Negotiating Best Value and Terms

By definition, negotiation is a process in which the involved parties resolve matters of dispute by communicating and coming to an agreement that serves mutual interests.  Sometimes, if not handled properly, negotiation could turn to be unnecessarily combative:  Stay cool!  Go into a negotiation with a positive attitude and a desire to make things work.  Here are some tips to remember:

  • Use your agent as a buffer  between you and your buyers
  • Anticipate your buyers’ moves  and have your responses ready
  • Listen carefully to your buyers’ concerns, offer solutions
  • Do not respond emotionally – an angry response will be counterproductive
  • Do not argue – arguing is likely to drag the negotiation process off course
  • Respond within a reasonable time to questions/suggestions
  • Know when to walk away

A successful negotiation process should accomplish three goals:

  • Selling at the highest price possible
  • Resolving any repair issues fairly
  • Setting the closing to meet your timetable

As soon as the negotiation ends, your attorney will start drafting the Purchase and Sale Agreement and incorporate all that was agreed upon into a binding legal agreement.

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Why Homes Don’t Sell

Overpricing – is the price right?  Overpricing is the most common reason homes don’t sell.  Overpriced homes tend to become stale on the market and are usually being ignored by buyers and agents.   The reasons for setting your price too high range from an eager-to-list agent to unrealistic seller’s expectations.

Inaccurate or missing information – accuracy, precision and good quality pictures in the MLS listing is mandatory for successful marketing.  Wrong, disorganized bits of information along with poor photos could have a fatal effect on the marketing process.

Ineffective marketing – placing a sign on the front lawn, posting the house on the MLS and then praying for a sale doesn’t work!  A winning marketing plan requires a multi-level strategy:  Strong internet presentation on multiple sites, virtual tours, open houses for realtors, newspaper ads, public open houses, listing flyers, postcards, door to door listing announcements and more.

Ineffective price reductions – a price reduction must be noticeable enough to create commotion among agents and their buyers:  An untimely and insignificant price reduction will not reenergize the selling process!

Home doesn’t “show” well – all houses, even newer ones, need some makeover in order to attract qualified buyers.    It is important to present a spacious, clean living space, an environment that potential buyers can picture themselves living in.  Preparing the home for sale is an important prerequisite for successful marketing.

Location is not viewed in terms of geography only:  In real estate, location means school system, crime rate, proximity to main roads, railroads and commercial facilities, the visual appeal of a neighborhood and more.  When location is at issue, accentuating the positive and minimizing the negative, along with a proper price adjustment, can help.

Lousy listing agent you have an agent nobody likes!  The agent’s personality could break or make the process.  If the agent is abrasive, arrogant and difficult to work with, other agents may avoid showing the listing to their prospective buyers.

Communication or the lack of it:  Sellers should be continuously informed throughout the process.  Keeping the seller in the dark and being unresponsive to other agents is a recipe for failure.

Accessibility make it easy for the agents to show the house.  Be flexible and allow showings without piling unnecessary hurdles on the showing agents.

Quick Fixes to Increase Value

Home inspections give buyers a second chance to renegotiate their initial offer or, sometimes, to withdraw their offer.  It is important to understand that, usually, inspections bring up some issues that need to be addressed.  In most cases, the initial offer would be amended to accommodate some of the issues.  That means less money for the seller!

In order to minimize the potential impact of an inspection, we recommend to self-inspect the home before putting it on the market.  Sellers can beat the inspector to it by addressing the issues themselves, as part of preparing their house for sale.  Here are basic elements that a home inspector will check:

Exterior:

  • Doors and windows
  • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Attached porches, decks, and balconies

Interior:

  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Garage doors and garage door systems

An inspector will also check the roof, plumbing, electrical, heating/air-conditioning systems, fireplaces.  Knowing what is involved with checking all of these big items, some sellers elect to hire an inspector before the marketing process begins.  The report becomes part of the presentation package, along with the receipts of any repairs that were done as a result of the inspection.

Showing Tips

When Selling Your House, Think In Terms Of A Home

That Is Sparkling Clean, Uncluttered And Spacious!

First impressions are crucial.  It is important to present a spacious, clean living space, an environment that potential buyers can picture themselves living in.  Here are a few pointers for a successful showing:

  • Scent Control clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Bake cookies or simmer spices such as cinnamon in water on the stove – enticing scent!
  • Temperature control – turn the heat up when cold; blast the air conditioner when hot!  It gives the buyers a reason to stay in the house longer!
  • Lighting controlTurn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights.  Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets.
  • Mood control – keep the fireplace going, when possible, turn on soft music for pleasant, inviting atmosphere.
  • Pet controlget your pets out of the house!  If that’s not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.
  • Valuables controlalthough a real estate agent will be on site during the showing or open house, it’s impossible to watch everyone all the time.  Putting away jewelry, money and other small items will eliminate temptations.
  • Image control – remove family pictures, diplomas, etc., from the wall.  These items may cause buyers to form an opinion of you and figure out your occupation, age, religion, family circumstance, etc.   That could affect your negotiating positions.
  • Self Control detach yourself from the process and get out of the house!  It is best if sellers are not at home during the showings.  Let the prospective buyers look around comfortably and form their opinion of your home.

Remember that prospective buyers will be in the house for five to ten minutes and, sometimes, even for less.  Make these minutes count!

Preparing Your House for Sale

The minute you decide to put your house on the market you have to disassociate yourself from your home.  It is no longer your home.  Let go of your emotions and turn it into an irresistible and marketable home.  Present a clean, neutral, spacious and inviting home, highlighting its potential!   Here is where to begin:

Outdoors:

  • Pressure wash the exterior and the sidewalks
  • Spruce up the entrance
  • Remove dead branches and useless objects (junk) from the back yard
  • Mow the lawn
  • Paint faded window trim
  • Place flowering planters in front of the house
  • Trim your bushes
  • Make sure your house number shows clearly

Indoors:

  • Wash windows inside and out
  • Clean all baseboards
  • Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks
  • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors
  • Organize/cleanout closets
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • Vacuum daily
  • Wax/refinish floors
  • Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures
  • Bleach dingy grout
  • Replace worn rugs
  • Spruce up the bathrooms

Most important:  De-clutter!!!  Get rid of the stuff you collected over the years but never used – you probably don’t need it.  Running out of space?  Rent a storage unit!