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5 Examples Where "Rule of Thumb" is No Longer "the Rule." (And Why it Matters if You Are Thinking of Selling)

Syndi Zaiger

Syndi Zaiger is the founder of Nest...

Syndi Zaiger is the founder of Nest...

Sep 7 6 minutes read

Changing demographics, principles, and values are breaking the rules of real estate. As the global shift towards digital disrupts the real estate industry and every sector surrounding it, it's not surprising that traditions that were once "rules of thumb" are becoming less the norm and more frequently the exception. It's not just digital influence, either. Here are five examples that show major changes are happening.

New Rule #1: Strategize on pricing and market timing.

Want to sell your house fast, in any market, for no less than what it's worth? There are several different pricing strategies that we use depending on the home and market conditions. The trick isn't always to price it at its evaluation point. Instead, one strategy agents are getting in the habit of is coming onto the market anywhere from 15 to 20 percent below the home's value. The result is a flock of buyers, often creating a bidding war where the seller can walk away with even more than the home's value.

In this market, we see that bidding wars ensue regardless. We're here to help price your home appropriately and strategize on how to enter the market depending on your home, your neighborhood, and local real estate trends.

You're not obligated to take an offer if it's not as much as you want, but weighing the pros and cons of this approach is important. Think about your market, timeline, and agent's input before proceeding.

New Rule #2: Avoid "over-upgrading" before listing.

Far too often, buyers are told that investing in upgrades will help their homes sell faster, but putting money into the wrong areas can mean that you won't get your money back, and it may not even have a big impact on how buyers perceive your home. Instead of throwing money anywhere, focus on many small improvements--old doorknobs, dingy light switches, disagreeable paint colors, and so on.

Looking at comparable homes in your neighborhood is a good place to start if you have extra money to invest in your home before listing. Focus on raising your home to meet the standards of others on the market, like replacing windows if they all feature energy-efficient ones or replacing linoleum flooring with sleek tile.

New Rule #3: Cater to buyer's second-biggest caveat.

Everyone knows that selling real estate is all about "location, location, location." That's something you can't change, but you can control the next thing on some buyer's lists: Lighting. Creating a bright and cheery home may not even require a fresh coat of paint--simply remove the drapes, wash the windows, change out lampshades, and replace light bulbs with new LED "daylight" bulbs.

If your home tends to be dark, go as far as trying other "tricks" to brighten it up, too. Bright paint colors are a start, but so is re-positioning furniture to maximize window views. Place lamps in dark corners and consider adding ceiling fixtures if rooms lack them altogether, especially in living rooms, which tend to be the darkest areas.

New Rule #4: Invest in the kitchen before all else.

Many agents will go so far as to say that, in order to sell your home, you must sell its kitchen. If you have money to invest in an extensive project, this is where that money should go. New appliances should be at the top of your list if yours are showing their age. Next, you should paint or replacing cabinetry, followed by upgrading the sink and replacing countertops.

With that said, a kitchen that's fully functional, clean, and not horribly out-of-date may not need upgrades, especially if you don't have a lot of money to put in. Instead, make simple improvements, like tidying up cabinets to show off storage space and staging any bar seating or breakfast nook with new chairs before showings.

New Rule #5: Show your home anytime you can.

Open houses are convenient and can lead to a lot of foot traffic, so they're worth doing if it's the right time of year. However, that doesn't mean you can rely on one to sell your house. Keeping your home "show-ready" all the time is a hassle, but one that will pay off. You must work around the buyer's schedule, so prepare to keep the sinks clean, the closets tidy, and the windows sparkling so you can show your house whenever a potential buyer wants to see it.

Accommodating buyers is an important part of selling real estate these days, so the other half of that equation is being certain to partner with an agent who will work with you to be responsive. An agent that's dedicated to selling your home will work quickly and diligently, jumping on opportunities as they come along and actively seeking them out on your behalf.

Selling Houses for the Highest Dollar

It's out with the old and in with the new, but these emerging rules are only the tip of the iceberg. Selling real estate for top dollar means staying on top of buyer's wants, needs, and preferences. Want more expert advice? Let’s chat!

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