Selling a home in 2020 is easier than ever. In fact, selling a home overall isn’t really that difficult. While I know the idea of selling a home can sound daunting, I am here to ease your worries by laying out my exact strategy, and helping tips and tricks, that will make selling your home in 2019 less intimidating and stressful.
Since 2008, I have helped hundreds of selling clients, sell thier home with ease, using a common sense and market driven approach to selling real estate. These days, there are more licensed agents and real estate brokerage firms in the Capital Region, than ever. And while they all compete to simply win your business, most of the time you’ll find their effort stops with locking you into a long term contract.
The ideology that has been taught throughout the real estate industry for decades focuses on winning business through traditional sales tactics, ego based advertising and brainwashing. Practitioners work to win the business of the public, yet they fall short with understanding the market as a whole, nor have they developed a pricing strategy to position your home to sell for the most money in the current market.
You may have found me by way of my book, Defend Your Equity: Pricing Your Home in the Capital Region for Maximum Profit. Or you may have been referred here, or found me by way of a Google Search. Which ever path you took to land here, I want to say a couple things before I get started.
My website (page) will aim to give you a step by step plan and strategy as to how I can help you sell your home in 2019 for the most money. As a almost 10 year veteran of the real estate industry, I have tried many things. From the latest tech gadgets, to developing and writing a content strategy (blogging) in an effort to win hearts and minds, I have done a lot of things that I thought would move the needle when it comes to helping home sellers achieve their goal. I have also tried many other things that business gurus suggest in an effort to win business.
After years of hard work, tech investments, and a bunch of other costly marketing and ad dollars going out the window, I’ve decided that my book, and this one-page, is enough to convey what you need to make a smart decision when it comes to selling your home in the Capital Region. I will lay out how I will position, market, and sell any home, from A to Z, on this page, which after years of writing articles reporting on market conditions, will become my evergreen message to whomever lands here going forward.
I welcome you. Apart from this page, there is the About page where you can get to know me a bit, and of course you can find me on Zillow to verify my sales and reviews, and even follow me on Facebook, although I am not very active on there when it comes to talking about real estate or my life. Without further ado. Here is the complete guide to selling your home in 2019.
Understanding the local real estate market
Real estate is driven by the law of Supply and Demand. It’s about understanding what kind of demand your area has, and how your home is viewed by local home buyers. So what does demand look like? Well luckily we can see it through the local real estate market statistics.
Clifton Park is the epitome of what demand looks like. It took just 39 days on average for 522 homes to sell, just missing the $300,000 sale price mark.
Choosing a real estate agent really should come down to finding an agent who follows this ideology. Unfortunately, the industry is riddled with Realtors who push their personal brands, taking credit for home sales as if they have the secret. A Realtor who takes credit for a home sale is like a stock broker taking credit for a rise in Microsoft’s stock price. It simply makes no sense to do, and any result in price is a symptom of Supply and Demand.
I will show you some of the basic, and more in-depth statistical categories that can tell us a story about your local market, which can reveal how home buyers perceive your local market, and what you can expect when it comes time to sell your home.
The number of homes listed in a specific market is the overall Supply of that market, and is also commonly referred to as inventory.
When we look at the number of homes listed, it gives us an idea about the amount of supply available to home buyers, and also how much volume a particular market can expect. In 2018, homes listed within the Shenendehowa School District surpassed 1,000 homes listed. This is the largest volume real estate market in our region.
Here is a look at the highest volume markets in 2018 around our Capital Region:
While Supply in one thing, it means even more when we compared it to the respective Demand a market shows us. If 1,000 homes listed in Shenendehowa in 2018, but only 300 homes sold (instead of 820), we could consider that Demand is really low, and an example this unrealistic would probably indicate a serious housing crisis.
But, in 2018, 820 homes sold in Shenendehowa schools, which proves that demand is high, since the markets listed-to-sale ratio factors to 74%. Now since homes enter and leave the market continuously, not all 2018 home sales are from 2018 listings. Some homes that sell in January and February, could have been listed in October, November or December of the previous year.
And while that is true, looking at home sale vs home listed ratio is still enough to tell us where Supply and Demand lie since the market cycles in a similar way every year. With listings and sales increasing in the Spring and Summer, and then slowing tailing off through the end of Summer, Fall and Winter, we can count on the same pattern every year and compare the numbers to see how the market is moving.
Here is a look at the top selling markets of 2018:
Days on market
Markets like Delmar and Latham, which saw average days on market to be 30 days or below on average, also give us an indication of where home buyer demand is the highest.
Other markets such as Lansingburgh and Stillwater, saw average days on market of over 60 days in 2018, an indication of lower buyer demand.
This is a simple yet informative stat that tells us where demand lies. But looking on the surface is never enough. And when we start to see each home sale within this market, we see that some homes sold in one day, while others took 250 days.
But, its not a surprise that markets like Latham and Delmar move fast, since when looking at the 5 key factors, we learn that these markets have a lot going for them which includes prime location, great schools, lower than average taxes for some, and overall demand from local home buyers who seek to live in these areas over others in our region.
Here were the fastest markets of 2018 by zip code:
Here were the fastest markets of 2018 by School District:
Average sale prices
In 2018, the Schenectady City School District saw home sales average just over $100,000 for the first time ever. While homes within Schenectady are reaping the benefits of an overall strong Capital Region market, it is still a below average price when compared to the rest of the region.
Markets such as Clifton Park and Saratoga, see average prices of around $300,00 and $400,000 respectively. The law of Supply and Demand does not choose what markets it applies its law too. Whether it be the stock market, poultry market, video game market, or other products and services we use everyday, supply and demand is as alive and well in real estate just as it is with other industries around the world.
Here is a look at the top average sale prices around our region in 2018:
When demand is high, price goes up. Even in downturns and supposed “housing recessions”, the high demand markets still show healthy sale prices, even if they have dropped from years passed.
The top 10 markets of 2018, in terms on Average Sale Prices, tells us a story (above graphic) of how overall high demand increases real estate sale prices. Is it any surprise that most of these markets are in the popular areas of Albany and Saratoga Counties? It’s no coincidence that’s for sure.
Seeing the overall average sale price of your market is just the beginning. We must dive deeper into that market, to compare your home, to similar homes in the market, to see how average sale prices shake out.
Original List Price vs. Final Sale Price
If you want to know how much you can expect to sell your home for when the time comes, the List Price to Sale Price ratio is the statistic to look to when it comes to understanding your position within the marketplace. The good news is, this stat does not fluctuate all that much, and sits at around 92% on average.
This means, for simple example purposes, that if you list your home for $100,000, you can expect an offer for $92,000 in return, only IF that $100,000 asking price isn’t too high.This caveat that says, you will received 92% of your asking price only if your asking price is accurate. This means, that if 90 days has passed since you listed, and you’re still listed for $100,000, your price it too high.
Below we see the average List Price vs. Sale Price percentage (LPSP) for all 2,709 home sales for the calendar year of 2018 in Albany County:
When your home is on the market and you’re not receiving offers at all, that means you’re overpriced. If you receive an offer lower than the average, then you’re most likely a tad overpriced, but not so much that a buyer won’t offer.
The closer we are to the correct asking price, the better chance you will get a full price offer.
When we wonder why homes don’t sell, simply look to this statistic, to uncover what price you can expect to net when you sell. We need to revise your asking price if we are not receiving an offer within 30-90 days, especially when all 5 Key Factors are aligned. This is another reason why sitting on the market for 6 to 12 months is just plain silly.
Absorption rate maybe the best real estate market statistic available, and it is rarely talked about inside the industry. Absorption rate is a simple formula, which tells us exactly what what type of market you are dealing with when it comes to positioning. Absorption rate tells us if we are in the midst of a buyers market, or a sellers market. And each individual market has different absorption rates.
Absorption rate is basically telling us how quickly inventory is moving, by looking at a certain amount of home sales in the last 6 months, and then dividing these findings by the number of home currently available for sale. Here’s what it looks like:
Albany County: # of home sales in the last 6 months: (This data comes directly from the local Multiple Listing Service which gives us all the data we can handle)
From March 1st, 2019 back to September 1st 2018, 1,131 homes have sold in Albany County…. when we divide that by 6 (months) we get 188.5. This means, 188.5 homes sell per month on Albany County over the last 6 months. But you cannot have a half of a sale, so lets just put it at 188 homes per month.
Now we need to know how many homes are available for sale in Albany County right now. Again, the MLS can tell us…
549 homes available for sale at the time of this writing (March 1st, 2019). Lets divide 549 by 188 sales per month to get a final number of: 2.92.
This is the months of supply left. This means that if zero homes are listed for sale going forward, it would take just under 3 months, or 2.92 months, to sell out of 549 homes.
When we flip this equation, to divide sales per month (188) by active homes for sale (549), we get a percentage value of 34.2%. So we have an absorption rate in Albany County of 34.2% or 2.92 months of inventory.
Of course, this is useless without standards to compare to. So what are they? 6 months of supply considered an EVEN market. An absorption rate about 20%, is considered a SELLERS MARKET. This tell us that Albany County as a whole, is favoring HOME SELLERS.
> 20% = SELLERS MARKET < 20% = BUYERS MARKET
This equation, can be, and should be, repeated for your immediate area. We can calculate the absorption rate of your zip code, school district, even your home style plus your school district to get a true depiction of your market.
And guess what? If it’s a SELLERS MARKET in your immediate area, WE NEED TO ASK FOR MORE MONEY IN THE SALE!
This wraps up understanding statistical categories, next, I put it all together to show you how I use these statistics when diving deeper and segmenting the data to match up to your specific type of home which uncovers exactly how much home buyers are willing to pay for a home in your immediate market.
Using data to see what home buyers want
So what do home buyers want in a home? Most of these answers are common sense, but even so, a lot can be proven through the market data that I analyze, and you’ll be surprised to learn that there aren’t many secrets to uncover in an effort to understand what home buyers want.
Recent home sales can show us why a home sold the fastest of for the most money in your neighborhood. What did the home have going for it inside it’s walls that you may be able to capitalize on yourself?
It all starts with the particular home style that you own, to be used as the starting point of pricing it to sell for the most money. So what kind of home do you own? A ranch style home? A colonial style home? Or maybe its a condo or townhouse?
Whatever the style, it’s important that we break down the market sales data based on your specific home style. If you own a Honda Accord, then Kelly Blue Book won’t attempt to discover you cars value by looking at recent sales of Ford Pickup Trucks. Just as this makes no sense, the same can be said in real estate. ,
A 2 bedroom ranch home on a slab, cannot be compared to a 4 bedroom Colonial with a full basement. Just look at the average sale prices of different home styles in Albany County for 2018:
Colonial (COL) style homes dominated Albany County in 2018, followed by Ranch (RNC) style homes. Notice the stark difference in sale prices, a difference of over $100,000, for obvious reasons.
Regardless of your homes size, layout and amenities, we must always start by looking at similar style homes in your immediate market, as the starting point to accurate prices.
Bedrooms and Bathrooms
So what matters most to home buyers? Sure, each buyer is different and has different needs, but it’s no surprise that 3 bedroom homes sell for more money than 2 bedroom homes, as well as 4 bedroom homes beating out those 3 bedroom home sale prices as well.
The difference in pricing doesn’t end there. A 3 bedroom and 1.5 bath Ranch home will sell for more money than a 3 bedroom 1 bath Ranch home due to that added bonus of a convenient half bath that people see value in .
OK so bedrooms, bathrooms. What else?
Size of course. The size of a home or the amount of square feet it has to offer is crucial in factoring into the price. Using square footage to price homes is a old as the industry itself, but as you can see, it takes more than factoring the markets average price per sq foot based on other home sales when pricing accurately.
Nevertheless less, it’s obvious that a 2000 sq ft home sells for more $ than a 1,000 sq foot home. But of course, we are just scratching the surface on understanding how to unlock your home’s value though it features both inside and out.
Age has a lot to do with price. A 10 year old home in most cases, sells for more money than a 75 year old home, even if that 75 yar old home has been remodeled. Typically the structure is still 75 years old, but the floors, walls and counter-tops are new. Age is crucial when pricing a home, since of course, a New Construction sale cannot be compared to a 50 year old Colonial home in the same market.
Of course, if two similar aged homes with the same layout and floor plan are listed for sale next to one another, the one that is upgraded will sell for more money than the one that needs a complete overhaul.
Basements are also big factors for home buyers, and affects price greatly. In Colonie for example, we see Ranch homes on slabs selling for less money than Ranch homes with full basements, and this is when both styles have the square footage, bedrooms and bathrooms.
That extra space below ground is great for storage or has the potential to become more finished space if not set up that way already.
Acreage and other Wild Card factors
This is a no brainier, as that extra land needs to be factored in, even on the smallest scale. If you own the double in the subdivision of similar homes, that needs to be added to the asking price. We aren’t always talking about acres coupons acre of land, but the home with a half acre lot compared to all the others with a quarter acre, will be worth more money to home buyers guaranteed.
Wild card factors such as proximity to power lines, roadways, train tracks and more, must also be considering while pricing a home for sale. Even if a home has the same size lot as other homes, but the backyard drops off into a culvert, you will see that buyers will be deterred when seeing the home. These are factors that you cannot do much about. The only thing we can do about these factors is respect them and their power over a home buyers perception of a home and the subsequent adjustment in our overall pricing strategy.
Of course, last but not least, is the overall condition of the mechanical systems and condition of your roof and foundation. A home doesn’t need to have a new roof in order to sell, but if it does, the buyer will certainly see that as a bonus.
When it comes to accurate pricing, understanding how home buyers think will help us price the most accurately. Will they have to replace the furnace? How about the electrical system? Any issues there. Of course, foundation issues like shifting block or water intrusion can deter home buyers as well. Other issues such as water heaters, age of windows, age of septic and well if applicable, as well as aesthetics upgrades to floors and kitchens and baths, are all at play when it comes to pricing a home.
While I may not be telling you things you don’t already know, its the market data that proves this for us, when looking at local home sales, specifically the ones that sold the fastest and for the most money.
Four things you need to sell a home in 2019:
There are only four things you really need to sell your home in 2019. Of course within each of these four pillars are the building blocks needed to have the pillar stand on it’s own. After years of experience working with both sellers and home buyers, I have realized that selling a home comes down to:
- The Right Price
- Preparation and Presentation
- Marketing and Advertising
- Coordination to closing
Also, you may be needing to buy a home simultaneously while you sell your home, and I will dive into how that can be achieved and handled seamlessly as well. But let’s face it, selling your home at all comes down to getting a buyer to offer on it, and with that comes pricing the home properly and aggressively so you can make the most money in the sale.
So lets get a home buyer to make an offer on your home. Better yet, can we make them jump over other home buyers, begging to buy it first? That all depends on what I call: The 5 Key Factors towards pricing your home for maximum profit. As I’ve said, each pillar has many building blocks, and The Right Price comes down to the factors that make up such a price. So let’s see what that looks like.
1. The Right Price
Key Factor #1: Location
We know the old adage, Location….Location, Location…cheesy I know, but an obvious starting point when it comes to your home sale. So where is your home located? In the city? The suburbs? The outer lying areas of our region?
Selling a home comes down to Supply and Demand. Is there Demand in your Location from local home buyers? Statistics can tell us where home buyers want to live, based on how quickly homes sell in certain areas, and how much money buyers are willing to pay for home in those areas.
Let me give you an a example of what Location demand looks like…
In 2018, homes in Latham, and Delmar, saw the fastest home sales. With an average of around 30 days per sale. That’s just 4 weeks on average, for hundreds of home sales, most of which, sold in a even faster that 30 days, such as in under a week.
Now, I must say, selling your home too fast means you could lose money. If a home buyer is willing to give you full price in a day, how much more would they have been willing to pay if you asked for more money?
This scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles always makes me think of this point about the real estate market. Steve Martins character is desperate to get a cab, to him, a cab is in HIGH DEMAND. He actually offers to pay a lawyer $50 for a cab that he fails to hail himself, and the character in this scene senses the demand Steve Martin has for a cab at this time. The character says to Steve Martin, “Anyone willing to pay $50 for a cab is certainly willing to pay $75”. Although reluctant at first, Steve Martin pays the $75 for the cab.
When you posses a home in a high demand area, where home buyers want to live, YOU HAVE DEMAND. Especially when the market is healthy, and performing well, as it has been over the past 24 months. When I see homes selling in just one or two days in markets like Delmar, Latham, Clifton Park, and other very high demand markets, I cringe at the amount of money those sellers just lost int he sale. As was the case with Steve Martin in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, if a home buyer is willing to pay $200,000 for your home on the day it’s listed, they certainly would be willing to pay $215,000 wouldn’t they? We won’t know unless we ask.
This is why I use market trends, combined with market statistics, to make sure we aren’t underselling you when it comes time to list your home.
Nevertheless, simple market statistics tell us what you probably already know. Latham and Delmar and not only nice places to live, they are also centrally located to all points of the region, especially when it comes to commuting to Albany and other state employee operating sites of our region. Not to mention, shopping, highways and overall convenience are at play. This is what demand looks like on the Northway at 5 pm:
Is it any surprise to us that home buyers are willing to not only sit in this dreaded Northway traffic just to live in Saratoga County, but they are also willing to pay a healthy price for their homes, considering in 2018, towns like Clifton Park and Saratoga Springs saw average sale prices of $298,129 and $457,236 respectively.
This is just scratching the surface of how real estate market statistics and sales data can help us understand where demand lies. So my question to you is, where is your home located? Is it in high demand? Or are home buyers in the driver’s seat? Understanding what position you’re in when selling is key towards knowing what a buyer is willing to pay.
Here is a look at the final stats for over 65 zip codes of our Capital Region for 2018:
Key Factor #2: School District
The problem with looking at zip code data or data from towns and cities across our region is, many zip codes in the Capital Region are home to different school districts. With different school districts and zip codes overlapping each other, looking at zip code data is not enough to get an accurate picture of the market. The best example that can convey this point can be seen within the 12189 zip of Watervliet.
When we pull the total number of home sales over a calendar year for Watervliet (12189 zip code), we see that average sales prices look pretty healthy in for this market. But just looking at the surface is never enough. When we dig deeper we see that from 2018’s 100 home sales, 80 of them from the 12189 zip code, took place within the North Colonie School District.
When we segment these zip code sales by school district, we get a quick lesson on not only the importance of drilling down into the local market data, but we also get a lesson where home buyer demand lies based on a desirable school district.
49 homes sold in the 12189 Watervliet zip code, which also pulled from the Watervliet School District. These 49 home sales averaged a sale price of $134,573 in 2018. In comparison, 51 home sales which had a 12189 Watervliet zip code address, actually pulled from the North Colonie School District, which had an average sale price of $271,701. If we simply looked at just the zip code averages, home sellers would not be getting an accurate depiction of the market.
If a Watervliet School District home owner wishes to sell their home in 2019, telling them that the average sale price of 12189 homes is over $200,000, they would be immediately misinformed, which could lead to overpricing their home and sitting on the market for months on end.
So, as you may have guessed, my question to you is, what school district is your home located in? Finding out how much demand is attached to your home’s school district, based on the market data, tells us how much demand your home has to local home buyers. Here is a look at the best school districts in our region from 2018, ranked based on their performance in the various real estate statistical categories.
Key Factor #3: Taxes
It’s no secret that New York State has some undesirable property tax amounts, and we have seen many stories regarding this in both local and nation media outlets, about the mass exodus of NY’ers who are heading south to avoid seemingly unfair, high tax amounts.
With that being said, property tax amounts are a third key factor when it comes to selling a home. The higher the taxes are on a home, the lower the sale potential sale price becomes, and the longer it may take to sell.
On the flip side, the lower the property taxes are on a home, the quicker it will sell, and most likely sell for the most money. Its no surprise, when we see homes in Colonie, and specifically the South Colonie School District, sell fast, and for more money that a similar sized home may get in other areas of our region.
When it comes to the laws of averages, 423 home sales certainly isn’t a small sample size of home sales, not for the Capital Region anyway. Another high volume market of our region is the Albany School District, which posted over 660 home sales in 2018, but average sale prices failed to break $200,000, which is well below the region average.
With slightly slower sales at 42 days on average, and higher tax amounts of almost $6,000 per home, it’s no surprise that Albany saw average sale prices fail to reach $200,000.
But the tax factor isn’t always a deterrent to home buyers. Especially since we expect to pay a lot of taxes in New York State and in our region. Strong demand can trump high taxes to a certain extent, as we saw in 2018 with markets such as Bethlehem, and Niskayuna.
While it may see a fast market in Bethlehem with average sales at 31 days, average sale prices would most likely be well over $300,000 if it weren’t for higher than tax amounts. Same goes for Niskayuna, with 48 days on average not being all that fast, but still a popular market in 2018 that saw prices flirt with $300,000.
Again, with Niskayuna, tax amounts average over $8,500 per year is hurting it’s time on the market and overall sale prices. If taxes were dropped significantly, the sale process would speed up and average sale prices would surely rise.
So how much do you pay in yearly taxes? When selling your home, we want to quote the home buyer the amount they will be paying before applying for discounts like STAR or a Veterans credit. I am talking School plus property taxes which gets us to a grand total. And if you pay separate water or sewer bills, add those in too. Once you do you’ll begin to see how attractive your home is based on the taxes the new buyer will have to pay.
Once we know your accurate taxes paid on your property, we have just taken another step towards getting the most money out of your home sale.
Key Factor #4: Condition
When I talk about a home’s condition, I am really talking about a lot of different things all lumped in together. For example, age is included in this key factor #5 since a home that is 50 years old may mean it’s condition could be in need for upgrades or repairs. Layout of the home itself, mainly the lot, is also in this conversation. You could have a beautiful home, but there are big power lines going through the backyard, or it sits besides some train tracks, these are the wild card factors we must consider when pricing accurately.
Nevertheless, when it comes to a home’s condition, clean, fresh, and clutter free, is all that it can take in most cases. While I encourage folks to make minor repairs, paint and get the home even professionally cleaned, the amount of money that you’ll make in your home sale is determined against how much effort you’re willing to pout in to getting it ready for sale.
Now, I will not say that you need to demolish your kitchen and install new cabinets and counter tops, but if you did, there are cost effective ways to do this and still make that money back in the sale. What it really comes down to is, what are home buyers going to notice at the showing, or even more so, when you are under contract, what will their home inspector find in your home?
A home doesn’t need to be remodeled to sell fast for a good price, but, at least be sure to give the home buyers a minimal amount of things to notice, complain about, or even have to think about fixing once they close on the sale.
While I could go on and on about condition, it’s hard to convey on a web page. Looking at property descriptions and the listing photos can tell us all we need to know in most cases. The graphic above shows the fastest selling homes in Clifton Park for 2018. No matter which market I choose to show, the homes that sell the fastest usually have upgraded features, or simply, a fresh coat of paint.
Neat, clean, clutter free and fresh paint is all it takes in most cases. We also see the percentage the sellers netted in the sale when compared to thier original asking price. Most sellers are about 97% with others going for over asking price. Now, if you ask me, some of these sellers lost money. When you sell for 105% of your asking price in just 3 days, you could have probably asked $10,000 to $20,000 more in the sale.
We also see most of these homes are not new. A lot of them are over 30 and 40 years old, which proves that a newer home doesn’t necessarily mean a fast and easy sale. Of course other factors that have to do with Condition that I didn’t highlight are features such as mechanical systems and roof tops. Homes that have upgraded furnaces and roofs will also sell faster and for more money, but it’s not always necessary.
So, my question to you is, what is your homes current condition? What will home buyers notice about your home that could potentially be a drawback or even a deal breaker? Are there simple things you are willing to do such as paint or move clutter to storage. Homes don’t need to be remodeled to sell, but some effort is needed on your part to make it fast and easy.
Understanding all that your home does and doesn’t have going for it, is yet another step towards understanding its best price in the current market.
Key Factor #5: Timing
Assuming you are all set to list your home for sale, this final key factor is one of the most important to considering when it comes to making the most money in the sale.
I understand that not every home seller can wait until the prime season to sell their home, and your life could sometimes change in an instant. If a life event forces you to sell your home sooner than later, well, you can still defend your equity and get a great price when you line up the key factors and understand your position in the market. But for those who can afford to wait, I am always an advocate for listing your home in the Spring, and the data backs up why.
Sounds like common sense I know, in Upstate NY, we are usually thawing out from a cold brutal winter. The statistics prove that most home sellers list their home in the Spring and early Summer, which happens to capitalize on the home buying season as well. But while this may be common sense, it’s also statistically proven that some homes sell for more money in May, than they do in March.
See this graphic from all home sales in Albany County for 2018:
The month column represents the month in which a home was listed. The “count of status” column simply means the number of homes that sold when listing the corresponding month, and of course, followed by the average sale price and average days on the market for all corresponding home sales.
Homes that listed in May in all of Albany County for 2018, netted the most money in thier home sale, and also had the third-fastest time on the market. Overall though, we see prices are higher in the Spring than they are in the Fall and Winter, and we also see slower home sales in the Fall and Winter months as well.
Many home buyers are also banking on that IRS tax refund to go towards closing costs of thier home purchase. Of course, factor that in with the warming Spring temperatures, and it’s no secret that real estate season begins in March, and peaks in the Summer, while slowing down through August and into the beginning of September and the Fall months.
My advice is, if you can wait, May is your best bet. When demand from home buyers is higher, prices can tend to go up, that is, if Supply is still at a level of scarcity.
2) Preparation + Presentation
Preparing your home for sale
Getting your home ready for the market starts weeks and months before you go live for some home sellers.
But as I have said, a home need not be remodeled from head to toe to sell quickly, and I will show you examples of this shortly.
The best things you can do to get your home ready to sell is show as much space as possible. De-cluttering, not only big items like storage containers and boxes, but de-cluttering counter tops, bookshelf, end tables, and things of this nature will prevent distractions with the home buyers who view it.
In real estate, less is more. While there is some controversial talks about a vacant home versus a furnished home, nevertheless, a cluttered home will district buyers in most cases, and not net you the most money in your home sale.
A fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling is not cost effective and a great way to freshen up the place. Your best best it to paint with an off-white, neutral color, or even white, considering that the buyers will be painting the home to their liking anyway.
Drastic colors that are strong and commanding may be best to cover with neutral coat, whereas other softer colors that may not be neutral can just be freshened up to give the home a clean feel and look.
Minor repairs and actions are also strongly recommended. Things like fixing a piece broken modeling, trim, or a hole in the drywall or bubbling tape are some things you should fix off the top of my head.
Painting, pointing, calking, you name it, easy everyday tasks that most homeowner can accomplish alone is key towards getting the home ready to sell.
The idea is, lets not give home buyers anything to point out that they see themselves having to fix after closing.
Major repairs should be considered if it will turn off home buyers completely, or you can always offer a credit or factor it in to an aggressive price. Things like a somewhat minor foundation issues, siding issue, roof issue, or even needed to point up a chimney stack are common problems that are above the scope of most homeowners.
Getting these major issues fixed is key towards making the most money in your home sale.
A pre-listing home inspection is highly recommended and frankly not utilized often enough. I have seen homes with mold ridden basements and attics that were unbeknownst to some homeowners, and even homes with high radon gas levels in the basement that were not uncovered until the buyers conducted their own home inspection.
Why would you let a home buyer stop the deal its tracks with a bad home inspection when you can have one conducted for next to nothing before you list the home. At least do a radon test with a kit from Home Depot to see if you’ll be on the hook for a $1500 defect
If you’re willing to upgrade major components of a home, there are some worth doing that don’t have to see you lose money in the sale. Of course a lot depends on how much work you or someone you know can do for a fair price, and also the type of material or product you choose to replaces.
For example, tearing out the kitchen cabinets and counters and replacing them with granite and top of the line cabinets is not something you can expect to see your money come back on. But doing a kitchen rehab economically through the stock items at your local box box home improvement store can be done for a very good price that can see your return on investment come back to you in the sale.
The thing to keep in mind is, repair and replace with the net home buyer in mind, and not based on your specific tastes or what you feel looks the best.
Again, we saw a screenshot in the previous section that shows how homes that are painted and clean, can sell fast and for full price…
We know that home buyers love seeing good photos of a home. Plus, when you’re defending your equity, professional photos should be guaranteed. Well, when you list with me, pro photos are guaranteed, but surprisingly, a lot of Realtors still don’t practice, nor hire, profession photography for thier listings.
Photos grab buyers attention online, and “Nice Photos means Nice House!” Here is an example of some of my best photos that I took in recent years…
Photos rule over all other media
I may have been the first broker in the Capital Region to purchase a 3-D camera which can produce a three dimensional floor plan in which home buyers can navigate. This camera and it’s corresponding software was able to allow home buyers a chance to “walk through” a home before going to see it in person. But I soon realized that this shiny new toy wasn’t necessary in order to sell a home, and was nothing more than a fancy gadget to show off and try to convince home sellers it mattered.
By now, many firms use 3-D models to attach to thier listings, except home buyers just don’t care. What home buyers value most can bee seen in the graphic below, and that is Photos and Details. I luckily was able to sell my 3-D camera before prices in that space bottomed out, and what I have taught you here so far is proof that fancy cameras and software just don’t matter.
When a home is in high demand, lines up the 5 Key Factors and has immerse details and professional photos attached to it, it will sell for the most money, often times, with multiple bidders fighting over it. 3-D models, videos, neighborhood 101’s and even Open Houses don’t matter as much to home buyers as does great photos and plenty of details. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) annual report has proven what I know already to be true. Buyers are captivated by great photos, they stick around for all the details, and after that, they just want to get inside, in person!
3) Marketing + Advertising
By this time, you’ve come a long way. You have prepared the home so it can be presented in the best way, and since you have, I was able to shoot professional photos of the property to make sure we grab home buyers attention online.
Now it’s time to market and advertise your property. Believe it or not, there are more ways to do this than simply just throwing it on the Multiple Listing Service and sitting back to wait for showings. Not only that, I will dispel some common myths about the MLS and how agents use the MLS to tout how they “market your home.”
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
The Multiple Listing Service has long been the go-to option for sharing and marketing real estate for sale. What many folks consider to be “the market”, it’s important to realize that the MLS is simply a platform that houses and syndicates properties for sale and even for lease.
When I use the word platform, I am basically talking about a website. When you think of the popular “platforms” of our time, you can see how the MLS is no different. For example, websites like Facebook, Twitter, and even Zillow are all examples of platforms. A website such as this one you’re reading on is considering a platform.
Platforms, i.e. websites, are designed and built for many different purposes. Facebook is a way to keep in touch with friends and family, view photos, videos, and even follow your favorite brands. In comparison, the MLS is a software platform that allows members (real estate agents and brokers) to submit home listings into the database, which can be shared and seen by all other members (agents and brokers) who subscribe.
The MLS is actually defined as a cooperation agreement among real estate broker and agents, who agree to bring buyers and sellers together in exchange for a fee (commission). When you realize the true deification of the MLS and it’s purpose, you realize that it’s simply one platform and one avenue to market a piece of real estate in our current tech connected world.
Zillow is also a platform, and one that mimics the MLS very similarly. Homes that are for sale on Zillow are mostly syndicated from the local MLS platforms, but also have the option for home owners to list their home “By Owner”.
Zillow has also spent the last decade populating their website with every property in North America by way of pulling data from local county tax records. This creates a page for every property in America even if it isn’t actually for sale.
When it comes to selling your home in the Capital Region, the local MLS based out of Albany NY is called the Global Multiple Listing Service. This service is provided by the Greater Capital Region Association of Realtors which manages broker and agent memberships and subscriptions to this platform.
Thus, no matter which agent you choose to list your home with, nearly every local agent can submit your home into the local Multiple Listin Service.
The Global MLS out of Albany is capable of reaching licensed real estate agents who are based in the following counties: Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Columbia, Green, Montgomery, Schoharie, Warren and Washington.
It’s important to understand that the word “marketing” may arguably be the most thrown around world in the industry. A common marketing ploy the industry likes to use is touting that your home will be seen on 100 or even 1,000 websites.
While this isn’t necessary untrue, it’s important to note that this happens automatically when submitting a home on the local MLS, and not done by the agents efforts. The MLS and third party companies had long ago agreed to syndicate listings by way of IDX, known as, Internet Data Exchange.
This means, as soon as I hit the Submit button on your listing, the listing information and photos automatically get populated on sites like Zillow, Trulia ,and Realtor.com. The listing is also syndicated to all local brokerage firm sites who have a search feature built into their site.
Further, understanding home buyers and their behavior is crucial towards realizing that, while your home is on 1,000 websites, it doesn’t mean home buyers actually visit those sites to search homes for sale. Your main concern, and my main point here, is that your home will be guaranteed to be on the main sites that buyers visit the most. Those being the “Big 3” of Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com.
Performance and analytics
What’s great about Zillow is the fact that it can tell us how the listing is performing versus other similar homes on the market. While the analytics are not all that in depth, It still gives us an idea of how many home shippers saved the home for easy reference, and how many views and overall “popularity” the listing has on Zillow.
This is just one example of many bit of information we can use to monitor the homes performance on the market. Truth be told, price is not always the reason why a home is getting a lot of views. Pictures, in my experience and opinion, are the main reason for a homes popularity on Zillow, that and of course other factors such as the demand in the area the home is listed in.
Facebook Ads + Open House
Facebook is a great platform to use since a lot of home buyers, specifically between the ages of 25 and 45 years old, spend time on this popular platform. While I personally am not a fan of social media networks, I still understand their importance when it comes to business, and my experience with running Facebook ads for real estate has been a positive one to say the least.
Whats great about Facebook is, not only can we reach a lot of potential home buyers for a good price, but it can also be used as a great way to generate interests before we go on the market. Getting great photos of the home is key, as the Facebook ads that I run are built around the photos of the home. Its a great platform to use when advertising the initial listing of a property, to announce an open house and get a lot physical foot traffic to the door.
I have been able to generate many showings, and even offers on property’s simply by way of running Facebook ads, even before they have hit the MLS. This is why sticking to just the MLS when listing your home is a crucial mistake that most agents make. Most agents just aren’t willing to spend their own ad dollars to market your home because they rely on the MLS to do it for them.
Back end proof and analytics
Facebook Ads, or any post for that matter, comes with in-depth analytics to tell us how a post or ad is performing. The post itself can tell us how many photo views we have had, how many folks are reading the text, and how many clicks to a website, if applicable, we have had from the post itself.
Not all Facebook ads and posts require a website to land on, although its recommended in an effort to show off more photos and details of the home. Nevertheless, Facebook Ads can allow us to capture buyer inquires directly inside the platform as opposed to buyers having to click through to a website, this leaving Facebook, which is something they are not always looking to do.
When I list a home for sale, I always first post it on the brokerage Facebook page, which is Free, just to announce a new listing. This will get plenty of shares, views and create overall “social chatter” to get your home out to the public. I then go into the back end of Facebook for Business and create advertisement from scratch, which has the power to target the exact home buyer we are looking for.
If you’re selling a town-home or a condo, we may be looking for a single person, or a couple, since a two bedroom home such as a condo cannot accommodate a big family. On the other hand, if you’re selling a 4 bedroom home, we are looking for, presumable, a growing family, with children, thus, Facebook advertising lets us choose form an array of demographic targeting options to put your home in front of the most likely type of home buyers for your home.
In this day and age, its no secret that Facebook and Google know what we like, and how we think, and what we are shopping for. As scary as all that sounds, the benefit as a home seller means, we can use these platforms and thier database of demographic info to target home buyers in more ways that just simply throwing it onto the MLS
Better for intent and added showings
Whats great about Google Ads over Facebook is simply intent. For example, on Facebook, you may just be scrolling along, looking at pictures and posts from your friends, family, or even favorite sports team or celebrity. Then, an advertisement is sandwiched between the post you actually care about, which to some can seem like an intrusion rather than a helpful ad.
While Facebook, as mentioned, doesn’t have demographic categories to target, such as “first time home buyer”, thier options are limited when it comes to narrowing down folks whom are seriously looking for a home like yours.
With Google, intent changes all that. This is because instead of showing an ad on someones social feed, which can be an interruption, Google Ads allows you to show an advertising to only those people searching for real estate specialty in your town.
For example, if you own a home in Latham, NY that you wish to sell, there are a number of home buyers who are searching Google for homes in Latham which are for sale. So with Google ads, we can literally show an advertising, just for your home in Latham, whenever a potential home buyer visits Google.com and searched “Homes for sale in Latham NY”
When the results load, the first 1 to 4 results are usually advertisement, and these ads get plenty of traffic when it comes to potential home buyers looking in your area.
Whats great about Google, as I’ve said is, that we can target home buyers looking for a home in your town, or even school district, whereas with Facebook, we don’t have any geographic targeting options to choose from. This makes Google Ads an overlooked option for Realtors who wish to market a single property home for sale.
Analytics and Feedback
As with other platforms like Facebook, Google Ads tells us how an ad is performing and how many visits to the website the ad is generating. Below you can see an example of how well one of my ads performed for a lake homes for sale on Galway Lake. It has generated 100’s of clicks which resulted in half a dozen physical showings in just a matter of weeks. All this without an MLS listing.
MLS stats (overlooked)
The MLS offers a quick snippet into how your home sale is performing, and its an overlooked feature that can shed some light onto the popularity of a listing. The MLS property statistics can show us the number of views an MLS listing has had, not only from other Realtors whom are members of the MLS, but also from their home buying clients by way of email opens.
Feedback and reports
Feedback is the most common question home sellers ask after a home has been shown. Personally, while I understand the anxiety and curiosity of home sellers who wish to know what others think of their home, the general idea of feedback is nothing more than subjective based on the needs and wants of the buyers whom see your home.
Your home could be perfect in every way, inside and out, and some home buyers will not be interested in the home. But other factors in and around a home can be emphasized as an issue for home buyers based on feedback and reports for ShowingTime, the software that we use to schedule viewings on properties and collect feedback.
In some cases, I have sense that the layout of the lot itself is a drawback, with home buyers wishing there was more yard to enjoy, or a different layout of the lot all together. There isn’t a whole lot that a home seller can do with the feedback. It’s not as if you extend your property lines or hire a crew to graze your yard better.
When you face obstacles like this which you cannot do much about, it simply comes down to finding the right person who doesn’t see the yard as a drawback, and or a combination of that plus an attractive price that leaves buyers willing to live with a feature of your property that is less desirable.
ShowingTime is nonetheless a great tool we use to verify serious licensed Realtors and their buyers are the only ones with access to you home, and a great place to collect feedback and data from showing which can help you make adjust on your homes sale.
What if your home hasn’t sold?
All homes, for the most part, should be sold in under 90 days, this being the upper end of the spectrum. It’s one of my beliefs, based on data and experience, so much so that I don’t have my selling clients sign an agreement for over 90 days. But you would be surprised on how many homes fail to sell each year, even in a healthy market. The failure of a home selling comes down to just a few reasons to be honest. Let’s take a look at these three reasons.
Overpriced due to agent advisement
Some sellers put their trust in thier agent and believe that he or she knows what they are doing when it comes to pricing and strategy, but as I’ve said many times, agents are trained to win business, and not trained on developing a pricing strategy. Even the most recognizable agents and brokerage brands lack a pricing strategy. Some do nothing more than average three sales nearby and throw a price out there to see what sticks.
Often times, these prices are too low, and while selling fast means less stress, you risk losing tens of thousands of dollars in the sale. That’s equity you’ve earned, and when you add up your equity lost, plus commission fees, you could lost a whole lot of money ion the sale.
When I see sellers sitting on the market for 6 to 12 months, I cringe. Lack of proper pricing strategy is the reason why long term contracts exist.
Overpriced due to seller beliefs.
Some home owners just cannot get off of that high price they have requested their agent to attached to the listing. When a home sits for 120+ days, its 99% of the time a pricing issues. Most listings agents have a hard time with using straight talk worth to the sellers. They figure that since they have them in a 12 month agreement, eventually, they will get a price drop and make a sale. But if the seller wont budge, it will most likely become a listings that will head to the graveyard of other expired home listings.
The number one question home buyers ask when they see a home sitting on the market for months on end is: “Whats wrong with that house”. Unfortunately, home buyers have been watching too many HGTV programs and assume that a home that hasn’t sold is a money pit with major issues. While some homes do have major issues, they are quite rare, and 99% of the time, a home that doesn’t sell is due to being overpriced. Other than foreclosures, short sales or auction “flip” homes, most properties that fail to sell aren’t riddled with major issues.
Negotiating an offer.
I’ve often said that negotiations don’t truly exist in real estate. With two agents involved, representing different interests, how could negotiations actually exist? The only aspect of negotiations that exist in real estate is basically in the form of bluffing. As soon as a home buyer shows interest in a home, a lot of agents like to say there is other interest to initiate a scarcity mind set with the fear of missing out.
Personally, as a listing agent, I do not use this tactic. First and foremost, if your home is in a high demand area, or subsequently priced accordingly for an offer, bluffing is not necessary in order to entice a home buyer to jump. Furthermore, most consumers and buyers agents are aware of this tactic, as it is as old of a tactic as salesmanship is itself. I don’t advise attempting to manipulate the mind of home buyers, and as a home buyers representative myself, I have told many of my home buying clients that when we hear this statement made by the listing agent, there is a 50% chance it is untrue.
Who has the upper hand? Positioning?
Adding to this point about negotiation, is the simple concept of understanding positioning. When a home is located in a high demand market, with the 5 Key Factors aligned, home buyers will be committing to purchase the home. We wont need to bluff since the home is positioned in favor of you as the home seller. This all goes back to the previous section of understanding he immediate market at play.
I once represented a home buyer in a hill towns of Albany County, where less than 50 homes sold per year. It was the dead of winter, and the market was not as strong (in 2015) as it has been in 2017 and 2018. Of course, being the first interested home buyer to come along in some time, the listing agent gave us the old “there may be another offer coming in”. Again, myself and my buyer was aware that this was an attempt to create scarcity and get my buyer to act. But buyers aren’t that naive, and this isn’t how people buy real estate.
But there is more to fielding offers than getting a buyer to offer the best price, let alone at all. Terms and details of the contract are usually equally as important to both sides of the transaction.
For example/ What loan type is the buyer using? FHA loans are government insured and come with stricter home buying standards. This means a bank appraiser on an FHA loan could stop the deal in its tracks due to chipped paint, lack of hand railings, failed well water test and other regulated issues.
If we receive two offers on your home, one being FHA and the other buyer is a 20% down Conventional Loan, then, I don’t have to tell you what the more attractive offer is, even if the conventional loans offers a little bit less than the FHA loan.
Time frames are important to both home buyers and sellers. How quickly will the deal move? Some buyers try to stretch out the transaction, pushing back dates for inspections and appraisals. As the seller, unless you’re trying to buy a home, or are laid back with the process, chance are, you don’t want things to drag on for too long. Coming to terms with time frames are important to keep the process moving at a good pace towards a closing.
As a home seller, its important to know that home buyers can legally back out of a deal with a home inspection finding that will cost more than $1500 to repair. Other issues such as high radon, failed water or septic test, and other major concerns, will result in a deal being halted and issues being left to fix. This is why repeating your home for sale before you list is crucial towards have a smooth transaction.
I once listed a property where, as the fourth agent to be interview, was the only agent who asked to access the attic space. When I climbed up through the attic hatch and turned on my flashlight, I was welcomed with black mold throughout the space. The previous agents did not want to see the attic, and this would have disrupted this home sellers deal going forward. Luckily we found the issue and took care of it before the listing, and everything went smoothly.
Using my strategic pricing approach is crucial since appraisers have the final say on what a home is worth. The buyers bank will order an appraiser to asses the homes value to make sure the home is worth what the home buyer wants to borrow on it. If an appraiser comes us short, we must renegotiate with the buyer or risk losing the deal all together.
Clear to close
Negotiating terms and price, and getting through the inspection and appraisal, are the four crucial steps towards a closing. If you have prepared your home before it goes on the market, then we should get through the process with no issues. But while it can be easy, things can always get stressful at times, especially if you have to sell your home and then buy a new one locally. To do this simultaneously may seem like a tough task, but it can be rather easy. Let’s look at how I can make that easier on you.
Buying and Selling a home
Understand your market(s)
This is the most crucial step into winning with your real estate goals, even if you’re not trying to juggle two transactions.
Where is your home located? Is it in a top demand market like Latham? Not only that, where are you planning on buying your next home. Even staying in Latham means tough competition. But other markets in our region boast the same, if not more buyer demand as Latham would.
Knowing what to expect with your home sale and new home purchase, starts with understanding the market.
Everything in real estate comes down to price. You want to get the most money for your home sale, but overpricing could lead to becoming stagnate on the market.
Being able to work with an agent who deals with the market statistics and understands trends, will help guarantee your double transaction goes smoothly.
Timing as well as price, goes into this conversation, since in Upstate NY, “real estate season” starts to warm up in March, and continues through May and even June.
While this means you’ll have the most home buyers in the market, and the most choices of homes to buy after you sell, it obviously means buyer competition will be fierce.
And if you’re in a market like Latham, and want to stay there, you’ll only have about 60 new homes entering the market within a three month frame, that you’ll be able to choose from.
Understand your position
This goes hand in hand with understanding your markets. If you are buying a home, in a high demand market, you will most likely find yourself competing with multiple buyers. And when multiple offers are presented to a home seller, they care just as much about the terms of the offer as they do about the price.
Let’s pretend there is only one other competing offer on a home you’re going after. Your offer is contingent upon getting through the sale process with a home buyer, and the other offer is a couple that is renting month to month, with no home to sell.
Let’s also pretend you’re both using the same bank, with the same loan conditions, same credit scores, and you’re both offering the same amount of money on the house with the same down payment.
What do you think is more attractive to a home seller? 9 times out of 10, it’s the offer from the renters who have no contingencies.
Price high then shop or price aggressively while you shop?
This is assuming you cannot hold two mortgages. If you can, you’re in a great position. I have seen it happen, although it is rare, it’s up to you to determine if it’s possible for you.
I hate to give advice such as pricing your home high on purpose, but some folks are picky when it comes to home buying, and some home sellers will decide to wait a year if they cannot find what they want.
The best chance to sell your home will be within the first two to four weeks on the market. If your price is too high from the start, you’ll most likely miss out on a strong buyer all together. You’ll have to bank on a price reduction to seduce the remaining buyers in the market.
If you’re selling and buying in Latham, I suggest you shop and make a strong offer on a home, in conjunction with getting your home to hit the market with a competitive price.
Understanding what your home has going for it, as well as the market it’s located, means being able to price it to sell fast, but for top dollar, when you work with an agent who understands the trends on pricing and home value attributes.
I won’t lie, selling then buying needs to be orchestrated in an almost perfect fashion to be sure the process is seamless, stress free, and financially beneficial for you in the end.
Wrapping it all up
Selling your home in 2019 can be fast and easy when you follow the four pillars, and all the building blocks within the pillars, to position your home to sell fast and for the most money. As you can see, there is a lot of information and detail that goes into selling a home, but if you stick with me, I guarantee you that we can, together, defend your equity to sell for top dollar.
To get in touch with me, you can reach me via email or phone.
You can email me at: email@example.com
Or call my cell at 518-951-9951
Thank you for reading