The process we recommend to save time and have a better chance of obtaining a great offer is as follows:
Step 1 – Look at the Market in Your Area
With the right metrics, you can determine if you are in a buyer or seller dominated market, as well as what types of sales are occurring. You may not even want to sell after this, because your negotiation power may be little or none in a buyers market, the average time a house sits for sale on market may be longer than you thought, or the value range doesn’t support what you need to sell your house at. Once you know these variables, you can then conduct a CMA to get an idea of what your home may be worth if you decide to sell.
Step 2 – Fix Stuff, Get an Inspection (then fix remaining stuff)
It is probably true that you could get multiple inspections and they will all turn up some different issues, but going into the sales process not knowing what you are dealing with is extremely inefficient and it sets you up for wasted time and energy. I recommend finding a thorough inspector and then fixing everything you have the money to fix; this establishes more negotiating power, you can include it in your marketing (similar to what a carfax is to a used car buyer), and it can help the appraisal value of your home. Which brings me to Step 3:
Step 3 – Prep the Home for Appraisal and Photos
To get the most for your home, you need to drive the demand up. I do this for my clients by prepping the property inside and out with landscaping and a thorough interior cleaning. Then a professional should come in and photograph, video, and create walkthroughs and floorplans to show off the house as completely as possible to potential buyers. We are in an age where people sit in their comfortable beds and do all shopping online, yes even for houses. That first impression of your houses listing online needs to grab and keep their attention for as long as possible, or they won’t even consider viewing it in person. When you have a great listing, and you are using all available widely visited marketplaces such as Zillow, Redfin, the MLS and others, then you have the best shot at obtaining a great price for your home.
Step 4 – Get an Appraisal
The CMA provided by a real estate agent is not regarded as highly as an appraiser’s opinion of value. This is not to say that the CMA is garbage, in fact, most homes require a CMA as part of the appraisal process. The difference is that an appraiser’s opinion of value is required to be more rigorous and unbiased, which is why lenders use them. Having an appraisal can give you confidence in the suggested value range offered by your real estate agent. By doing this step after the inspection and home prep, the appraisal has a great shot at coming in closer to your agent’s CMA. This appraisal will not be used by the buyer’s lender, but it offers the same advantages as having a home inspection included with the marketing material, mainly confidence to potential buyers that your house is a great house to buy.
If you and your real estate agent follow these 4 steps in this order, you will have the smoothest possible home selling experience and the highest satisfaction with your sale.