I had an appointment on Monday evening with a very nice family who is getting ready to sell their home to move into their new custom built home. They currently have their home listed on the MLS with a limited service broker, who is in fact providing very limited customer service. I've been in contact with the owners of the home for quite some time now and while they thought they could save some money going with a Realtor who charged a flat fee to put their home on the MLS, are now discovering that even though they are getting what they thought they wanted, it isn't really what they wanted after all.
A couple of points that I wanted to relay to the general public about what we talked about during the appointment. First of all, while you are listed on the MLS with the other 40,000 listings and getting much better exposure than trying For Sale By Owner, they were getting the bare minimum exposure. The MLS description had less than the maximum pictures allowed, and the pictures used were pictures that the owners took themselves. Granted, as a Realtor I am admittedly not a professional photographer. However, I do know what we look for in the photos in our MLS as well as I've seen thousands of photos of homes and know which ones look good and which ones might actually do more harm than good. And with so much inventory to choose from as a buyer right now, I feel it is my duty to my clients to do everything that I can to differentiate their home from, what seems like an un-ending list of available homes for sale.
My second point that I wanted to make was that sometimes your home needs some work before being offered for sale. And by work I don't necessarily mean spending the kids college fund on improvements, additions, upgrades, etc.. My prospective clients told me that the limited service agent they currently were listed with had told them that they needed to do nothing before putting their home on the market. Now I'm not sure if she was still stuck in early 2005, when all that was necessary to sell a home was to pound the sign post in the front yard and then pick which offer you were going to take, but their home needed some attention. Sometimes this is the hardest part of the job for me. Both parents worked full-time jobs and they had two kids and a dog. As you can imagine, the home needed some cleaning, some tidying, some de-cluttering, some organization, etc.. Sometimes I find it hard to tell my clients that they keep a dirty, un-organized, cluttered home and it all has to go to have the best chance of selling, but it's my job to help these folks sell their home, and if that means maybe stepping on some toes I guess that's what it means. I'm sure they will thank me in the end for pointing out these facts that are sometimes hard to see when that's just what you're used to. Before I left I gave them a "Honey-Do List" of things that needed to be done so that buyers don't walk in and walk right back out before even giving the home a chance. My other bit of advice that we tell our clients all the time is to start packing some of their belongings in boxes and get them out of the house. It's going to have to be done eventually, so let's get a head start on it, while simultaneously making their home seem much less cluttered and feel much bigger.
We've put together a Seller's Guide that covers all of the major items that we see on a regular basis that need to be addressed prior to listing your home for sale.