Fort Worth homes for sale were listed on the market an average of 43 days before closing, according to the recent Texas Housing Insight release. Texas averages around 58 days. If you’ve been around real estate at all, you’ve heard about homes that had offers within a day and others that lingered for months on the market.
How fast your home attracts a buyer depends on factors like your price point, home condition, home type, and location. Some of it is probability; there’s a larger buyer pool in the $200-300K price bracket than the $1-$2M price bracket. However, a smaller buyer pool doesn’t mean your home can’t sell quickly.
Most potential buyers will view the home they decide to submit an offer on within 3-to-6 months after its listing. But if your home isn’t getting the attention it should from day one, take a hard look at how you are listing your home. And if you haven’t listed yet, leverage the odds in your favor early. Let’s walk through best practices for listing your Fort Worth home.
#1- Reflect on your home buying experience
Unless the home you are listing was gifted to you, an inheritance, or new construction, chances are you went through the home-buying process before.
Think about your experience as a buyer, even if it was five, ten, or more years ago. What drew you to the houses you visited? What did you dislike when you visited certain homes? How did you end up falling in love with the one you bought?
Maybe you didn’t have a nightmare showing thanks to an awesome real estate agent. But if you did, those memories linger. The funky smell, the weird decor...those made an impression on you, the potential home buyer.
Aim to replicate the positives from your home buying experience in your listing while avoiding the negatives.
#2- Find the right real estate agent
Your best chance of a successful real estate transaction starts with choosing an experienced real estate professional who knows your area.
The first go-round, you likely worked with a buyer’s agent. Some real estate professionals specialize as a listing agent. This gives them special insights into how to position your home for the best result. Listing agents sometimes specialize further by price points, property types, or neighborhoods. The more unique your property, the greater your need to pinpoint the right professional for the job.
A great place to start finding a real estate agent with exceptional experience listing homes is with referrals from friends, family, and colleagues. Continue with online research to find real estate agent reviews. Scope out their websites and online presence. Real estate agents who publish blogs are showcasing their expertise. It's a great way to see if they have the knowledge base you need to successfully list and sell your home.
When you connect with a prospective real estate agent, the right question to ask isn't what price point you should list your home. Comparable reports are easily attainable by you and other real estate professionals. You can see the realistic price range for your property. What you need to ask about is the percentage of homes they list to how many homes they close. This tells you if:
- They will work hard to find the right buyer for your home
- They are a professional who follows through
- They have experience listing and closing properties
Of course, when a real estate agent does come to your listing appointment prepared with a comparable report, that shows they're always well-prepared and detail-oriented. They base their decisions on facts.
Once you have a narrow list of prospective real estate agents, go online and see how they market their current listings. The overwhelming majority of home buyers begin their search online. Your property listing photos must be compelling or buyers won't be interested in stepping foot through the door.
So look at how the prospective real estate agent is leveraging all the tools at their disposable. Do the listings have many photos that give the buyers of a real sense of what it's like to be in the home? Are the photos of high quality and clarity? Do they show off the home’s best features?
As a home seller, you may not think it's important to make a good impression on your real estate agent. Remember, real estate agents are people. Some are more professional than others. If a real estate agent perceives that you plan to be involved and care about what happens in the home sale, they're more likely to spend more time marketing your property, communicating with you, and really becoming a partner.
One easy way to show that you care about what happens to your property listing is to simply pick up your home before they arrive for the listing appointment. Show them that you are interested in putting your home's best foot forward with potential home buyers by putting its best foot forward with them. Plus it helps them see through the clutter to your home’s best features, much like a potential buyer would.
#3- Listen to the real estate agent
Remember that a real estate agent's job is to understand the residential property market and what is surrounding you. They specialize in properties and neighborhoods. Sometimes when a real estate agent makes a suggestion to their client, it is taken the wrong way or brushed off as trivial.
You may only speak with a dozen potential buyers (if that) during the time your home is listed. Real estate professionals speak with dozens of buyers and sellers every day. They know what the current buyers are looking for at your price point in your neighborhood. They have seen the other properties on the market and know how your home competes against them. Yes, even in a seller’s market, you home is still competing for the best buyers.
If your hired real estate agent gives you a suggestion, please give it serious consideration. You hired them because you believed in their expertise. Their job is to get you as much money for your property as possible. If they think a fresh coat of paint might gain you a few thousand dollars more in the sale of your home, isn't that worth considering?
But it's not only advice on home staging. Listen to what they have to say about a pricing strategy. Comparables are always a good place to start and come up with a price range, but your home is unique. The last comparable home sale might have been a few months ago and the local market has changed. If a real estate agent comes to you to discuss a price reduction, please listen to them. Sooner is always better than later. You want to keep your house fresh and interesting to prospective buyers.
#4- Know your home
Do you remember all the things you wanted to know about when you were buying your home? Expect the same kind of attention to detail from your prospective buyers. Get all the paperwork you think a seller might ask for together before you list the home.
This is especially true if you have done some major renovations to the property. A buyer or their real estate agent can easily look up permits for work on the home. Having that data packaged together and available shows you have all your ducks in a row. It keeps your home attractive to that prospect.
Something to consider is getting a home inspection done before you list the property. This helps keep the negotiations in your favor. The inspector’s report shows any issues buyers might try to leverage in their negotiations to get a better price.
By getting a home inspection before the first prospect walks through the door, you have the opportunity to correct the problems or to adjust your pricing accordingly. Think about the statement made when you present the inspection report to the prospect and show the documentation that you have fixed the problem or notation on how much you have taken off of your list price to compensate for the issue.
Buyers don’t like surprises, and neither do sellers. Be fully informed about your home’s current condition.
#5- Home preparation
It's amazing how the little things matter to prospective buyers. People have walked away from houses that were perfectly fine, but they found too dusty.
How to prepare your home depends on your personal scenario. If the home will be vacant during its time on the market, discuss with your real estate agent if it should stay empty or be partially staged. One option today is to virtually staged some photos to help give spaces a sense of scale.
In the 2019 Profile of Home Staging report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), real estate agents said staging made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home 83 percent of the time. Another 25 percent of buyer’s agents said staging increased the offered value between 1-5 percent compared to unstaged homes. So a home on the market for $200k, at a one percent increase, could net an additional $2000 through staging.
Even if you plan to live in the home while on the market, preparing your home through smart staging decisions is a strategic move with the potential for an increased payout.
The basic steps during the preparation phase are to:
- Remove all the clutter in the home
- Depersonalize by removing family photos
- Fix-up those little annoyances (loose handles, squeaky doors, et al.)
- Clean up the property
Pay attention to everything: dust on the ceiling fans, scuffs on the baseboards, and the envelopes left on the kitchen counter.
You’ll hopefully be packing soon. Why not start by removing some of your unnecessary stuff? Extra items are a distraction to buyers. Show off the spaces in your home by lightening its load. Pack up your winter gear during a summer listing to make space in the master closet. Get rid of the juicer and gigantic blender for a little while. Just one note: don’t stuff those boxes in the garage or leave them stacked in the center of a room. Find a safe place to store them.
Do consider ways to make the home bright and spacious. Change light bulbs to brighter lumens. Clean the windows and screens. Open the curtains and blinds. Mop the floors.
Remember the exterior. The curb will be your prospects’ first impression of your home. Freshly cut grass and new landscaping works wonders to impart a positive impression. Carry it over to your backyard. People like to fantasize about entertaining out-of-doors. Clean the patio furniture and stage it nicely.
#6- Keep it clean
While your property is on the market, you've got to keep it up. It's not enough to clean inside and outside for the listing photo session and the initial weekend on the market. Until that home is closed, you've got to keep on top of the basics. Keep the floors clean. Remove clutter from your countertops. Trim the grass and remove the junk from the yard. A buyer could drive by at any time even if they don't come inside.
#7- Home pricing
Home pricing is one of the more challenging aspects of listing your home. A price that is too high will turn prospects away and leave the home lingering on the market. Price too low, you risk not getting your home's full value.
A real estate agent and a buyer can see if your home is listed at the wrong price pretty quickly. But if you think your home is worth more than the average of the other homes in your neighborhood, you've got to have a really good reason. If you have made some enhancements to the property you feel will raise your price point, find a way to prove it and market it.
Features that make a property more valuable to a prospective buyer include:
- A home in a competitive school zone
- A home in a highly sought-after community and neighborhood
- Homes on a cul-de-sac or dead-end
- Homes near green spaces
- Larger-than-average acreage
- A private and attractive backyard
Remember, the longer a home sits on the market, the more likely buyers are and their agents are going to start asking what's wrong with it. Of course, what to expect in terms of days on market varies according to your price point.
The best way to attract prospective buyers into your home in a reasonable amount of time is to set a fair price. You need to find a number that will bring people in and encourage them to make an offer on your home. It's always risky to play the lower price point game in an attempt to get multiple buyers. Really do listen to your real estate agent’s advice when setting your initial list price.
#8- Check your emotions
Yes, this is your home. The longer you lived there, the more memories you made. We understand as real estate agent sometimes it's hard to let go. Your emotions can definitely play a role in how you approach the sale of the home.
But it's not it only legacy properties where emotions come into play. Real estate investors are anxious to see a profit on their investment properties. This sometimes plays into how they react to offers.
Don't get upset if your first offer isn't what you were expecting. You have to let the logical side take over. Your home stopped being your home when you listed it. It is now a business transaction. Purchase offers are not personal.
Any offer can be countered. When you make a counteroffer, use the market to justify your responses. Stay cool and level-headed. As long as you and the buyer can compromise, you'll successfully close the deal.
#9- Leverage the data
We have an incredible amount of data available to us today when it comes to transacting properties. It's not just data for setting better list prices. We can see when it might be better to list properties.
We know from our experience that spring is a busy month for real estate transactions in Fort Worth. That is backed by what HomeLight found; properties in Fort Worth typically sell for more than the area average from April to September. The same website notes June is the best month to sell your home to get the most value. Since it generally takes two months to close, they estimate listing your home in April in order to close well above the yearly average.
Opendoor found at the peak time home buyers visit properties in Texas is between 2 and 4 pm. Homes saw the most traffic on Saturday and Sunday, and least traffic on Thursday.
Nationally, spring is the most active time for selling real estate. That doesn't mean you can't sell in the fall or winter. It's just that most of the activity is taking part during the warmer months.
Putting it all together
Let's circle back around to what’s going to connect the dots on the listing puzzle. It's all going to begin and end with the right real estate agent. The right person will design a marketing program to get your home in front of more potential buyers. They're going to be on your side during the negotiation phase.
You need someone with experience like the Chicotsky Real Estate Group. We have been trusted listing agents for Fort Worth properties for years. We know how to position your property against others in its neighborhood to attract the right buyers during any time of year.