Let’s face it. The Boston Metro real estate market has been hot.

Off the charts, knock down, drag out, bar room brawlin, hot. Because of this, sellers are spoiled rotten. Homes didn’t always sell in one week, with 5 offers at 4% over the asking price.

The first rule of real estate is don’t get cocky. Never forget you need to take the appropriate steps to get prepared for your sale this spring.

A clean, neat interior of a Boston home

A clean, neat interior of a Boston home

There are 5 things you must do this winter if you want to be successful selling your home this spring.

1. Do some recon.

Research the local real estate market like it’s your job by going to open houses on the weekend. The trick is to write down every open house in order of the start times and then plot them out using Google maps to make a logical route. Give yourself 15-20 minutes per house. I can give you access to the MLS so you can keep track of properties that have gone under agreement and ones that have recently sold. (Just email me your price range, location preferences and what type of property you’re looking for.)

2. Talk to every real estate professional you can.

Throw your preconceived notions about what you think you know in the trash or you’ll fall prey to confirmation bias. Listen and learn what you can from them and don’t ignore the data! Analyze the market until you’re blue in the face!

Remember the big cheese agent in the neighborhood isn’t always the best. Often highly successful agents get complacent. As you interview agents, try and determine how effective they are, but also what differentiates them from the field of competition. What are they going to do to give you an advantage? Any agent can put your home on the Multiple Listing Service, put a sign in the yard and put their feet on the desk. What will your agent do differently to give you that edge?

Every agent should be able to provide you with a “report card”. Ask them for their sales data direct from the MLS. The report should show you the parameters they used (date range/area/property type). You want to know what is their “list price to sales price ratio”, average days on market and how long they’ve been practicing.

3. Get rid of all your crap.

Packing and decluttering is often the most difficult part of the process for homeowners. Sometimes it’s hard to even see the clutter because you are so used to it. I can not emphasize enough how important it is to make your home show well. The way your home presents both inside and out can make or break you.

A well staged interior of a Boston home

A well staged interior of a Boston home

Remember, you’re trying to appeal to the largest pool of potential buyers that you can. Don’t take suggestions to change your décor, paint colors or furniture layout personally. Find a professional with good taste and take their advice.

Clean, clean, clean! Hire professional cleaners if you have to. Wash the windows, dust the baseboards and make sure you get the top of the fridge! Put a shine on your floors and neutralize odors. Ask your most fastidious friend to come over and critique your home. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes.
Buy a bunch of Rubbermaid bins. As you declutter and pack you can label them and then stack them neatly away. If you put them in the attic, basement or garage – make sure you leave pathways for the buyers to see all walls, systems, etc. When it’s time to actually move you’ll be glad you got a head start. Don’t forget the option to store off site as well. Companies like PODS will drop off a container for you to fill, and store it securely until you wish to have it delivered to your new home at a later date. There are plenty of moving companies like Michael’s Movers who will do the same thing. Heck, you can even pay them to come pack your stuff for you.

Make sure all your light bulbs are working and as many of them as possible are the same type. Different “temperature” bulbs will cast different hues of light in the same photograph.

4. Consider a pre-sale home inspection.

You might as well know what’s coming right up front and give yourself an opportunity to make some repairs before you go to market. Often during a home inspection, if a lengthy list of repairs starts taking shape, the buyer will get cold feet and the home inspector will go on a witch hunt. If everyone can see the home has had the proper maintenance, it will foster confidence, and the process will go much smoother. Make sure any peeling paint and/or rotting wood is replaced properly. Make a list of all improvements and repairs and indicate when they were completed.

5. Beware fancy presentations.

Glossy brochures are nice and they might add gravitas but will they sell your house? Don’t get me wrong, photography is paramount to a successful sale – but online! Potential buyers will never see those fancy brochures if they don’t make it to your home. Make sure the agent is employing effective marketing strategies to get buyers to your home.

Once your home is in tip-top shape and the staging looks just right – it’s all about the photographs. Don’t skimp. This will be your first impression, seen by thousands of people online. 90% of home buyers search online for real estate. Real estate signs, mass mailings and brochures do very little to sell your home. You must use creative marketing strategies in order to attract buyers through all the “noise” online. What is your agent doing to differentiate your home and give you a market advantage?

If you’re thinking about selling you home, you owe it to yourself to give me a call. I’ll provide you with an accurate opinion of value (backed up with lots of data and comparables) as well as a comprehensive and creative marketing strategy. Don’t take my word for it…read what my clients are saying about my real estate service.

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