How to Sell a Home for the Highest Price in an Improving Market (Portland, OR)
By Harlan Mayer, Principal Broker with Re/Max and Portland Real Estate Agent
As the real estate market continues to improve, the focus of selling a home has shifted from struggling to sell a home; to making sure one does not leave money on the table. 2013 has seen a strong seller’s market so far in Portland, OR, meaning it is a good time to sell a home.
As inventory in Portland continues to stay very low (2.8 months to 3.1 months July – August 2013) sellers have an opportunity to take advantage of low interest rates and see opportunities for multiple offers once they put their property on the market. As inventory has stayed low, buyers have multiplied and a home coming on the market may see an offer in less than 24 hours. Ensuring that one does not sell for too little is a matter of making sure the price is just right at the beginning. Pricing right involves more than just looking at comparable properties and guessing – comprehensive market research has become more important than ever. One of the advantages of working with a Realtor is they tend to have a large group of experienced agents to call upon to make sure that there are multiple perspectives regarding pricing. That is one of the major reasons I enjoy working at Re/Max. I am able to perform market research by exposing the property to hundreds of agents before it is broadcast on the MLS (Multiple-Listing Service).
Preparing a home for sale starts with making sure the home is appealing to the largest buyer pool. A lot of folks like to put their own mark on the property – but “neutral” should be the key word in getting the property ready for the market. Of course, good curb appeal is essential, and getting the yard in a “cared-for” state is always a great idea. Front steps and porches can be painted, front doors repaired. As a buyer walks up to the home, the front of the house can “predict” what the buyer will find inside.
Deciding if a pre-sale fix-up project is worth the investment is often the big question. Realtors can provide contacts that help answer the question of how much project might cost by having contractor connections. You may want to shop around a little, but as a general rule, as a seller, you are working to make money, not spend money – so the less you can spend the better. Also, buyers will want to put their own mark on the property, so leaving them projects is often a good idea.
Kitchens are notoriously noted for being the best investment you can make in a home – with bathrooms a close second. If you have the money readily available, a kitchen or bathroom remodel can produce a good return. A word of caution: if one decides to affect the kitchen or bathroom, the design can impact the return. Keep the remodel tasteful and generally neutral – but not so neutral that there is no personality or flair. Too much flair, however, is a detriment. Soft colors seem to work best.
Once the property is ready for the market, a good cleaning and quality photos are essential. Our company only uses wide-angle lenses, which allow for rooms to look larger. The goal of a real estate agent is to get as many people through the home as possible. 75% of the marketing in today’s market is online. Once the listing is put into the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), it is then syndicated to all the online listing sites. A lot of the more relevant sites however charge agents to “feature” their listings. Our company researches and focuses on the leading sites to advertise on, ensuring our client’s listings stay at the top of the lists.
Within 24 hours, if a listing is priced right in with this low inventory – you should have an offer or at least 3-5 showings scheduled. If not – it does not necessarily mean it’s overpriced, but it does mean that it is priced at the top of the market.
One strategy, especially if a property is in a good area, is to price it slightly under market value, almost ensuring you have multiple offers. There are multiple advantages to this, including a higher price and potential for a strong back-up offer. The back-up offer then really stabilizes the offer in first-position and makes it more difficult for the buyer to negotiate during the inspection process.
As we’ve always taught – the secret to making more money is to surround yourself with people who know more about money than you do. Creating a strong real estate team with an agent that advocates for you and really understands the business is the best way to retain and advance your equity.