Are you thinking of selling your Lake Tahoe real estate? We represent hundreds of sellers every year to achieve top dollar vacation and residential home sales. The following steps will cover many aspects of the selling process from the cost of selling your home in Lake Tahoe, to marketing, to home inspections and more…
1. Deciding When to Sell and Other Important Considerations
Your personal needs and goals – What are your driving forces or motivations for selling your home? Do you have an empty vacation home that you simply aren’t utilizing, and want to capitalize on an exceptionally strong market? Have you inherited an estate? Gone through a divorce? As a seller in the Lake Tahoe area, you have a multitude of avenues and strategies available to you, that can be uniquely catered to your specific selling situation. There is a multitude of reasons for wanting, or needing to sell as there is a multitude of avenues and strategies that should be uniquely catered to each situation.
- Time of year. Real estate in Lake Tahoe is inherently seasonal, with the Fall and Spring months being the quietest. These months are also a common time for the majority of sellers to prepare their homes for listing, in anticipation of our peak seasons: summer and winter. Many homes “show” better in the summer months where their most attractive attributes are visible (i.e. not buried by 10 ft of snow like in the winter months). Furthermore, there is a psychological hang-up that many buyers experience when snow prevents them from seeing the physical ground of the property that they’re previewing. On the other side of the spectrum, ski-in-ski-out homes will show off their best attributes in the winter. Deciding which is best for your home isn’t always straightforward, however, we’re happy to assist in determining your best course of action.
- Neighbourhood Competition. Supply and demand will dictate how much attention your home receives. At any one time, there are only so many buyers interested in the kind of house that you are selling. If those buyers have a big selection of similar homes to choose from then the result will be less activity in both showings and offers. This will most likely lead to a lower selling price as well. Working closely with a committed agent who can accurately analyze your local market will be beneficial. Working with an agent who has their finger on the pulse of your market can make all the difference to achieve a top dollar sale.
- Economy & State of The Real Estate Market. The Lake Tahoe Market is unique and much different than primary markets like San Francisco or Los Angeles. The majority of transactions are vacation home sales. Buyers and sellers aren’t hard pressed to sell or buy compared to when someone is relocating for business and must move within a quick timeframe. Interest rates and consumer confidence are big factors that influence prices. For example, threats of the Fed raising interest rates could affect affordability. What a buyer can afford today may be out of their price range at this time next year.
2. Prepare, Declutter, Stage, Clean
- Get a home inspection. This will identify defective issues that will directly affect the value of your home. It will also allow you to remedy any issues that would otherwise become costly hangups during the escrow process. DON’T ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN! It’s stressful, avoidable, and completely unnecessary. Making this inspection available to buyers prior to them writing an offer, will provide clarity on their prospective investment and will show that you are proactive. Knowledge is power and allows you to play a strong hand.
- Prepare a list of repairs and improvements that are needed. Refer to the expertise of a REALTOR who can identify those inspection issues that will be most important for you to remedy. DON’T BE PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH. The more you do the better the position you will have in negotiations. Lastly, touch up any scuffs, scratches or marks on walls, with a fresh coat of paint that can give the property a new, well-maintained feel. Give the buyer one less thing to worry about, even if it’s purely cosmetic.
- Declutter and maximize your space. Allow potential Buyers to imagine living in your home. Remove personal items, anything that could dissuade potential buyers and their interest. Clear out closets, donate items you don’t use. We love to be part of this process and are more than happy to advise on what items to keep or toss.
- Stage every room to its optimal use. Ensure that all rooms are functional and are being utilized to their potential. Make them feel open and inviting. If you have 2 snowmobiles and a boat in your garage, remove the snowmobiles. Help buyers to envision their nice SUV next to that boat. This will leave a memorable and lasting impression. Buyers don’t often have great imaginations, so make it easy for them. Put a bed in the bedroom, a BBQ on the porch, dining table in the dining room, etc, etc. If you are short on time or selling your home on a budget, you may be wondering which room is the most important. Feel free to contact me and I’ll assist with identifying your homes most valuable attributes. The main focus should be on the heart and soul of the home. The kitchen is where families gather and memories are created. Add a fresh coat of paint for instant warmth, and subtle changes like new hardware or lighting fixtures can have a dramatic effect. Given the opportunity, a good agent will spend time identifying your house’s ideal buyer and will guide you to stage your home to reflect how they’d want to live in it.
- Clean, clean and clean again! The cleaner your house is, the faster it will sell. Buyers won’t just look at surfaces – they’ll look inside your closets, your kitchen cupboards, and your bathroom vanity. Make sure everything sparkles!
- Gather pertinent documents, including utility bills, HOA info, and other home-related records.
- Be ahead of the game. Buyers will need to know about the operating costs so gather bills for every expense they’ll be responsible for. They’ll include gas, heating, electrical, utility, snow removal contracts, and tax bills. Any warranties or manuals will fall into this category as well.
- HOA documents. Be prepared to provide your homeowner association covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R’s), Bylaws and Meeting Minutes. Be sure to provide contact info for your HOA manager.
- Make extra keys. You’ll likely have a lock box at your home for ease of access and for security purposes. Our current system provides a time-stamped log of anybody who enters your home. Often times, it’s smart to have a backup combination lock box in the event that your primary lock box freezes up or has some technical issue. It’s rare that these issues come up but better safe than sorry for a missed opportunity.
- Pricing a property in Lake Tahoe & Truckee is both an art and a science. More times than not, sellers think that their house is worth substantially more than market value suggests. This only makes sense because we’re dealing with emotional transactions whereby memories and great experiences have been created. Your agent REALTOR will educate you to the pros and cons of pricing your home for a bidding war or to price high or just under market value. Each seller circumstance is case specific to no one size fits all mold.
3. Remain Cognizant of Common Buyer Considerations
- Comparable sales on your street and in your neighborhood.
- Which active properties are most attractive.
- Current market conditions and inventory.
- The style, feel, size and amenities, or special attributes of homes.
- LOCATION IS PARAMOUNT but not everything.
- Projected appreciation for the neighborhood.
4. Real Estate Marketing
Real estate agents wear many hats, amongst the most important being the marketing and advertising hat. Exposure and the strategies to promote and advertise a listing are critical to your property’s selling price and how well it performs. From our experience, listing a property is more of an art form than a science. We propose a targeted, exacting approach that involves networking, relationship building, and a strong Internet presence. Print exposure can be a building block to establish buyer confidence, but creating a virtual and Internet presence is key.
5. The CUSTOMARY Building Blocks of Real Estate Advertising
- Photography/Videography. Professional photography almost goes without saying. If your agent doesn’t agree then I suggest shopping around for different representation. 90% of buyers start their search online, and if the photos don’t capture their attention then you’ll never get them through the door. Click on the virtual tour in this link to see one way that I expose my listings.
- For Sale Signs. The more exposure the better. Advertise to your neighbors and community with a nice new sign complimented by a brochure box for safe measure. Your neighbors may have little interest, but their friends and family may be your buyer.
- Open Houses. In many cases, open houses are a great way to create a buzz amongst your neighbors. This is especially true to our market because most homes are vacation homes and everybody is passionate about Lake Tahoe so these are common topics of discussion. Naturally, owners want to share the Tahoe experience with their friends and family and who could be a better neighbor than a good friend, family member or business colleague? There are numerous avenues for advertising open houses that are both print and web-based. Good agents will be able to spot the serious and motivated buyers and will focus their attention on them.
- Online marketing & social media is everything! If your agent doesn’t have a firm grasp on it then you may want to shop around. According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of buyers searched online during their home buying process; so the most important aspect of our marketing campaign is to establish a strong online and virtual buyer experience that is supported by print materials as necessary.
- Email Marketing/Social Media. In a recent Inman News post, top agents were interviewed to see what type of marketing provided the most bang for their buck. The response was email marketing through platforms like Constant Contact, MailChimp, and Robly. Social media has single-handedly changed marketing by providing an inexpensive means to exposure while providing analytics and flexibility to alter advertisements with the click of a button.
- Print Marketing. Amongst the most expensive way to advertise with little upside. This avenue is becoming more and more outdated. It lacks the advantages of analytics found on websites and Facebook, making the response to your advertisements harder to track and gage. As a safety measure, speak to your agent about the success they’ve had with print advertising and strategize from there on how it fits into your advertising strategy.
- Who does your home appeal to? First-time buyers, their parents, investors, international investors, divorcee’s, newlyweds? Savvy realtors will invest lots of energy in identifying your ideal buyer group to accurately determine where and how they place their hard-earned dollars on advertising. The information contained here simply scratches the surface. I look forward to answering any questions you may have and to selling your home at top dollar.
Call me for SECRETS to TOP DOLLAR sales not listed here. Let’s get your home SOLD!