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How to Sell Your House

Laurie Brill, 2020 President, Lorain County Association of Realtors®

Laurie Brill 2020 LoCAR President
As part of LoCAR's continuing effort to inform the general public of real estate issues, the following article was submitted to the Morning Journal, The Chronicle-Telegram and LorainCounty.com:

Selling your house can feel overwhelming in multiple ways. You're pulling up roots and leaving all that's familiar--and making a huge financial decision at the same time. Knowing how to sell your home takes some studying up. The more you know, the easier the big decisions will be.

Information is power, so we'll answer questions about how to sell your home.

Research the Market
Do some homework on what's going on with the housing market in your area. Go to a property listing site, like realtor.com, and see what homes are selling for in your neighborhood and how long they're sitting on the market before being sold.

Check mortgage rates. Note who some of the top REALTORS® are for the neighborhood or types of properties you're interested in. Ultimately, the best way to select a REALTOR®? Get recommendations from friends and family.

Hire a REALTOR®
Yes, you need a REALTOR®. Selling a house involves some strategy and know-how. A REALTOR knows how to sell your house. He or she will help you set a price, market it and make repairs, guiding you through the inspection, negotiating with buyers and helping you navigate the closing.

They'll also help you plan your timeline, and a really good REALTOR® will help you through the emotional parts of selling a home you've loved.

Find the one by interviewing the ones--at least three--you learned about through research and recommendations. Go with one who knows the specific ins and outs of your market/neighborhood, the lowdown that's not online.

The one who knows things like why that nice two-story down the block sold for $20,000 less than the asking price and why the house two neighborhoods over got $20,000 over. A knowledgeable agent will have information and experience.

Also, choose a REALTOR® whose communication closely matches yours. You need to consider these questions: Do you prefer email, text, phone? What hours during the day are you most available?

Price Your Home to Sell
Go ahead and look at those sites that give home value estimates for a general idea on pricing when deciding how to sell your house. But don't stop there. There are a lot of factors specific to your home that an algorithm won't pick up on, but your human REALTORS will.

A REALTOR® has access to data you don't. They can put together a comparative market analysis, also known as running comps, that checks the price of houses similar to yours that have sold in the in past 90 days. It's like taking the pulse of the market within a couple of miles of your house.

They can give you a market value for your house, and then it's up to you, with your REALTOR’S® guidance, to set the price. And the price needs to be right.

If it's too high, your house will sit on the market too long, which wastes your time and can raise a red flag to buyers. If your price is too low, you'll miss out on all that value you worked hard to build in your home.

Your REALTOR® may have tips on setting the price so that it stays within certain search parameters on listing sites. Let them be your guide on setting a price.

Prepare the House
Time to get your house looking its best. When selling your home, you want to make it look like someone else's dream home.

Repair everything you know of that's broken. Fix the little things, like the toilet that runs, the closet doors that don't shut all the way, the hole in the fence. Fix the big things, too, like a leaky roof or a malfunctioning HVAC.

Home buyers may not notice the windows are sticking and the wiring is outdated, but an inspector will. Head off problems now. Get a pro out to check any major systems you suspect could have an issue.

Clean up as if company was coming. Hire a cleaning service to do a deep clean--the kind where they scrub the baseboards and toekicks and vacuum behind the refrigerator. Power wash the house and driveway. Make sure your landscape is neat and looks well-maintained, too: boxwoods trimmed, lawn mowed, flower beds weeded. Curb appeal matters.

Declutter. Tidying up is the way to sell your house. You need to bust the clutter and make your house look Insta-perfect. Clear the kitchen counters, pack up most of your books and all your knickknacks and take them to a storage unit or donate them to charity. Clean out the garage, tidy up the laundry room, organize the pantry.

All this tidiness and organization signal to potential buyers that your house has been well cared for--and has plenty of room for all their clutter.

Depersonalize your space. Take you out of your home. Box up family photos, your great-grandma's heirloom quilt, your son's Matchbox car collection. It may sound sad, but it's how to sell your house.

You want buyers to be able to see themselves and their things in the house. They can't do that if it feels like your house. Look at this as the first step in packing up to leave. Consider renting a storage unit for the stuff until you move.

Stage your house. This is one step beyond the decluttering, depersonalizing, and cleaning. This is when you set up your house to show off its assets and downplay its weaknesses. It usually means moving furniture and making your house look as perfect as a photo in a shiny décor magazine.

Staged houses can sell faster and at a higher price. Staging a home is key if you've moved out and the house is empty. A professional stager will bring in décor and make your house look as if it's lived in by the tidiest, most tasteful minimalists in the world.

Some REALTORS® have a stager they work with, or do it themselves. You can also hire a pro yourself, someone with top-flight design and décor skills.

Paint the interior of your house, especially walls that are an unusual color. You adore the sky blue in the bonus room. Buyers might not. This isn't a criticism of your taste. It's just part of depersonalizing your house, all part of how to sell a house. Pick a nice, neutral tone, like gray or beige.

Paint the outside of your house, too, if there's any flaking or worn paint, or if you painted the exterior an unconventional shade that might turn off buyers.

Market Your Home
Ready, set, market. Once your house hits the MLS listings, it's time to drive buyers to you. Your REALTOR will handle this, but here's what you need to know.

Photos. This seems a no-brainer in a digital world, but plenty of sellers forget to prioritize the quality of their photography. Make sure photos are well-lit, in focus, and high resolution so they don't pixelate on tablets and smartphones.

Virtual tours are becoming the norm. Buyers swoon over them, because a virtual tour takes them by the hand and leads them through the house. You may need to hire an outside company to create one. Your REALTOR® should be able to connect you with a business who does virtual tours. Again, some REALTORS® offer this as part of their listing services.

Signage--like the classic For Sale sign--are basics for selling your home. There should be a sign in your front yard, with your REALTOR’S® contact info on it. If your home is part of a homeowners association, be sure to see if the HOA is OK with REALTOR® signs.

E-flyers are effective. Your REALTOR® can combine multiple photos of your house in an e-flyer and email it to neighbors, clients on his mailing list and other REALTORS® in the area as well as out-of-town brokers.

Ads in those paper real estate magazines distributed for free and digital ads on sites for newspapers and listing sites really do help spread the word.

Social media is how to sell your house in the 21st century. Your REALTOR® will likely post your listing to their various social channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. If not, ask for it. Instagram, for instance, draws more than 1 billion sets of eyeballs each month. Ask your REALTOR®, if they can put videos out on social media, not just photos, because videos get more engagement than photos.

And put your listing on your social channels, too.

Word of mouth is old-fashioned, but it works. Tell your friends, acquaintances, and co-workers your house is for sale.

Property listing sites will pick up your house listing once your REALTOR® puts it on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service.) There's a gaggle of them, from individual agency sites to biggies like realtor.com.

Showcase Your House
Throwing open the doors and inviting the public to come tour your house is one of the most effective marketing tools out there.

If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, contact a REALTOR® today. Members of the Lorain County Association of REALTORS® care about the community in which they live, work and support. Lorain County offers a wide variety of housing choices.

Do your research and take advantage of the many housing opportunities right here in Lorain County. We are fortunate to live in a region with such vast offerings. From big to small, country to city... it's available in Lorain County! Our proximity to highway and freeway access provides great commute options both east and west! Contact your LoCAR REALTOR® member today.

The Lorain County Association of REALTORS® is an industry trade association representing licensed real estate sales agents in Lorain County who are members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and the Ohio Association of REALTORS® (OAR). As members of NAR these licensed real estate agents have earned the REALTOR® designation and they pledge to protect the rights of homeownership and conduct their real estate business abiding by the NAR Code of Ethics.

The Lorain County Association of REALTORS® is one of more than 1,200 local boards and associations of REALTORS® nationwide that comprise the National Association of REALTORS®. The National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than one million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. Not all real estate sales agents are REALTORS®. All REALTORS® are members of NAR along with their State and Local Association.


Lorain County Association
of REALTORS®

5321 Meadow Lane Ct. #6
Sheffield Village, OH 44035
Telephone: (440) 328-4210
1-866-364-2587
Fax: (866) 371-7492
E-mail: contact@LoCAR.org
Fair Housing Hotline: 800 662-FAIR

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REALTOR 'R'REALTOR® -- A registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Inquiries regarding the Code of Ethics should be directed to the board in which a REALTOR® holds membership.