The single most important factor to consider when selling a house is pricing the house correctly; it’s picking the absolute right price tag: how much your house is worth, pricing the house to sell. You don’t want to overprice the house because you will lose the freshness of the home’s appeal after the first two to three weeks of showings. After 21 days, demand and interest wane.
On the other hand, don’t worry about pricing it too low because homes priced below market value often will receive multiple offers, which will then drive up the price to market.
Pricing is all about supply and demand. It’s part art and part science, and no two agents price property the same way. Some agents are much better at figuring out how to price your home than others. Experience matters.
Pull Comparable Listings and Sales
Look at every similar home that was or is listed in the same neighborhood over the past three months. Appraisers do not use comps older than 3 months.
The list should contain homes within a 1/4 mile to a 1/2 mile and no further, unless there are only a handful of comps in the general vicinity or the property is rural.
Pay attention to neighborhood dividing lines and physical barriers such as major streets, freeways or railroads, and do not compare inventory from the “other side of the tracks.” Where I live in the Land Park neighborhood of Sacramento, for example, identical homes across the street from each other can vary by $100,000. Perceptions and desirability have value.
Compare similar square footage, within a 10% variance of up or down from the subject property, if possible.
Similar ages. One neighborhood might consist of homes built in the 1950s next door to another ring of construction from the 1980s. Values between the two will differ. Compare apples to apples.
Honestly assess desirability. If you are fortunate enough to own a dream home that will cause buyers to faint upon entering, you might get away with tacking on a premium.
Pull history for expired and withdrawn listings to determine whether any were taken off the market and relisted. If so, add those days on market to these listing time periods to arrive at an actual number of days on market.
Compare original list price to final sales price to determine price reductions.
Compare final sales price to actual sold price to determine ratios. It is common in a seller’s market for homes to sell for more than 100% of list price. Generally homes sell for list price or less in a buyer’s market.
Adjust pricing for lot size variances, configuration and amenities / upgrades.
Withdrawn & Expired Listings
Look for patterns as to why these homes did not sell and the common factors they share.
Which brokerage had the listing: a company that ordinarily sells everything it lists or was it a discount brokerage that might not have spent money on marketing the home?
Think about the steps you can take to prevent your home from becoming an expired listing.
Since these are pending sales, the sales prices are unknown until the transactions close; but that doesn’t stop anybody from calling the listing agents and asking them to tell you. Some will. Some won’t.
Make note of the days on market, which may have a direct bearing on how long it will take before you see an offer.
Examine the history of these listings to determine price reductions.
These matter only as they compare to your listing, but bear in mind that sellers can ask whatever they want.
To see what buyers will see, tour these homes. Make note of what you like and dislike, the general feeling you get upon entering these homes. If possible, recreate those feelings of reception in your own home.
These homes are your competition. Ask yourself why a buyer would prefer your home over any of these and adjust your price accordingly.
Square Foot Cost Comparisons
Remember that after you receive an offer, the buyer’s lender will order an appraisal, so you will want to compare homes of similar square footage.
Appraisers don’t like to deviate more 25% and prefer to stay within 10% of net square footage computations. If your home is 2000 sq. ft., comparable homes are those sized 1800 to 2200 sq. ft.
Average square foot cost does not mean you can multiple your square footage by that number unless your home is average sized. The price per square foot rises as the size decreases and it decreases as the size increases, meaning larger homes have a smaller square foot cost and smaller homes have a larger square foot cost.
Offering Incentives to Hasten a Sale
Sometimes cash incentives are as effective as lowering the price, especially in the lower price range where buyers may be “cash poor.” You may offer to pay some or all of a buyer’s closing costs and discount points required by the buyer’s lending institution.
If you haven’t had much traffic through your house and you’re in a hurry to sell, you may want to add the offer of a bonus to the selling broker, in addition to their commission. An example of the wording for such an offer may be “to the broker who brings a successful offer before Christmas.”
Estimating Net Proceeds
Once you’ve been given an estimate of market value by your REALTOR®, you can get a rough idea of how much cash you might walk away with when the sale is completed. This can be particularly useful when you start looking for another home to buy.
To estimate your net proceeds, from the estimated sales amount, subtract the applicable costs in the three sections outlined below: seller’s costs, buyer’s/seller’s costs and closing costs.
Seller’s Costs: Subtract the following costs as applicable.
- payoff figure on your present loan(s)
- broker’s commission
- prepayment penalty on your mortgage
- attorney’s fees
- unpaid property taxes
Buyer’s/Seller’s Costs: Additionally, your REALTOR® can tell you whether local customs or rules dictate whether the buyer or seller pays for the items listed below. Subtract the following costs, as applicable.
- title insurance premium
- transfer taxes
- survey fees
- inspections and repairs for termites, etc.
- recording fees
- Homeowner Association transfer fees and document preparation
- home protection plan
- natural hazard disclosure report
Closing Costs: As far as closing costs are concerned, you and your eventual buyer may agree on any arrangement that suits you, no matter what local practice dictates. your realtor will assist you in estimating what your final closing costs will be.