Seller’s Guide

Top 10 Things To Do When Selling Your Home

#1 Call us.
(We’ll handle the other 9)

Selling Your Home

For most families, their home is their largest financial asset, and deciding to sell it is a big decision that involves a lot of preparation and work. When you’re ready to sell it’s important to have an experienced real estate professional handle the details involved in the successful sale of your home for top dollar.

The majority of Craig Liles Team’s members have over ten years of experience in selling real estate. Our agents have been owners of real estate companies, licensed brokers in the State of PA, professional real estate coaches, and members of committees at the Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors. To our clients, that means we have the knowledge and experience to anticipate issues, solve problems, and negotiate to ensure a pleasant, low stress transaction.

Providing you with comprehensive, high-quality Listing Service is our top priority. We take the time to listen. Our goal is to set a plan aimed at achieving our client’s objectives in their desired time frame. We are “servant leaders’ who ALWAYS put our client’s first! Our job is to act professionally on behalf of our clients and ultimately get the job done!

What To Do Before Listing A Home For Sale?

Get advice! I don’t mean listening to neighbors, friends, and relatives. They all mean well and have good intentions, but they usually don’t provide objectivity. Often, they want to be encouraging and flattering when discussing your home. They want to be nice and that means they’re usually not as honest as they could be. Neighbors want you to sell at the highest price possible to increase their property values, so they often over-estimate what they think your home is worth. That can lead to frustration and disappointment.

Bottom line…call us for a no-charge consultation. We’ll preview your home, research the market, and give you a written estimate of what your home is worth. In addition, we’ll give you a full breakdown of your closing costs, and based on a projected sale price we’ll tell you exactly what you’ll walk away with in your pocket. If you’re also planning on buying a new home, we can determine those closing costs as well and put a plan in place that provides a full accounting of cash in and cash out for both transactions.

After we’ve arrived at our List Price, we discuss what repairs and updates (if any) are going to help get your home sold at the highest price possible. Some changes are more cost effective than others and have different return on investors (ROI). You want to invest in the areas that are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. We have the knowledge and tools to help you make the smartest decisions. In some cases, we’ve even advised clients NOT to spend money when the changes weren’t going to help their efforts to sell or increase their bottom line. The Craig Liles Team also employs a Certified Master Stager that will provide a Free Coaching Session to ensure your home is presented well and meets buyer’s expectations.

Getting Your House Ready for Showings

A house that “sparkles” on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well maintained. From our experience, we know that a “well-polished” house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster and for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see is well maintained, they assume that what they can’t see has probably also been well maintained. When getting your house ready for showings, consider:

  • How much should you spend to prepare your house for sale?
  • Exterior and curb appeal
  • Interior appeal

Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and as little money as possible) to maximize its exterior and interior appeal.

How Much Should You Spend to Prepare Your House for Sale?

In preparing your home for the market, spend as little money as possible. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren’t likely to give you enough extra money to pay for it. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive polishes and touch-ups to your house, such as putting new knobs on cabinets and a fresh coat of neutral paint in the living room, and doing extensive and costly renovations, like installing a new kitchen.

We are familiar with buyers’ expectations here in the Lehigh Valley and we can advise you specifically on what improvements need to be made and which improvements are most effective. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice.

Preparing Your House for Showings

Home Staging Services

To get you started preparing your home for viewing, we want to provide you with a few tips to help make your home as attractive to potential buyers as possible.

Head over to our Home Staging page for information about our Free Home Staging Consultation and a detailed checklist that’s guaranteed to help you enhance your home’s exterior and interior appeal, and ultimately help you sell quicker and net a higher sales price.

Setting Your List Price

Setting your list price is one of the most important factors when selling your home. Setting the list price for your home involves evaluating various market conditions and financial factors. During this phase of the home selling process, we will help you set your list price based on the following factors:

  • Pricing considerations
  • Comparable sales
  • Market conditions
  • Offering incentives
  • Estimated net proceeds

Pricing Considerations – Find a Balance Between Too High and Too Low

When setting your list price, you should be aware of a buyer’s frame of mind. Consider the following pricing factors:

  • If you set the price too high, your house won’t be picked for viewing, even though it may be much nicer than other homes on the street. You may have told your selling agent to “Bring me any offer. Frankly, I’d take less.” But compared to other houses for sale, your home simply looks too expensive to be considered.
  • If you price too low, you’ll short-change yourself. Your house will sell promptly, yes, but you may make less on the sale than if you had set a higher price and waited for a buyer who was willing to pay it.
  • Never say “asking” price, which implies you don’t expect to get it.
  • Price Against Comparable Sales in Your Neighborhood.
  • No matter how attractive and polished your house, buyers will be comparing its price with everything else on the market.

Your best guide is a record of what the buying public has been willing to pay in the past few months for property in your neighborhood. We can pull a list of these comparable sales and provide you with data on sales figures of similar properties and analyze them to help you come up with a suggested listing price. The decision about how much to ask, though, is always yours.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

The list of comparable sales your agent brings to you, along with data about other houses in your neighborhood that are presently on the market, is used for a “Comparative Market Analysis” (CMA). To help in estimating a possible sales price for your house, the analysis will also include data on nearby houses that failed to sell in the past few months, along with their list prices.

A CMA differs from a formal appraisal in several ways. One major difference is that an appraisal will be based only on past sales. Also, an appraisal is done for a fee by a third party, while the CMA is provided by your agent free of charge and may include properties currently listed for sale and those currently pending sale. For the average home sale, a CMA probably gives enough information to help you set a proper price.

Having an accurate CMA is one of the most valuable tools when setting your price, because it provides you with real-world data to support your asking price. It is basically a snapshot of “the market.” In other words, the value at which a buyer and a seller is willing to transfer ownership of a given property.

Formal Written Appraisal

A formal written appraisal (which may cost a few hundred dollars) can be useful if you have unique property, if there hasn’t been much activity in your area recently, if co-owners disagree about price, or if there is any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a value on your home.

TIP: If you do order a market value appraisal, make it clear you don’t need an elaborate, or full narrative report, i.e., the kind that’s complete with photos of the house and neighborhood. Floor plans and a site map is sufficient in most cases.

Market Conditions

Is it a Buyer’s Market or a Seller’s Market?

A CMA often includes a Days on the Market (DOM) value for each comparable house sold. When real estate is booming and prices are rising, houses may sell in a few days. Conversely, when the market slows down, average DOM can run into many months.

Your REALTOR® can tell you whether your area is currently in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. In a seller’s market, you can price a bit beyond what you really expect, just to see what the reaction will be. In a buyer’s market, if you really need to sell promptly, offer an attractive bargain price.

If You Price High, Set a Schedule for Lowering the Price

Some sellers list at the rock-bottom price they’d really take, because they hate bargaining. Others add on thousands to the estimated market value “just to see what happens.” If you want to try that, and if you have the luxury of enough time to feel out the market, sit down one of our agents and work out an advance schedule for lowering the price if need be.

If there haven’t been many prospects viewing your home after three weeks, you may need to lower your list price. If that doesn’t bring any prospective buyers, you may need to lower your list price again. Plan on doing that regularly until you find a level that attracts buyers. Make a written schedule in advance, before emotion takes over and you’re tempted to dig your heels in.

Offering Incentives to Hasten a Sale

Sometimes cash incentives are as effective as lowering the price, especially in the lower price range where buyers may be “cash poor.” You may offer to pay some or all of a buyer’s closing costs and discount points required by the buyer’s lending institution.

If you haven’t had much traffic through your house and you’re in a hurry to sell, you may want to add the offer of a bonus to the selling broker, in addition to their commission. An example of the wording for such an offer may be “to the broker who brings a successful offer before Christmas.”

Estimating Net Proceeds

Once you’ve been given an estimate of market value by your agent, you can get a rough idea of how much cash you might walk away with when the sale is completed. This can be particularly useful when you start looking for another home to buy.

To estimate your net proceeds, from the estimated sales amount, subtract the applicable costs in the three sections outlined below: seller’s costs, buyer’s/seller’s costs, and closing costs.

Seller’s Costs: Subtract the following costs as applicable.

  • Payoff figure on your present loan(s)
  • Broker’s commission
  • Prepayment penalty on your mortgage
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Unpaid property taxes

Buyer’s/Seller’s Costs: Additionally, your agent can tell you whether local customs or rules dictate whether the buyer or seller pays for the items listed below. Subtract the following costs, as applicable.

  • Title insurance premium
  • Transfer taxes
  • Survey fees
  • Inspections and repairs for termites, etc.
  • Recording fees
  • Homeowner Association transfer fees and document preparation
  • Home protection plan
  • Natural hazard disclosure report

Closing Costs: As far as closing costs are concerned, you and your eventual buyer may agree on any arrangement that suits you, no matter what local practice dictates. Your agent will assist you in estimating what your final closing costs will be.

Marketing Your Home

When it comes to marketing your home, it’s important to develop and implement a multi-pronged marketing approach to capture buyers’ interest quickly and effectively. Here’s what your listing agent will take into consideration when developing a custom marketing plan to get your house sold:

  • Advertising
  • Showing the property
  • How long the house has been on the market
  • Whether you’re buying another home.

Advertising and Promotion

We, at the Craig Liles Team, have a solid Marketing Plan that is customized to your property.

First, we profile your most likely buyer and take into consideration how best to target that specific segment of the population. Much of what we do is centered around proven practices that have worked to sell homes in the past. Whether you’re a Million Dollar Listing or a Small Starter Home, we provide the same services that maximize exposure. You’ll not only be on the local Lehigh Valley MLS system, but also neighboring MLS systems, to attract buyers who might be looking from out of the area.

You’ll be on over 50 websites, including the Top 5 sites for Buyer Searches. Don’t get fooled by agents promising you some ridiculous number of sites. Data sharing programs automatically syndicate listings, and if an agent is trying to impress you with a huge number of sites, it’s simply compensating for an incomplete marketing approach. Some might refer to this as “fluffing” or exaggerating the benefits for the sole purpose of impressing the client. You’ll appreciate our straight-talking approach and honesty.

Even with all the modern technology the internet offers, “For Sale” signs on front lawns are still remarkably effective. Our signage is large and eye-catching. When the property site allows, we install 5 ft goalpost signs that capture the person driving by your home. We provide a website specifically for your property listing and prominently display the web address so interested buyers can view all the details on their mobile device. We even display a 1-800 number for buyers to call any time of day for more info. It provides them with a description of the home, and will even text them pictures of the interior along with the list price. We don’t just advertise to encourage calls from buyers – we provide the information they want! That’s why buyers DO call about our listings, rather than getting frustrated by the tease of information.

At the end of the day, our sellers’ properties are highly visible to anyone looking for a home fitting their criteria. But passive advertising isn’t the sole answer to getting your home sold. You need a pro-active agent and our plan includes aggressive pro-active tools, as well.

Showings and Open Houses

To prepare your home for viewing, make it as bright, clean, cheerful and serene as possible. Always look at your home from the buyer’s point of view. Our Professional Stager will guide you on how best to present your home. Remember – showing condition is different from living condition. We’ll show you how you can sell for an extra $10,000 more, by taking a few simple steps to present your home in its most attractive state. We’ve done this time and time again for our clients. All you need is an agent with the experience and tact to coach you!

We always conduct Open Houses for our listings because it does work! Open Houses make it convenient for buyers to check out your home and also provide neighbors an opportunity to see it’s benefits. Although some make think they’re “nosey neighbors”, the reality is that they often have friends and/or family that are considering moving to that area. Why wouldn’t you want to engage your neighbors in helping to sell your home? In fact, we encourage neighbors to “Pick Their New Neighbor!”

Open Houses are advertised online and in print. It’s all about exposure so Open Houses are just another way of getting more people through your home and increasing the odds that the “right” person will see it and want it! All those changes encouraged by your agent and stager pay off when we put your home on display.

How Long Has Your House Been on the Market?

Professional appraisers sum up their entire body of knowledge in three words: “Buyers make value.” Your home is worth as much as a buyer will pay for it.

If your home has been on the market for months, it’s a clear message that the property may not be worth what you’re asking for it. This is particularly true if there haven’t been many prospects coming to see it. What you do at that point depends on whether you really need to sell, and whether you’re working with a time limit.

If you’re not really motivated to move soon, you can always wait – years if necessary – and hope inflation will catch up with the price you want. The problem is that in that time, your home begins to feel shopworn. Buyers become suspicious of a house that’s been for sale for a long time.

We can help you avoid these pitfalls by helping you establish a realistic price and strategy for marketing your home. As buyers see your home, we systematically track the showings and obtain feedback from the buyer and showing agent. Sometimes, market times are longer because there simply aren’t many buyers looking in your neighborhood or looking for a home of your type.  Price is only part of the equation, so you won’t be asked to make a price drop unless we see other similar homes selling for less…or if your specific situation calls for a sale sooner than later!

We are your advocate…your fiduciary…your trusted confidant. Our goal is to achieve your goal! If we feel your goal is unrealistic, we’ll tell you so! No games – just straight talk and RESULTS!

If you’re buying another home.

You may wonder what will happen when you’re selling one home and buying another – how will all the details work out? This is a common situation, and our agents and title company have plenty of experience in arranging contracts and loans so that the two transactions dovetail smoothly.

One of the questions we come across most often is whether to sell your home first and then buy, or buy first then sell. Ideally, most people would like to find a home they like and make an offer subject to selling their current home. This generally works in a buyer’s market where sellers are desperate for a buyer. However, most of the time, sellers will not accept a “subject to sale” offer. They don’t want to take their home off the market for an unknown amount of time it might take for you to sell your home. In order to get your offer accepted, you usually have to throw more money at them in order to get them to wait. Then you’re under pressure to sell and that often leads to accepting a lower offer. Buying High and Selling Low is a bad scenario!!

Every seller’s situation is different but you’re in a better position when you have your home under contract, know exactly what you’re getting in proceeds, and can make an aggressive offer with a defined time frame for closing. If you find that you need to buy the next house before you’ve received the proceeds from the present one, lending institutions can sometimes make you a short-term “bridge” loan to tide you over between the two transactions. We’ll help you make sure you fully understand the exposure and emotional investment before proceeding with this type of loan.

Top Reasons to Hire a REALTOR® When Selling a Home

A real estate agent can help you understand everything you need to know about the home selling process. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reported that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.

Not all real estate licensees are the same; only those who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR® trademark on their business cards and other marketing and sales literature.

Real estate transactions are one of the biggest financial dealings of most people’s lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $250,000. If you had a $250,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a certified professional accountant? If you had a $250,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be wise to work with a professional REALTOR® when you are selling a home.

If you’re still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are more reasons to use one:

1. When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information – on what is happening in the marketplace as well as the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

2. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work – that will significantly enhance the salability of your property.

3. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over half of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer.

4. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator – distributing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.

5. Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. NAR studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally pre-screen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

6. Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing – and a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

7. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Issues may arise between the initial sales agreement and closing (also called settlement or escrow), for example, unexpected repairs might be required to obtain financing or a title problem is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing.


Need To Sell, But Don’t Know Where To Start?

Speak with one of our Friendly agents with the Craig Liles Team. We’re happy to speak with you to let you know what your house is worth. Get in touch with us today!

Free Property Valuation Service

If you’re thinking about selling your home and are not sure about the real value, get an expert’s opinion. We offer a Free Property Valuation to our prospective clients.