Plowing With StyleIt is often the case that with the melting snow and mild temperatures the spring real estate market sees substantial increases in inventory. After a year of extraordinary snow and very low inventory, this year’s spring market is poised to heat up quickly. An influx of listings should spur a “Seller’s Market.” While every market is different, for those interested in our thoughts from last year’s spring market should read: Five Tips to Thrive in a Thawing Real Estate Market. In light of changing market conditions, we’ve decided to compile some of our thoughts on the emotional and tactical considerations in this year’s market. It’s easy to forget in the rush that selling and buying a home is an emotional process. Sellers are contemplating moving from their home which is a very personal space. Buyers are looking for a place to call home and spending considerable sums of money. It is important for Sellers, and Buyers for that matter, to maintain composure. This week, we will explore some of the tips, tactical and emotional, to help Sellers sell their homes for top dollar.

Consider Hiring a Professional Stager to Put your House “Over the Top”: Some Sellers have found great success by hiring a professional “stager” to add some furnishings to entice Buyers into making an offer. By making your house look inviting and stylish, you will make it easier for a Buyer to picture him or herself living in the house. Some Buyers may be so enchanted that they make an offer which calls for all furniture to be sold with the house. This is proof positive that the staging worked–and don’t worry, the Stager will be happy to sell the furniture to the Buyer. If hiring a professional would not be cost effective, consider obtaining the same effect through sweat equity. Spend ten minutes looking at listings on the MLS. The house that has fresh paint, a manicured lawn, shampooed carpets, and all clutter removed will look indescribably more appealing than a house that does not. Don’t let a little elbow grease stand between you and a top dollar offer. If your budget allows, consider professional photography as another way to make your listing stand out among the rest.

Leverage (Know thy Enemy): When I sat down to write this article, I didn’t think I’d be quoting Sun Tzu, but the point is too good to miss. Understanding the Buyer’s situation can make the difference between a good and great deal. Has your Buyer already sold and is therefore desperate to find a house, even if they overpay slightly? Does the Buyer have a subjective attachment, i.e., do they love your house and can’t stand the thought of not living there? Calling your Buyer “thy Enemy” may overstate the adversarial nature of this exchange. Treat your Buyer with respect–buying a house is emotional for the Buyer, involves a substantial amount of money and can be very stressful. A relaxed, happy Buyer may be more willing to make an offer, and will generally result in an easier sale process for you, the Seller.

Preemptive Home Inspection: Just like people, houses are not perfect. You know the Buyer will be conducting a home inspection. By hiring your own inspector, you have the chance to address serious repair concerns before any Buyers begin their inspection. A Buyer’s inspector, and by extension the Buyer, will be impressed by the proper repair of important systems. Minimizing surprises helps to keep your sales price from sliding. While your Real Estate agent is a wonderful adviser with regard to many issues, he or she is likely not a contractor or home inspector. Until you have a professional give you an honest assessment, your sale price is, to some extent, something of a guess.

You have more “Stuff” than you Think: As a Seller, one of your most important contractual obligations is delivering the house with your personal property removed. Before agreeing to a three week closing, consider whether it’s realistic to move the contents of your entire house in such a short time. Even with enough time, some Sellers wait until the last hours to remove their possessions. If your possessions aren’t removed by closing, the Buyer could walk away from the transaction. Further, the Buyer’s rate lock may expire. When this happens, the Seller usually pays the expense of an extension–often over $1,000. Take my advice: start packing now!

Perform all Obligations in a Timely Manner: Consider this scenario: the Seller receives an offer at top dollar, but the Seller must replace all outlets in the house. In the Seller’s excitement, she grabs the closest pen, signs, and faxes the Offer back to the Buyer’s agent. As the closing approaches, the Seller realizes that replacing all outlets in the house is quite a chore. Rather than hiring an electrician to finish the work, she thinks: “I won’t do the work; what’s the worst that could happen?” Nothing causes more drama and consternation than unfulfilled contractual obligations. The Buyer can (and sometimes does) walk away from the transaction. The closing may be delayed. Often, the Seller is forced to pay the Buyer for the cost of the work, usually with some built in premium to account for the uncertainty of the true cost. It’s almost always advisable to perform the work in a timely manner. This doesn’t just apply to repair items. The Seller that leaves dirty dishes in the sink, leaves an uncooked turkey in the oven, removes the bathroom mirror, or leaves trash piled in the shed (we’ve really seen each of these) will suffer the same fate. By making a real effort to respect the Buyer and your contractual obligations, the Buyer is more likely to look past that scuff on the floor or small hole in the wall. Buying and Selling a house is stressful–make it a little easier by fulfilling your contractual obligations.

We’ve tried to provide some of the best tips for being a “good” Seller in this hot spring market. Whether adding some beautiful furniture, understanding your Buyer’s position, or conducting a preemptive home inspection, be sure to treat the Buyer with respect and honesty. No amount of furnishings or hard ball negotiation can save a deal that is destroyed by mistrust and hurt feelings.

Stiles Law, with offices located in Boston and Marshfield, Massachusetts, is a firm concentrating in real estate conveyancing and mortgage lending services, representing buyers, sellers, borrowers, banks, mortgage companies, investors, builders and developers in all of their real estate and mortgage transactions. Stiles Law serves all areas of eastern Massachusetts–the North Shore, Boston, and Cape Cod, in addition to the entire South Shore, including: Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury, Hanover, Pembroke, Marshfield, Scituate, Norwell, Cohasset, Hull, Hingham, Weymouth, Braintree, and Quincy.

Copyright © 2015 Stiles Law, All rights reserved. Stiles Law is a Massachusetts licensed law firm and all content is based on Massachusetts law. The information presented above is meant to be used for general informational purposes and it should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts. No child labor laws were breached during the creation of this Blog, further Bob Bonkley was compensated for his likenesses and appearances in the same.