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Home Sellers Guide

 
   
If you are thinking of selling your home, chances are you're caught up in a mass of emotions. You may be looking forward to moving up to a new home or facing the uncertainty of whether you’ll get as much out of your house as you want. You may be reluctant to leave your memories behind or eager to move into a less demanding house. Remember, we are here to help you with any of your needs. Call or e-mail us today!   
   
Getting Your House Ready to Sell 
   
Introduction - Emotion vs. Reason
   
When conversing with real estate agents, you will often find that when they talk to you about buying real estate, they will refer to your purchase as a "home." Yet if you are selling property, they will often refer to it as a "house." There is a reason for this. Buying real estate is often an emotional decision, but when selling real estate you need to remove emotion from the equation.

You need to think of your house as a marketable commodity. Property. Real estate. Your goal is to get others to see it as their potential home, not yours. If you do not consciously make this decision, you can inadvertently create a situation where it takes longer to sell your property.
   
De-personalize the House

The first step in getting your home ready to sell is to "de-personalize" it.
   
The reason you want to "de-personalize" your home is because you want buyers to view it as their potential home. When a potential homebuyer sees your family photos hanging on the wall, refrigerator or up and down the hall way, it puts your own brand on the home and makes it harder for them to imagine it as their home. Therefore, put away family photos, sports trophies, collectible items, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. Put them in a box. Rent a storage area for a few months and put the box in the storage unit.
   
Do not just put the box in the attic, basement, garage or a closet. Part of preparing a house for sale is to remove "clutter," and that is the next step in preparing your house for sale.
   
Removing Clutter, Even Though You May Not Think of it as Clutter

This is the hardest thing for most people to do because they are emotionally attached to everything in the house. After years of living in the same home, clutter collects in such a way that may not be evident to the homeowner. However, it does affect the way buyers see the home, even if you do not realize it. Clutter collects on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garages, attics, garages and basements.

Take a step back and pretend you are a buyer. Let a friend help point out areas of clutter, as long as you can accept their views without getting defensive. Let your agent help you, too.
   
Kitchen Clutter

The kitchen is a good place to start removing clutter, because it is an easy place to start. First, get everything off the counters. Everything. Even the toaster. Put the toaster in a cabinet and take it out when you use it. Find a place where you can store everything in cabinets and drawers. Of course, you may notice that you do not have cabinet space to put everything. Clean them out. The dishes, pots and pans that rarely get used? Put them in a box and put that box in storage, too.

You see, some homebuyers will open all your cabinets and drawers, especially in the kitchen. They want to be sure there is enough room for their "stuff." If your kitchen cabinets, pantries, and drawers look jammed full, it sends a negative message to the buyer and does not promote an image of plentiful storage space. The best way to do that is to have as much "empty space" as possible
   
For that reason, if you have a "junk drawer," get rid of the junk. If you have a rarely used crock pot, put it in storage. Do this with every cabinet and drawer. Create open space.
   
If you have a large amount of foodstuffs crammed into the shelves or pantry, begin using them – especially canned goods. Canned goods are heavy and you don’t want to be lugging them to a new house, anyway – or paying a mover to do so. Let what you have on the shelves determine your menus and use up as much as you can.
   
Beneath the sink is very critical, too. Make sure the area beneath the sink is as empty as possible, removing all extra cleaning supplies. You should scrub the area down as well, and determine if there are any tell-tale signs of water leaks that may cause a homebuyer to hesitate in buying your home. 

Closet Clutter
   
Closets are great for accumulating clutter, though you may not think of it as clutter. We are talking about extra clothes and shoes – things you rarely wear but cannot bear to be without. Do without these items for a couple of months by putting them in a box, because these items can make your closets look "crammed full." Sometimes there are shoeboxes full of "stuff" or other accumulated personal items, too.
   
Furniture Clutter
   
Many people have too much furniture in certain rooms – not too much for your own personal living needs – but too much to give the illusion of space that a homebuyer would like to see. General rule of thumb, “if you aren’t using it, store it!” Be particularly conscientious about blocking path ways with lounge chairs or furniture. Open your rooms up and create space by removing excess or unused furniture. Be ruthless!
   
Storage Area Clutter

Basements, garages, attics, and sheds accumulate not only clutter, but junk. These areas should be as empty as possible so that buyers can imagine what they would do with the space. Remove anything that is not essential and take it to the storage area.
   
Or have a garage sale. (We have several ebay “drop shops,” in town, so you may want to consider taking your excess there to see if you can sell it.)
   
Fixing Up the House Interior

Plumbing and Fixtures
   
All your sink fixtures should look shiny and new. If this cannot be accomplished by cleaning, buy new ones where needed. If you don’t buy something fancy, this can be accomplished inexpensively and they are fairly easy to install. Make sure all the hot and cold water knobs are easy to turn and that the faucets do not leak. If they do, replace the washers. It is not difficult at all.

Check to make sure you have good water pressure and that there are no stains on any of the porcelain. If you have a difficult stain to remove, one trick is to hire a professional cleaning person to go through and clean your home on a one-time basis. They seem to be wonderful at making stains go away.
   
Ceilings, Walls and Painting
   
Check all the ceilings for water stains. Sometimes old leaks leave stains, even after you have repaired the leak. Of course, if you do have a leak, you will have to get it repaired, whether it is a plumbing problem or the roof leaks.
   
You should do the same for walls, looking for not only stains, but also areas where dirt has accumulated and you just may not have noticed. Plus, you may have an outdated color scheme.
   
Painting can be your best investment when selling your home. It is not a very expensive operation and often you can do it yourself. Do not choose colors based on your own preferences, but based on what would appeal to the widest possible number of buyers. You should almost always choose an off-white color because white helps your rooms appear bright and spacious.
   
Carpet and Flooring
   
Unless your carpet appears old and worn, or it is definitely an outdated style or color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good, professional carpet cleaner. If you do choose to replace it, do so with something inexpensive in a fairly neutral color.

Repair or replace broken floor tiles, but do not spend a lot of money on anything. Remember, you are not fixing up the place for yourself. You want to move. Your goal is simply to have as few negative impressions upon those who may want to purchase your property.
   
Windows and Doors
   
Check all of your windows to make sure they open and close easily. If not, a spray of WD40 often helps. Make sure there are no cracked or broken windowpanes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home.
   
Do the same things with the doors – make sure they open and close properly, without creaking. If they do, a shot of WD40 on the hinges usually makes the creak go away. Be sure the doorknobs turn easily, and that they are cleaned and polished to look sharp. As buyers go from room to room, someone opens each door and you want to do everything necessary to create a positive impression!
   
Odor Control
   
For those who smoke, you might want to minimize smoking indoors while trying to sell your home. You could also purchase an ozone spray that helps to remove odors without creating a masking odor. 75% of the buying public does not smoke, now-a-days. A majority do not want their children to be exposed to second hand smoke. The times have changed dramatically in the past ten years, today you have buyers that refuse to even look at a house that has smokers.
   
Pets of all kinds create odors that you may have become used to, but are immediately noticeable to those with more finely tuned olfactory senses. For those with cats, be sure to empty kitty litter boxes daily. There are also products that you can sprinkle in a layer below the kitty litter that helps to control odor. For those with dogs, keep the dog outdoors as much as possible. You might also try sprinkling carpet freshener on the carpet on a periodic basis.The buyer, of course, is concern that the pet odors won’t leave when you do. Non-pet owners are almost as stringent as non-smokers. They won’t buy a house that has a pet smell or odor that lingers throughout the house. If you can’t address it, consider a professional carpet cleaning service.
   
Costs of Repairs
   
Don’t do anything expensive, such as remodeling. If possible, use savings to pay for any repairs and improvements – do not go charging up credit cards or obtaining new loans. Remember that part of selling a house is also preparing to buy your next home. You do not want to do anything that will affect your credit scores or hurt your ability to qualify for your next mortgage.

Fixing Up Outside the House

Most real estate advice tells you to work on the outside of the house first, but unless there is a major project involved, we believe it is best to do it last. There are two main reasons for this. First, the first steps in preparing the interior of the house are easier. They also help develop the proper mind set required for selling - beginning to think of your "home" as a marketable commodity. Second, the exterior is the most important. A homebuyer’s first impression is based on his or her view of the house from their car.
   
So take a walk across the street and take a good look at your house. Look at nearby houses, too, and see how yours compares.
   
Landscaping

Is your landscaping at least average for the neighborhood? If it is not, buy a few bushes and plant them. Do not put in trees. Mature trees are expensive, and you will not get back your investment. Also, immature trees do not really add much to the appearance value of the home.
   
If you have an area for flowers, buy mature colorful flowers and plant them. They add a splash of vibrancy and color, creating a favorable first impression. It won’t be worth your time and money to buy bulbs or seeds and plant them. They will not mature fast enough to create the desired effect and you certainly don’t want a patch of brown earth for homebuyers to view.
   
Your lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, well watered, and free of brown spots. If there are problems with your lawn, you should probably take care of them before working on the inside of your home. This is because certain areas may need re-soding, and you want to give it a chance to grow so that re-sod areas are not immediately apparent. Plus, you might want to give fertilizer enough time to be effective.
   
Always rake up loose leaves and grass cuttings.
   
House Exterior
   
The big decision is whether to paint or not to paint. When you look at your house from across the street, does it look tired and faded? If so, a paint job may be in order. It is often a very good investment and really spruces up the appearance of a house, adding dollars to offers from potential homebuyers.
   
When choosing a color, it should not be something too brash and unusual, but a color that fits well in your neighborhood. Of course, the color also depends on the style of your house, too. For some reason, different shades of yellow seem to elicit the best response in homebuyers, whether it is in the trim or the basic color of the house.
   
As for the roof, if you know your house has an old leaky roof, replace it. If you do not replace a leaky roof, you are going to have to disclose it and the buyer will want a new roof, anyway. Otherwise, wait and see what the home inspector says. Why spend money unnecessarily?
   
The Back Yard
   
The back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or hot tub, keep it freshly maintained and constantly cleaned. For those that have dogs, be sure to constantly keep the area clear of "debris." If you have swing sets or anything elaborate for your kids, it probably makes more sense to remove them than to leave them in place unless your kids still use them. They take up room, and you want your back yard to appear as spacious as possible, especially in newer homes where the yards are not as large.    

The Front Door & Entryway
   
The front door should be especially sharp, since it is the entryway into the house. Polish the door fixture so it gleams. If the door needs refinishing or repainting, make sure to get that done.
   
If you have a cute little plaque or shingle with your family name on it, remove it. Even if it is just on the mailbox. You can always put it up again once you move. Get a new plush door mat, too. This is something else you can take with you once you move.
   
Make sure the lock works easily and the key fits properly. When a homebuyer comes to visit your home, the agent uses the key from the lock box to unlock the door. If there is trouble working the lock while everyone else stands around twiddling their thumbs, this sends a negative first impression to prospective homebuyers.
   
When Your Selling Price is too High, Beware! 
   
Meeting With Realtors
   
So you’ve decided to sell your home and have a fairly good idea of what you think it is worth. Being a sensible home seller, you schedule appointments with several local real estate agents. Each Realtor comes prepared with a "Competitive Market Analysis" and they each recommend a specific sales price.
   
Amazingly, a couple of the Realtors have come up with prices that are lower than you expected. Although they back up their recommendations with recent sales data of similar homes, you remain convinced your house is worth more. When you interview the third agent’s figures, they are much more in line with your own anticipated value, or maybe even higher. Suddenly, you are a happy and excited home seller, already counting the money.
   
Which Realtor do you choose?  

If you’re like too many people, you pick Realtor number three. This is an agent who seems willing to listen to your input and your opinion of value, even though they know you have little to any experience in this area. This is an agent that appears to care about putting the most money in your pocket, but are they really? This is an agent that is willing to start out at your price and if you need to drop the price later, you can do that easily, right? After all, everyone else does it!
   
The truth is that you may have just met an agent engaging in a questionable sales practice called "buying a listing." He/she "bought" the listing by suggesting you might be able to get a higher sales price than the other agents recommended. Most likely, he/she is quite doubtful that your home will actually sell at that price. The intention from the beginning is to eventually talk you into lowering the price.
   
Why do agents "buy" listings? There are basically two reasons. A well-meaning and hard working agent can feel pressure from a homeowner who has an inflated perception of his home’s value. On the other hand, there are some agents who engage in this sales practice routinely. Are these agents really looking out for your "best interests," or their own? You have to be able to tell the difference.
   
It's revealing to study the RECENT SOLDS (listed under Au Glaize Listings). Notice the price that the houses came on the market, then contrast that with what they ended up selling for. In 65% of the sales there is a 10-20% disparity from the "LISTING PRICE" to the "SELLING PRICE." Why, so much you ask? In a majority of cases it's because the real estate agent allowed the seller to believe their house was worth more so they could get the sellers listing. It isn't hard to figure out which real estate companies engage in this deception. They list high and sell low a majority of their listings.

Unfortunately, sellers that fall victim to this game not only end up losing valuable time on market, but often end up selling for less. Their house sits out there for an unreasonable amount of time. The obvious conclusion that buyers make is,.. it must be overpriced or there's something wrong with it. Finally in desperation the seller realizes he was seduced by his/her own greed or was misguided by an unscrupulous real estate agent. It can be a very costly experience.
   
What Happens Behind the Scenes
   
Whichever the case, if you start out with too high a price on your home, you may have just added to your stress level, and selling a home is stressful enough in a tight market. There will be a lot of "behind the scenes" action taking place that you don’t know about.
   
Contrary to popular opinion, the listing agents’ job is primarily to market and promote your home to the hordes of other local agents who also work with homebuyers, dramatically increasing your personal sales force. As the sellers agent he/she is obligated to serve your “best interests,” over and above their own. During the first couple of weeks your home should be a flurry of activity with buyer’s agents showing your home so they can sell it to their clients.
   
If the price is right.
   
If you and your agent have overpriced, fewer buyers and agents will preview your home. After all, as Realtors, it is their job to know local market conditions and home values. If your house is priced dramatically above its' market value, why waste everybodies time? Their time is better spent previewing homes that are priced realistically and taking their buyers through these homes.
   

(How do you know your house is overpriced? If it's been on the market for an extended period of time and no one seems interested in looking at it, let alone shows up for an Open House it's obviously overpriced!)

Types of Listing Contracts 
   
There are several different types of listing contracts, but very few of them are used. The "Exclusive Right to Sell" is the most common, but there is the "open listing," the "exclusive agency listing," and the "one-time show."
   
Open Listing
   
The "open listing" is mostly used by people trying to sell their home by owner who are also willing to work with real estate agents. Basically, it gives a real estate agent the right to bring buyers around to view your home. If their client buys your home, the agent earns a service fee. There is nothing exclusive about an open listing and a home seller can give out such listings to every agent who comes around.

For that reason, no agent is going to market your home or put it in the Multiple Listing Service. If your home fits the criteria for one of their clients, and it is convenient, they may be willing to show it to their client. That is all an "open listing" is good for.
   
"One-Time" Showing
   
A "one-time showing" is similar to an open listing in many respects, as it is most often used by real estate agents who are showing a FSBO (for sale by owner) to one of their clients. The home seller signs the agreement, which identifies the potential buyer and guarantees the agent a service fee should that buyer purchase the home. In more archaic terms, it's a "gentlemans agreement," (which unfortunately is a term seldom heard of anymore.) 
   
As with an open listing, agents will not be spending money on marketing your home and it will not be placed in the Multiple Listing System.
   
Exclusive Agency Listing

This is not a popular type of listing agreement. The reason is that there is not much incentive for agents to spend money marketing your home. If you come up with your own buyer, they have spent money they cannot earn back through the real estate service fee. Plus, it is too easy for a greedy buyer to go around the agent and negotiate directly with the seller.


An "exclusive agency" listing allows an agent to list and market your home, guaranteeing them a service fee if the house sells through any real estate agent or company. It also allows sellers to seek out buyers on their own.
   
If you find an agent willing to accept such a listing, do not expect too much from them. They will probably just place it in the Multiple Listing Service and sit around to see if something happens. A good agent would never accept such a listing, and you probably want a good agent.
   
"Exclusive Right to Sell"  Listing

An "exclusive right to sell" listing allows the brokerage/agent to list and market your home, guaranteeing them a service fee if the house sells through any real estate agent or company.  This type of listing undoubtedly serves the sellers "best interests," by insuring that "time, money and attention" are going to be spent on their propertry.

Now the seller has dramatically increased the incentive for the brokerage/agent to get out and market, promote and advertise their property. Keep in mind, to launch an adequate and successful campaign to sell your property the brokerage has to bare an inordinate amount of expense early in the listing period on the "gamble" that you're house is competitively priced and will sell.

In a tight real estate market that is no small feat. Advertising in any media is terribly expensive. Marketing material, promotional information, internet placement, mailings, time spent in servicing and showing the listing often can easily run into the thousands of dollars over time.

The public has a very distorted perception of how much money real estate agents actually make. They need to stop for a moment and take into consideration the fact it is a very expensive profession to be engaged in for most agents. The typical agent spends thousands of dollars each year, in professional and MLS dues, continuing education courses (required to maintain their license), office expenses, vehicle maintenance and fuel, plus they don't get a paycheck every Friday like most people who go to work everyday and expect to get paid for every minute they work. The real estate agent only gets paid when they successfully sell the property.

How many of you would venture out there day after day, showing properties or doing the endless activities that go with servicing the public and trying to make the sale without any promise of getting paid? Realtors do it every day. On average they work 45-60+ hours a week, take calls and show houses all hours of the day and night, work most weekends to make on average about $12-$28,500 a year depending on their experience, full or part time status and number of years in the profession.

Don't forget as independent and small business operators they have to pay their own; health insurance, social security, have no retirement income, let alone one that is matched by any employer. Plus all of their operating costs and expenses are subtracted from their income.

How many of you would be willing to take on the expense of selling a strangers property and be willing to subsidize the cost up front on the gamble that all of your time and expense would eventually be recovered, and then be willing to pay 55% of your remaining profit in taxes?

An exclusive right to sell listing is the only way a brokerage and agent knows they will have a "chance" to recover some of their costs and hopefully be able to sell the property.

Details of a Listing Contract 
   
Obviously the name of the seller and the property address will be included in the listing contract. There are many other things that are included, too, and you should be aware of them.
   
Price and Terms of Sale

When setting the terms of sale, the main thing you are concerned with is the price. You should have a basic idea of what your home is worth by keeping track of other sales in the neighborhood. Plus, you have probably interviewed several real estate agents and they have given you their own ideas. Exercise great care in determining your asking price, making sure not to set it too high or too low.
   
In addition to the price, you will disclose what personal property, if any, goes with the house when you sell it. Personal property is anything that is not attached or fixed to the home, such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, and so on.   

There may be some item that is considered "real property" that you do not intend to include in the sale. Real property is anything that is attached to the home. For example, you may have a chandelier that has been in your family for generations and you take it from home to home when you move. Since the chandelier is attached to the house, it is considered "real property" and a reasonable buyer would normally expect it to go with the house. This won’t be a problem if you switch it out with a replacement before you list your property. Or you may prefer to have it “reserved” by your agent and mark it as reserved, with the full knowledge that you intend to switch it out before you give up possession.
   
Real Estate Service Fee
   
There is a certain percentage that real estate agents expect to earn as a service fee. This service fee amount is a certain percent of the sales price. Or, some companies will charge a set fee for their services. However, just like anything else in real estate, this amount is negotiable. When completing the listing agreement, you and your agent will agree on the amount of the real estate service fee.

Multiple Listing Service

Your listing contract should specify whether or not the house will be listed with the local MLS (multiple listing service). It is definitely in your interest to have the house listed. This is because your sales force is automatically multiplied by however many agents are members of the local MLS. If your house is not listed, then you only have one agent working for you instead of many.
   
Agency Duties of a Listing Agent
   
The listing contract will specify that your agent is acting as a "seller’s agent." This means that, in the sale of your house, they are working for you and only you. However, there may be times when your listing agent has a client who wants to buy your home. For that reason, there is a little "wiggle room" in the listing contract. If your agent also represents the buyer, the listing contract should specify that they provide an additional disclosure that details their duties as a dual agent.
   
The contract also provides permission for your listing agent to act as an agent for others on other transactions. They can continue to list other properties, and represent buyers looking at other homes.
   
Listing Service Fee and Related Issues
   
Are Service Fees' Negotiable?
   
In some areas of the country there is a certain percentage that real estate agents expect to earn as a service fee. This service fee amount is a certain percent of the sales price. Or, some companies will charge a set fee for their services. However, just like anything else in real estate, this amount is negotiable. When completing the listing agreement, you and your agent will agree on the amount of the real estate fee.

How and When Listing Service Fees' are Earned
   
Your listing contract specifies a listing price. Your agent’s job is to bring a "ready, willing and able" buyer to present an offer. If you reach agreement with the buyer, then the agent has done his job and earned the service fee. Once the sale has closed, the real estate broker gets paid from the proceeds of the sale and splits his/her fee with the selling brokerage/agent.
   
If the buyer proves unable or unwilling to conclude the sale, the house is placed back on the market and the agent has to begin earning his or her service fee all over again.
   
However, if the seller backs out or does not accept an offer that meets the price and terms of the listing agreement, the listing broker has still earned the service fee. They may want to be paid, even though you did not actually sell your home. Therefore, it is very important to carefully consider every detail when completing your listing contract and accepting an offer to buy your property.
   
The Listing Agent - Preliminary Marketing of Your Home 
   
The "Real" Role of a Listing Agent
   
When you bought your home, you probably used the services of a real estate agent. You found that agent through a referral from a friend or family member, or through some sort of advertising or marketing. The agent helped you in many ways and eventually you found the house of your dreams, made an offer, closed the deal, and moved in.
   
For whatever reason, now it is time to sell your home and you need a real estate agent again. Many home sellers, especially those selling their first home, tend to think all agents are similar to the one that helped them buy their home.
   
Although real estate agents can (and do) work with both buyers and sellers, most tend to concentrate more on one than the other. They specialize. When you bought your home, you probably worked with a "selling agent" – an agent that works mostly with buyers. Because of the nature of real estate advertising and marketing, the public’s main image of the real estate profession is that of the selling agent
   
As a result, many homeowners expect their listing agent to do the same things that a selling agent does – find someone to buy their home. After all, they do the things you would expect if they were searching for buyers. A sign goes up in the front yard. Ads are placed in the local newspaper and real estate magazines. Your agent holds an open house on the weekend. Your house is proudly displayed on the Internet.
   
But this is only "surface" marketing. More important activity occurs behind the scenes. After the "for sale" sign goes up and flyers are printed, your agent’s main job is to market your home to other agents, not to homebuyers.
   
The "For Sale" Sign

It seems fairly obvious that when you put your house up for sale that your agent will put a "for sale" sign in the front yard. The sign will identify the agent’s company, the agent, and have a phone number so prospective buyers can call and get information.

Signs are great at generating phone calls, even if very few actually purchase the home they call about. However, you might be one of the lucky ones. For that reason, you should determine what happens when someone calls the number on the sign. Does a live person answer the phone or does the call go to a voicemail or recorder?

You want someone to answer the phone while the caller is "hot." When buyers call the number on the sign, the call should go to a live person who can answer questions immediately. A potential buyer may be on the street outside your home, placing the call using a cell phone.
   
Flyers and a Brochure Box

Your agent should prepare a flyer that displays a photo and provides details about your house. There should also be a phone number so buyers can contact your agent to get additional information. The flyers should be displayed in a prominent location in your home and also in a brochure box attached to the "for sale" sign.

The brochure box is convenient for those buyers who drive by and just happen to see the "for sale" sign in front of your house. It provides enough information so they can determine if they want to follow up with a phone call or inform their own agent they are interested in your house.

The Listing Agent - Marketing Your Home to Other Agents 

The Multiple Listing Service

Even before the sign is up and the brochures are ready, your agent should list your property with the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service). The MLS is a database of all the homes listed by local real estate agents who are members of the service, which is practically all of the local agents.

Important information about your property is listed here, from general data such as square footage and number of rooms, to such details as whether you have central air conditioning or hard wood flooring. There should also be a photo, and a short verbal description of what makes your house "special."

Agents search the database for homes that fit the price range and needs of their clients. They pay special attention to homes that have been recently placed on the market, which is one reason you get a lot of attention when your house is first listed.  

The main point about having your house listed in the MLS is that you expand your sales force by the number of local MLS members. Instead of having just one agent working for you, now you may have hundreds or more, depending on the size of your community. In this area a majority of local real estate agents are members of an seven county consortium of Realtors (called WRIST) which includes; Auglaize, Mercer, Shelby, Greene, Darke and part of Clark counties with over 345 combined real estate agents.

The listing agent’s main job to make sure that the other MLS members know about your house. This is accomplished through listing your house in the Multiple Listing Service, special mailings and advertising targeted toward other agents, not homebuyers.

The Listing Agent - Marketing Your Home to Homebuyers 

The Purpose of Advertising in General

Every home seller likes to be assured that their listing agent or the real estate company will run ads featuring their home. Newspaper ads could be large display ads with lots of listings or small classified ads featuring just your property. Ads may also appear in local real estate magazines and your listing will also show up on the Internet.

Of course the agents and companies will run ads featuring your house, but not for the reasons you expect.You see, the main job of advertising is not to sell your house directly. Advertising creates phone calls and some of those callers become clients of the agents answering the calls. This builds up a pool of homebuyers looking for property in general, all represented by selling agents. Multiply this by all the agents and companies who also advertise homes, and there is a large pool of homebuyers in the market at any given time – all of whom are represented by real estate agents.

The agents match up their clients with available homes, one of which may be yours. Then they show the homes to their clients, who eventually make an offer on one.  That is how your house gets sold. Ads create a pool of clients, one of which buys your home. Ads do not usually sell your house directly

Real Estate Office Advertising

As mentioned previously, advertising your home in newspapers rarely sells your home directly. More likely than not, the buyer who eventually purchases your home will have called on a totally different house. The same thing happens with buyers who call on your house. They will probably buy something else.

Or you could be one of the lucky ones – someone calling on your house may actually end up buying it.

You should also realize that when a company advertises the homes they have for sale, there is more than one objective. Sure, the real estate office wants to generate phone calls and sell houses, but the advertising also shows home sellers how effectively they market properties. This impresses not only you, but others who may be thinking of selling their home.

The advertising brings in more listings, which generate more ad calls, which produces more buyers….and that is how real estate advertising really works.

Individual Agent Advertising

Individual agents may advertise your home for the same reasons as companies do. They usually advertise in classified ads or in specialty magazines featuring houses available for sale.

As in other types of advertising, these ads rarely sell your home. Once again, the main goals of advertising are to accumulate homebuyers as clients, and to impress you and future home sellers with how well they market their listings. Some agents actually do sell their own listings, but not that often.It is much more productive and beneficial if your listing agent directs most of his or her marketing efforts toward other agents. Since this is "behind the scenes" marketing that you don’t actually see, it is often difficult for you to measure how hard the agent is working for you.

It is a mistake to measure your agent’s effectiveness solely by counting the number of newspaper and magazine ads featuring your property.

Neighborhood Announcements

When you first list your home many agents send "announcements" to all of the other houses in your neighborhood. This can be done in the form of postcards, a letter, or flyers left hanging on the front door. These are important because your neighbors might have friends who are looking to buy a house.

The announcements create "word of mouth" advertising, which is the best kind.

Open Houses

An open house when your property is first placed on the market can be very important, but not for the reasons most homeowners think. Just like with advertising, most visitors to open houses rarely buy the house they come to look at. They may not even know the price of your home when they stop by to visit – they probably just followed an "Open House" sign to your door.

An open house performs a similar function to the neighborhood announcements – it lets all of your neighbors know that your house is for sale, and it practically invites them to come "take a look." Being generally nosy, a lot of your neighbors will take advantage of the invitation.

And they may tell their friends about your house, creating more "word of mouth" advertising.

Open houses held after your home has been on the market awhile do not usually serve a useful purpose in selling your home. Most of the neighbors already know your house is for sale and open house visitors rarely buy the homes they visit.

However, if you really want more open houses, your listing agent may allow other agents to hold it open. Open houses attract prospective homebuyers and agents hope to convince some of those homebuyers to become their clients.

Showing the House to Potential Home Buyers 

Your house should always be available for show, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you. Let your listing agent put a lock box in a convenient place, to make it easy for other agents to show your home to homebuyers.

Most agents will call your listing agent and give you at least 24 hours notice before showing your property. If you refuse to let them show it at that time, they will just skip your house. Even if they come back another time, it will probably be with different buyers and you may have just lost a chance to sell your home

Why You Should Not Be Home

Homebuyers will feel like intruders if you are home when they visit, and they might not be as receptive toward viewing your home. Visit a friend, go to the “Y”, or take the kids to the local park. If you absolutely cannot leave, try to remain in an out of the way area of the house and do not move from room to room. Do not volunteer any information, but answer any questions the agent may ask.

Lighting, Fragrances, Pet Control and More

Lighting

When you know someone is coming by to tour your home, turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights – even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a "homey" impression when viewed from the street. During the daytime, turning on the lights prevents harsh shadows from sunlight and it brightens up any dim areas. Your house looks more homey and cheerful with the lights on. Plus you don’t want real estate agents wandering around looking for light switches and turning lights on when they could be accenting the positive attributes of your house.

Fragrances
Do not use scented sprays to prepare for visitors. It is too obvious and many people find the smells of those sprays offensive, not to mention that some may be allergic. If you want to have a pleasant aroma in your house, have a potpourri pot or something natural. Or turn on a stove burner for a moment and put a drop of vanilla extract on it. It will smell like you have been cooking.

Pet Control

If you have pets, make sure your listing agent puts a notice with your listing in the multiple listing service. The last thing you want is to have your pet running out the front door and getting lost. If you know someone is coming, it would be best to try to take the pets with you while the homebuyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, It is best to keep dogs in a penned area in the back yard. Make doubly sure you have picked up any piles of doo-doo before every showing. Last thing you want is for someone to track it throughout your house.

Try to keep indoor cats in a specific room when you expect visitors, and put a sign on the door. Most of the time, an indoor cat will hide when buyers come to view your property, but they may panic and try to escape.

The Kitchen Trash    

Especially if your kitchen trash can does not have a lid, make sure you empty it every time someone comes to look at your home – even if your trash can is kept under the kitchen sink. Remember that you want to send a positive image about every aspect of your home. Kitchen trash does not send a positive message. You may go through more plastic bags than usual, but it will be worth it.

Keeping the House Tidy and Neat

Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a home it is recommended that you develop the habit. Pick up papers, do not leave empty glasses in the family room or for that matter in the kitchen sink either, keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Try your best to have it look like a model home – a home with furniture but nobody really lives there.
   
A Mass of Emotions Reaction

If you are thinking of selling your home, chances are you're caught up in a mass of emotions. You may be looking forward to moving up to a new home or facing the uncertainty of a major move across country. You may be reluctant to leave your memories behind or eager to start new and exciting changes. Remember, we are here to help you with any of your needs.  Call or e-mail us today!    
   
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