For Selling Your LBI Home
Presented by Pat Sepanak, Broker/Owner
Please Note: I am calling this a Business Plan, because there are many facets to selling your home and the Marketing Plan is just one part of that Plan. I have come to realize throughout the years of selling homes on LBI; there are six distinct components to a successful sale.
These components are:
- Getting Your Home Ready to List
- Determining Your Pricing Strategy
- Introducing Your Home to the Market
- Monitoring Your Home Showings and Advertising Results
- Negotiating Your Offer
- Closing Your Sale
So, let’s get started with some explanations and thoughts on the various components of a successful Business Plan. This is by no means an exhaustive list of items; rather it is some of the more important areas for discussion and implementation. Each property and owner have unique desires and issues and that should to be taken into account when developing their personalized Business Plan.
Getting Your Home Ready to List: Yes, I know, I can hear the groans! This will be one of the more difficult parts for you. Getting your home ‘Show Ready’. Not all homes have the same needs, so usually I like to spend a little time in each home and assess those areas that need more attention and those that will be accentuated in promotional material. The time spent here will be well worth it, with less time on the market and more dollars in your pocket.
Here’s a quick guide:
- First Impressions: You generally don’t get a second chance. Whether driving by or looking at pictures on the internet an impression is made and so is a decision to either continue pursuing or moving onto another property. Make sure the initial presentation of the home invites the buyer to come inside and stay awhile.
- ‘Show Ready’ at all times: Most of you don’t live in your home year round so this shouldn’t be too difficult. If down for the weekend or a visit, just make sure you clean up before you leave.
- Kitchen and Baths: Special attention should be given to these rooms. A little upgrading with a new light fixture or two, fresh paint in a neutral color or maybe new drawer pulls can go a long way. Make sure these rooms are clean and sparkling.
- Taking the ‘Home’ out of the House: This is depersonalizing the house; i.e., take a lot of your personal items out of the home. You will be doing this anyway once the sale is completed, so why not get a head start now. Remove miscellaneous items off counters, furniture tops and most of all – the closets. Let the buyers connect with the home and envision their ‘personal items’ and that there is room for them. Remember: they are going to snoop in all of the cabinets and closets!
- Maintenance Check: Fix all those items you didn’t get to last summer: leaky faucets, closet doors off their tracks, torn screens, loose doorknobs, etc. You get the picture.
- Clean, Light & Bright: Do a ‘deep clean’. This means cleaning everything that can be cleaned, from curtains to cabinets. Brighten up the home, clean windows, increase wattage of lightbulbs or replace those that burned out. Cut back shrubs if necessary so the sun can shine into the rooms. Natural light is great!
- Staging: Staging is an important aspect of the sale. This can be very minor from rearranging furniture, or perhaps new throw cushions or bedspreads. The idea is to highlight the best aspects of the house. I will give you suggestions in this area of those items that have worked for me in the past. Often, it is just repositioning a few pieces of furniture and some minor cosmetic upgrades and all of the sudden the house just pops!
- Outside Areas: Clean up the yard of debris (especially those pesky pine needles), trim bushes and trees, and if possible highlight any outdoor living areas. Buyers want to envision of backyard of summer fun. Maybe a power wash of the exterior is in order, seashore air is rough on a house’s exterior- especially check out the north side.
- It’s No Longer Your Home: This is tough, I know, but it is now a ‘house for sale’, not your home. It is a business transaction that depending on how well you do the above, will make for an easier and quicker sale and most likely put more money in your pocket. It is amazing what cosmetic changes really cost versus what a buyer deducts from their offering price.
- Timing: All of this should be completed before the first serious buyer or Realtor walks through your house. Plan your timing for getting your property ‘Show Ready’. This could be a few weeks of work, but it will be worth it, I promise.
Determining Your Pricing Strategy: As mentioned previously, you will be given a comprehensive Competitive Market Analysis. This Analysis will show you, in detail, all your competition – currently listed, what has just gone under contract and most importantly, what has recently sold. The ‘solds’ are the most important aspect, as this is what a buyer was actually willing to pay for a comparable home. The current ‘for sale’ listings determine the range you can consider as these are asking prices only. The idea is to list as high as possible in the range; yet not lose any showings because buyers or Realtors consider you an overpriced listing. It is hard to recover from an initial overpricing of the property.
Introducing Your Home to the Market: Yes, it is ‘Show Time’. This is where ‘first impressions’ really come into play. Buyers and Realtors will make the decision if this is a property worth adding to their ‘previewing list’. A lot of pre-listing work comes into plan to make sure the presentation of your property is top notch. Below are just the highlights of what I do to make sure your house is shown in the best light to buyers and other agents:
- Gathering all pertinent documents on the home, survey, flood certification, copies of flood and home insurance policies and premiums. Obtaining the history of the home as to upgrades and changes.
- Taking a complete inventory of the home so there is no confusion later as to what stay or goes. This should not be done at the time of negotiations or during the drawing of contracts. I have seen deals die over a piece of used furniture, a set a dishes or a painting on the wall. Let the buyer bid and understand exactly what they are getting from the get go. This will also eliminate the potential of discounting price due to ‘misunderstandings’. It is another area of high emotions so better to minimize these with a written document both parties sign.
- Taking professional high quality pictures (including drones) of the house, neighborhood and beach. Having a virtual tour attached to the listing and having the promotional material on hand.
- Placing a yard sign on the property.
- Posting the home in the local MLS as well as all major real estate sites such as; Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Realtor.com and Listhub.com (which posts to 72 different real estate portals).
- Send Direct Mail pieces to your surrounding LBI neighbors to see if they or a friend might be interested in your house.
- Hold Broker’s Caravan for the real estate community’s feedback and public open houses for exposure and feedback as well.
- Create ad copy and place ads in local & out of area print publications.
Monitoring Your Home Showing and Advertising Results: Constant monitoring of feedback from showings and tracking the number of inquiries is important to see if any part of the marketing/advertising plan or pricing strategy needs to be changed or tweaked. This feedback is crucial to both agent and home seller. I call for feedback on all showings and track how the advertising is performing. This feedback is relayed to you on a continuous basis so you can decide what actions might be needed to change, if any. It is also important that your Realtor is willing to give you both the good news and the bad news. It is generally the bad news that must be dealt with, while ignoring or glossing over is only going to make a sale more difficult. I will give you both the good and the bad news, it is my job to be forthright at all times.
Negotiating Your Offer: Yes, we have a ready, willing and able buyer who just put in an Offer on your house! First, we want a pre-qualification letter from the buyer’s bank as well as the ‘Offer to Purchase’ in writing. Then we begin the delicate dance of negotiating. Only a very experienced agent with excellent negotiating skills can end the dance on a successful note. I have found this can’t be rushed, a well thought out strategy is needed and emotions kept in check. Remember, this is a highly charged moment for both the buyer and seller, a good agent will temper those emotions with guidance and bring the transaction to a fruitful ‘meeting of the minds’.
Closing Your Sale: By no means are we finished. This is where the real experience and determination of your agent comes into play. Below are the highlights of the path to the closing table.
- The buyer’s agent will draw the contracts with input from the listing agent. Once all parties have signed, the mandatory NJ Three Day Attorney Review period begins. (Unless no attorneys are involved, I recommend you have legal representation, but ultimately this is your decision.)
- Your agent will make sure the attorneys are communicating and understand the history of the offer process and prior agreements made during negotiations between the Buyer and Seller.
- The Home Inspection is up next and determining how to best handle the requests from the buyer will be discussed with you. Do you fix, do you credit, where do you say yes or no? An experienced agent can guide you through this potential minefield.
- Buyers will be applying for their mortgage and an appraisal will be ordered by their bank. The selling agent needs to monitor that all contractual milestones are being met, such as; the buyer’s escrow funds are in on time and the mortgage commitment is fulfilled.
- Prepare the home for obtaining a resale Certificate of Occupancy; All Municipalities on LBI require a resale C.O. along with a new survey and flood certification from the buyer. This is mainly a fire and safety inspection along with a quick look for any code violations or outstanding permits. Your agent will make sure the fire and safety issues are met (working smoke detectors and properly installed fire extinguisher) and apply for the C.O. This should be accomplished several weeks prior to closing to allow enough time for the Municipality to perform the inspection and extra time – just in case, the first inspection finds an issue.
- Almost there! The final weeks are generally evolving around the attorneys, title company and bank to get everything in order to close and set a firm closing date. (Sellers do not need to be at closing as long as they have signed all their paperwork beforehand). Your agent should be there to represent you at the closing table.
We made it! Your house is sold and you can now move on to other new adventures. It is my goal that you always feel you can come back to me with any questions you might have about real estate. I still have contact with many of my past sellers as they return to visit LBI, have a real estate related question or refer a friend to me.
Long term relationships are what I strive for and understand they only come from doing the very best for my clients and customers.
I sincerely hope you have found the above information useful in your planning process of listing your LBI home for sale. I also hope you will afford me the opportunity to speak with you about representing you and your property.
GRI, RSPS & ePro Designations
Ready to Get Started?
Maybe not ready to list yet and are just curious about current LBI market conditions or would like to get an idea of the value of your LBI home? That’s fine, I can offer you two great programs that are unique to Sand Dollar Real Estate.
Just click on the title of the program for more details and/or to sign up.
LBI Neighborhood Tracker – This is a great way to keep track of what is happening in your LBI Neighborhood. Notifications are sent via email with a link to your personal ‘virtual listing cart’ for any new listings, price changes and sold properties, as they happen. This link is from our local MLS and is more timely and accurate than any other real estate portal site.
LBI Online Market Evaluation – Fill out a short form about your LBI property and you will be sent an email report of information about the LBI sales market along with detailed analysis of comparable properties to your property. You will also be given a price range of value with explanation. This is not a Zestimate, it is a personalized and researched report.
Questions? – Please, feel free to ask your questions, you can either contact me directly at:
Direct Line – 609-290-5360
Email – PatonLBI@att.net
Or fill in the form below with your questions or comments and I will get back to you shortly.