Once you have signed a listing agreement and committed to listing your home it’s time to execute and follow through on your decision to sell. It’s no coincidence that the best realtors consistently sell homes for top dollar. Among other reasons, they don’t get in their own way of being successful. Follow these tips and you will put yourself and your realtor in a position to sell for top dollar and to sell fast.

  1. Stage Your Home (If It’s Vacant)
    Staging is a great way to add perceived value to your listing by showcasing your home to buyers in a way that highlights your home’s best features or covers up their imperfections — it’s like women who wear make up to lure men closer to them; granted, once you move in with them you see a whole different side, just like a buyer who purchases a new home, but let’s stay focused on the benefits of applying makeup. While there may be that one buyer every homeowner is betting on to defy market research, 7 out of 10 buyers are not only thinking the same things but looking to feel the same emotions when they walk inside a new home. The best stagers study buyer psychology : they know what colors are most inviting, what types of furniture shows space the best, what kind of design is considered modern and up to date and how to work around the unique bones of a home. Nowadays, having the right space is everything. It’s almost a prerequisite to selling your home for top dollar. If that space, however, is being cluttered with excess furniture and, even worse, out of date excess furniture you are hurting your chances of getting top dollar and selling fast. Don’t bet on buyers walking in and seeing past the things they don’t like. The large majority of buyers are going to judge your home based on how you show it. Be in tune with this reality and prime your canvas appropriately to set the best impression that will get you the best response within the short amount of time a buyer is in your home. If the few hundred dollars you spend on staging will help you sell for thousands more and weeks faster then it is a smart and worthy investment.Many listings, however, are being lived in while they are on the market. This makes staging more challenging for homeowners. At the very least, declutter your home as much as possible by removing things that do not add value to the majority of buyers who will be walking through your home. Think about the 70% who think the same way, not the 10-30% who don’t — if you cater to the 70% you won’t be taking anything away from the other 30%, however, if you bet on the minority then you will lose the majority of the market’s interest.
  2. Don’t Stay Home During Open Houses
    Some homeowners want to be present to make sure their realtor is doing their job. I have news for you, if you feel the need to do this then you hired the wrong realtor. The truth is that your presence can be intimidating to prospective buyers who may feel reluctant to freely express their opinions when they know someone is looking over their every move. And trust me, buyers can feel it and your realtor will too. I never allow my client’s to do something that will hurt our chances of earning top dollar and allowing them to be present during open houses is one of those things. In sales, when your feelings are too invested in the transaction, they will often get in the way of servicing the feelings and emotions of the person who has interest in purchasing. Rather than objectively listening to the buyers ideas and vision you will be waiting for every opportunity to correct them. You will lose the lead (i.e., when they are getting ready to leave your open house for the next one on their list they will not give you their contact information) which gives you no chance at following up and closing the deal.TIP : here’s a suggestion if you’re a homeowner who feels you can sell your home better than your realtor. Prepare a list of all of the improvements you have made to your home over the years and include as much detail as possible. How did these improvements make you feel when experiencing them as a homeowner? Describe how the flow of your kitchen made it feel like you were Gordon Ramsey or how your master bathroom felt like a private getaway from the rest of your home. Rather than trying to sell on behalf of your realtor, treat this as an opportunity to prepare a script for your realtor that they can use to sell your home. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how this will make you feel better about trusting your realtor but also how your realtor will open to the fact that you know your home better than any one else.
  3. Ask Your Realtor For Weekly Updates
    Your home will receive the most activity and traffic during the first 3 weeks of hitting the market. Activity should not hit a standstill after the first 3 weeks but traffic will die down unless adjustments to marketing are made (e.g., creative marketing strategies, price adjustments, etc). If you hired the right realtor they will be tracking incoming traffic and collecting their contact information so that they can follow up about their level of interest. Buyers sometimes look at over 7 homes in one weekend. For that reason, these follow up calls should be made within 48 hours of their visit so that your home is still fresh in their mind. If you have an open house on Sunday, follow up calls should be made on Monday or Tuesday (at the latest) and your realtor should be reporting to you by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning with an update on the week’s activity. I always report to my clients three things after every open house : (1) how many prospective buyers visited the open house (2) what their overall thoughts about the home were (3) how many offers were submitted on the home. All realtors know how to sell themselves but far less know how to sell homes. If leads aren’t being tracked and follow ups aren’t being made then chances of you selling your home fast and for top dollar greatly decrease. If your realtor is not taking the initiative then it is on you to hold them accountable! Don’t forget, we work for you!
  4. Allow Time For Private Showings on Short Notice
    Trust me when I say, not even your realtor likes to show properties on short notice but the best realtors know that the more exposure they give to your listing the higher their chances of selling for top dollar will be. You never know which showing is going to lead to the sale. While it’s unrealistic to expect a listing agent or a homeowner to let go of everything they are doing to show a home at the drop of a dime, it’s important to be flexible. Keep in mind, you — the seller — pay for the listing agent’s commission and the buyers agent’s commission. In other words, buyers agents are working for you too. They are constantly sending their buyers homes that they feel may be a good fit and if your home is one of those they send to their client don’t be the reason they can’t do their job. Give your realtor a set time that you are willing to have showings during the week to accommodate for buyers who aren’t able to make the public open houses or just don’t want to wait. Hiring a local agent to list your home makes private showings for you and for the buyer’s agent much easier because they are able to get to your home quickly, even on short notice.
  5. Install A Lock Box
    Working with a realtor you trust is important for many reasons. Maybe the biggest reason, aside from trusting them to manage one of your biggest assets, is that they will often be the one’s looking after your home when strangers are looking through it. As mentioned above, to give yourself the best chance at selling for top dollar and selling fast you must give your home as much exposure as possible. It’s a good idea to give your realtor a spare key so that they will be able to accompany buyers to a showing even when you are not home. This is why I believe homeowner’s should elect to install a lock box. Some lock boxes give all agents access to your home. Other types of lockboxes only give your agent access to your home. If the house is vacant I suggest installing a lock box that gives all agents access so that any agent representing an interested buyers can easily show your home. If you are still living in your home then I suggest installing a private lock box and only giving your realtor the combination. In this business, a missed showing opportunity only makes it easier for a buyer to submit an offer on a competing listing instead of choosing your home for more serious consideration. The ideal realtor is alway a local realtor and will be only minutes away from your home at all times, positioned well to service buyer’s agents and buyers at all times of the day.
  6. Listen To The Market
    Once you list your home on the market it’s normal for every conversation you have with friends and family to either start or end with “so has your home sold yet?” It’s important to trust your realtor and more importantly to listen to the market over everyone, even your friends and relatives. Don’t get me wrong, support systems are great but your friend who overpaid for their house 3 years ago is not a real estate expert, your sister who lives 3000 miles away might understand the real estate market in her neighborhood, your aunt who is a realtor is kicking herself for missing the chance at listing your home and is still looking for the chance to swoop in. Once your home is listed, the most important voice in the transaction becomes the voice of the market and the one person who has their ear to that voice is the person showing your home on a weekly basis.

    Let’s keep things in proper perspective. If your realtor sold you the dream during the listing appointment and insisted that they could sell your home for 30% over market value within 30 days then, by all means, hold them to it — they misled you just to get the listing. This is where your support system (i.e., your friends and relatives) may have a point. But if your realtor carried themselves realistically from the start and gained your trust with knowledge of the market and the industry but felt it was worth taking a risk with a listing price higher than market value because of specific conditions that were clearly communicated to you (e.g., low inventory of comparable homes in your neighborhood) then it’s wise to be realistic and listen when the market speaks through the mouth of your realtor. Strategically speaking, there may hit a time during your listing where making a timely price adjustment will actually help you in selling for top dollar. Everything is case by case, the fact of the matter is sometimes you should stick to your guns and sometimes you need to see past your emotions or you risk losing credibility in the marketplace.