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Chrissie's Home Selling Guide

When I meet with my sellers, I do an extensive interview, during which I try to understand their goals.  Most seller’s have two basic goals when selling their house.  One, maximize your cash out of the transaction.  Two, sell your home quickly.  And usually in that order! As one of Loudoun’s top producing Realtors, I have a proven track record of doing both for my clients.  So, how do I do it?   Let’s walk through the process!

Pricing Your Home

A lot of factors go into pricing a home.  The first thing any Realtor will do is pull tax records and comps from the surrounding neighborhood.  This is a starting point!  But, every home is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses and I know how to accentuate those strengths, and lessen the weaknesses

In the exact same neighborhood, with the exact same model house, you might have one home that has never seen any updates and backs to an ugly road, while the other home has a finished basement, gorgeous updated kitchen and bathrooms, new deck boards, backs to a golf course and looks like a model home still.  While the comps or recent sales for these two homes might be the same, one has obviously had a lot of improvements and is in a different situation!  I have an actual calculator I use to plug in different factors that can help us price your home correctly. 

Same Model Home in Same Neighborhood  - Would you price these the same?  Which will sell faster?  Comps aren't everything!

We’ll put together a list of updates you’ve done to your home.  Did you just spend $20K on a brand new roof or HVAC system?  Did you do a kitchen renovation?  Did you install a beautiful stone patio or walkway?  Not only does this help validate a higher price for your home, it will attract more buyers increasing competition. 

 

In todays market, competition is already very high, but it’s important not to over price the home either, because you want that competitive buying frenzy to happen.  When buyers commit to a home, sometimes they’ll end up paying more, or giving more concessions during negotiations, just to win.

The chart below shows you all the sales in the Mid-Atlantic region and compares how many days the home was on the market vs closing price as a percentage of list price.  You can see that the average closing price is ALWAYS higher than list price for homes that sold in 10 days or less.  But, as soon as a home is on the market 21 days or more, the average closing price is ALWAYS less than asking price.  They are negotiating from a place of weakness. which is why pricing it correctly is so critically important.  And rest assured, this trend continues the longer it's on the market!

How pricing your home affects time on the market

Finding that sweet spot for your price is critical.  We all want the most money for your home, but pricing your home too high is actually counterproductive, because the home will sit on the market too long.  That is a signal to buyers that something is wrong with the house.  If a home sits on the market for a month, buyers will ask, “What’s wrong with this home?”   And we don’t want that.  If we are pricing your home at the higher end of the range, it’s important the marketing highlights why the home is worth it.  That’s where your list of improvements comes in, and my marketing, videos and photography come in!  I’m going to highlight the strengths of your home and everything around it!

Preparing Your Home For Sale

It’s important to get a third party to evaluate your home.  After years of living in a home, most people can no longer “see” the gradual physical effects of time, or the accumulation of “stuff”.  Even in a multimillion-dollar home, you’d be surprised how little (or how much) it takes to go from $2.2M to $2.3M.  That’s why I pay for a professional stager to come in and rank the list of potential improvements. 

When thinking about outside your home, we have to remember that first impressions are a big deal.  When they walk inside, we want them to already be loving your home as much as possible.  There’s nothing worse than having to overcome the impact of long uncut grass, or weeds all over your mulch beds.  You’d be surprised how much a fresh bed of mulch and beautiful flowering annuals can make a difference to setting the mood for potential buyers.

Two Houses on the same street.  On the left, 3,200 square feet.  The right, 3,900 square feet...  sold six months apart.  The one on the right sold for $120K more than the one on the left, almost 20% more.   Landscaping definitely played a factor!!!

Inside your home, even small things matter.  It could include simple things like decluttering a room… or in some cases, adding items to an unusually empty room!  Sometimes the list of improvements is longer or contains bigger items such as fresh paint, or replacing stained carpeting.   You don’t have to spend $50,000 on a kitchen renovation, but we do have to have your kitchen clean for people to see it at it’s best. 

 

Your entire home needs to be as clean as possible, so that when buyers walk in, they don’t feel like they are in a “used” home with a lot of miles.  We want that “new car smell” and look… except with your home!  And while it may seem like a cliché, nothing like the smell of baked cookies really is quite nice.  😊  But, there’s nothing worse than the smell of smoke!

There are also inexpensive updates you can easily do.  Does your dining room or  your bathrooms still have the same fixtures from 1981 on the wall?  Not only is it not in style for what most buyers want, but it also signals to buyers that the home has not been “kept up”, and they’ll start to look for other items to talk themselves out of buying your home. 

Anything that’s always bothered YOU, is definitely going to bother them.  Do you have mismatched lights in the ceiling or in a fixture?  Does that sliding door stick?  Is your fridge white, but your stove is stainless steel?  Now is the time to do it!

On the left, new carpet and non-broken window treatments can go a long way.   On the right is a great example of mismatched appliances, 1950s light fixture and window treatment, and outdated wallpaper all rolled into one!

You also need to repair anything that’s not working well.  Remember that they are probably going to have a professional inspection done.  Everything that inspector finds has a price tag they are going to try to use to negotiate on.  While an inspector isn’t going to write up a poor color choice (like purple window curtains), they will write up a torn window screen.   Not only doesn’t it look good to prospective buyers, but it’s going to show up on a written report.   Some things will be trivial to repair.  I sold a home in Grenata for over $2M... but that didn't stop the home inspector from finding issues (all easily fixed). These are actual photos and comments from the home inspector!

Have you been meaning to replace that crumbling board on your exterior deck stairs?  Does the light in the oven not work?  Do all your smoke detectors work?  Depending on the situation, it may be wise to hire your own inspector to help you uncover items before you list your home so that you have time to fix (or negate) them before listing on the market.  

 

It’s almost always better to address these issues before listing.  As an example, is there a smoke smell?  If you don’t remediate before you go on the market, you will have less offers, you will be on the market longer, you may have to drop your price to attract more buyers (or get earlier buyers to come back), and you will be negotiating from a position of weakness…. And you’re still going to have to remediate that smell probably! 

I have an extensive network of handymen and contractors to help you with anything and everything.  Whether it’s something like landscaping or power washing the exterior, or you need new paint or carpeting inside, I’ve got you covered.  And if you need something more extensive like a new HVAC system, a new roof, or having your decking replaced, I have a  list of contractors I work with for everything you could think.  I work with the best in the business, and because I do a lot of work with them, I get great prices from them also.

Marketing & Showing Your Home

As a Sotheby’s agent, I am dedicated to making your home a jewel, ready for showing.  And marketing is critical to getting in as many buyers as possible, as quickly as possible.  Almost everybody sees your home online first, so an online marketing campaign is an incredibly high priority for me (though I also do print media as well!).  I hire and pay for only the best photographers and videographers, and market to every major online real estate platform and social media outlet. 

 

It’s important to not only market your house, but everything that is great about where you live.  Do you have great parks nearby?  Is the school system awesome?  Does the neighborhood have a lot of great amenities?  What do you love about living there?  It’s not just what makes your home great, but what makes where you live great!

And we do this with drone footage, adrenaline videos, and great write ups.  When I view some listings, I’m amazed how poor the write ups are sometimes, or how bad the photography is.  Here’s just two examples of the types of videos I put together for my clients.

The marketing campaign starts before your home goes on the market.  We want that first week or two to be a buzz with activity!  And you have to remember that almost 90% of buyers are using a realtor, so we have to market to Realtors also. The buyers probably aren’t following all the Realtor social media outlets… but the buyer's agent probably is! 

 

I’ll do sneak peak videos and photos across social media to hit the local real estate community to get them excited about it.  Depending on the home, I may do a “Broker’s Open”, which is like an open house, but only for Realtors.   Key agents and brokerages will be invited to a catered lunch at your home to chum the waters and start the feeding frenzy. 

While it’s on the market, we want to make it as easy as possible for Buyers and their agents to view your home.  I use an online platform called “Showing Time” to schedule appointments, so we can be as unintrusive as possible on your life, while still hitting maximum exposure levels to buyers. 

Negotiating Your Closing

As I already mentioned, the buyers are going to want to do a home inspection.  In addition to all the visible items we’ve already covered, they’re going to look for hidden items, like mold caused by moisture behind your walls using a FLIR infrared imaging system.  They’re going to look for termite dust.  They’re going to check the electrical system and GFCI’s to make sure they are working.   They have a huge checklist and they could spend a few hours going over your home.  Here are just a couple of pages from a 92 page Home Inspection Report as examples!

This is just one tool in the buyer’s negotiation process.  They have the right to ask you to address all these issues.  They may find a lot of little things, or they may find bigger issues. And my network of contractors can help with anything and everything.  But, for a lot of the items, they will be simple things any handyman  can take care of for not much money.   Some items might even be a Do-It-Yourself job depending how handy you are!    One of my clients was out of town and a last minute item popped up.  A torn window screen!!!  It was in the neighborhood where I live, and my husband actually popped over to do it for him since it was time sensitive!  We go above and beyond!!!

For any big items, you can choose to remediate, or counter with a financial incentive, depending on what works best for you.  For one of my clients, the time and cost to remediate one issue would have taken almost a month, and then they would have had to get a reinspection!  Instead, we offered to lower the price appropriately so that we could get to closing quickly, rather than risk being on the market longer.

And remember, you have the right to say, “NO”.  I have seen an inspector claim that a support beam under a deck needs to be replaced and it would cost a lot of money to do so.  I’ve gone back with my team and proved it was actually NOT an issue, and that there was an easier, less expensive, way to remediate the concern. 

Wrapping It Up

Whatever the case, I am an expert negotiator with a lot of experience, and a team of people behind me to make sure you get to closing and meet your goals! Including a team of lawyers to make sure you make it all the way there!  You’d be surprised at what can happen when you are sitting at the table ready to sign papers and a seller throws out one last argument or demand.  I’m there with my team to keep things on track for you! 

When you are ready to sell your home, you deserve to work with the best.  That's me.  I have years of experience and am a top producer in Loudoun County.  I love my job, love working with my clients and am passionate about what I do.    I take tremendous satisfaction in getting my clients the best price for their home as quickly as possible.  I love to win!  That's why many of my clients use me repeatedly to buy and sell different properties.  They know that I know what I'm doing, and will always go to bat for them in a tough situation.  

"Plenty of realtors have "good personalities"... but sometimes, they don't have the astute professionalism to go with it. Chrissie is the best of both worlds! SUPER nice, friendly and easy to be around - but she's also an executive-level professional, when it comes to her job.

 

I am a busy person, with multiple businesses, and priorities. I don't have time to monitor the details.... That's why I went with Chrissie to sell my multi-million dollar house. I knew that with her, everything would be handled... And it was. She doesn't have a lazy bone in her body - just hustle and hard work. We went under contract for full asking price, within 48 hours! Thank you!" 

 

- Ross O'Rourke

Loudoun's Best Realtor
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