Paul Benfield


Design Or List It, Inc

254 Wheelhouse Ln, Suite 1401, Lake Mary FL 32746

Sellers Book


Let this book be your go to resource for information strategies and techniques that can be put to work to sell your home quickly at the best price. Take time looking through the chapters and master the secrets of successful home sellers. For example, discover why comparable homes sell for considerably different prices. Written by Paul Benfield Realtor & Broker


Table of Contents

Below are the important chapters on the art of selling your home for the most $$$



A brief overview of the principles of how to sell your home for the most $$$

2. THE 80/20 RULE

Understanding the 80/20 rule concept can save you time in selling your home.


First impressions matter. Sometimes they are everything.


Staging of the act of sprucing and setting up a home to make it as visually appealing possible to read prospective buyer.


The question is always what home improvements give the best return on the remodeling dollar?


Depersonalize, De-clutter and Discard


Understanding what determines price and market value of a home


Save yourself time and money by avoiding these costly mistakes.


Learn what not to do when selling your home


How do you find buyers? The two most valuable tools for finding ready buyers are the previously covered strategic pricing and aggressive online marketing plan.


Negotiating your home sale does not have to be intimidating. By learning how real estate negotiations work and how to apply proven techniques, you can get the price you want from the buyers.


The more you know about negotiating, the less likely you are to create obstacles during the sale process.


How to use your bargaining chips to your favor as an informed seller


Explore the reasons for hiring an agent v/s going on your own.


We take you through the closing process and what to expect.


A quick review of some of those most important aspects of the book.



Conclusion and an invitation from Paul Benfield with Design Or List It.



Your home is one of the most important and largest assets so the decision to sell your home is extremely important and not to be taken lightly. This book will help you make an informed decision on selling your home and help to avoid the pitfalls that a lot of sellers’ face. In this book we will explore in detail the following topics which will serve as your guide to sell your home successfully and maximize your earnings.


1.    How to prepare yourself emotionally to sell your home


2.    Learn the most important factors in selling your home


3.    How to hire the right agent and what to avoid


Please feel free to contact me for a listing consultation or advice on selling your home.


Paul Benfield Broker with Design Or List It and Florida Living Quarters is your top source for listing, selling and buying homes in the most prestigious communities like Alaqua, Acuera, Alaqua Lakes, Antigua Pointe, Astor Farms, Banyan Pointe, Bay Hill, Bella Foresta, Bella Vista, Bellaria, Buckingham Estates, Camwood, Carisbrooke, Casa Del Lago, Chaine Du Lac, Comstock, Cypress Point, Emerson Pointe, Estates at Wekiva Park, Forrest Hills, Fountain Parke, Heathrow, Heathrow Woods, Island Club, Isleworth, Keene’s Pointe, Lake Brantley, Lake Butler Sound, Lake Club, Lake Forest, Lake Markham Preserve, Lake Markham Landings, Magnolia Plantation, Maitland Shores, Markham Estates, Phillips Landing, Reserve at Belmere, Retreat at Wekiva, River Crest, Springs Landing, Spruce Creek, Steeple Chase, Summer Oaks, Sweetwater Club, Sylvan Lake Reserve, Timacuan, Veramonte, Vizcaya, Waterford Pointe, Waterstone, Windermere Club, Windsong, Wingfield North, Wingfield Reserve, Woodmere Terrace and more.


 It’s evident when you are ready to sell your home you need to get maximum market value and sell as efficiently as possible. We make listing and selling your home a very rewarding experience with our exclusive Home Selling Strategy. We manage your sale through the entire process by listing your home with Design Or List It.


The experience and technology of Design Or List It along with the benefit of Florida Living Quarters Interior Design, which has been named top interior design firms in Central Florida by the Orlando Business Journal. Together we make your home more attractive to potential home buyers. This is a perfect marriage to sell your home quickly, efficiently and for maximum value. Let us help you with a Free Market Analysis to know your home value and potential.


Why list your home with Design Or List It?


Buying and selling your home is a lifestyle change. How to sell and buy your home comes down to marketing, strategizing, and an aggressive available agent. With so many online website listings and traditional marketing, buyers and sellers want accurate information. At Design Or List It, we give you the first look at listings and availability. Our reputation speaks volumes.


When you work with us, you get


o   Paul Benfield - Real Estate Broker and Realtor


o   Savvy Marketing tools to get your home top notch exposure in print and web


o   Interior Designer assessment of your home potential to maximum sale value


o   An interior designer opinion on home interior comparison provided by FLQ


o   An allied partner looking out for you throughout the selling process.


o   Experience in listing, competitive pricing, staging and selling your home 


Wishing you good fortune

Paul Benfield

Real Estate Broker / Realtor





The largest investment most people make is in their home. This makes selling a home – within a single-family residence, duplex, or condominium, the single largest most complex transaction a person will ever undertake. It involves new terms and concepts, financial acumen, and larger figure’s than normally dealt with.


It is also one in which emotions may come into play to the detriment of good judgment. “Surely, this buyer thinks, my home where I raised my children and made so many memories is worth more than the bricks and mortar that it contains.”


Real estate transactions involve dozens of decisions and substantial investment in a homeowner’s time, energy, and money, and emotions almost always lead to problems in a sales price negotiation.


As a home seller your primary goal is to find the home shopper who cannot resist buying your house at the highest price. To do this, you need to offer potential buyers a striking home sales presentation that outshines other homes on the market. It requires making a fantastic first impression, creating


In the buyers an instant feeling that they’re traveling up the front walkway of their new home for the first time, and not visiting someone else’s. It’s about falling in love at first sight in the first few seconds.


Most sellers do not venture alone into selling their home. They find it better to have an experienced real estate professional with whom they are comfortable with. This book was written to provide some of that comfort without the direct sales or stressors of person to person contact.


I want the perspective or active home seller to independently achieve a better understanding of the home selling process. I’ve also provided actionable insights into the best ways to market your home, avoid critical mistakes, and maintain focus on the aspects that matter most.


Let this book be your go to resource for information strategies and techniques that can be put to work to sell your home quickly at the best price. Take time looking through the chapters and master the secrets of successful home sellers. For example, discover why comparable homes sell for considerably different prices.


Be ready to sell by knowing your home’s market value, best listing price, how to negotiate, and what improvements give the best return on investment for (ROI).


My sincere hope is that this book will help you make the most of your time and efforts to sell your home. Learn the process and importance of prepping your home for sale, how to present to get top offers, along with which upgrades will make the most difference in ROI.


Then dive into marketing your home with a look at costly mistakes, avoiding those mistakes, and finding qualified buyers. Afterwards, we examine the critical topics of negotiations, what to expect and how to conduct them, and finish with a look at what engaging in a real estate professional brings to your real estate transactions. After you learn the process, requirements, and tips, you will see that an experienced financially astute real estate professional can vastly cut the time and raise the economic value of your transaction.


Reading this book is your first step to selling your home for the best price in the shortest time. After you read it you might want to talk with me. I stand by to assist you with a comparable market analysis and a solid marketing plan to fit your needs and lifestyle.


First Steps To Selling Your Home



“You need to know the territory and terminology”


Location!  Location!  Location!  Is the most critical consideration in real estate. Setting the price in which to sell your home is not a simple formula. Many elements factor into the decision. Throughout this book you read examples of similar situated houses that sold for very different prices, along with the reasons for the disparities. A calculated home value is not necessarily what you believe your home is worth. Recognizing this helps avoid over pricing, the number one factor that leaves homes unsold.


Familiarity with the real estate terms, market value, appraisal value, and assessed value can save disappointment and frustration and allow home sellers to more meaningful engage in setting a home’s listing price.


The most used definition of market value is “the most probable price of a property should bring in a competitive, open market under conditions requisite to a fair sale.” Essentially, this is a pre-negotiation opinion of what a home should bring in its local market. It’s geographical area, generally an area such as a suburb or neighborhood.


Appraisal value is an evaluation of a property’s worth at a given point in time is performed by a professional appraiser. Appraised value is a crucial factor in a loan and determines how much money may be borrowed and what terms. For example, the Loan-To-Value (LTV) ratio is based on the appraised value. Where LTV is greater than 80% the lender generally will acquire the borrow to buy mortgage Insurance.


Assessed value is the amount local for state government has designated for specific property and frequently differs from market value or appraisal value. The assessed value is used as the basis of property tax. The assessed value of real property is not necessarily equal to the property’s market value.


What is your home worth?


The first step in selling your home is knowing the difference between value, worth, and price. Let’s examine the determining factors at work. Understanding those factors allows them to be leveraged. There are several ways a home’s value is derived.


Online home valuation


Online tools will provide you with a very basic estimate of your home’s current value based on recent comparable home sales in your area using a comprehensive database. Note that the assessment is based on available data with no guarantee of


accuracy and often uses an algorithm that averages comparable sales in the geographic area. These tools might be quick and easy to use but they don’t take in factors like location, current local trends and the condition of the property.


Professional appraisal


Nothing determines the sales price of a piece of real estate but the price at which it sells. Houses are not the same and should be priced accordingly.


Real estate appraisal is the process of arriving at developing a perspective of value for real property. This is the market value, what a willing reasonable buyer would pay for the property to a willing reasonable seller. Real estate transactions generally require assessments because they happen infrequently. Every real property is unique in features and characteristics. No home is the same.


The seller can use the appraisal as a basis for pricing. The buyer can use it as a gauge on which to base an offer. Lenders use appraisals to know how much money to lend to their borrowers.


The key factors in a home appraisal are


Dwelling, features, improvements made, comparable sales, location, age of property, size, depreciation. Condition, of course is a crucial factor in valuation. Location is also a factor; however, as property cannot change location, upgrades or improvements to residential property often can enhance its value.


A professional appraiser should be a qualified specialist in real estate appraisals, with the expertise in your region. Their job is to determine the estimated value by inspecting the property, reviewing the initial purchase price, and weighing it against recent sales with the same purchase price.


Comparative market analysis by a real estate professional


This home valuation is usually a free service from real estate professionals and more helpful than automated online offerings. It provides detailed information on each house sold in your area over the last six months, along with the final sale price. It also includes the specifics of all the houses for sale in your area, including the asking price. These homes are your competition. The real estate professional will also answer any questions and help you price of your home realistically. Along with an understanding of how the value of a home is determined, the current market must be considered. By utilizing a professional real estate agent like me you can rely on proven expertise to market your home at the best listing price. I’ll be happy to provide you with a comparative market analysis. Please refer to the last page of this book if you’d like more information on how to request a free home valuation.


The second step in selling your home for more $$$


The discussion shows there is no calculable certainty in setting the value of a home. There can be a wide difference between the sellers asking price, market value, and the final sale price. Let’s turn to what the homeowner/seller can do to solicit offers at the listing price, or even above in a competitive market.


The sellers time, effort, and investment are the most important parts of the process. The sellers willingness to adequately prepare the home for presentation by improving, freshening, landscaping, and generally making a home pristine and to live in that presentation for the remainder of the time it takes to sell a property will greatly affect both the time on the market, as well as the price in which the home sells.


A market in which homes normally sell in no more than six months of listing is considered balanced and neutral. Meaning a good number of homeowners are selling and buyers are purchasing therefore neither has the upper hand. Typically, any number below six months is considered a seller’s market.


Living for the show


A house on the market requires keeping the home in constant show ready condition and an adjustment to changes in day to day life that are inherent in the process. Sellers get out of business hour phone calls from unrepresented prospects and buyer’s agents to show the home, frequent updates by phone, e-mail, and text and showing appointment scheduling messages from the listing agent; repair and reconditioning appointments and inspections. The house may be photographed for online, periodical, or brochure presentations.


There are repeated showings when the home first hits the market. Keep your home in pristine showing condition for impromptu visitors-the perfect prospect might just drop in at dinnertime. Rude, but necessary to accommodate.


Children and pets should be unseen, unheard


Children and pets are distractions for potential buyers. You should plan your children to be elsewhere and your pets crated or leashed, and no toys laying around or dog hair on the sofa.


The pressure of showing to everyone mildly interested in looking, not necessarily buying may come from the idea that the more your home is seen the more quickly and easily your home will sell. Many real estate agents provide their clients with dozens of homes to consider without a clear picture of what the buyer wants. Low interest traffic can be a heavy burden on the sellers’ time, energy, and resources.


Since a showing can take an hour or more, finding an interested buyer is what matters most. The home will be shown to many more uninterested than interested buyers. How many times will you have to show your home?  In an ideal world, your property should be shown to serious buyers only. However, many Sunday afternoon window shoppers exist. We call these tire kickers. You shouldn’t waste your time trying to appeal to non-interested buyers. This is where planning, organizing, and a professional help of a qualified real estate professional enables you to handle even the most intimidating tasks without wasting efforts. 


Six strategic tips to mentally prepare to sell your home


“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin


Take a moment to read these six simple steps- don’t judge the title and really read them. These are strategies that I have personally found help me when I am mentally preparing for a challenge.


1.    Be positive - Yep, this can be tough to do if you are selling out of necessity; however, it is important that you remain positive. Read inspirational books, attend church and prayer meetings and help others who are less fortunate than you. Be conscious of the negative thoughts that enter your mind and quickly dispel them.


2.    Get a coach - Confide in a mentor or close friend (with a level head). Spend a few minutes a week discussing your thoughts and feelings. An agent should be trained to help coach you throughout the process.


3.    Visualize the outcome - If you are moving by choice, spend some time seeing yourself and your family in your next home (after the dust has settled).


4.    If you are moving out of necessity realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel and see yourself in that better light (living within your financial means, future opportunities, etc..).


5.    Prayer and meditation - As a Christian, I have formed the habit of beginning every single day with prayer. I spend 15 minutes in quiet prayer time, alone with the Creator. I set an alarm on my phone for a set time every day as a reminder. I also find meditation very beneficial but more difficult than prayer! Try spending 15 to 30 minutes in quiet solitude; allow yourself to focus and think of nothing; just be still and clear your mind. It’s a tough but good habit to form.


6.    Journal - Getting your thoughts out of your head and down on paper is a very freeing exercise. My wife uses the notes section on her smart phone and writes down notes from church or to do lists. Others may find it easier to record their thoughts using a smart phone app or other device. Another great idea is a “Blessing Jar” each day write a blessing that you are grateful for. At the end of the year plan to read the blessings out loud as a reminder of your blessings.


Well… if you are ready to begin your home selling journey, let’s begin!


80 20 Rule

(2) THE 80/20 RULE

80% of results will come from just 20% of the action. The 80/20 rule applies to home sales as well. Understanding the 80/20 rule can save you time in selling your home. Under this rule you stop trying to sell people on the entire home. Applying the rule, you can highlight the 20% of your homes features that make it special. The remaining 80% of your home still affects the buyer’s decision so do not neglect it. In photographs and showings feature the elements that enhance your homes best 20%. By doing this you’re selling point won’t be the common feature of other home competition in your market. Instead, use your home’s unique features to grab the attention of buyers who are interested in those distinctive features.


Look for the 20% difference and market those features


Following the 80/20 rule can lessen time showing to people who aren’t interested. Instead you’ll be showing your home to buyers who are motivated to make a purchase.


You won’t have to show as frequently. You also won’t have to sit through lowball offers from casual shoppers. Keeping this in mind you must take the time to uncover your homes most attractive and unique features and improve them to their highest potential. Compare your house with others in the neighborhood to see what makes yours stand out and run with it.

 Creating Curb Appeal


A stunning first impression is not the same as love at first sight. But it is a welcoming invitation. This is very true when selling a home. First impressions matter. Sometimes they are everything, so you must make a good one.


It’s estimated that more than half of all houses are SOLD before buyers even get out of their cars. Stand across the street from your home and review its “curb appeal”. What can you do to improve the very first impression?


Nothing sets the tone of a real estate transaction more than first impressions. Consider what a potential home buyer may think as he/she drives up to your property for the very first time.


You do not have a lot of time to establish a curb appeal relationship with a prospective homebuyer. From surfing the web to viewing online photos from across the country or driving by your home in the family SUV on a Sunday afternoon outing. While shoppers will decide at a glance whether they want to see more.


Creating curb appeal is essential to attracting interest in your home. How your home looks from the road it is so persuasive that a well-prepared house may catch the attention of buyers who did not find the written description particularly compelling. On the other hand, a neglected house can cause a buyer previously excited by your online marketing listing a specific desired featured to cruise right on by.


Try it. Go out into your street and look at your home and see if you can spot any imperfections. Is it appealing, pristine, and well kept, or are there necessary repairs that you’ve been putting off?  After you’ve lived in a home for long while, you’re not likely to examine it objectively. Listen to suggestions for real estate professionals, your friends and/or potential home buyers about how you can make your home show better.


Then take a drive around your neighborhood and surrounding area and see which homes for sale appeal to you. Well-tended houses with trimmed bushes, groomed lawns, attractive landscaping, and a grand entrance will be more impressive than homes with an unkept walkway, uncut grass, and a paint peeling front door.


The outside appearance of a property needs to be an invitation to come inside. Homebuyers are drawn to welcoming entries and uncluttered yards. They are unlikely to be attracted to a home with dead shrubbery and a weather worn exterior. It is no stretch to think a buyer will believe the home is neglected on the inside as well.

Look at your home as a prospect would. Drive up to the curb and take inventory of everything that needs attention. Simple improvements like weeding, trimming, and window washing can improve the appearance of a home with little to no expense. Repair and repainting or more costly but sometimes necessary.

Low cost investments like power washing the house and concrete, repainting trim and adding landscaping also give your house more curb appeal. The goal here is to get more money for your home. Homebuyers generally aren’t interested in a home that needs work unless you want to sell it below market value.


Make all major and minor improvements to update the exterior of your property. There might be a long list of things to do. It takes hard work to get a home ready to sell. Anyone can put a house on the market, but not everyone sells quickly or with great profits.


Creating a grand entrance


You want to create a sense in the buyer of a great place to come home to. Impressing the home shopper at the front door is a vital part of the home sale. This means more than putting out a welcome mat and potted plants.


You want perspective buyers to feel welcome, safe, and secure when they open the door. It might be arranged that the perspective buyer be the one to open the front door to enhance the feeling of a coming home experience.


The door handle is the first point of touch on a home. Security is important to home buyers. A flimsy lock or handle on the front door will make potential home buyers uncomfortable, and they may not even know why. Replace the worn or loose entry handset. Consider replacing the door handle with a heavy-duty deadbolt and handle combination. This investment of less than $100 will make your home more visible and seem more secure, and everyone wants to feel security in their home.


The front door is a focal point; make an impression. Freshen it up and add a dash of color. Choose a paint that complements the color of your home. Replacing a wooden door with a steel entry door is worth the cost with a 91% ROI (Return On Investment).


Some other considerations and creating great curb appeal


Symmetry appeals to the eye and is easy to accomplish. Lopsided landscaping or unevenly trimmed bushes will detract from curb appeal; the overall appearance of the home needs balance.

The mailbox should complement your home. If it is worn, dated, or unsightly, replace it. This doesn’t cost much and it’s worthwhile.

Use outdoor lighting to add to landscaping as well as a perceived safety feature.

Use flower boxes and raised flower beds to add instant color. This is an easy, inexpensive way to enhance curb appeal.

Spruce up the landscaping. Eliminating weeds and adding fresh and mulch can really make a difference in show homeowner care and maintenance.

Consider enhancing architectural features by adding molding to the tops and sides of the doorway or around windows.

Keep shutters and trim in excellent shape. Repainting them adds to the attractiveness. Fence gates, arbors, and fencing panels should be clean and fresh.

Clean downspouts and gutters. Repaint or touch up to eliminate rust spots.

Ensure walkway to the front door is clear and approachable. Stacked hoses and unruly landscaping interfere with home shoppers walking up, diminishing the inviting look.


Paint or stain railings if weathered:


Try a fresh coat of paint. Faded or chipping paint, siding, or trim will always detract from curb appeal. If exterior paint is good, ensure door and window trim are too. This simple upgrade is well worth the cost.

Power washing the house, walkways, and driveway can be almost as effective as repainting, at a much lower cost.

Adding some stone or stone veneer to the face of the home is an inexpensive way to instantly update your home if it complements the design.

Add a smart doorbell. 8 of 10 home doorbells are outdated or not working, so if you invest $200 and a doorbell equipped with a camera and speaker, you will gain the approval of home shoppers who are looking for added security features.


Curb appeal is one of the most essential elements in selling your home quickly and successfully. You can create interest in your home before buyer’s step out of the car, no matter how uninterested they might have been initially.


If you put money into cleaning up the outside of your home, buyers will be more likely to want to see the inside. Your homes curb appeal draws buyers in, maintain their interest, and sets your home apart from the competition.


Remember that unless you are willing to lower your home’s price well below market value, home buyers typically won’t want to take on a major renovation project.

Staging With A Purpose


Staging is the act of sprucing and setting up a home to make it as visually appealing as possible to a prospective buyer. Creating an eye appealing home, one that potential buyers can envision themselves living in is the best investment in the real estate sales effort.


Sellers often fail to take advantage in this, as it takes considerable time and work. However, the payoff is proven. Staging is considered one of the most effective marketing strategies to increase the value of your home.


This strategy is effective in any market, in any type of home property being listed. It applies equally to single family homes, apartments, townhouses, and condos. This approach works!  Agents and Sellers using this tactic have a greater chance of selling the property for more money.


In today’s competitive real estate market, selling your home requires hard work and dedication. A motivated seller can bring their home to the marketing forefront through staging.



Staging the home will:


    Distinguish it from the competition
    Attract top dollar from home buyers
    Provide a visual edge over the competition

The power of staging when selling a home


Consider these results:


    Staged homes spent 50% less time on the market than homes that were not staged.
    Staged homes sold for more than 8% above the asking price.
    A staging investment of 1% to 3% of asking price generates an ROI of between 8% and 10%
    Homes staged prior to listing sold 79% faster than homes staged after listing


What did buyers want to see?


Most home shoppers are envisioning a fresh start. If they can picture themselves living in the home, the home will be easier to sell. This is known as interior appeal, where the eyes are drawn to inviting spaces and light, as well as unique features to show purpose or suggested use. The home must feel new to reflect ease of upkeep. The goal is to create a clean, simple, and contemporary feel. Painting, updating fixtures, and eliminating soiled carpets and popcorn ceilings can affect the salability of the home by up to 75%!


Neutralize for eye appeal


The idea is to neutralize the home regarding personal taste or decoration so the buyers can easily envision the home as it would be outfitted in their taste or with their possessions without the distraction of the seller’s taste and possessions. In staging, distractions are removed so the home buyer can imagine living in each space of the house.


An effective way to achieve this is to paint all rooms in a neutral color. A wide range of neutrals from soft grays to warm beige's are available. Painting the interior gives newness and freshness and can make the home appear more spacious. Using the same color in visibly adjacent rooms gives the house a seamless look and uninterrupted flow. Our Interior Design and Home Staging expert can assist you in this regard.


Changing your window coverings to match the walls can create an illusion of more space. Dark or bold wall colors can dampen interest in a home if used in large spaces; however, they can be used effectively as accent colors.


Focus on furniture: less is more


In staging, a visibly inviting space is created so that the home buyer can envision or imagine living in the space. Minimization is the key. The sellers’ personal taste and style will be showcased while the home is on the market, which may be a sale distraction. Preparing for moving is part of selling a home, it might as well be done at this stage of the process to enhance the properties ability to sale quickly.


Creating space by minimizing furniture


Buyers are attracted to homes flooded with light and roominess. They are equally put off by cramped homes filled with uninviting spaces. Home buyers want to walk through a house without obstacles in the way. Space and storage are high on the list of buyers’ desires, so every area of the home should feel spacious.


Remove all unnecessary furniture from living spaces. Store it while the home is on the market. closets, pantries, and storage rooms must be free of clutter and look organized.


Furniture placement is an easy way to highlight unique house features. A grouping of chairs in front of a fireplace will draw attention to it. Avoid pushing furniture close to the walls. Reposition easy chairs into floating group spaces.


Every room must be staged to show function. An empty room used for overflow of boxes, possessions, or unwanted items should be transformed into a useable, desirable space. Clean it out and create an office space with a desk and chair or a reading room with a lamp and recliner. Exercise equipment might be arranged to feature it as a workout room. Every room should have a purpose and be user friendly. Make your homes traffic flow obvious so buyers can browse each room carefree and with ease.


Emotional cues


Once every room has a purpose, creating an atmosphere is crucial to making the home desirable. Decorative touches of greenery, flowers, and lit candles give life to a room. Creatively hung wall art can do the same. A bedroom that has one bed with one pillow and blanket may make the room seem bare and uninviting. By adding a table with decor and the chair draped with a lap robe, you heighten its appeal. Be sure to add elements of the same color, shape, or texture to unify the room. Any splashes of bold color should appear in wall art or any place you want to draw attention.


Learn to strike a balance between staging and living in your home. The main goal is to keep your home clean and free of clutter that distracts would be buyers. Even simple things can make a big impact on the final sale price of a home. Staging done well is one of those things!  You have two options for staging a home: do it yourself or hire a professional home stager. If you are considering hiring someone, I can provide the services through our interior design and home staging companies.


To stay or not to stay?


Home sellers often ask me whether they should stay in their home while it is on the market, or go. There are pros and cons to both and factors that can tip the scale to one side.


If the seller has engaged a real estate professional, the burden of showing the home is virtually eliminated. The agent will field all calls, set appointments and show the home.


Also, chances that a buyers’ real estate agent will show your home are increased. Busy schedules often cause agents to take the path of least resistance. If they have 20 homes to show and five are occupied, they may show the vacant homes because they are easier. They don’t have to call and make an appointment. They can simply go over and use the lockbox.


Additionally, the continual pressure to keep daily life from affecting the homes pristine staging presentation isn’t there. The seller is not under constant pressure to keep the home in immaculate showing condition and spotless.


Recap the 7 seller benefits to staging your home


1.    Professionally staged homes present and show better than competing houses for sale, including new construction homes and higher-priced houses.

2.    Staged properties will sell faster when compared with houses that have not been staged. From the date of listing until the day of closing, home staging shortens this time frame, even in a slow real estate market.

3.    Staged properties can increase the number of offers and selling price in hot markets.

4.    Buyers view professionally staged listings as “well-maintained”.

5.    Buyers’ agents recognize that professionally staged listings are “move-in” ready and are inclined to show staged properties.

6.    Photos of professionally staged listings look better on the MLS, as well as in print.

7.    Professionally staged listings “STAND-OUT” in prospective buyers’ minds.


Upgrading With ROI In Mind


Making upgrades can be as easy as replacing the handset on your front door or as difficult as remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or even repainting the entire house. The question is always, what home improvements give the best return on the remodeling dollar?


ROI is generally less than 100% in real estate. Less is more. It is frequently advised in this area that it’s better to update/remodel your home while living in it and not solely at the time it comes to sell. That way, there is more enjoyment in the improvement and less cost in preparing for the sale. In addition, some upgrades or home improvements will not return their investment in the sale price.


Some of the best ROI improvements a home seller can make is insulating the attic with 116% return. Remodels will add value to the home but in terms of ROI they yield around 50%. Small upgrades like replacing outdated fixtures in the kitchen and bath are certainly worthwhile, but major remodeling of those rooms isn’t recommended just to sell your home.


That’s not to say you can ignore necessary repairs that a home inspector will red flag, or a mortgage company would demand completed before issuing a loan to a buyer. If major problems like a leaking roof or outdated wiring exists, you may want to repair those before putting your home on the market unless you are expecting to give concessions to the buyer.


Starting with the basics


Every listing home should meet the basic expectations of any buyer; it should have a sound roof, functioning gutters and downspouts, foundation without cracks, functioning heating and air conditioning systems, solid flooring and safe electrical wiring. With mandated home inspections, any shortcomings may be required to be remedied to get buyer financing approval.


It is important to understand that the market value of a home is determined by the price of comparable homes recently sold in the area. Extensive remodeling to sell the home or to increase the value may not pay off. Mechanical maintenance is a must. It is easy to get wrapped up in the more eye pleasing aspects of preparing a home to sell; however, the upkeep of more mundane aspects of the home cannot be overlooked.

Review these mechanical features for consideration

    Electrical boxes and wiring
    Natural gas lines
    Central heating and air conditioning

If these components are old, outdated, and not working correctly the homes appeal is lowered as well as the sale price.


According to National Association of Realtors 65% of home buyers surveyed wanted to be sure their new home had a working central air system. This is the most important mechanical feature home buyers look for.


People want to purchase a home that reflects their aesthetic tastes and lifestyles, but also one that is safe and sound. Faulty electrical systems do not provide a feeling of safety. Leaky plumbing causes concerns of mold infestation and sewage problems. These areas can require extensive work and they’re extremely important. Overlook them in the preparation stage and you run the risk of trouble later with inspections and appraisals.


Important areas to have inspected


o   Having a professional inspection for buyers to review is a big plus in marketing.

o   Have a certified plumber inspect the entire water system for leaks.

o   Check the well and septic field, if applicable.

o   Hire an electrician to check the wiring.

o   Call a HVAC company to perform a thorough service checkup.

o   Contact the natural gas supplier and have them double check your tanks and lines.


As an alternative to calling and arranging the individual inspections, certified home inspectors usually cover all items related to mechanical issues. Home inspectors will be able to identify trouble spots. Most buyers hire a home inspector, so you may be saving them a major step in the sale process. Having a pre-inspection is a huge plus in the marketing of the home.



Replacing appliances


New appliances make a huge impact on buyers, the National Association of Realtors conducted a survey of buyers and found that:


o   Buyers were usually interested in buying a home that features new appliances.

o   Roughly 17% of prospective buyers preferred stainless steel.

o   Buyers on average indicated they would have been willing to pay nearly $2000 more for new appliances.

o   Potential buyers want appliances included and will pay more for them especially if they are new or in excellent condition.

o   New appliances might be what sets a house apart from the home for sale across the street. If new appliances are out of reach, try an offer clean and fully functional appliances.


Updating hardware


o   Carefully inspect your kitchen and bathroom hardware. If it is unsightly or worn, it’s best to replace it. Put yourself in a buyers’ shoes. Your home will potentially be their new home. Old, worn out fixtures are not going to appeal to them in a way that nice, new, shiny ones will.


o   Unless your knobs, pulls, handles, or hinges are broken you may not need to replace them. Get a fresh look and revitalize them by thoroughly washing, sanding, and painting them with paint made specifically for kitchen and bathroom hardware


Kitchen and bath updates

    Replace the toilet seat.
    Repair the grout and tile backsplashes, floors, and tub surrounds.
    Refurbish tired looking cabinets with fresh paint or finish.
    Replace a dated bathroom sink with a pedestal variety or cabinet vanity sink.

 Check these hardware items closely and replace, as needed:

    Towel bars
    Toilet paper holder
    Door handles
    Dated light fixtures

The goal is to touch up your home nicely without excessive spending. The internet has a wealth of DIY videos on platforms like YouTube that can help you update your bath and kitchen if your budget is limited.


If you have broken or worn out hardware, it’s best to replace the entire set. If you can find matching pieces, you can paint the old and new to match.


Let there be light


Whether natural or artificial, bringing in light is one of the most effective ways to show off your home.


Using light to enhance your homes appeal can make a difference. Harsh light is unflattering, even to the best furnishings and features. Dim lighting gives everything in the house a dark and dingy feel. Assessing the lighting in each area of your home will give you an idea of where more light is needed. Rooms with abundant windows greatly benefit from natural light, as your home would typically be shown during the daytime hours.


Supplemental light is necessary for rooms with minimal windows or reduced natural light. Increase the wattage of light bulbs in your lamps to improve artificial light. As a rule of thumb, there should be 100 Watts for each 50 square feet of space.

There are three kinds of lighting, general lighting or overhead is typically ambient. This potential light is good for tasks like food preparation or reading. Accent lights are usually on tables or mounted on walls. You can use all three sources of light to bring out the best features your home has to offer.


Key areas, such as foyers, can set the stage by impressing buyers with a dramatic light source. If you do not have an abundance of natural light coming in, a chandelier type light works if your ceilings are high. Otherwise wall sconces are impressive in smaller spaces. The objective is to make sure each area of the home is effectively lit.


Kitchen and bathrooms are pivotal rooms


These two areas can make or break a sale. The combination of ambient, natural, and pendant lighting can bring out the best in your kitchen space. Mounting track lighting underneath cabinets give the counters a chance to shine aesthetically and functionally. Make sure the lighting over the sink area is enough and working properly. If you have a hood over the stove, install clear bulbs to ensure the brightest light.


Lighting in the bathroom needs to be intense without being harsh. Soft lighting enhances any part of the house you want to highlight.


Avoid harsh lighting in the bedrooms, lamps strategically placed will give the bedrooms a peaceful and restful feel. The closet light should be bright.


Flooring plan

Although you want to avoid home buyers looking down on your home, they will be looking down to see what they are walking on. Your home’s value can be downgraded by the buyer if your floors are in bad condition. On the contrary, if your home’s flooring flow well and in excellent condition buyers will be willing to pay more for it. Remember, the goal here is to maximize profit without compromising investment dollars.


However, if the flooring and carpeting are not in good condition you should consider repairing or replacing. Repairing and thoroughly cleaning the floors are the least expensive way. Move furniture out of the way and notate condition, stains, or blemishes. Evaluate what needs to be replaced, cleaned, or repaired.


Carpets can be steamed cleaned to eliminate stains and odors. If the carpets are path worn and dull, you can replace them with other kinds of flooring with a reasonable ROI.


Hardwood flooring can be refinished if the wood is worn or has minor water damage. Seek the advice of a flooring professional because real wood floors add a level of quality to a home that laminate floors cannot match.


Tips for kitchen and bath


When making upgrades to kitchen and bath, keep aware of what constitutes a substantial investment. The key is to consider the mass appeal for the sake of resale value. You do not need to “bust your budget” to sell your home, but you do need to have mass appeal.


Here are some suggestions of what you can do to your kitchen and bath to impress buyers without losing you Return-On-Investment:


    Paint with neutral colors.
    Add a new backsplash in the kitchen.
    Install new countertops to bring the home up to the current area standards.
    Add new multi-functional kitchen faucets for mass appeal.
    Add cabinet space or increase storage in the pantry.
    Replace dated bathroom vanities.
    Replace the toilet seats.
    Two energy saving upgrades to lower utility bills.
    Install an energy saving smart thermostat.
    Install solar vents in the attic space that help expel hot air.


Making a case for space


People accumulate an abundance of possessions, they need space to store it. They also want a way to

clear the clutter. According to the National Association of Realtors most buyers prefer improved or greater closet space and other storage options. Look at the statistics below:


    93% wanted a laundry room.
    90% wanted a bathroom linen closet.
    86% wanted garage storage.
    85% wanted a walk-in kitchen pantry.


Storage is a plus


Give buyers great storage and you’ve won their hearts. If you can add new closets to your home easily, do so. Building a simple closet isn’t difficult. If you’re selling an older home where closet space is typically minimal, this will help!


If your rooms are already small you may not be able to take away square footage. However, closets can be updated to maximize their space and functionality.


Here are a few ways to incorporate more storage


You can easily design your custom closets kit online with a storage solution company.
Your home improvement superstore or hardware store often has exactly what you need in inexpensive prefabricated form.
Organizers won’t enlarge your closets but maximizing vertical and horizontal space is a suitable alternative.

And don’t stop there, storage isn’t restricted to closets. Storage improvement opportunities can be found in other areas of the home as well.
Look for any place you can provide attractive inexpensive storage space. Make sure your improvements are in good fashion and you will benefit from increased storage Solutions.


Updating your home with ROI in mind is the best approach when preparing your home to sell. Look over this recent list of what buyers want in a home. Compare it to what you have in yours, and upgrade accordingly without over improving to comparable homes in your area.


Features most home buyers want


    Energy star rating appliances - 94%
    Laundry room - 93%
    Energy star rating for the whole home – 91%
    Exhaust fan in the bathroom – 90%
    Exterior lighting – 90%
    Bathroom linen closet – 90%
    Energy star rated windows – 89%
    Ceiling fans – 88%
    Garage storage – 86%
    Table space for eating in the kitchen – 85%
    Walk in kitchen pantry – 85%
    Keep in mind these features are not guaranteed to be effective for profitable upgrades.

Features fewer buyers want:

    Shower stall without tub in the master bath – 51%
    Two story family room – 43%
    Wine cooler – 42%
    Wet bar – 41%
    Laminate counter top – 40%
    Laundry chute – 32%
    Outdoor kitchen – 31%
    Game room – 31%
    His and her baths – 31%
    Glass front cabinets – 31%


Here is a list of undesirable things buyers encounter when previewing a home


    Broken door locks preventing access to the home.
    Pet deposits in the backyard or dirty cat boxes.
    Missing light bulbs in the basement.
    Having loose stairs on a stairway, or missing banisters.
    Low hanging dining room light fixtures.
    Closet doors that fall off or aren’t adjusted properly.
    Hearing animals in the walls of a vacant home.
    Halloween decorations left out after Halloween.
    Dangerous children’s toys left out.
    Dead cars in the driveway or yard.
    Political signs.
    Graffiti on a home for sale.
    Dead birds or animals in or around the home.


The Three D's




Staging is readying the home to show to potential buyers you must encourage them to visualize living in the home itself, but not in your home.


The denationalization of the home involves removing your personal items such as photos, collectables, and knickknacks. Wall decor is also relevant to personal taste and may distract buyers from seeing the home as theirs. It’s not personal, nobody will appreciate your beer can collection, antique kitchen accessories, overstuffed closets, and general clutter except you.


Simplify and neutralize your home as if it were a model home. That is exactly what it is while it’s on the market. Pack and store your keepsakes out of sight. Consider renting a storage unit until your home sells.


Make your home a clean, welcoming, blank canvas from which any buyer can visually paint their own dreams. It will not feel like your home, but once you sell and move into your next place you can decorate that home any way you like.


De-clutter and discard


We understand it’s inconvenient to live in your home without your stuff, like living in a hotel. However, it’s necessary for getting top dollar for your house. The more spacious your home appears, the more attractive it will be. Minimize the clutter as much as possible. You want the buyer to see what your home has to offer, not to guess about its possibilities.


Work from a plan


    List each room of the home, noting the clutter in each room, including closets.
    De-clutter rooms one at a time, from the smallest project to the largest.
    Clear out each room, keep only essential items.
    Donate clothes, decor, toys, and other items no longer needed.
    Box up and store possessions that you want to keep but do not currently use.


Room by room list


    Kitchen – clear the counters, leaving only three or four essential items. Keep towels, dishrags, and potholders out of sight. Soaps and cleaners should be neatly stored under the sink. Rarely used small appliances can be packed and put in storage. Pack away teacups, serving dishes, and platters if you normally showcase them. If you want to draw attention to the decorative shelving, put a few pieces out for show. Seasonal dishes and accessories should also be stored. Remove any pest control traps and poison from the pantry and closets. Appliances are not extra shelving or storage. Buyers will not want to find the microwave used as a breadbox or the oven as cookware storage.

    Bathrooms – make the bathroom look as though it’s rarely used. Remove everything from the cabinets and drawers. Keep what you need or will use and discard the rest. Store prescription medications out of sight and out of reach. Find a safe place for jewelry, cosmetics, and perfumes. Store hair products in the cabinets.

    Bedrooms – when it comes to clothing, people generally wear 20% of the clothes they own, 80% of the time. The focus is showcasing closet space. Only hang clothes that you wear most often and store the rest.

    Dining area – clear clutter off any flat surfaces, including the dining table, leaving only complimenting decor such as a vase of flowers.

    Living areas – gather stacks of books, magazines, remotes, toys, and games and store away. Keep all flat services clear and clutter free. Fold and drape decorative throws on chairs.

    Office space – organization is a focus for office space. Overflowing shelves do not reflect useful space. Keep all personal papers stored out of sight.

    Linen closets – organize and clean out. Store seasonal blankets and clothes. Keep linens to a minimum.

    Laundry room – if your washer and dryer are in the garage, closet, or laundry room you should make this area neat and tidy. Don’t leave clothes on the floor. Store detergents, bleach, and softeners in cabinets. Don’t use the tops of the washer and dryer for storage.

    Garage – although clean the garage may be the most daunting task, it can be as simple as getting rid of things you haven’t touched in years. Use this opportunity to donate or discard unwanted or unneeded items.

    Pets – all pet items need to out of the way for showings and open house events.


Spotless is the name of the game


Doing a thorough deep cleaning of your home is vital. It works for people selling a car and it will work for you when selling your home. With a home depersonalized and de-cluttered, It may make sense to use a professional cleaning service. Bathrooms are so important to Americans that most homes have at least two or three. It is imperative that the bathrooms are kept clean and odor free while your home is on the market.


Pet peeves


Pets are wonderful and bring a lot of joy, but buyers want to see your home without them. Some buyers might have allergies, others may not like animals, or have prejudices. Dog dishes, cat litter boxes, and beds need to be clean or completely out of sight. Pets should be regulated to cages with back yards or removed from the property while showing your home.


The next section you will learn how to price your home. A real estate professional is your best information source for how to sell your home quickly without lowering the price. When selling your home much to know about pricing, marketing, and negotiations.




The purpose of this book is to provide insight and guidance on how to sell a home quickly and for the most money possible. In previous chapters we learned about real estate sales terminology and concepts, with a heavy emphasis on the do’s and don’ts of getting a home listing ready for the most effective presentation.


The goal of upcoming chapters is to help aid in understanding what determines price and market value of a home, specifically your home.


Despite the term “buyer’s market,” understand it’s always a “seller’s market,” too, in the fact that homes are necessary and home ownership is cherished in the United States. Real estate is a commodity that will always remain in effect.


Further, your home is unique. There is no other exactly like it. The individuality you have created on your property makes it stand apart from your neighbors’ homes.


There are no set rules of when to sell. People get new jobs or are transferred or decide to move because of family situations all the time, at any time of year.


Your home’s value will be based on the sale price of similar homes purchased recently at the time you decide to sell.


The bottom line is that you decide the asking price of your home either by yourself or with the help of a real estate professional.


How do you decide? What is the best way to get online exposure? Do professional photographs make a difference to online home buyers? What more can be done to market your home?


Upcoming chapters answer these questions to help you sell your home for the best possible price.


The price is right


Pricing strategy meeting



Although most sellers expect me to tell them what I think the price of their home should be they are pleasantly surprised by my pricing system. You see, I believe that my role is to provide the best education to my clients, on what the market is doing in their area. We do this by conducting a 30-minute Pricing Strategy Meeting with our sellers, before we sign the listing paperwork. This is a free, no obligation consultation where you meet and determine the best price to sell your home depending on your circumstances.


If we meet at our office/design center, we can project the data onto our large tv screen where we can more readily go through it together. This is a fun but very serious and informative session. We spend the first 5 minutes reviewing the marketing plan for getting your home SOLD. We then spend 15 minutes reviewing the comprehensive CMA. and a session with our interior designer to go over improvement suggestions. Armed with the right information, we then set the price together that we feel comfortable with. My job is then to get you the price.


A buyer of real estate is no different from a buyer of a painting or bundle of fruit. Both sellers and buyers’ perception of value will always have a prominent role during the sale. Perceived value and market value are not the same.


You need to know how to price your home strategically and correctly from the beginning to obtain the best price. The longer your home is on the market the higher probability that you will sell for an average of 10% below the original list price.


As a seller, keep in mind two things as you determine initial listing price.


First, sentiment has no dollar value or place in a real estate transaction. Although you have emotional connections to your home, the buyer does not. Most buyers being shown many properties do not expect yours to be “the one.” You will have to work to get them to that decision. Avoid letting sentiment play a part in pricing your property.


Set all emotions aside during the selling process. Buyers look for cues to figure out your motivation to sell.


Next, there is also no direct dollar for dollar correlation between upgrade investments and market price. The $25,000 kitchen renovation will not bring the market price of a $275,000 to $300,000; don’t assume you can add that amount to your asking price and get trapped by making your home the nicest, but also priciest home for your area.


Sale price vs. market value


If you have a ready to buy, bank qualified buyer who is willing to pay a price you’ll accept, that is referred to as “sale price.” The sale price transaction, once complete, will influence the market value of homes in the area. You determine the price of your home by looking at comparable local sales provided by a real estate professional, your properties condition, and the current supply and demand.


What a piece of property might sell for based on features and benefits in a competitive market, and the current supply and demand of similar homes is its “market value”. You might value your home at a higher price than what a buyer will pay or it’s true market price. Balanced markets will equalize market price and market value.


The perspectives of buyers and sellers also come into play when placing value on a home. Let’s say your home has an abundance of mature trees, a plus in your mind. But a buyer who hates raking leaves will see that as a negative.


If you just spent $10,000 to replace your roof, you might think you can set a higher price, but buyers already expect the roof to be in excellent shape. Proximity to schools, bus routes, and medical facilities can also create value that certain buyers are willing to pay for.


Buyers look for the right deal, but what they are willing to pay for the bank is willing to finance has limits. Strategic pricing is your greatest toll when selling your home.


Pricing approaches


The leave room for negotiation approach – in this approach the market value is stretched. The price will not entice a buyer but may make comparable homes more desirable. The home will most likely not sell quickly or at full price.


The price it according to worth approach – this approach sees the price set right between the market value benchmarks. Likely, buyers will lump the home with like-priced homes.


The under pricing generates interest approach – under pricing will motivate buyers and perhaps create a bidding war. But the goal of selling the home for more money is derailed.


The comparative market analysis


When it comes to finding a buyer, pricing your home based off comparable real price to sales is crucial to making the sale. The comparative market analysis is imperative to pricing strategically. When you ask for a CMA from a real estate professional, be sure to review the analysis, ask questions and get explanations. If completed correctly, this comparison report not only gives you a great listing price but also reduces the chance of your home coming in under appraised. If you have a correct priced home, you should be showing within the first few days on the market. Offers should come within weeks or sooner.


Perceived value


If the perceived value of your home by a potential buyer is greater than the actual price, the more he/she is willing to buy. The urgency to buy disappears the closer the price and perceived value are. This means marketing the home to match the buyer’s specific needs and desires. A real estate professional can help you find the buyers hot buttons and market your home accordingly.


Selling before showing off


Before the internet, cell phones, and social media, buyers looking at homes perused the local MLS book filled with tiny, grainy images of homes. Photos of featured homes (paid for ads) were larger and sometimes in color, but most were black and white amateur photos. The photo was insignificant compared to the information provided below it.


Today, the reverse is true. Photographs have become the most effective way to attract future homeowners. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words heavily applies to real estate. Recent studies show that 89% of buyers use online tools to shop for homes before contacting a real estate agent.


Getting your home sold quickly takes exposure. Beautiful, engaging photos of homes inside and out make the best first impression. Online marketing through photographs and video is one of the most important ways to market your home.


Listing photography and video are great tools for showing off the best features of your home.


Bright and colorful shots of welcoming spaces encourage buyers to imagine themselves comfortable living happily in your home. By focusing on the unique aspects of your home, for instance, large rooms with great views or amazing architectural features, you can generate genuine buyer interest. Stage your home to give the appearance of space and light in every photo without distorting reality.


Maximum targeted exposure


You get maximum exposure when you have an agent that can place your listing on all major real estate portals such as a Zillow, Trulia, and Buyers flock to these web sites to find new homes listed. The agent can also place your home on their own dedicated web site and in social media platforms. In the average month Zillow alone captures 69% of traffic to real estate websites. When you choose an agent to sell your home, make sure they offer the maximum targeted exposure to potential buyers through the online marketplace and can provide the advanced technical services to sell your home such as these listed below


    Video maps such as google earth
    3D Panoramas
    Video Tours
    Updates on buyer activity through the agency
    Electronic documents
    Social media exposure
    Home staging or virtual home staging


Selling a home quickly and for more money takes work. Ensure the home is properly staged and ready to sell. Take advantage of every tool to achieve a positive result. Work with a real estate professional who not only knows the value of good photography and can also provide an aggressive Internet Marketing campaign to bring ready buyers to your home listing efficiently.




The list of frequent seller mistakes regarding house listing prices can help you avoid the pitfalls involved in selling your home. If setting a price was simple and straightforward you would not need assistance in pricing your home correctly. Save yourself time and money by avoiding these costly mistakes.


Guessing pricing vs. researching


Basing your home price on what the neighbor down the street listed their home for isn’t a reliable method. Nothing loses potential buyers faster than an overpriced home. Subsequent price lowering makes it look like you’re getting desperate to sell, which will also increase lowball offers. However, you do not want to underprice. A lower price listing may decrease the time to sell but you might be leaving several thousands of dollars on the table. Learn how to price your house for sale the right way, based on research.


The comparative market analysis is your best source for setting the asking price. If a home in your area sells for a low price, don’t assume yours is worth the same amount. The home may have had poor condition issues or a personal issue that required a quick sale. Your home might have something to offer that the other one did not. Let the comparative market analysis (CMA) be your guide with the advice of a real estate professional.


Hiring a realtor from highest price suggestion


Choosing a real estate agent simply because of a higher price for your home then other agents suggested is not in your best interest. A good realtor will know more about the market for your home then you do. Pick an agent who can provide you with real numbers and solid marketing plans for your home. The person you choose to sell your home should be knowledgeable in the local area, trustworthy, and quick to answer questions or concerns regarding the entire selling process. Avoid this mistake by interviewing several agents and selecting the one who offer sales data and a strategic listing price, and not the highest price.


Subjective pricing


Selling your home is a business transaction between a qualified buyer and yourself.


If you have enjoyed living in your home for years, but have decided to move on, then don’t let emotional attachments to your home affect how you price it. The most objective price will come from the CMA provided by your real estate professional. Memorable moments spent in your home may be priceless to you but they do not add to the selling price. It is also unrealistic to add dollars because of the labor spent making the house into your home. By focusing on the CMA results in maintaining a firm strictly business attitude, you can keep emotions at bay and out of the transaction.


First day high price blues


The most crucial time for your home are the first 10 days on the market. Once your home is on the MLS, you will see how much interest is generated. If your price is too high, buyers will pass you by because the home is out of their price range or out of the norm for the market area. By the time you decide to lower the price, they have moved on to other properties. As your home sits on the market, buyers will wonder why the home has not sold and come to the conclusion that it is undesirable in some way.


Price your home correctly from the start to generate interest in gain attention from buyers to sell faster. Unrealistic pricing costs money in the long run.


Rushed higher pricing


Even if you’re not in a hurry to sell its not a wise move to test the market by listing your home at a high price to see how it goes. Serious home shoppers may take months to find a new home. They are continually looking for new listings, not ones that had been sitting on the market. Thinking that the market will turn in your favor may not be the best strategy. If prices in your area are dropping, you may lose money. By pricing your home based on current market values, you can sell your home more quickly and for more money.


Price dropping


Another pricing trap to avoid is listing a price for your home far above other homes in the area with thought the price can be dropped if it does not sell after three months. That is potentially workable in a stable or increasing market. However, it’s the market in your area is declining you may be forced to reduce the price even more to catch up to the falling market.


Other Sellers mistakes


Zillow has compiled a list of “don’ts” to help people avoid the pitfalls of an otherwise successful sale.


Selling before getting qualified yourself


Entering a contract to sell your home before you get qualified to buy another is problematic. Your financial situation may have shifted since your last purchase, and you may not meet the requirements for a loan, or you may not be able to sell that enables you to buy the kind of replacement home you desire. You might have to rent or buy another house that is far from ideal. Before you decide to sell the house, get pre-approved by a lender you have confidence in and study the housing market in the area that you want to live in to get a good understanding of how much it will realistically cost you to buy a replacement home. Make plans in case you have to move right away.


Wasting time on Unqualified Buyers


It is wasted effort to show your home to someone who cannot buy it. An example is the seller who spent two weeks preparing for a friend who wanted to buy his home. The seller spent over $1,000 and met to discuss price and terms. It was well into the process when the seller found out his friend could not qualify for a loan. Real estate professionals spend a considerable amount of time and effort on making sure they only show qualified home shoppers.




Whenever possible, don’t be home when showing. This is impossible or impractical if you are selling the home yourself. If you have a real estate professional, leave when the house is shown. Lurking Sellers make buyers nervous. Buyers may feel they are intruding and then rush through and miss key elements. They may be hesitant to talk about changes to the home or features they don’t like. Buyers will feel uncomfortable closely inspecting the house in the presence of the owners. It’s easier for buyers to visualize the home being theirs when they have a chance to critique and discuss the home among themselves. If you must be home trying to stay out of the way and answer questions only if asked.


Unless there’s a real reason for it, don’t ask your agent to be present for all showings, either. That will limit your showing activity. Other agents want privacy with their buyers’, and they do not usually have time to work around your agent’s schedule.


 Waiting it out


If you decide to wait, you are joining the thousands of other homeowners who have also decided to wait. When if you decide it’s time to take action, you’re already too late. If you need/want to sell now, then sell now. There will never be a better time.


Not taking the first quick bid


This happens repeatedly. The seller gets a bite early on and is suddenly filled with confidence that the house would easily sell and maybe even get involved in a bidding war. The first offer doesn’t seem great and we assume there must be a bigger better offer coming. This can be a huge mistake and force you to sell your home for much less.


Becoming friends with the buyer


It’s appropriate, even important, to be friendly, but don’t let the personal nature of someone being in your home allow you to get into too many long discussions with the buyers, because personality conflicts often cloud judgments. Watch what is said in discussing items related to the house and neighborhood. Remember, this could be their new home. You’re no doubt excited about moving. But buyers will start second guessing. A casual statement about the house “really being too small for a growing family” or “the schools are going through some changes” might be enough innocent chatter to squash their interest.


Underestimating closing costs


Many sellers only consider the money they are selling their home for. They don’t appropriately calculate all the costs associated with the sale. Check out the following list of expenses:


    Real estate commission
    Advertising costs, signs, other fees, if you plan to sell by owner
    Attorney, closing agent and other professional fees
    Capital gains tax
    Prorated costs for annual expenses, such as property taxes, HOA fees, Utilities
    Other fees sometimes paid by the seller, appraisals, inspections, buyers closing costs, etc.


Spending earnest money given to you


Do not believe that earnest money given at the time an offer is accepted is yours until the deal has closed and been recorded. There are too many stories about sellers who spent the deposit money prior to closing. When the transaction did not occur for reasons such as financing contingency or failure of inspection or repair issues, the buyers had to fight or sue for a refund. Another advantage to using a real estate professional is they act as a neutral party who will hold the deposit for you until closing day, and make sure your contract dictates what happens to the funds if the transaction doesn’t close. Another alternative is to use a third-party escrow agent.


Forgetting to cancel/switch utilities and insurance


Many Sellers overlook notifying utilities that they are moving or applying for utility service at their new home. Call the utilities and your insurance company as soon as the contract is signed. Find out how many days lead time they need to switch or cancel, then get back with them when you have a firm closing date.


Letting emotions take over


Keep, throughout the selling process, especially during and after a house inspection. Issues will arise it’s not uncommon to have to pay for some repairs don’t let the buyers demand to complete a minor repair killed the deal.


On the other hand, don’t commit to fixing anything in advance unless you are sure you can manage it emotionally and financially. Determine the kind of repairs you can take care of, then commit to that decision. Some repairs can become non-manageable and could cost you big money.




To avoid selling your house for less than it’s worth and leaving money on the table, it’s helpful to find out what other people have done wrong. Under-pricing, the easiest way to lose money on your home sale.


The #1 reason people lose money on their home sale is under-pricing. They think their home is worth less than it is without researching the value. They put their house on the market, selling for less than it’s worth, and never realized the mistake. That is why it’s so crucial you have a real understanding of the value of your home in today’s market. The best way to determine vale is with the help of a real estate professional providing a CMA. At the end of this book we discuss how we provide our clients a Free CMA.


Why should this matter to you?


Anyone can lose money in the real estate market. The seller unfamiliar with the ever changing market risks selling the home for less than it’s worth or losing a sale because of incorrect pricing at listing. In most cases, Sellers never even realize it. Pricing errors happen to Private Sellers all the time. Knowing the homes true value protects you as a knowledgeable seller.



You now understand the importance of pricing and how real estate today is largely driven by technology. How do you find buyers? The two most valuable tools for finding ready buyers are the previously covered strategic pricing and an aggressive online marketing plan.


Your home can be seen from anywhere; however, you should not rely on exposure alone. Smart real estate professionals will feature your home on websites directed toward buyers. Website search functions should filter results by using criteria such as schools, neighborhoods, and subdivisions. Buyers look for homes in a place that fits their lifestyle. The dedicated website should provide a wealth of information to buyers. This is an excellent way to find interested buyers.


Get your home a “YouTube” tour


A YouTube tour shows the buyers your personal perspective of living in the house and can be picked up by most major search engines. If you choose to do this, be proactive about getting the video out there. Send links of the video to any interested parties and make sure your real estate agent is doing the same. Insist that your agent get it on his or her company’s web site.


Furthermore, make sure that, in this information age, you utilize marketing vehicles beyond traditional realtor networks. Two out of three home buyers start their search online.


The five highest trafficked web sites are:




Important - If you are unable to do proper marketing for your video, ask your real estate agent for help.


Your best option is to discuss aggressive online marketing with a real estate professional who would like to list your home. You want to be certain that the agent has modern social media plans and outlets. You want to maximize your exposure as well as generate interest from your target market.


The CMA will help you price your home strategically, and your online presentation should bring interested buyers.

Be a Power Negotiator


Negotiating your home sale does not have to be daunting. By learning how real estate negotiations work and how to apply proven techniques, you can get the price you want from prospective buyers.


Plan on knowing more than your buyers. The two major elements of negotiation are motivation and skill. A motivated buyer wants the best deal, and you, the seller, want the best price. A skilled negotiator is an expert at working under the pressures of competition, time, information, and communication.


What motivates the seller?


    Time on the market
    Pressures of maintenance and upkeep
    Emotional and mental stress, especially during divorce


Selling your home is a complex process. To be a strong negotiator you must avoid allowing emotions to overpower the situation to the point where you compromise and settle for a lower price.


Worrying about paying the mortgage while the home sits on the market for six months or having to move out of state are prime pressure points for sellers. Preserving a home in showing condition for months on end can physically be draining. For some sellers, finding the right buyer can be mentally and emotionally straining. Savvy buyers will push the limit to get the price they want.


When the competitive pressure is on


When facing a knowledgeable buyer, remember that the party with the most options will win the negotiation. The buyer may have researched your homes history on the market area if you have relocated, he/she may assume that you’re desperate to sell and will take their offer.


On the flip side, if he/she thought you had three other buyers waiting with higher offers, he/she would have to raise his/her price or walk away. Sharpen your senses to know when a buyer does not have other property options.


Insight has a profound influence in negotiations. If an interested buyer believes you have rejected offers that were higher than theirs you have the upper hand to pressure them to offer more. On that flip side, the buyer may inform you that they are interested in other homes, pressuring you to accept their offer price. The key to be a power negotiator is to stay calm and focused during the process to avoid costly mistakes. Knowing your buyer’s motivation without exposing yours will give you the edge.


Let time be on your side


Time pressure is inevitable in the world of sales. It is evident during antique auctions, construction job bids, and car sales. Time is a controlling negotiation tool. In a real estate transaction, it is proven that buyers and sellers under pressure to sell will provide the best bargain.


For this reason, home buyers will obtain as much information about the seller as they can get to try and gain a distinct advantage.


For example, if a buyer knows the seller is in foreclosure and must sell before losing the property, the buyer has the upper hand. He knows the seller is under a time restriction and will use that to his/her benefit making lowball offers or perhaps seeming indecisive on buying not sharply returning calls and messages.


Buyers look for time sensitive situations to push the price. Sellers who are behind on mortgage payments, recently retired, or under contract for another home dependent on this home sale are candidates for high pressure tactics from savvy buyers.


Buyers may come to you and ask questions to find out if any of these situations apply to you. Eagerness to please may be read as desperation.


Buyers also play a waiting game. In real estate, acceptance time can be a powerful tool in price negotiations. From their perspective, the longer the house has been on the market, the more flexible the seller will be. The same applies to negotiations. The more they stretch out the time spent in negotiating the sale, the more likely they will get the price they want.


Buyers will invest time with you to create relationships, trust, and willingness on your part to agree to their terms. The advantage that may arise for you is that they may not want to walk away empty handed after investing time and gaining your trust. By exercising patients, you can maintain your position on terms and price.


Knowledge is power


Information is the key to real estate negotiations. The more info the buyer can gather from you, the more pressure you will face. The more knowledgeable side will suppress the less informed at the bargaining table. The more insight the buyer has into your motivation to sell, the more powerful he/she will be at negotiating.


Don’t evade questions. Don’t be unfriendly or uninterested. However, remember this is a professional real estate transaction between strangers and don’t be unnecessarily forthcoming, either.


When the buyer asks what appears to be tough question that may relate to an offer, they are looking for direct answers in your reactions. Stay professionally reserved and avoid showing anxiety to sell.


An unpretentious but effective technique to handle a tough question without giving out information is to answer with another question. If you are asked if your home has been on the market long, simply answer “Not Long” then calmly ask the shoppers how long they have been looking. Their answers may reveal information about their own stress points.


When asked why you are selling, answer with vague reasons, such as downsizing. Again, turn the tables by asking them the same question.


To learn if you have any time constraints, the buyer might ask how soon you want to move. Tell them you’re flexible, even if you would really like to move immediately. Next, it’s your turn to ask them how soon they want to move.


Directing the question back to the buyer maintains your control of information. What you paid for your house does not have a bearing on current market value, so if the question comes up, simply smile and say it was a blessing. (The buyer probably already checked the public records).


Facing questions about the pricing of your home should not be difficult if you put serious thought in to your asking price. If you based it on professional market value estimates, tell them. Do not forget to point out recent sales of comparable homes and the improvements you made.


Competitive offers from other interested buyers is a concern for a home buyer. If they ask you about this, briefly state that there is interest but “nothing on paper.” Don’t be specific about where you are with other perspective buyers.


Buyers may be inquisitive as to why your home has not sold yet, and you can tell them you’re waiting for the perfect buyer (like them!).


Almost invariably they will ask for the lowest price you’ll take, or if the price is negotiable. Let them know you had not really had time to think about it. In turn, asks what price they had in mind, adding “as long as the offer is negotiable.”


Dealing with the buyers, keep this objective in mind. Answer questions thoughtfully but vaguely, without revealing too much information. Managing a response is by asking them questions in return works well in the situation as discussed above. Always attempt to get the other party to reveal their thoughts



Selling your home is a business transaction. Although it may be a multi layered process that appeared more personal than business, at its heart, it’s simply a buyer negotiating to purchase the seller’s home for a mutually agreed price. You as a seller must keep this in mind. Opinions, emotions, and ego may attempt to derail your hard work; don’t be the transgressor.


The more you know about negotiating, the less likely you are to create obstacles during the sale process.


Do let the buyer speak first


Let patience be your guide when dealing with an interested buyer. Don’t be anxious to tell him or her what you’re willing to accept; it may be lower than the buyer was willing to offer! Like any sale transaction, buyers have a price in mind. Do not lose the advantage of being able to counter offer rather than offer first. Let the buyers speak first. That’s why it’s called an offer. It will either be an offer you accept, or you will at least have more knowledge about what price the buyer has in mind.


Don’t meet in the middle


Even in the simplest of sales transactions, agreeing on the price often includes concessions “meeting in the middle.” For instance, the buyer speaks first and offers to buy a home for $200,000, when the seller is expecting to sell for $250,000. Splitting the difference would make a counteroffer $225,000. By keeping the splitting point in the sellers favor the buyer may take the offer or agree to a higher amount. Maximize your negotiating by counter offering in small increments. Avoid following human nature by “meeting in the middle.”


Don’t accept low ball offers


Home buyers look for deals. Think how quickly you would jump at a home selling below market value and in flawless condition that meets your every need. That situation rarely happens, but that doesn’t mean buyers won’t make lowball offers. If buyers truly like your home better than any others. If they see your house as the perfect home, they may switch their priority to getting a lower than market value price in negotiations. If buyers truly like your home better than any others, then why would they pay less for it?  Keep focused and negotiate accordingly.


Do be quiet and listen


Whether you are approached by the buyer or the buyer’s agent, remaining quiet is one of the greatest ways to negotiate the sale. Developing a feel good,

overly friendly relationship with either can’t interfere with your laser focused efforts to sell your home quickly and for the highest price. Buyers uncomfortable with your quietness may want to break the silence by giving information that would be pertinent to know. Again, the more knowledgeable you are about the buyer, the better postured an advantageous you will be in negotiations.


Don’t be moved by awkward silence


When your negotiating and the buyer makes an offer, don’t feel compelled to respond immediately. Whether it will be 10 seconds or 10 minutes, make the buyer or his/her agent speak first. They may see your silence as disappointment and choose to revise the offer or offer a concession just to break the silence. Do not let experience negotiators use this tactic to get you to accept successively lower offers without a counteroffer from you and your agent.


Do learn what motivates the buyer


Occasionally buying agents will work to learn why you want to sell your home. Agents know that sellers want to go to escrow only once. If the buyers are directed to demand a lower price because of minor defects discovered during a third-party home inspection, they will use this as a negotiating tool.


More importantly, an agent for the buyer may advise his client to offer the asking price, knowing that minor flaws exist, only to demand reductions bringing the offer down to what the buyer initially wanted to pay. Knowing that situations like this happen, don’t let the process of selling your home wear you out. Don’t compromise your time and effort to keep things moving in escrow. Your listing agent should suggest a home inspection before you list to avoid trouble when negotiating the sale.


Don’t really give out your information


If you have numerous offers on your home, the price is not always the bottom line. Sometimes what you tell the buyer is advantageous to his/her offer, rather than you’re selling position.


For example, let’s say you have two interested buyers. One buyer offers full asking price, thinking that you will readily accept, but needs a few months to close to get inspections and financing completed. The other buyer casually asks why you’re selling, and you divulge crucial information about a job transfer that leads the buyer to offer $20,000 less then you’re asking price but agrees to close quickly without any financial or inspection contingencies.


Although the first buyer offered more money up front, the second buyer was more pleasing time wise. If you were under any time constraint the second buyer resolved your problem. How did he know about the time constraint?  You may have divulged it without thinking when he asked why you are selling.


Do get the last concession


Remaining calm and focused during the counteroffers is the key to getting the last concession. By asking the buyer to give something in return every time he comes back with another request, you gain the upper hand, and he/she will start backing away from making supplementary demands. The less the buyer thinks he/she can get away with, the less he/she will ask for outside what he/she really needs. He/she may be afraid you will request a concession that is vital to him/her and come to understand that letting you have the last concession will be his/he best deal.


Don’t become flooded with concessions


When a buyer submits an offer to you, unless it’s a fantastic one, you should bring counteroffers to the table. Possibly a different price and/or concession such as shorter closing dates, terms, modifications of contingencies, or incentives will enter the negotiations.


When reviewing the offer, be sure to consider items that would be unacceptable to you. A counteroffer is used to, in effect, accept some of the conditions of the buyer’s latest offer, while modifying other terms. Since there is no limit to the amounts of times counteroffers can be made, make sure the buyers will have to wait for your response. Your eagerness to respond may be interpreted as disparity on your part, which in turn gives the buyer more control.


Do maintain a business demeanor


Remind yourself that you want to sell your home for the highest and best price and in the shortest time. Seller-buyer relationships come in all shapes and sizes and no matter what follows, selling your home is a legal, documented, court recorded business transaction.


People can get emotionally involved when selling their home which can trigger negative responses. If the buyer has an inflated ego you need to make sure it does not affect you. On the other hand, if the buyer comes off as the kindest, but somewhat financially challenged person you must not let that deter you from your goal of getting a fair deal.


Stay on top of your game, even if this sale is going along quickly and painlessly. Sometimes it’s an indication that the buyers might back out of the deal. There needs to be a certain amount of discussion by both parties to keep the buyer from jumping ship or on your part, feeling seller’s remorse. You may sense afterward that the buyer would have been willing to pay more for your home and you left money on the table.


Don’t let your ego get the best of you


During negotiations, there may be a time when you think of all the labor and time you have devoted in getting your home sold. Hours upon hours spent cleaning, staging, showing, and communicating may naturally flood your mind. You may wonder if it was in vain when faced with buyers who are critical, demanding, or rude. Retaliation in like fashion can break a deal, some learn to deal with potential home buyers objectively. Don’t let your ego get in the way of a respectable deal.



Selling is the name of the game. In the previous negotiation chapter, we learned that counteroffers by potential buyers sometimes include certain personal property, like appliances and window treatments, because these items are must haves that are expensive to purchase new.


As a seller you can use extras as bargaining chips as well. You may make counteroffers that include appliances and other contents as incentives for the buyer to agree to a higher price offer. This is a great selling strategy when demand for homes in your area is week and prices are suffering. When you’re selling your home, consider what you’re willing to throw in to make the deal more attractive and what items are a nonnegotiable.


Below is a list of items you could consider using as leverage:


    Major appliances: washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, etc
    Draperies, blinds, shades, shutters
    Custom built furniture, bookcases
    Area rugs
    Patio furniture, planters, garden benches
    Garden shed
    Lawnmower, power washer, leaf vacuum, other maintenance equipment
    Recreational equipment, ping pong table, pool table, exercise equipment, above ground pools, trampolines
    Offer to prepay taxes or buyers closing costs
    Offer a year of landscaping, pool cleaning, or maid service
    Offer a home warranty




This book is full of information on how to effectively sell your home. By now you have some basic knowledge of setting a listing price, online marketing, staging, and negotiating the best deal. Is this enough to do the job yourself?  Homeowners wonder if they could buy or sell a home through online with additional marketing and advertising channels without a real estate agent.


In today’s real estate market, the selling and purchasing of residential property involves more than 100 people with different skills and expertise to participate in the transaction from start to finish. Whether it’s for a home inspection or a title search, it takes more than 20 steps to complete the sale of your home.


For sellers, it can seem overwhelming and very daunting to know how to anticipate and synchronize every step necessary to prepare your home to show, list, market, and sell. An experienced real estate professional knowledgeable in all phases of real estate can make this process seamless and much easier. It is far better to engage a professional who has this experience then to try and do it alone.


A real estate professional in your local area can provide information on sales price and market trends. Real estate professionals are paid a percentage of your selling price therefore it is in their best interest to price it perfectly.


Good real estate professionals have a network of contractor’s and service providers that they can recommend to their clients. A real estate agent can provide market condition data which is essential to your selling process. Data such as the average per square foot costs of similar homes, and comparisons of list to sold prices will have a huge bearing on how you market your home.


Selling your home without an agent requires a major effort, resources, and countless hours understanding and organizing all the work involved.


Take the time to interview real estate agents in your area. Here are some traits to look for when hiring an agent.


Current?  Is the agent up-to-date with the latest housing trends so he/she can serve you successfully?


Connected?  Does the agent have the necessary contacts who can assist in every phase of selling your home?  A network of connections includes home inspectors, quality service people, other brokers, and county officials.


Knowledgeable?  Is the agent acquainted with the current market and able to price your home strategically and un-biased? Does he/she know what is unique about your neighborhood to distinguish your home from the competition? Does he/she know what to highlight in your area to attract buyers?


Organized?  An agent must pay close attention to your specific needs, communicate well and be quick to follow up.


Personable?  Agents who are sincerely interested in helping you will go the extra mile. They must be able to sell themselves to you as well as sell your home to a perspective buyer.


Passionate?  Some agents treat their job like a hobby or just a way to earn extra income. Find an agent who is fulltime, passionate about real estate and loves the job.


Tenacious?  Successful agents possess a strong work ethic. They are efficient and take advantage of time saving tools that help to sell your home quicker.


Honest?  Professional real estate agents build their reputation on high standards of business practices.


Self-motivated?  Real estate agents are in a commission only business. Successful agents work hard because it benefits their clients, and it benefits them financially.


Creative?  Sometimes it takes creativity to properly showcase your home, develop engaging content, and negotiate a sale. An agent who can quickly address any marketing needs is an asset to you.


Tech savvy?  Agents well versed in the latest technology for marketing homes should have a website, social media setup, user friendly home search options, and quality presentations online with high resolution images of homes, videos, and slide shows.


A professional real estate agent wears many hats. He or she must be proficient in marketing, negotiating, consultation, legalities, property taxes, and most of all gaining the trust of clients. An agent who meets your specific needs is worth the commission he/she will earn.


Having an agent represents your home sale benefits you. Agents negotiate from a different vantage point. Unlike most buyers and sellers, agents can distance themselves from the emotional side of the transaction.


Agents are more proficient in negotiating because conducting negotiations is a regular part of their professional work and they are skilled by frequent practice.


Good agents are not simply going between messengers delivering buyers offers to sellers and caring counteroffers back and forth. They are professionals who are trained to counsel their clients on options and consequences and then present their client’s case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.


The real estate agent can be a buffer between seller and buyer, keeping the transaction professional and at arm’s length. This is important in the negotiation phase when emotions can be at their highest. The real estate agent can further filter all those phone calls from bargain hunters, tire kickers, and real estate shoppers.


Having a real estate agent available when the home is being shown is a distinct advantage for a few reasons outlined below.


o   The agent will handle scheduling calls, arranging them for the Sellers convenience.

o   The agent will show the home, saving that seller time.

o   The agent fields the follow-up questions.


In short, having an agent will minimize the seller’s investment of time, while inciting serious buyers to immediately write an offer.


Handling real estate transaction paperwork is also a big burden to the seller. Today’s purchase agreements average 10 pages or more not including mandated state and federal disclosures. A mistake or an omission could land you in court. For this  reason, real estate agents typically carry an E & O Policy.


Serious considerations


The decision to sell your home requires looking at the complete picture, from start to finish. You should now understand what is involved in in selling your home quickly and for the most profit.


However, let’s quickly summarize what you should deliberate on to avoid trouble in the process. To eliminate any misunderstandings by you, your agent, or an interested buyer, discuss this list with your trusted real estate agent.


Selling your home before you are qualified to buy another – financial situations change along with loan requirements.

    Guessing your mortgage payoff – know if penalties exist.

    Under estimation of closing costs – calculate fees, taxes, and commissions that need to be paid.

    Spending of earnest money – if this sale falls through, what happens to the money?

    Befriending potential buyers – discretion is imperative when buyers want to be your friend

    The fear of low appraisals – you have options if this happens.

    The stress of showings, remodels, cleaning, phone calls – let your agent handle the bulk of responsibilities of       selling your home.

    Be prepared for closing – your agent and title company should let you know what to expect.

    Flexibility and readiness to show your home – prepare so showings do not interfere with your family life.

    Let buyers see your home in your absence – buyers prefer to view homes without the seller present to listen to their critiques. Any questions should be handled by your agent.

    Weed out non-qualified buyers – you can request that only qualified home buyers view your home. If they are not eligible, even for creative financing, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.


Closing Time



The Day of Closing

Allow yourself about one hour to sign the closing documents. If it all possible, I generally seek to have my sellers close independently of the buyers. When closing on your property it is natural to have mixed emotions and having the buyer’s present can sometimes (but not always) be a bit awkward.


We will be in constant contact with you during the 48 hours prior to closing and keep you posted on the status. Sometimes the closing time or day can be delayed if the buyer’s lender does not provide the closing documents to the title company in time. The title company along with my team will give you the up-to-the-minute information on where we stand with the closing time, etc., so you will never be in the dark.


What to bring to closing


o    Wiring Instructions – bring a blank check, so that the closing proceeds can be wired to your bank account. You can also opt to receive a check once the transaction funds.

o    Your valid Florida (driver’s license or picture ID)

o    Any additional house keys

o    Any additional homeowner manuals (dishwasher, stove, garaged door opener, sprinkler system, etc.)

o    Garage and gate door openers etc.

o    Mailbox keys


Moving week


o    Transfer or close bank account.

o    Defrost refrigerator.

o    Tag furniture to identify its location in the new home.

o    Prepare “survival” package so the family can get along if the moving company is late.

o    Arrange for new cell phone service.


Two weeks before


o    Clear up any outstanding accounts

o    Transfer checking and savings accounts and contents of safe deposit box.

o    Cancel any direct deposit or automatic payment arrangements on bank account that will be closed.

o    Arrange for pet travel.

o    Return/retrieve borrowed items.

o    Service your car, especially if traveling a distance.

o    Dispose of flammable liquids such as spray paints, aerosols, solvents and thinners, and gas in yard equipment such as lawn mowers.

o    If shipping a car, empty gas tank to less than 1/4 of a tank by move day, do not completely empty mover needs to be able to drive the auto on and off the van.

o    Renew or transfer prescriptions


One month before


o    Begin packing.

o    Notify post office of change of address.

o    Notify utility companies of changes or disconnections.

o    Notify newspaper of address change or discontinuation.

o    Collect and keep important papers handy (medical, etc.)

o    Save moving receipts.

o    Make any reservations for lodging.

o    List important new phone numbers.

o    If employer helps pay moving expenses, confirm what preparations, if any, you will be required to make.

o    Decide what goes with you, what to sell and what to give away.

o    Hold a garage sale or donate items.

o    Finalize arrangements with your moving company or make reservations if you’re renting a truck.

o    Call friends and relatives to let them know when and where you’re moving (and to recruit moving day help if needed).


Two months before


o    Collect cartons, gather moving supplies.

o    Select mover and go over all details of the move.

o    Begin packing unnecessary items.

o    Have a yard sale or donate items to a charity.

o    Plan menus to use up food in the cupboards.

o    Contact IRS or your accountant regarding tax deductible expenses.


Take Aways


Look for a Listing Specialist not just a regular agent. A Listing Specialist only focuses on listing and selling houses. Most agents will work with buyers or sellers.


Good real estate agents do a lot of work to earn their commission, saving you time and energy, and hopefully getting your home sold quickly and for a good price.


Recommending the appropriate listing price. Agents have access to important information on sales of comparable houses – including more recent sales information than is publicly accessible online and will suggest a list price that they think will best attract buyers to your home.


It’s to an agent’s advantage to sell at as high a price as possible (in order to get the highest commission), so if the recommended price is less than you hoped, remember the agent is either being realistic, or deliberately setting the price low in order to bring in prospective buyers and perhaps prompt some competitive bidding. If you overprice your house, it may sit unsold for months, until no one wants to look at it anymore.

Helping you prepare the house for sale. A good agent will have lots of advice on how to make your home look its best to buyers. Depending on your house, market, and budget, an agent may recommend you hire a stager to transform your house or simply suggest a little de-cluttering.

Make all major and minor improvements to update the exterior of your property. There might be a long list of things to do. It takes hard work to get a home ready to sell.  Anyone can put a house on the market, but not everyone sells quickly or with great profits.

Advertising the property for sale and showing it to prospective buyers. You want as many buyers as possible to know that your house is on the market—and better yet, to want to see it. Agents typically arrange to have the house photographed (inside and out); write ad copy and advertise the house by posting online (in the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, and other sites); send out flyers, hold open houses, or whatever is appropriate to your house and market. The agent will show the house to interested buyer privately, and/or at open houses.

Ensuring buyers receive proper disclosures. Most states require sellers to disclose certain known problems with their home, such as a leaky roof, to prospective buyers. Your agent will explain state disclosure rules (and local ones, if required) and give you the forms that meet legal requirements. If, however, you feel uncertain about what needs to be disclosed, this is a good time to consult with an attorney.

Reviewing offers and negotiating a deal. Hopefully, your agent’s advice regarding price, staging, and marketing your house will pay off and you’ll have at least one or two offers to consider. Your agent will review all the details of offers with you, especially any contingencies, such as buyer financing and inspections. Your agent will explain areas of concern regarding the buyer’s offer and advise you on how to respond (perhaps by counteroffering on the price or other terms). If you accept an offer, your agent will work with the buyer’s agent to iron out the terms of the deal.

Making sure everything gets done by the closing date. Once you accept a buyer’s offer, there are still many steps leading up to the closing, such as assuring that all contract contingencies are met and released by the dates stated in the agreement. Your agent will work with you, the buyer’s agent, and other professionals involved in the transaction (such as an inspector or a real estate attorney) to coordinate all this.


Why not sell my own home?


1. There are too many people to negotiate with


Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to go the FSBO route.


o   The buyer who wants the best deal possible

o   The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer

o   The buyer’s attorney

o   The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house

o   The appraiser if there is a question of value

o   Your bank in the case of a short sale


2. Exposure to prospective purchasers


Recent studies have shown that 92% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 28% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?


3. Results come from the internet


Where do buyers find the home they purchased?


o   43% on the internet

o   9% from a yard sign

o   1% from newspapers


The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.


4. Doing FSBO has become more and more difficult


The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBO has dropped from 19% to 9% over the last 20+ years.


5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent


Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.


Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $184,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $230,000.  This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $46,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.


Bottom line


Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer. Please feel free to reach out to me at 407-242-3933. I would love the opportunity to go over with you our marketing / design approach and how we are the best choice for getting your home sold for the most $$$


Top 10 home prep steps


1.    Repaint the walls neutral colors. As much as you love your dramatic red dining room, it could turn off a good portion of your buyers. So, repaint your rooms in neutral tones like tans and whites that allow buyers to focus on the spaces themselves, not the color of the walls.

2.    Keep the decor simple. Conversational seating means that the tv may not be the center of every room. Large pieces of art replace cluttered family photo collages. Your animal hair infested leather sofa? Might want to slipcover that for showings.

3.    Let there be light! Open all the windows to let in natural light and add floor or table lamps to areas that are dim. A bright, cheery room looks bigger and more inviting.

4.    Organize your closets. Storage space is a huge selling point, and if your closets are stuffed to the brim, buyers will think you don’t

have enough of it. Invest in some boxes, dividers and other solutions that will help you make your stuff look more organized and remove extra items you don’t need immediately (you can store them away until you move).

5.    Tackle that honey-do list. All the little things you’ve been meaning to do but never got around to? Buyers will notice, and they will detract from the value of your home. Set aside a weekend to tighten those loose doorknobs, fix that leaky faucet and paint over the scuffs from when you first moved in your sofa.

6.    Close the toilet! When it comes to both showing and photographing your home, this little trick can make a surprising difference. I have a house full of boys and they all know to close the toilet lid including myself- guess that’s what happens when married to an interior designer.

7.    Keep the flow. The last thing you want is people bumping into furniture as they tour your home; it disrupts their focus and makes your space look cramped. Do a dry run as though you’re seeing your home for the first time and tweak anything that interrupts the “flow.”  It’s best to hire an interior designer for consultation.

8.    Make something yummy. Realtors don’t put out fresh cookies at open houses just to treat buyers; a “homey” smell like baking cookies or bread can help people connect with a kitchen. Not a baker? Use the oil diffuser and have mini waters as an alternative.

9.    Make it look “lived in”. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by adding deliberate vignettes that showcase how your home can be lived in. An inviting armchair and a tray with a coffee cup and book can turn that empty corner into a reading nook. Fresh towels in the bathrooms.

10. Boost the curb appeal. Don’t spend all your time indoors. Buyers can choose to not to even enter a home based on its curb appeal. Remove all dead plants and update lawn maintenance.


Showing the house


Your house should always be available for show, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you. Let your listing agent put a lock box in a convenient place to make it easy for other agents to show your home to homebuyers. Otherwise, agents will have to schedule appointments, which is an inconvenience. Most will just skip your home to show the house of someone else who is more cooperative.


Tips on showing the house


When it’s time for a buyer’s agent to show your home, all your preparations will be worth the effort. Here are a few final tips that can add that extra touch.


o   The television and radio should be turned off. Let the buyer’s agent and buyer talk free of disturbances.

o   Send children and pets outdoors to play. This will eliminate confusion and keep the prospect’s attention focused on your home.

o   Be absent during showings. Many prospects feel like intruders when owners/occupants are present. They tend to hurry away or fail to ask their agent the questions they’d really like to ask. Your absence will put buyers at ease and give them a chance to spend more time looking at your home and absorbing its advantages.

o   Leave drapes open for light and airiness. If it’s evening, all lights should be turned on to give the rooms a larger appearance and a cheerful effect.

o   Be sure the kitchen sink is free of dishes and rooms are uncluttered. Make sure trash baskets are empty.

o   Make sure rugs are clean and straight. Set a comfortable temperature. Do a deep cleaning, vacuum, sweep, and dust. Final check every room.

o   If you are at home during the showing, be courteous but don’t force conversation with the potential buyer.

o   Use a key box. We use an electronic key box system that agents must access in order to obtain the key. This key box records which agent showed your home (and the exact time and date), so that we can track all showings and request feedback.



I would like to personally thank you for taking time to read this book. I sincerely hope it has helped you better understand the home selling process. As a real estate Broker, I would be more than happy to provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis or Brokers Price of Opinion and serve as your Listing Agent.

I would also like to congratulate you on taking the time to become more familiar on the home selling process. So many sellers try and sell their home unprepared. Selling your home is a huge undertaking and not to be taken lightly. Together, with our family companies of real estate to interior design, we help home owners move out and transition into the

next phase of home ownership. Being prepared is only part of the process to sell your home, having the right team on your side will make the process more enjoyable. “Moving can be the most traumatic experience you can do as an adult.”

I agree with this quote, if it’s not done the right way. Best of luck with your decision and we hope to help along the way. If we can help you in any way feel free to contact us at (407) 242-3933.

I dedicate this book to my beautiful intelligent wife and business partner Erika Benfield. “You have given me the best years of my life.”

Erika and I

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