What Is A CMA?
A Comparative Market Analysis is a comparison of the recently sold price of the other homes in your neighborhood that are most similar to your own. It is not as simple as just an average price per square foot or what is promoted as the estimated sales price for your home on popular national sites. Zillow and Trulia have both acknowledged that their estimates can be off by as much as 20% in either direction. A Realtor has access to the MLS data which will show the actual sold dollar value of each home and will have the expertise to assign a fair dollar value to your upgrades and improvements.
Shouldn’t I Price Higher Than Market Value To Allow Room To Negotiate?
This seems like a logical approach but it actually works against you. Let’s say you price your home at $225,000 when the market value is really $200,000. Buyers looking in the $225,000 – $250,000 range in your neighborhood will have different expectations of a home and yours will fall short. They will quickly see that and move on. At the same time, buyers who are looking for homes like yours will never see it as they are only searching for the $200,000 point and yours well exceeds that. This is why homes often sit despite listing in a seller’s market.
I Think I Will Just Price It High And Lower After 30 Days If I Don’t Get An Offer.
Deal killer #2. Your best buyer – the guy who is ready and able to buy and will pay full market value is usually one of the first people to see your home. In a market with little to no inventory, he has often lost in bidding wars and is ready to come in with his best and highest right out of the gate. And so are several other buyers just like him. In a fast-moving seller’s market this window may only last a week or two.
By waiting to lower, you have eliminated your best buyer and your house starts to look stale. (Yes, even after only two weeks.) People start to wonder why it hasn’t sold when others have gone in days. And PRICING HAS MOMENTUM. Once you start dropping, there is a tendency for the buyer to think you will drop more. But, let’s suppose we are in the other market – the buyer’s market. Here, overpricing can be a death knell. Buyers have more power and it is akin to a shark smelling blood in the water. Once an over-priced listing sits for a while and sellers lower, the buyer smells an opportunity to low ball.
So How Do I Know If My House Is Priced To Sell?
This is where a Realtor can prove to be invaluable. He or she has the market knowledge, the understanding of the most recent comparables, and the pricing experience to advise you properly.
Staging is a big buzz word among not only TV real estate shows but among Realtors themselves. Why? Because good staging can and does sell homes. Here are some basic staging tips to have buyers ready to make an offer.
- Take any and all of your photos down. Yes, even that commissioned painting that you consider your most valuable piece of art. Buyers need to picture themselves in the home, not you and your family.
- Pack up your collections. It says clutter bug to a buyer and while you may have it artfully displayed, you do not want to detract the buyer from the main attraction – your home.
- Clean out! Buyers look in closets and pantries – and yes the garage. Rent a storage unit and pack up and store anything that is not essential to daily living. You don’t want your home to look empty, but the more room the better.
- Not just a normal spring clean, but a DEEP clean. Shampoo carpets, wipe down walls, dust off fans, and most important SCRUB THE WINDOWS. A little light goes a long way.
- Every surface should be dust and dirt free. Pay particular attention to bathrooms and kitchens as these are the rooms that generally sell homes.
- Make sure dishes are never left in the sink – even a turned over cup is a turn-off
- Find the source of the smell and eliminate it. Febreeze can only take you so far, and speaking of smells – 56% of buyers said they were turned off by a home’s smell.
- Clean up stained walls and ceilings and do not allow any watermarks to go unchecked.
- Walk the perimeter of the home. Make sure to discard any debris, piles of leaves, or stacked wood. Replace dead sod and replant any wilting flowers.
- Clean grills and outdoor tables.
- Paint. Paint is probably the most cost-effective improvement you can make to sell your home. The key here is neutrality; there is a reason they call it “builder beige” – it sells homes. And do not neglect the trim. Trim is usually more expensive than the walls and is well worth the cost. No buyer wants to see beat-up door frames and peeling windows or baseboards. Ceilings can be difficult to paint but should not be forgotten. 70% of home buyers walked away from homes where they saw damp patches or stains on walls and ceilings.
- Replace dated fixtures. Brass may be coming back, but not in the 1980 vintage. Ask your Realtor for guidance on how much to change out and where. Light fixtures are a good starting point as well as appliances. Look for stainless steel and if you buy them as a suite, they will not only be more appealing, you may be able to get them on sale.
- Think neutral and modern when choosing colors and be sure to keep the same palette throughout the house. The paint strips at paint stores make a great cheat sheet. Modernize window treatments. This is something that will stay with the house, so keep it neutral and simple. Replace and stay away from ornate window coverings and dressings.
- Look at your furniture – you do not have to go out and buy new, but be sure that your upholstery is stain free and that any loud fabric choices are toned down by a neutral throw and some pillows
- Pull big pieces away from the wall. If you have a rug, keep it a solid and allow the front 1/3-1/2 of the furniture piece to sit atop it. Floating furniture is distracting. And when you push it to the wall, you give the buyer the impression that the room lacks space.
- Create areas for entertaining – group furniture to promote discussion or interaction.
- If there is a fireplace, make it the focal point.
- Keep furniture to a functional minimum. There should be ample room to walk around.
- Keep counters clutter-free. Bathrooms should have a towel basket and maybe a soap dish; kitchen counters should only have one or two decorative items. Keep appliances hidden. Displaying them implies a lack of storage.
- Keep artwork to a minimum and opt for large pieces or a grouping of smaller pieces hung at eye level as opposed to small scattered prints or objects ‘art.
- Remove small throw rugs. They are distracting and visually decrease the room size.
- Cluster objects in 3s and bigger is better.
- Set tables where appropriate – just keep it simple and neutral. And if you choose to do this, use cloth placemats and napkins.
- Pay attention to the entry points. Make sure the walkway is neat, plant some flowers, and decorate the front entrance. Yellow flowers tend to draw the eye more than others.
- Decorate your outdoor living spaces as well with lanterns and add color to patio furniture with pillows and throws.
The idea of leaving your home can be daunting even when it brings the promise of new beginnings. There are steps you can take to get not only your home but yourself ready to move forward.
- Select a Realtor. This is perhaps one of the most important steps you will make. Interview at least two if not three Realtors who are familiar with your neighborhood. It will not only result in cost savings but also earnings.
- Have your Realtor do a Comparative Market Analysis of your home. Pricing your home right is critical to getting optimal value for your home even in a strong seller market.
- Give your home a serious de-clutter. Remove as many personal items and pictures as possible. This serves to not only create a blank canvas for the buyer to imagine the home for himself, but it also serves to help you separate from it. It’s also helpful to get a temporary storage facility. Cluttered garages can be just as unsightly as cluttered homes.
- Repair and Replace: take a hard look at your home. If you were the buyer, what would you notice? A big turn-off is a peeling or worn front door. That should be corrected immediately, and now is the time to fix that squeaky door, replace that broken railing, and finally paint that trim. One of the best and least expansive things you can do is paint. If the carpet is not just dirty but also worn, consider a replacement. Buyers often find it difficult to envision new flooring. A flooring allowance is seldom as effective as just replacing. But don’t break the bank. Consult with your Realtor as to the most cost-effective solution.
- Pre-inspections: I recommend them. It is best if you can identify major or even minor issues before listing and correct them. It is a huge gamble to think that an inspector will miss things and you will not have to do repairs. In my opinion, the less left for buyer objection, the better. NOTE: There is a place on the seller’s disclosure to report any prior inspections, and any unresolved issues found on inspection must be disclosed. I usually have my sellers attach them to the disclosure along with any repairs they have made. When in doubt, my recommendation is to disclose.
- DEEP clean the house inside and out. Give windows particular attention. And do not overlook switch plates and outlets. Buyers will turn on lights and they notice if they are dirty or cracked – a few dollars at the hardware store is worth the investment.
- Updates – Things like entry lights and porch lights are great investments that will impress buyers. If your appliances need upgrading, try buying a matching suite – you will usually get a better deal and the buyer will like the newness factor. Replacing dated countertops with granite or quartz is often a good investment but can be very costly – this is an area where you will want your Realtor’s advice. It may be expected in some neighborhoods while others not as much.
- Staging is extremely helpful. Home stagers can see your home as it is meant to be used – and more importantly, they know how a buyer will need to see it as well. Many Realtors also hold designations in staging (or are just good at it!) and several home stagers do great work. Many will work with what you have. And your staging should also take into consideration the front and back entrances – only one chance to make a good first impression!
Tuesday Tip: Title, surveys and the market in Covid month 4 …
Posted by Lori Craft on Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Perspectives on the Real Estate Market:
Tuesday tip: the housing market is STRONG – don’t miss your opportunity!
Stage It, Sell It!
I watch a lot of HGTV. A LOT. It’s hard to resist– a bit like watching a fairy tale unfold in real time. The magic fairy (AKA witch) has cast a spell over me. I am now convinced that with the proper tools and access to Pottery Barn, I too can be a designer/contractor genius.
It begins innocently enough. I peruse the bathroom space – dingy Melamine cabinets with peeling sides, an ostentatious lack of hardware and several chipping baseboards. I make the call to focus on that and leave the wall paint and tile for another day. I don’t have a tile cutter after all and haven’t read that book yet. But cabinet paint, cabinet paint I can handle. I budget $200 and two hours of labor.
I buy the equipment. Carefully chosen hardware from the local hardware store’s sale bin, plastic drop cloths, painter’s tape, paint, drill, sandpaper, and hardware guide. I am good to go. I get to floating and taping.
Huh. The painter’s tape isn’t sticking. It just curls off … and then sticks to itself. Hmm. Well. That’s no good. I set the tape down on the drop cloth. Now it sticks … to the drop cloth, my shoe, and my dress. No problem. I was going to need to change. I toss the green tape in favor of good old blue, and trade in the sundress for shorts and a tank top. I re-do the plastic drop cloth. Much better.
Paint tape, check. I move on to the hardware. Being a veteran DIY viewer/reader, I know enough to prep for the hardware before painting. I pull out my hardware marker and start marking. Perfect. I line up the drill and voila! Beautiful holes. I want to see how fabulous my handiwork is. I line up my handle. Hmm. Holes are too close together. I re-measure. 1/16” off. No problem. That’s why they make wood filler. I quickly fill in the hole and move on to the next one. This time I get the spacing right, but it’s crooked. Maybe there’s something wrong with my level. I shake it. Bubbles are fine. It must have slipped. I’m starting to wonder if I have enough wood filler.
An hour and a half later I have completed my hardware holes and am down two jars of wood filler. Not a huge blow to the budget – just a measly $5.00. The new hardware will cover most of the holes. I am filled with renewed confidence and am ready to tackle the peeling Melamine.
I pull out the wood glue and begin my first peeling section. I work both sides until they are tacky, hold them together, and voila! Fixed Melamine. I move on to the next door … and see the Melamine from the first pop off. Huh. Maybe I need to hold it longer. Six tries. No luck. I decide to head back to Home Depot for a clamp.
$30.00 later and the clamp just slides down the door. Melamine hates me. I officially hate it back. I take a deep breath. It’s just a little hiccup. I decide the paint will seal it.
I am way behind schedule. I re-think priming. I decide to prime the peeling sections only. Seems to be working – somewhat. Between the glue and the primer, the peelings are sticking. Aside from a few unsightly drip marks, they look remarkably better. While attempting to correct one cabinet, I notice the bulge on the bottom side of the other. Huh; didn’t notice that before. I investigate and discover water damage from an overturned shampoo bottle. No problem. Sand and prime with Kills -– take that Melamine!!
I begin my sanding with my heavy gage sandpaper – no fine grit for this job! The cabinet appears to be shredding. I now have a mess of wood shavings on the floor. I google “water damage and wood shredding upon sanding.“ The news is not good. You shouldn’t sand water-damaged particle board. I say a bad word. I google, “wood sealants.” And I embark on another trip to home depot.
Wood sealant and can #2 of Kills – $94.23. Budget is starting to take a hit.
Hour three and I am ready to paint. I am back on track and rocking it! This is my forte: the paint is looking good. Nice clean brush strokes, beautiful cross hatching, a few loose brush hairs and some sawdust … wait. That’s not good. That’s not good at all. I cuss a little. I take a paint cloth and wipe down that section. I’m ready to repaint when I tip over my paint cup. I cuss a little more. It’s OK. I congratulate myself on my flawless drop cloth application. No harm done … until I sit in the paint. Words I didn’t know I knew fly out of my mouth. I decide I need a break and opt to get some water.
Walking back, I see it — the trail of oil-based footprints leading to and from the kitchen. What can only be described as a primordial scream escapes from my throat. I scrub off my foot with mineral spirits. I remove my shorts before cleaning the floor. Pretty smart. No sense risking more paint on the wood floor.
I make my way back to admire my paint job and toss the shorts in the corner. It doesn’t look as good as I thought. It probably just needs a second coat. I read the label. Three hours between coats. Are you *&%$ing kidding me??? It’s Ok. I can test out one of the handles and see how it looks.
So far, so good. Screws are a little long, but I have extra nuts. I’ll just double bolt. Not bad. As if to taunt me, the faux drawer slips, revealing a gap. Great. It’s broken. I pull at it a little and the whole face comes off in my hand. I yell many, many more bad words. I recall the ineffectiveness of the wood glue and opt for super glue instead. Stupid drawer thinks it’s going to get the better of me – think again drawer face!!
I spread some super glue on the cabinet and set the faux drawer face in my lap. Sweat keeps running into my eyes and I am pretty sure I have paint in my hair. I’m getting dizzy from the fumes from the glue and the mineral spirits. I persevere. I spread the glue on the drawer face and let it sit a minute to get tacky. I’ve got this! I lift the piece up. Drawer face has won.
I have super glued it to my bare leg. I hear myself sob. I rip it off my leg. … along with a chunk of my skin. Now, I’m bleeding. I crawl over to the toilet and pull off some toilet tissue to stick on the wound.
And it is at this point that my husband walks into the room to assess the progress. He doesn’t say anything at first. He just raises an eyebrow. I look around. I am half naked and bleeding, covered in paint and sweat. The room is covered in a mix of paint, sawdust and hardware … with my shorts tossed in the corner and a broken drawer face at my paint-stained bare feet.
He finally breaks the silence, “Call the guy …” and walks out.
I start to protest and then finally nod in tearful agreement. The HGTV siren has guided my ship toward the rocks once again …