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Getting the price right: Listing your home to make it sell

Listing to sell
(Photo courtesy of iStock)
The little repairs have been made, floors swept and windows scrubbed until they gleam crystal clear. Your home is ready for the market. But at what price?
Setting the price is a complicated and often nerve-racking step in the home sale process. Set the price too high and you may not generate interest, but if you go too low you’ll miss out on potential profit.The challenge is just like the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the three bears — it’s important to find the price that is just right.
Pricing discussions should start with a handful of factors, explains Blandy Becker, a Long & Foster real estate agent based in Timonium. Those factors include “the condition of the home, including any necessary de-cluttering and staging, how quickly you want to sell and recent comparable sales from the last six months.”
When it comes to comparable sales, finding the right properties for comparison is key.
“Look at similar homes in similar areas and see what they are selling for — not what they are listed for,” says Melissa Murray of The Murray Home Team, an Anne Arundel County Coldwell Banker-affiliated team.
On the real estate market, “similar” homes are determined by neighborhood first and foremost, Murray says. Then they’re compared by square footage and unalterable attributes — things that can’t be changed.
“You can always update a kitchen or bath, but you can’t add a garage if one doesn’t exist and there isn’t space,” she explains.
Murray also warns sellers against thinking in terms of what they paid for the house, or how much money they “need” to make. “That has absolutely no bearing on the market value of your house,” she says. “The price should be solely based on similar comps that have sold in your area.”
Resist the urge to set the price high to start, assuming that you’ll negotiate, says Becker. Instead, she says, “price it right, and make them fight!”
Emotional attachments sometimes cloud sellers’ ability to accurately determine home value, says Murray. “You have to detach yourself from it and treat it as a commodity,” she says. “The easiest thing to help with this process is to focus on the new home. Emotionally move on, and this will help with selling.”
Becker and Murray agree that in most cases, sellers should follow their real estate agent’s lead when it comes to pricing. “Your Realtor should know the market and be able to provide recent comparable home sales to support their suggested list price,” says Becker.
Don’t be afraid to shop around for a real estate agent who does know the market, says Murray. “It’s a good idea to interview multiple agents and get a consensus on value,” she advises. Once you’ve found someone you like, listen to that agent’s advice.
“Trust in your Realtor,” she says. “That is why you hired them.”

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