5 Top Tips for Rochester First-Time Home Sellers

Dave Meir
Published on November 24, 2015

5 Top Tips for Rochester First-Time Home Sellers

Sold Home For Sale Sign in Front of New House

As a first-time home seller you may find the Rochester real estate market incredibly competitive and confusing. Economists are predicting major increases in home sales in the coming years so if you’re planning to sell your home it’s important you prepare yourself to avoid the potential pitfalls. If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of selling a home in the Rochester market give me a call and I’ll do what I can to answer your questions.

For starters here’s a few important tips to help you get through the process successfully.

Prepare your Home for the Market

If you’ve been keeping up with the Rochester real estate market you’re probably aware of the fact that we’re experiencing unprecedented low levels of available inventory.

Analysts use an algorithm called the absorption rate to determine the state of the inventory in a real estate market. Absorption rate defined as the number of months the current homes for sale in a particular market will last, if no other homes come on the market. A healthy, stable, even market would reflect an absorption rate of around five to six months.

As of this writing the current absorption rate in the west northwest Rochester market is under two months. In other words there are not nearly enough homes on the market to satisfy demand. It’s a seller’s market.

Does that mean every new house on the market will sell for top price no matter what the condition? Absolutely not.

Think of it like this; imagine the city of Rochester is a nearly sold-out Adele concert and your neighborhood is the auditorium or the venue.

There’s one front row seat left with a ticket price of $250. There’s also a nose-bleed seat left in the upper deck, behind the stage, with a ticket price of $50. Same concert, same music, same night. The front row seat can sell for five times the price of the nose-bleed seat because it’s more desirable.

What if there were no other seats left except for the nose-bleed ticket? Does that increase its value? Some maybe, but it’s still a poor choice and may go unsold because of it.

Today’s Buyers are Picky

Even with historically low inventory levels today’s buyers are still picky. You’ve watched the TV shows; the typical buyer can’t picture themselves living in a home that simply needs paint or carpeting replaced. Let alone cracked windows or a roof that’s shot.

The saying, “you never have a second chance to make a good first impression,” could not be more true than when selling your home. If buyers can’t immediately see themselves in your house they’ll be in and out and on to the next house in less than five minutes.

From experience I can tell you that clean, neat and tidy make a huge difference when I’m showing a property. Your home has to sparkle and wow to attract a buyer’s attention. So start the sparkle process weeks, if not months before you plan to sell. If you have lots of stuff you might need to rent a storage locker to clear things out make your home seem more spacious.

Neutralize Neutralize Neutralize

Back in the 1980’s and 90’s when I was a real estate appraiser I used to do a lot of work for relocation companies. In case you’re not familiar, when an employee is relocated to another city some companies enlist the help of a relocation service. Part of that service is buying the employee’s home if it doesn’t sell in a specific time period.

If a relocation company wound up having to buy a home the first thing they did was paint all the walls a neutral off-white and replace all the carpeting with a light beige colored carpet. Relocation companies have studied the effect of this sort of thing and they don’t spend the money on paint and carpet just for fun. They do it because they know the home will sell faster if they do.

You want to present the buyer with a nearly blank slate to which they can imagine adding their own personal touch. You don’t want the buyer distracted by fluorescent pink bathroom walls or a bright turquoise bedroom.

You also want to remove most of your personal knick-knacks. If you have an extra bedroom dedicated to your toy tractor collection – box them up and put them in storage – for two reasons:

  1. Your toy tractor collection, or doll collection, or silver spoon collection, personalize your home and make it yours which is what you like about them. But when it comes to selling your home that personalization makes it difficult for a potential buyer to visualize themselves in the home. In their mind they can’t make it theirs because it’s so obviously yours.
  2. Not only do those collectibles distract buyers, they also entice some buyers (Remember Breaking Bad and Marie stealing the silver spoon). Things are frequently stolen at open houses and it’s not your Realtor’s responsibility if they are.

The same goes for personal photographs you have displayed on the walls, end-tables or dressers. Leave a couple for sure – you don’t want the house to look un-lived in. But if you have a wall covered in family portraits they need to go and the nail holes filled and painted over.

Fix What Needs to Be Fixed

Consider replacing outdated hardware on the cabinetry, broken baseboards, ripped screens, leaky faucets, replace outdated light fixtures and make carpentry and masonry repairs. Lower cost items should be fixed before marketing the home; as example a cracked window. Do not leave it and state that it will be fixed before the sale closes.

There may potentially be items that need repair – such as a roof that needs replacing – that you just can’t afford to do until you receive the proceeds of the sale. In that case get an accurate estimate for the repair and then state up front that the seller will replace the roof before closing. At least that way you’ll know you have the cash coming in before you make the outlay for the roof.

Earlier we talked about first impressions – you simply must, must, must have at least the front of the home exterior looking sharp. What does it say to a potential buyer if they pull up in front of your home to see overgrown weeds and peeling paint? It ruins your chance for a good first impression.

Update the landscape by trimming lawns and hedges, renovating the driveway paving, weeding the garden and making the necessary repairs to the fence.

Enlist the Help of a Good Real-Estate Agent

As a first-time Rochester home seller, you should understand the importance of having a professional real estate agent represent you during the sale of your home. You have hundreds of agents to choose from and it’ll be well worth your time to put some thought and research into your selection.

While you can easily get an agent based on referrals from your friends and family, it’s important to widen your search scope to ensure that you end up with an expert in the field. Consider checking with your local brokerages and agencies, or even look online for reviews of agents on sites like Yelp.

After finding the right agent for you and your needs, you will be required to sign an agreement with the agent and pay a commission. And because the contract binds you to the agent for a period of three to six months, it’s important that you have only the best.

Do I hope you’ll ask me to help you sell your home? Of course. But no agent can be all things to all people. We might hit it off great or we might not. In the end it’s more important you list your home with an agent you know, like and trust.

The Real-estate Agent you Choose matters more than the Brokerage

While it’s vital you choose an agent with a good presence and base of knowledge, remember you will only be dealing with the specific agent, not the company they represent. Real-estate agents are simply independent contractors who opt to hang their license with a brokerage firm whose culture and brand match their business. A good agent will work with you to deliver great results no matter what brokerage they are involved with.

Understand the Real-estate Market in your Area

Before listing your Rochester home for sale, get to understand the current situation in our Rochester real-estate market. Typically, some real-estate markets boom with sales during specific months. Historically our market has recorded huge sales during most of the spring season. Your agent should provide this information ensuring you sell your home timely and at an optimal price.

Correct Pricing is Important

Price is an important consideration for potential buyers. If you’ve made some major improvements but your home still isn’t selling, then you need to consider lowering the price. To help you come up with the correct price for your home your Realtor should perform a comparative market analysis. By comparing your home to others in your neighborhood that have sold recently, as well as homes currently on the market, you and your agent will be able to determine the most accurate price for your home.

Know Your Bottom Line

When listing your home your Realtor should prepare a net proceeds sheet for you. The agent uses the net proceeds sheet to calculate your potential closing costs including, among other items;

  • sales commission
  • potential seller paid closing costs
  • state deed tax
  • recording fees
  • title exam
  • administration fee

The net proceeds calculation will help you determine your bottom line – what you can reasonably afford to accept when a buyer places an offer.

In a seller’s market rarely will an early offer be a poor offer. If your home is well staged and in good condition buyers recognize the fact that it won’t last long on the open market. If you get an acceptable offer don’t waste time waiting for something bigger and better. You’ve heard the saying, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” – it definitely applies here.

Considering the physical and emotional stress that comes with home selling, it’s crucial to prepare yourself to ensure a successful sale.