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Video: 5 smart ways to sell your home

  1. Transcript of: 5 smart ways to sell your home

    MATT LAUER, co-host: We're back now at 8:19. This morning on TODAY'S REAL ESTATE , five smart ways to sell your home in what is a lousy market. Newly released figures show that 2010 was the worst year for sales of previously owned homes in over a decade, but there is a silver lining. Barbara Corcoran is TODAY's real estate contributor. Barbara , good morning.

    Ms. BARBARA CORCORAN (Today Real Estate Contributor): Good morning, Matt.

    LAUER: Silver lining is December was pretty good. The month -- the year was bad, but it ended on a high note.

    Ms. CORCORAN: No one expected December to be so good. What happened in December where we sold 12 percent more homes than any other time in the year, and that never happens in the month of December.

    LAUER: Let's talk about these tips you've got. You've got five great suggestions for people who are looking to sell their homes right now. The first one you say is time it right. Not -- right now is not the time to have your home on the market.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Oh no. Nothing happens in the real estate market until after Super Bowl Sunday . So you might as well sit back and relax; there are no buyers out there. But it is a great time, if you haven't been able to sell your home, to take it off the market and then put it back on in February and in most Web sites they'll be tricked into listing as a brand-new listing.

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    LAUER: All right, price your home wisely. Let's go over this, OK? Everybody wants to try -- this is the biggest investment and asset they'll ever have.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Exactly.

    LAUER: They want to get the most for it. You say get there around 10, 15 percent below the competitive homes.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Well, of course the competitive homes what they're asking, not what they're selling for.

    LAUER: Right.

    Ms. CORCORAN: This is no time in this market to build in wiggle room, which is a commonsense way that people approach it. You won't get that wiggle room. You have to decide what you can possibly live with and price it right there.

    LAUER: But you know what happens. If you put a price on your home and it sells instantly, you're always going to be haunted by the fact, 'I could have gotten more for that home.'

    Ms. CORCORAN: It's going to drive you crazy for the rest of your life , but I'm telling you it's not as bad as wondering why your home just never even sold.

    LAUER: All right. This next one is a really good one. Get an inspection of your home before you list it.

    Ms. CORCORAN: You've got to get the skeletons out of your own closet before the buyer does. Two out of three deals that buyers walk away from, it's because of the home inspection . They go back and renegotiate the deal. So if you get the home inspection done up front, you know what's wrong, you have a chance to fix it and it's not going to get in the way of the sale.

    LAUER: All right, you want sellers, or potential sellers out there, to offer financial incentives up front.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Yeah, and people don't do it. What they do is they wait for the negotiations, say, 'Oh, by the way, I'll throw in the closing costs to sweeten the deal.' But you're far better off advertising that up front as no closing costs. Put all the incentives right on the front side.

    LAUER: Finally, you say to wage war online. Why is the Internet such a valuable tool?

    Ms. CORCORAN: Because everyone goes online to find the home, and if your doesn't look good online, they're just not even going to bother come to see it. So having phenomenal pictures online, if you could possibly afford hiring a local photographer who specializes...

    LAUER: What does that generally cost, by the way?

    Ms. CORCORAN: Usually three to $400. They turn these houses out very, very quickly. And the beauty to that is you have the curb appeal to compete with every other home out there.

    LAUER: And finally, you say if you're going to spend a little money to try to help you sell your home, spend it on the three key spaces.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Of course. And the three key spaces, number one is the kitchen, surface improvements in the kitchen. Number two is the living room, and number three is the front facade of that house.

    LAUER: So when they drive up, the first thing they see is appealing to the eye.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Let me tell you, real estate has less to do with the head and logic and everything to do with the emotions. So if you could hook that sucker in when he's driving up to that house, you're going to have a better shot at a deal.

    LAUER: Try not to open the door and say, 'Good morning, sucker, how are you?'

    Ms. CORCORAN: Oh no, no, no.

By TODAY real estate expert
updated 12/15/2010 8:51:45 AM ET 2010-12-15T13:51:45

There is a smart way and a not-so-smart way to get the best price for your home in the new year. Selling is both a price war and a beauty contest, and to win both you should check these nine tips.

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We talked about five tactics on TODAY, and I promised you a more complete list online. Here it is:

1. Time it right
Wait a few more weeks to put that "for sale" sign in front of your home. Few houses sell until after Super Bowl Sunday. If your house has been on the market for more than four months, take it off the market and re-list it in two months as "new."

2. Price it at exactly what it’s worth
The most influential factor in selling a home is always price. Don't build "wiggle room" into the asking price. There's a price war out there and you have to win it from the get-go. Shop the competition to see what similar homes are selling for and price your home 10 to 15 percent lower so it's the first house shown. Or you can get price estimates from three good brokers and go with the lowest. If you've overpriced your home, then make one big reduction. The worst thing you can do is make a series of small price reductions along the way — it's the equivalent of chasing the tide as it rolls out.

3. Get your home inspected before you list
Don't wait for the would-be buyer to discover the problems you could have fixed before selling. When they're discovered, buyers will just move to the next house or rack up reasons to expect price cuts.

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4. Offer financial incentives up front
Don't wait for the negotiations to throw in extra price incentives — offer them up front. Offer to pre-pay the first year of property taxes, pay closing costs, include free cleaning, lawn care or snow-removal services for a year. If you're moving and have no place to put your money, the best incentive out there today is "seller financing." Make sure to put your incentives front and forward in the listing information.

5. Wage war online
A whopping 89 percent of buyers start their home search online. How your house looks online is the modern equivalent of "curb appeal." Rent a wide-angle lens and good lighting, get rid of your clutter and post at least eight great photos to win the beauty contest.

Don't just rely on your broker to post the listing in all the high-trafficked websites. The most visited home sale websites today are:

6. Use the best broker
The top 10 percent of sales agents generate 90 percent of the sales and they're the ones most likely to sell your home. To find a smart broker, go to a reputable firm and ask the sales manager for a broker in the top 10 percent.

7. Spend money on the three key spaces:

  • The front of the house
    Buyers decide in the first eight seconds of seeing a home if they're interested in buying it. Get out of your car, walk in their shoes and see what they see within the first eight seconds. Edge your lawn, mulch your flower beds, trim your bushes, steam clean your driveway and paint your door and trim.
  • The living room
    Get rid of ALL your clutter, including a third of your furniture. Paint the walls a neutral white and add touches of color. If you can afford to stage one room, this is it.
  • The kitchen
    Invest in cheap expenses like changing the cabinet fronts, new lights and fixtures, new knobs and drawer pulls, installing a chic new backsplash, resurfacing the floors and getting one new, fancy-looking appliance.
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8. Lighten your house
After location, light is the second-most cited reason buyers choose a particular house. Paint the inside walls white, clean the windows, trim back shrubs and trees, replace heavy drapery with sheer curtains or shades, put sheer white shades on your lamps and higher-wattage bulbs.

9. Stage your home
The typical cost of staging a house is $1,500. If you can't spend the money, visit more expensive model homes in your area and try to mimic the look. It's what today's buyers want.

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