.
Even worse, you may scare off the buyer and be forced to go back on the market. Often when this occurs, buyers and agents think there’s a problem with your property—which can make it tough to sell. That’s why a few hundred dollars on a pre-sale inspection is the best investment you can make. If there are issues, you can price the home accordingly. More importantly, you’re providing the buyers with more information. You’ll be in their good graces from the start.