I was watching one of those HGTV shows yesterday. Flip That House, or Sell This House or one of those. A novice investor rehabbed a 1970's tract home. She did a great job too. She managed an amazing transformation of the entire house. The kitchen was opened up, done in granite, new cabinets and stainless appliances. The baths were both redone with beautiful materials. She really did a great job and added some real value to the home. BUT she went 2 weeks over schedule, about $20,000 over budget and nearly tore her hair out at the end.
Just before the home was staged, the show's producers sent in 3 real world Realtors to give price opinions. The first one says $519,000; the second says $510,000; the third says $499,000. Presumably they gave this information to the investor seller. In a camera confession, the investor says she's stretched to her financial limits, she needs to get that money back pronto, and she'll raise the asking price on the house to recoup her unbudgeted losses. She lists it for $539,000.
Big mistake. Sellers, believe me when I tell you that there is a long list of things that do NOT impact how much you can ask for your home for sale. Here's a short list:
- How much you paid for the home
- How much your remodeling or improvements cost
- How much you "need" to get out of the sale
- How much your next house is going to cost
- How much your neighbor sold for last year
Things that impact how much you can ask for your home:
- How much buyers are willing to pay for it
Period. It's really that simple. Buyers are savvy these days, and act very conservatively when it's their half-million dollars being spent. They will only pay what they'll pay and not a penny more. If they don't see your home as a good value at the listing price, they'll pass you by.
Of course parsing out what the buyers are willing to pay for your home is the tricky bit. It's an art, not a science. If it were a science, they'd have computer programs that picked listing prices. We Realtors would all be out of a job because the computers would be 100% correct, 100% of the time, on 100% of the homes for sale. Houses would sell in a few days and nobody would negotiate over price because the computer generated price would be right every time.
That's fantasy land. Picking the right list price is an art. It involves lots of data analysis, a history of indepth knowledge of the neighborhood, and a little bit of gut checking. But it should never involve calculating what the seller "needs" to recoup on their investment. The buyers don't care about your needs; they care about theirs.
PS-The investor on the TV show sold after about 3 weeks on the market. She took $511,000.
- The HouseChick's take on this point (the HouseChick is Kelley Koehler in Tucson)