It is no secret that the real estate market in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley Counties is still a strong Seller's Market. But Sellers must still prepare in order to achieve top dollar and to meet their preferred selling timeframe. Pricing – Internet Exposure – Staging are critical components of an effective Marketing Strategy.
Your home is so much more than an architectural structure or an “improvement” to quote a frequently used real estate term. It is extension of you and your family and selling it can be both an emotional and an intimidating experience. This online guide is provided as a template to help you transition from the emotional decision to the pragmatic and objective planning phase.
The four major steps in the selling process namely 1) Planning the Sale 2) Understanding the Market 3) Getting Your Home Ready to Show and 4) Closing the Deal will be addressed in this guide.
Planning the Sale
Now that you have decided to sell your home you will be faced with a decision; 1) Sell it yourself or 2) Enlist the services of a trained real estate professional. If your home is in a high traffic area, you are willing to stay at home for showings and feel confident with the required paperwork / negotiations then selling it on your own may be appropriate. For the vast majority of homeowners hiring a knowledgeable professional will be the most efficient and profitable way to sell your home.
In planning for the sale the following items will need to be considered:
- Select a REALTOR who is right for you… Don’t be shy – interview several real estate agents
- Sign a Listing Agreement – Opt for The Maximum Online Marketing Exposure
- Review the latest sales trends – focus on Solds NOT on Actives…. It doesn’t matter what your neighbor is asking for their home …. It is what buyers are prepared to pay that is critical – PRICE IS CRITICAL – Don’t repeat don’t be caught in a downward price improvement spiral
- Have your REALTOR calculate a Net Sell Sheet for you – Understanding your potential profit or loss will allow you to plan accordingly
- Review Financial Options Available to Buyers – Does it make sense to Offer a Lease Purchase Option or Owner Financing? Every additional avenue of possible financing you offer increases the buyer pool.
- Make any necessary repairs. In fact it may be prudent to have a professional Home Inspection completed – sharing this information with a buyer instills confidence.
- Get the Home in Showing Condition. If necessary higher a Staging Professional to assist you; the results can be nothing short of incredible.
- Provide any Critical Documents such as Floor Plans, Surveys, Utility Bills these can be placed in the MLS and Shared with Potential Buyers
- Make it as easy as possible for Buyers to see your home. Homes that are “Easy to Show” tend to be shown more frequently. If you can install a REALTOR lockbox do it… If you can take the dog out for a walk do it… Always remember to secure any valuables or items of sentimental value.
- Review any Offers carefully with your REALTOR. Make sure you consider all contract terms including: price, closing date, required concessions, type of financing…. In this market you want to be working with an approved, motivated buyer. Why else would you agree to take your home off of the market?
- Close the Deal.
Understanding the Market
Properly pricing your home is the most crucial factor in making a sale. The "right" price is a balance between the maximum amount the current housing market will allow, your "competition" and your own time limits in selling. Although the greatest amount of buyer activity occurs during the first 3-4 weeks, a reasonable time frame for selling a house in the Charleston Area may be between 60 – 90 days.
So, how do you determine the right price?
Start by asking an experienced real estate professional to prepare a written Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for you. The report provides details on recent sales of homes similar to yours, as well as the asking price of homes currently on the market.
Several factors may add or detract from the value of our home. With these factors in mind, you and your sales associate should be able to determine a fair, marketable price for your home.
- Location – Does the house back up to a busy street or a wooded buffer. Is the home located in a quiet cul de sac or a busy thorough fare? Does the backyard provide privacy?
- Features – What specific features set your home apart from others in the area? Spectacular view, On golf course, Master Suite Downstairs, Screened In Porch...
- Condition – Are there any major or minor repairs that could impact the appeal your home has to potential buyers?
- Age – Buyers are always interested in the age of the HVAC unit, roof, plumbing, electrical system, and appliances. Are your competitive? If not you may want to consider offering allowances for these items.
- The Current Market – Is it a Buyers or Sellers Market? A sellers market is defined as one in which there is more than 6 months of inventory available to purchase at any give point in time. Are prices declining, stable or appreciating? You want to be ahead of the curve in a declining market or you could find yourself playing the "catch up" game making numerous price reductions and possibly losing precious time.
Getting Your Home Ready to Show
To get top dollar and sell quickly, you must prepare your home and property so that it is in move-in condition. Take a look at your home as though you are seeing it for the first time... Stand in the shoes of a potential buyer…. What do you see? You may not be concerned about the doorbell that doesn’t work or the crowded closets but the potential buyers will.
- Give your home a face lift with some fresh paint or a power washing. Even a brick exterior will be improved by a good ol' fashion pressure washing.
- Trim trees and bushes especially those that hide windows, lighting, shutters etc.
- Add some color by planting or hanging some flowers – the punch of color is amazing in photos
- Add fresh pine straw or other bedding material around your plants
- Replace or paint a weather beaten mail box
- Repair or replace torn screens
- Remove grease stains from driveway and clean light fixtures – Please make sure all fixtures are operable and have bulbs!
- Paint or clean the front door….The first impression is being made as the potential buyers walk to the door.
- Replace or repair door hardware – A loose beaten door knob or dead bolt sends a message that perhaps the home has not been well maintained.
- Keep garden hoses neatly coiled – no loose bricks in the walk ways – fill cracks
- Fill Bird Feeders ( buyers love to see nature in action)
- Declutter declutter declutter – Did I say it emphatically enough? If you cannot part with some items then organize them in baskets or containers. Create order out of disorder. I cannot emphasize this aspect of your preparation with enough vigor… Alone it has the most impact of any home prep step.
- De-personalize – pack up the hordes of personal photos and remove the magnets, notes etc. from your refrigerator. You want potential buyers to be able to visualize their personal items in your space. Create some white space – give them some "Visual Room"
- You will want to hide the dog bowls – dog toys – food etc. ( You never know who is allergic so don’t make it obvious that you have a pet)
- Create order in your closets – Buy matching hangers (not the wire ones!) – Try to store toys, games in a separate area
- Remove unnecessary furniture to make your rooms appear spacious.
- Brighten rooms with a fresh coat of paint… Choose a neutral color that will coordinate with most decors.
- Clean clean clean – did I say that emphatically enough? Your kitchen and bathrooms must sparkle… Windows must be squeaky clean, run a lemon through the garbage disposal for a clean smell. Add some potpourri in a container to your bathroom – replace worn towels – repair dripping faucets.
- Clean air intake grills and replace all filters – NO DUST BUNNIES PLEASE
- Play soft music during showings – bake cookies or breads prior to Open House Events – The idea is to create a pleasant emotional experience.
- Hire a Staging Professional if you feel additional ideas on staging are required. It is amazing the difference these trained professionals can make in overall impression … Ask to see their before and after photos.
Residential Property Disclosure Act was signed into law by South Carolina Governor Hodges in the summer of 2002 and enacted on January 1, 2003. The new law mandates that a seller, regardless of whether the services of a real estate licensee are involved, must provide a purchaser with a property disclosure statement, and it must be completed by the seller. An owner of residential real estate (single family homes and buildings up to four dwelling units) must provide to a purchaser the completed property condition disclosure statement prior to signing a contract for sale.
To review the entire law and download a copy of the required Disclosure Document please visit www.llr.state.sc.us/rec.htm . You may also review the 13 exemptions that apply to the transfer of property i.e., New Construction is exempt under the law.
South Carolina Wood Infestation Report is a document completed by a qualified, licensed inspector following an inspection of your home for the presence of termites, other wood –destroying insects and fungi (water damaged wood, rot or decay). The report which is frequently referred to as the CL-100 Letter is required in order to proceed to Closing. In fact the attorney’s office will request the original copy of the report not a photocopy!
The Cl-100 Inspection is typically ordered and paid by the seller – although this is not mandated and in many cases the buyer prefers to manage this inspection. In fact the South Carolina Pest Control Association recommends that the purchaser of the structure rather then the seller, obtain the Wood Infestation Report.
Closing the Deal
When offers on your property are received your real estate professional will make an appointment to present it to you. (All offers for your property MUST be presented to you) The final decision is always yours and careful review of all aspects of the offer is critical. You will want to consider:
- Offered price
- Financial Worthiness of the Buyer
- Earnest Money Deposit
- Motivation of the Buyer
- Time Lines
You will want to know the potential buyer has been pre-qualified or pre-approved for the purchase by a recognized lending institution. You will want to consider carefully such contract contingencies as the Sale of a Home which could require months and keep other potential buyers from submitting offers on your property.
You may accept the offer as is, reject it outright, or make changes and sign it back to the purchaser to see if they are willing to accept your changes. The process continues until a deal is agreed upon or negotiations are terminated.
Once ratified the buying side goes into action, arranging mortgage financing, scheduling a closing date / time with a real estate attorney, accumulating documents and data required for the closing. You will want to communicate with your mortgage holder and alert them to the pending sale. Your payoff information will be required by the real estate closing attorney selected by the buyer to settle the transaction.
On closing or settlement day you and the buyer will present at the attorney’s office to sign documents, pay the required settlement fees, satisfy any outstanding mortgage amounts and hopefully receive a check.
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Contact Heather Lord today for all your Charleston, SC Real Estate needs!