The First Key to Max Profit When Selling Your Home
Getting the maximum profit when you sell your home, even in a seller’s market is not as easy as you think. A seller can’t assume that any old agent that is willing to cut their commission because “it is so easy to sell houses in a seller’s market” is going to wring every dollar they deserve out of their home sale. Max profit doesn’t start with hiring the cheapest agent a seller can find, even though it is an absolute fact that the largest closing cost is agent commission. Reducing the largest line item paid in your closing costs may seem like a natural win, but as my father used to constantly remind us, “You get what you pay for.”
No matter the market conditions present when you are selling your home, the first key to success lies in three words:
Creating Buyer Enthusiasm
In one of the hottest seller’s markets on record, I have met two For Sale By Owners (FSBO) who had cut their commission line item in half by going it alone. What were they lacking? Besides buyers willing to write offers despite enough buyer interest to get it done, someone on their side to help them see their home through a buyer’s eyes and present it to the market in a manner to lift buyer enthusiasm. That is what generates higher prices, and in a seller’s market, bidding wars. Despite popular opinion on FSBOs, neither one was priced higher than the market would allow. They just had no clue how to create buyer enthusiasm and get legitimate offers. That’s where a professional marketing agent is worth their weight in gold.
Once I was hired as the professional listing agent, the focus shifted from how much could be saved on commission to how to get buyers to want this listing before they have even seen it in person. In each case, that involved staging, but not to the degree you might think. Simple rearranging of furniture to show a floor plan’s utility or larger amounts of space. Placing punches of color to draw attention to the home’s best features. Getting buyers to see how they would live in the property vs. seeing how a seller is currently living in a property. How someone lives every day in a home is not how they sell.
Once the stage is set, a professional listing agent knows to hire a professional photographer. Just like a seller who wants to cut commission believing it will net them more money, I fought hiring a professional photographer for too many years. Looking back, I can’t believe I ever took my own listing photos. The professionals in any field can not be matched and are a huge component of success. And naturally, the biggest compliment I get from my top notch photographers is that they love taking pictures of my listings because they are always primped for photo day and make great subjects. I like to say they are smiling and saying cheese when the photographer arrives. Still, it is unbelievable to me that a lot of listing agents don’t worry about what they photographers are taking pictures of if they are just professional.
While words used in describing a listing are also very important, they are a second to photos. Listing preparation and staging are vital to making sure your photos leap off the screen of the buyer’s phone, tablet or keyboard and plant that fast growing seed of buyer enthusiasm. Making sure the home presents the same in person to build on that level of enthusiasm is where all the preparation a seller did and maintains throughout showings is important. Making beds, clearing clutter, emptying litter boxes daily…you get the idea.
As I tell all of my sellers, the minute a buyer slumps their shoulders or sighs at clutter, condition, painting projects, old carpet…whatever…you have lost the chance at a full price offer. The cash register in the buyers head is running and they are overestimating the cost to get the home to look the way they want it. And the reality is that getting a home to look they way most buyers want is not as difficult, or costly, as a seller may think. Listing preparation is critical to buyer enthusiasm. Skipping it all together and relying on a hot market to bring you tremendous results is costly mistake.
Both of my FSBOs listed at the same price they had gone it alone and both got multiple offers and ended up selling above list price, which paid for the fee they had tried to avoid when unsuccessfully listing alone. However, it wasn’t just as simple as making sure the home looked great. That’s where we come to the second key to max profit when selling. Click the link to find out more.
On August 6th (2021) 783 Vanderbilt Terrace SE in Leesburg hit the market as an active listing, priced at $415,000. Within a matter of four days it had six offers, all over list price. The owners had invested in listing preparation to include painting, new flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms, and new faucets in the bathrooms. Starring as their Listing Agent, I brought in light staging to make the home more welcoming for the professional photo shoot and in person showings.
Every one of the buyers that wrote an offer on the home were contingent on getting a loan. Boy did my sellers choose the buyer with the fastest lender. The contract was ratified on the 9th of August and was set to close on the 31st of August. That’s a fast turnaround for a lender. Not only was the lender fast, they were able to close one week early. This home sold on August 24th for $430,000, two weeks and two days past ratification. That’s super fast!
The buyers had already been through underwriting, something the best lenders do for their clients to make sure they aren’t just pre-approved, but APPROVED. The appraisal was ordered immediately and the appraiser was at the property within two days of ratification. It was truly the fastest financed offer I have dealt with as a Listing Agent.
When it is time to sell your home, hiring a Listing Agent that can professionally market your home is important. Just as important is having a Listing Agent that can help you evaluate the offers you received, with one of the point of evaluation being lender’s respsonsive. Get in touch with me and let’s talk about what a sale of your home could mean for you.
From Manassas to Gainesville, out to Fairfax and Leesburg and every conceivable area of Northern Virginia, there are properties that home owners had previously used as rental properties and now wish to sell given the very health seller’s market that Northern Virginia has been experiencing since 2020 to present. Naturally, every home coming out of rental property status is going to need additional TLC to get it ready for market. Tenants genarlly do not take as good of care of the home as the owners would.
When I spoke with the sellers of 783 Vanderbilt Terrace about what they wanted to do, they definitely had a list of projects that needed to be done. Replacing carpet and painting were two of them. However, when I walked through the property after the tenants vacated, I was happy to inform the sellers, living in the western time zone now, that there was no need to replace the carpets. However, there was still a need for paint. I also recommended LVP flooring for their bathrooms and kitchen and to give them a more modern feel. It’s a simple update that costs very little for the enthusiasm it produces in buyers.
Being a hands on listing agent, it is a pleasure to run point on projects like painting and flooring for out of town sellers. When the home was warmed up from white walls to a warm beige on the walls, carpets stretched and LVP added in the bathrooms and kitchen, it was time to stage. Adding light staging is the perfect way to soften bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms and even a dining area. It also elevates buyer enthusiasm. Professional photos of a vacant, bare home are good. Professional photos of a fluffed vacant home are better.
The results were immediate. Six offers over the course of the weekend, all above list price. It was under contract in four days. You will have to wait to hear the final sales price, but it won’t take long. The buyers the sellers chose are aiming for the end of the month.
In the meantime, if you have been considering the sale of a rental property you have been holding, get in touch with me to find out how best to spend your improvement dollars for maximum return. The home owners at 12148 Formby Street in Bristow did. So did the owner of 14455 Gringsby Court in Bristow. How can I help you?
Don’t expect this townhouse to last long. Located in the Town of Leesburg, minutes from shops, restaurants and major commuter lot, this garage townhouse has a lot to offer on location alone. Once you step inside 783 Vanderbilt Terrace SE, you will find many more reasons why this is a great place to call home.
Freshly painted in a neutral beige throughout, this townhouse was prepared by the sellers to be move in ready for the next owners. They even did some updating with LVP (luxury vinyl plank flooring) installed in the kitchen and all bathrooms. Speaking of bathrooms, there are brand new oiled bronze light faucets in all of them.
The floor plan offers several points of interest to include:
Roomy tiled foyer entry
Finished recreation space in basement/entry level that walks out to fenced back yard
Open main/second level floor plan with kitchen looking out to dining/living rooms
Foyer overlook in kitchen
Table space or portable island space in kitchen
Defined dining room and expansive living room
Refinished wood deck overlooking the open space beyond the townhouse
Owner’s suite with large walk-in closet
Owner’s bathroom with dual sinks and a tub/shower combo with a soaking tub
Upper level laundry across from built-ins that make a great laundry folding area
The offer deadline on this one is now set to be 9pm on Monday, August 9th, and priced at $415,000 I expect it will be a big hit in the market. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this one. If you don’t have an agent, get in touch with me and I’ll set you up with one. I will not enter into a dual agency situation where I also represent you.
Rumors That the 2021 Summer NoVa Real Estate Market is Slowing Down
There has been talk among agents that the real estate market in Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties is starting to slow down. Oh how I wish those rumors had some basis in reality. The extreme buyer demand that has sellers cashing out at unbelievable prices, has left buyers waiving just about every conceivable contingency and reaching deep into their savings or retirement plans just to have a chance at purchasing. Still, this past Memorial Day weekend I had buyers offer $30,000 above a fairly optimistic list price on a home that had plenty of outdated decor, and waived all contingencies only to lose along with ten other buyers.
The week or so that the gas shortage was causing anxiety in Northern Virginia, presented a great opportunity for buyers to get out and see homes while others were afraid to burn the gas in their tank to see property. That window allowed one of my buyer-clients, a first-time buyer, an opportunity to get under contract without having to waive home inspection. He was even able to negotiate some closing cost help. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Maybe that was the weekend the rumors of the slowing market started.
Alas, it was only an abbreviated window of opportunity which was created entirely out of panic, not actual shortage of gas. To me, it was like having a snow storm in winter during a seller’s market. Others may sit out the conditions and wait for the snow to melt, but not me. Striking while other buyers are sitting it out is the only way to give some buyers the leg up.
What we may be starting to see in the Northern Virginia marketplace is the typical slow down as we welcome summer and vacations are top of mind. For the first time since I became an agent in 2005, last year (2020) there was no slow down in July and August. Pandemic lock downs made vacations impossible. That makes summer vacations in 2021 even more of a priority for many who missed them last year. I believe the term I heard in some news media was “revenge travel.”
No matter what may ease up the buyer demand, even temporarily, rest assured that if you are a seller in Prince William, Fairfax or Loudoun County, your home will still sell and for a top price if you take time to prepare it and hire a listing agent that will professionally market it. We can shed some buyer demand and still be in a seller’s market.
On February 26th (2021,) I had the pleasure of bringing 13503 Eagles Rest Drive to the market. It was a home I had sold the owners in August 2019. At that time they were relocating for a job. Same deal this time. Relocating out for a job.
The listing appointment was easy. The house was hardly changed from the time they bought it. And they lived in it so gently there was hardly any wear or tear. We ran the numbers and set what we thought was an on target list price of $628,000. They weren’t the most updated home in the neighborhood, but they had a great back yard, view and had added a deck. Nonetheless, the values for updating would not be there.
As soon as we hit the market, I realized that buyers were going to eat this home up. We ended up with eight offers in a matter of four days, all over list price. Two buyers waived every possible contingency. They also happened to be the buyers that wrote the highest. So the highest offer was chosen.
To say we were blessed with a great buyer’s agent and buyers is an understatement. This was one of the smoothest deals of the year. And near the end of the deal, the buyers even got a play set that the sellers decided not to move. The buyers were delighted.
On April 16th (2020,) this home sold for $682,000. That’s $54,000 above list price.
Looking to sell your Leesburg home? I would be happy to help. Call me and let’s get you the absolute most the market will bear.
Pictured above is the Flat Stanley project my young cousin mailed to me from Pottsville, PA over a decade ago. It has very little to do with being a licensed Virginia real estate agent, but doesn’t that custom Virginia touristy t-shirt look great? That’s me going the extra mile, something I do for my clients every day. Incidentally, Flat Stanley attended one of my broker pre-licensing classes when he visited Virginia. He may know more about Virginia real estate than a well decorated agent, licensed in Maryland and Virginia, that sent me an offer on listing recently. Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much.
Buyers have no idea how important it is to have a competent, well respected agent in the area where they are looking to purchase. When you are buying in the western suburbs of Prince William County, located about forty-five minutes from the closest point in Maryland in light traffic, you may want to hire an agent that does the majority of their business in Virginia. In multiple offer scenarios, full-time local agents that have thriving businesses know what their buyers are likely up against. They also likely have relationships with the local listing agents. Finally, they have knowledge of the Northern Virginia Residential Sales Contract inside and out.
In an intense multiple offer situation recently, I received an offer for my seller from an agent in some poody-doo production club with a well known franchise brokerage. Opening the document, what struck me was that it was over ninety pages. The average offer was about twenty-four pages. I was afraid I was going to find every piece of buyer brokerage paperwork in it. What I found was a document that repeated itself with Maryland disclosures and when I got far enough in, an offer for another home. The competence issue was immediately apparent. This agent had ZERO idea what a Virginia offer had to contain and was so flustered getting it together she included another offer for another property.
Being licensed in two states/jurisdictions means nothing if you aren’t competent in what each one requires and work in them regularly. I imagine, for instance, that agents that live in DC or near the borders of their states like Arlington or Lovettsville in Virginia, would regularly be pulled into neighboring jurisdictions. Being based in Prince William County, VA I rarely have a reason to go into Maryland. The idea of being licensed there to get one deal every four years seems awful. When I am representing someone else’s best interests, I need to KNOW what I am doing. The best business practice for me is to refer that buyer or seller to someone who deals with the local contract and market day in and day out. In fact, I just did it earlier this week with a former neighbor needing help selling a family home in Ocean City, MD.
Being licensed in Virginia is definitely enough for me. If you need help in Maryland or DC, I will find a fantastic agent to help you. The goal in real estate is to do what is best for the client. When it comes to dealing with Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, I can go that extra mile. That’s because the basics are a walk in the the park when you practice Northern Virginia real estate daily.
Two Hot Listings Collecting Offers Over the Weekend
On Friday, February 26th, two of my Coming Soon listings hit the market. One was a garage townhouse in Braemar located at 12858 Wishing Well Way. The other was the home pictured above in Leesburg, located at 13503 Eagles Rest Way, with one of the most pleasing mountain views I have ever had the pleasure to list. You can read all about the journey the townhouse listing went through on my Braemar blog. It wasn’t as surprising to me as the journey this single family home went through. Perhaps that’s because I have conducted the majority of my business in Braemar for well over a decade.
Initially, I was worried that the sellers may be disappointed, thinking we would only get one or two offers. The first day on the market the very first offer arrived, and it was good. The next day, the second offer arrived. By close of the third day on the market the home had three more offers, bringing the total to five. On the fourth day, the doors were blown off with three super strong offers, bringing the total to eight offers. Out of twenty-three showings, over one-third of the buyers wrote offers. My sellers were surely not going to be disappointed.
Before the offer deadline of 9pm, the seller and I spoke. He had identified the strongest offer and was ready to sign it. By the end of the night, we were ratified. That left some serious buyers extremely disappointed.
In the end, every offer gave the sellers exactly the settlement date and other accommodations they wanted. Communication is the key. The seller told me what he wanted and I communicated it clearly to all the agents showing the home. Buyer demand alone does not equal quality offers. Hiring a full-time, professional agent gives you those types of results.
If you have been thinking of selling your single family home anywhere from Prince William to Loudoun County, call me for a free, no obligation consultation of what listing in today’s seller’s market means. You’ll learn that getting the offers is a lot easier than keeping the deals together to get to settlement. My experience can serve you very well in getting the best offers, picking the cream of the crop for your situation and getting that deal to close.
You can just see the mountain views to the right of the house in this photo. From the deck off the kitchen and family room, they are much more pronounced and gorgeous. After looking at so many single family homes in various parts of Northern Virginia, the mountain views and expansive back yard was what sold the current owner on 13503 Eagles Rest Way.
Given the needs and concerns that buyers may have based in recent events, this home has a lot to offer. Top of mind right now, with the many power outages caused by winter storms, is the wood pellet stove situated in the family room. Surrounded by built-in bookshelves and cabinets is the focal point of the room and super functional. It heats the heart of the home better than a gas fireplace ever could.
For those now working from home due to the pandemic, there is a study with a cathedral ceiling in the front of the home. Can’t show you the inside right now, but it is the bump out on the left of this picture. Inside it measures more than 11 ft. by 12 ft.
With the exception of the hardwood flooring taking you from the foyer, powder room and back to the kitchen and breakfast nook, this home is carpeted. Of course, the bathrooms are done in tile and an entryway by the walk out exit in the basement is done in tile that looks like wood plank.
The kitchen is what you would expect in a home of this caliber. Granite counters, stainless steel appliances, gas cook top, double wall ovens and built-in microwave. There’s even room for bar stools at the island. And a breakfast nook by a bay window is as charming as it can be.
Four bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs, one each making up the owner’s suite. The second bathroom has dual sinks, which makes sharing so much easier. Smallest secondary bedroom is 11 ft. x 10 ft. Upper level is also where you find the laundry area.
The basement has two recreation areas in its L-shaped configuration. If you think an additional bedroom and full bathroom would benefit you, you can finish a legal fifth bedroom and there is a rough-in for a full bathroom.
Because this home faces south, the deck off the kitchen and family room will never be too hot to enjoy. And it steps down to the expansive, fenced yard.
Homes in the neighborhood have been going quickly. You can book your showing now for next weekend through your agent, or if you don’t have an agent yet, get in touch with me and I’ll put you in touch with one.