Simple Ways to Help Get Top Dollar for Your Home

With Amy Boettcher, Corporate Residential Loan Officer, NMLS#: 585462,
Bank Mutual Wauwatosa

If the holidays were a reminder that there’s not enough room for entertaining, you may be entertaining the thought of upgrading your home.

According to the National Association of Realtors, total existing-home sales are rising at their strongest pace since December 2006. While historically low interest rates, loosening regulations, and increasing construction costs are a few factors that are contributing to this uptick, the fact remains, it’s a seller’s market. That means more competition for buyers and higher prices for sellers.

But before you stick that “For Sale” sign in your yard, here are a few things you can do to get the most money out of your home sale.

Timing Is Everything

Conventional wisdom tells us that spring is the best time to sell a home – the holidays are over, the snow has melted, and those tax returns make a nice down payment – but the truth is, while there is some seasonality to the housing market, the best time to sell your home is whenever you’re emotionally and financially ready to move.

Agents Can Make the Difference

If you’re weighing whether to hire a realtor or sell your home yourself, consider that there’s a lot more that goes into a real estate transaction than just signing a few forms. In fact, in most states, an attorney has to be present to sign a real estate contract. Here in Wisconsin, a realtor can fill this role.

While We’re On Agents…

Not all agents are created equal. Don’t be afraid to shop around for an agent who you work well with and has the experience to get you top dollar for your home. Before signing a contract, ask your potential agent:

  • How long have you been selling homes?
  • How do you advertise your listings?
  • What kinds of pictures or video do you support?
  • What data will you use to price my home?

Accentuate the Positives

Even if your home is fully updated, cleaning, decluttering and staging can do wonders. Your realtor can help you decide what should stay and what should go, but the general rule is the less personal the better. While your family pictures and collectibles may give your house a lived-in look, it makes it harder for potential buyers to see themselves living there. Don’t have a budget for staging? Make your home show ready-by sticking to basic furniture pieces that fit the scale of your rooms and define their function, and window treatments that let in as much natural light as possible – everything else should go into storage until your home is sold.

Make Cautious Updates

According to a Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends, 83% of sellers make improvements or renovations to get their homes ready to sell. The most common repairs include painting the interior or exterior (45%), renovating the bathroom (31%), adding curb appeal (27%), landscaping (24%), and installing new carpeting or flooring (26%).

While some home improvements have a higher return on investment than others, make sure your improvements don’t start eating into your profit. Patched up walls with a fresh coat of paint, cleaned carpets, and curb appeal can do a lot to improve your home’s aesthetics. If something is in bad shape, like a roof or furnace, it may make sense to replace or repair it before putting the house on the market. Chances are potential buyers will include those contingencies in their offers, anyway.

Make Sure It’s Priced Right

Estimates from tax appraisals and real estate sites may give you a price range, but the best way to ensure your home is priced right for the market is to pull comps – homes within a reasonable proximity to your own of similar size, style and condition that have sold in the past 6 months – to determine a range. How aggressively you want to price your home depends on how long you’re comfortable carrying it until it sells.

Whether you’re upgrading, downsizing or relocating, the decision to sell a home is never a simple one. But with some careful planning and strategic upgrades, you can make the most out of this seller’s market.

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