More than half of today’s home sellers are selling a home for the first time, according to Zillow’s Consumer Housing Trends Report for 2018.
That’s a whole lot of home sellers who may not understand the pitfalls that await them because they either don’t understand the process or have bought into myths they read on the internet.
If you hope to sell your home during your preferred timeline and for the most money possible, home sellers need to:
- Fully understand the selling process, from the paperwork to marketing methods
- Choose the right real estate agent
- Divorce yourself from your emotions
- Don’t buy into the myths you’ll hear from others
You would be surprised how many first-time and even some repeat home sellers harbor certain myths. Let’s bust some of those right now.
1. Zillow’s “Zestimates” are accurate
Zillow.com, an online real estate aggregator, turns 13 years old this year. From the beginning, consumers have misunderstood the site’s limitations when it comes to home valuation. Home sellers need to completely understand the inaccuracies of Zillow.
In fact, too many buyers and home sellers rely on the company’s “Zestimates” when deciding what a home is worth.
Zillow doesn’t employ an army of real estate agents who go through each home on the market, which is what is required to help pinpoint a home’s current market value.
Nor is Zillow able to seek out, via the MLS, valid and relevant comparables of each home, another requirement when determining market value.
Instead, it relies on an algorhythm – an automated valuation tool that uses public records and information from “users.”
Far from exact, Zillow’s Zestimates are frequently way off the mark. In fact, in 2016, former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff sold his Seattle, Washington home for 40 percent less than its Zestimate.
That particular Zestimate was off by $700,000
The discrepancy illustrates perfectly why a home must be evaluated in person to come up with an appropriate market value for home sellers.
That Zestimates are accurate is a myth.
2. Real estate agents are all alike
This is the myth that leads home buyers and home sellers to choose the first agent they speak with, a very common practice according to studies performed by the National Association of Realtors.
In an age when consumers over-research even which toothpaste to buy, this is amazing.
All licensed real estate agents attend real estate school which teaches them the legal aspects of selling real property. That’s it.
It doesn’t teach them how to effectively sell a home. It doesn’t teach them marketing techniques.
So, while an agent will walk away from those classes with an understanding of riparian rights, he or she may be clueless as to how to actually sell a home.
The differences among agents is astounding when you look into it. Some feel that a sign and a lockbox will do the trick. Others do a bit more. Then, there are listing agents who’ve studied and used various marketing methods and, through trial and error, have found one that is proven and effective.
The home seller is paying the same fee for the lazy or novice agent as he or she would for the powerhouse agent.
Not choosing the latter is like paying for a new Rolls-Royce Phantom and driving a 2001 Ford Fiesta off the lot.
Take your time when interviewing listing agents — we are definitely not all alike and home sellers need the best person for them.
3. Videos are an important aspect of home marketing
While 88 percent of homebuyers use online websites when searching for homes, according to a National Association of Realtors survey, only 26 percent of them say they visited an online video site.
In fact, among the online tools that buyers find “very useful”, “video” didn’t even make the list:
- Interactive maps
- Virtual tours
- Neighborhood information
Listing videos don’t offer the flexibility of virtual tours, which is most likely why homebuyers prefer the latter.
With a virtual tour (especially the 3-D tours), buyers are able to perform a virtual walkthrough of the home, viewing what is important to them, not the videographer.
Yes, you’ll no doubt run up against internet claims that all homes must have a listing video – a myth started by the video production industry, with no statistics to back up their claims.
4. I don’t need to replace the appliances, I’ll just give the buyer a credit so he can do it himself
If home sellers plan on including the appliances in the sale of their home, and they need replacing, do so before the home goes on the market.
A recent survey of housing trends finds that nearly half of homebuyers find energy efficiency a desirable feature. Efficiency-rated windows are popular as well as energy-efficient appliances.
These features are strong points for home sellers. So much so that 75 percent of millennial homebuyers place “updated appliances” at the top of their list of “must-haves,” according to a Bank of America survey.
5. I don’t need to clean and/or stage the garage
While you will hear a lot about how bathrooms and kitchens “sell homes,” it’s the garage that nearly half of homebuyers say is their hot button, according to research from Zolo.com.
And, believe it or not, 10 percent more women than men name a garage among their must-haves in their new home.
Garages are extremely important to millennia homebuyers as well, according to that Bank of America survey, with 65 percent of them valuing a garage over an extra bedroom. The garage needs to be extremely important to home sellers too.
Yet far too many home sellers use the garage for their excess “stuff” when preparing the home for the market.
It makes more sense to shove all that junk into the master bedroom
In reality, the wisest choice is to rent a storage unit.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the home selling process. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime.