5 Simple Must-Dos To Sell For Top Dollar
Updated: Apr 6
To sell for the maximum price, you need to generate maximum interest. You need to get buyers to click on the listing, request a showing, feel that your home is better than any other in their price point, and submit an offer. And you really want more than one offer to get the best price and terms possible. So how do you do it? I've broken this down into five simple must-dos.
I've been in the Baltimore real estate industry since 2008. Before I became a full-time realtor, I spent eight years operating a large rental portfolio consisting of more than 700 single-family homes in the Baltimore Area. During this time I learned what it really meant to operate real estate. I developed a passion for figuring out how to boost income and limit expenses to realize the most profit possible. I channel this same passion when I meet home sellers in the Baltimore Area today. My goal is to help them net the most profit possible on settlement day.
To Sell Your Home For The Maximum Price, You Need To Generate Maximal Interest
Every home seller I have ever represented in the Baltimore Area wants to net the highest amount possible on closing day. I always tell them this – your best chance of getting not only the highest price possible, but the best terms possible is to get two or more buyers competing for your home. When you have a single offer, the seller wants the highest price and the buyer wants a good deal – the parties aim to negotiate to terms that are acceptable to both. But when you have two or more offers, I advise sellers to notify all parties that there are multiple offers and to ask each party to submit their ‘highest and best’ offers by a specified deadline. In this scenario, buyers put all their cards on the table, knowing if they don’t, they risk losing your home to another buyer. Thus, the best way to flesh out not only the highest price possible, but also the best terms possible is to aim to generate at least two offers.
I don’t just list the property and cross my fingers hoping that at least two offers appear. There’s a strategy to maximizing interest on your home and it starts well before your home is listed. I never under-price a home to generate interest. My job is to get you the best price and terms possible, not negotiate against you and offer to sell the home for less than it’s worth.
Gone are the days of buyers visiting a real estate office and asking the realtor what is available. Buyers shop themselves now – while watching Netflix, they scroll (and they scroll fast!) through new listings on sites like Redfin and Zillow. Buyers are highly decisive and quick to respond to a new listing – you need to grab their attention immediately and keep it. Make them click on it! Your listing photos need to look absolutely phenomenal, but before you have them taken, you have to do some prep work to make sure what they capture is what buyers want.
Here are the five most important things you need to do to generate clicks on your home’s listing (which will generate showings and a successful open house and give you the best shot at receiving multiple offers!)
#1 – Use Neutral or Calm Paint Colors
If you want to sell your home for top dollar, you need to use neutral or calm paint colors. In a study conducted by Zillow and Behr where 1,300 recent or prospective homebuyers weighed in, buyers preferred white in the kitchen and light gray in the living room. The article also explained that blues, grays, greens, and whites were calming colors that evoked a clean, fresh impression on buyers. When you list your property, you want to appeal to the widest range of buyers possible. Choose colors that will do so.
Maybe your home is already painted neutral or calming colors. And if the walls are in good shape, maybe you have little to do other than touch-up. But if you’ve decided to go bold with your color choices, revert back to the neutrals and calming colors that are going to appeal to buyers; it’s relatively inexpensive (as compared to other home projects) to do so. And before you remark that since it’s inexpensive, you’ll “let” the walls remain the bold colors you’ve selected so the buyers can select a color of their choice to do the painting after move-in, consider these points :
It’s more expensive for a homeowner to own today than it was a year ago In April 2023, the average interest rate on a 30-year conventional mortgage is 6.125%. Just a year ago in April 2022, the average interest rate on a 30-year conventional mortgage was about 5.25%. To put this into perspective, for a $400,000 home in Baltimore County, a buyer with a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage putting 5% down has a monthly payment of about $3,000. A year ago, a home at the same price had a monthly payment was $2,775. The bottom line is that a buyer today is going to have less excess cash monthly than that same buyer had a year ago buying at the same price point.
When was the last time you heard someone say they wanted to spend their weekend painting their house? A new homeowner wants to move into a turnkey home that they can show off to their friends and family on closing day, not two months later after several weekends of watching paint dry, literally.
Painting is a step to reaching the ultimate goal of generating at least two offers to flesh out the best price and terms possible
Leaving your home painted bold colors is going to reduce your showing activity and the possibility that you will obtain multiple offers. Remember also, that for you to get an offer, a buyer has to like your home more than any other home on the market in their price range and if those homes are painted neutral colors and yours isn’t, you don’t stand a strong chance of having the home that they will pursue.
#2 – Play Up The Outdoor Space
If you want to get more than the asking price when you list your Baltimore-Area home, you need to play up the outdoor space. When I ask buyers in the Greater Baltimore Area what they are looking for in a new home, outdoor space is consistently in the top five requests. With it being Spring with warm weather right around the corner and the time of year when we typically see more buyers enter the marketplace, don’t miss checking this critical box. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a new deck or custom patio. In Baltimore City, I had a client who put small pebbles, like the ones you see at beach houses, in her rear fenced yard and added an outdoor dining table and chairs. Outdoor space box checked. I had another client in Baltimore County who used two-by-fours to create a perimeter in his yard which he filled with small pebbles and then added Adirondack chairs and a small fire pit. You can create an enjoyable outdoor space with inexpensive materials like pebbles, playground wood chips, inexpensive lawn furniture, a fire pit from Home Depot or Lowe’s, and/or string lights. To really increase the clicks on your home’s pictures, I’ll have my professional photographer take the outdoor photos at sunset with the firepit and/or string lights lit. Major wow factor.
#3 – Stage or De-clutter The House
Staging or de-cluttering is an essential way to generate interest in your home and increase the chances of getting multiple offers and ultimately selling for the highest and best terms possible. These opposing terms apply to different scenarios. If you are selling your home and it’s completely empty, you need to hire a stager to bring in stylish, modern furniture. An empty home feels cold, unwelcoming, and showcases any components that may be even slightly dated. Buyers cannot envision the size of furniture that will fit in a specific room, how it could be set up in a workable arrangement, or how furniture and accessories can make a home feel new and modern even if some components may be slightly dated. You need to show them. Staging is not as expensive as you may think. For a town house, staging starts around $1,600 for delivery, removal, and 60 days of use. I’ll connect you with my staging resources.
If you are still living in your home when you put it on the market, you have a different hurdle to overcome. Your home isn’t empty and unwelcoming, but it may seem highly personal to you. Your job is to make your home feel more like a blank slate that could adapt to any buyer’s specific style. Minimize items on countertops, storage consoles, and on surfaces like tables, TV stands, dresser tops, and night stands. Avoid overly cluttered walls and floor space. Consider getting storage totes and filling them with your excess items and stowing them in the basement, attic, or closets.
#4 – Use A Professional Photographer
To increase interest in your home, you need to use a professional photographer. You’ve done the prep work to neutralize and stage your home and play up the outdoor space, you are ready for professional photos. Remember your ultimate goal is to generate at least two offers. To get two offers, you need lots of showings and a well-attended open house. Remember that the person driving the showings is likely the buyer who is quickly scrolling through Redfin or Zillow while simultaneously watching Netflix. You have to make your photos look so good that a prospective buyer stops to scroll through them and then takes action to notify their realtor that they want to schedule a showing or to make plans to attend an open house. I never skimp on photos. I never use an iPhone or take photos myself. I always invest the money to get a professional photographer to take the photos. Furthermore, I check the weather diligently for a sunny day with blue skies. We have one chance to get the photos right. You’ve already done the prep work on the inside and in the yard. Now we need to capture the house on its best day, in its best lighting.
#5 – Write A Compelling Description
Don’t miss an opportunity to generate interest in your home listing, make sure you have a compelling description. Too many realtors put a short description of just a few lines that state the obvious – the neighborhood where the house is located and then go on to list the age of the systems, which can easily be put into another section of the listing. The description is our one-shot chance to highlight all the attributes of your property and also explain what certain spaces “could be”. We have to plant the seed in the buyer’s mind of what the potential truly is. We won’t ignore the unfinished basement or simply note that there is an unfinished basement. We will express that it could be a guest area, game room, home theater, home office, home gym, workshop, etc. My job is to convince the buyer why the buyer should choose your house over every other home that is available within his or her price range and to make an offer on it now. I’ll also make sure the description is not unduly wordy; I’ll explain all the attributes and potential concisely.
When You List Your Home, You Have One Chance To Get It Right
When you list your home, you have one chance to get it right and get more than the asking price. Don’t skimp on any of these easy five action items – you will pay for it. Do what’s necessary to neutralize your home, style it or declutter it, play up the outside, and I’ll make sure to get you photos that are nothing short of fantastic and a description that highlights all the perks of your home and all the future potential it has. We’ll stop buyers in their tracks, get clicks on your listing, get showing requests from there, open the doors for an open house, and aim to collect two or more offers competing to be the winning bid, and giving you the highest and best terms possible.