We’re just starting the fall real estate season in D.C., which provides a second “bump” to real estate sales after the frenzied spring market and the summer doldrums. Buyers will see more inventory on the market as sellers put their homes up for sale to take advantage of this final advantageous selling period of the year. (Things are considerably quieter and there is traditionally less inventory—with lower prices—once we hit mid-November end extending through mid-January. However, since this is an election year, we will probably see more activity in the winter months, irrespective of who wins the election.)
Pricing your home depends on how quickly you need to sell, and also on how many potential buyers are in the financial position to afford your home. More expensive homes typically sit on the market for a longer period of time than less expensive homes, though that all depends on the market and the buyer demographics. Realtors usually suggest that sellers price their homes halfway between currently active comparable properties and recently sold comparable properties. It’s important that you price your home based on actual data, and not on what you want to sell your home for.
Once you arrive at a price and put your home on the market with your Realtor’s help, there are only 4 things that can happen:
1. Your home sits on the market with no showings and no offers. This is a fairly clear indicator that you have priced your home much too high. If your home has had no showings in its first two weeks, you need to act fast to lower the price and aggressively advertise that new “price adjustment.”
2. Your home receives multiple showings, but no offers. This is a fairly clear indicator that you have priced your home somewhat too high. If you have no offers after two weeks on the market, you should follow the same advice as above to act fast to lower your asking price (but perhaps not as much as in situation #1) and to advertise the new price.
3. Your home receives multiple showings and one offer. Sometimes all it takes is one offer, and Realtors have a truism about “First offer, best offer.” But if that first offer is still not the right offer, then you should adjust your price just a hair down and advertise the new price. But don’t be a greedy seller — make sure that first offer is really too low before you turn it down.
4. Your home receives multiple showings and multiple offers. Congratulations! You’ve found the Holy Grail of real estate, and your home may be bid up to a price much higher than one you might originally have set in situations #2 and #3.
Remember that the longer your home stays on the market, the less desirable it becomes, and the lower the price it will ultimately command. Make sure that your Realtor lets you know what the average days on market is for homes like yours in your neighborhood. You don’t want to be in the position of “following the market down” by constantly lowering your price to end up selling at a lower price than if you had originally priced your home correctly.
Happy sales to you.
Ted Smith is a licensed Realtor with Real Living | at Home specializing in mid-city D.C. Reach him at TedSmithSellsDC@rlathome.com and follow him on Facebook, Youtube or @TedSmithSellsDC. You can also join him on monthly tours of mid-city neighborhood open houses, as well as monthly seminars geared toward first-time home buyers. Sign up at meetup.com.