When it comes time to sell your mountain home or condo, you want to sell in the fastest amount of time, for the most money, with the least hassle.
To do so, you’ll need to make sure you’re properly timing your sale, properly pricing the property, and properly marketing the property. For each of these tasks, a good Realtor will guide you from start to finish.
** If you own a property in Summit County, request the latest Market Report for your complex or subdivision. This report will feature properties currently for sale, properties under contract and sold properties, along with year-to-date and historic sales and trends. These are nice to look at, even if you are not planning to sell anytime soon, and I’m happy to provide them. Just email me. **
Selling Your Mountain Home – Properly Timing the Sale
A good listing agent will help you to understand the ins and outs of the marketplace and what they mean for you, as a seller. If you’re in a position where you don’t have to sell right away, your agent will be able to give you some guidance on the timing that might best benefit you. For this, your agent needs to have in-depth knowledge on where the market has been and where it is headed, as well as absorption rates for different price ranges and regions. (In Summit County, read my current edition of “Is Now a Good Time to Sell?“)
Each market is unique and each has its idiosyncratic seasonal fluctuations. Talk with your agent about how these fluctuations might help or hinder your sale and your selling price. These suggestions should be specific to the price range and the type of property you wish to sell—whether a ski condo, a single family home, duplex, townhome, or vacant land.
Selling Your Mountain Home – Properly Pricing the Property
The price you choose when listing your property is extremely important. Don’t simply hire the agent who recommends the highest price for your property. There is something known in real estate circles as “buying a listing,” and it occurs when an agent inflates the price or essentially tells the sellers what they want to hear in order to secure the listing, only to make price adjustments later (often to the sellers’ detriment.)
Work with the Realtor who knows the market and who provides you with plenty of statistics and information on comparable sales to back up their pricing insights and recommendations.
Properly pricing the property from the start is more important than many people realize. When your home is priced correctly from its launch, you’ll attract the attention of more agents and more buyers. Homes will typically garner the most attention in the first few weeks. This is, after all, when all those buyers who’ve been watching the market for a particular home in a particular price range will call. And so will all the agents who have been watching the market on behalf of their clients.
These are agents and buyers who have already seen everything that’s currently active in the market and are waiting for something new. These are people who know the market in that price range. They know whether a home is overpriced and whether it’s worth their time to go take a look or if it’s best to wait for a price drop.
If the property is overpriced, it may languish on the market and, when the eventual price drops occur, the home will likely never get the same buzz that it would have when it was first introduced to the market.
Your Realtor should provide you with an in-depth Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), with the details of a variety of comparable recent sales. Your Realtor should have firsthand knowledge of these properties, and may even invite you along for a “comp tour” – a tour of comparable active listings – so you can see what else is on the market in your general price range.
In the course of discussing these other properties, it should be abundantly clear that your Realtor knows the competition in the marketplace. Your Realtor should have a firm knowledge of the comps, the amenities and comparative features, and, ideally, your Realtor will have been inside most of the comparable homes, as this is really the only accurate way to know, and to judge, a property. Your Realtor should also know whether the timing is right to push the market a bit and recommend a slightly higher sales price, and when it is not.
In mountain real estate, comps on ski condos are generally easy to find; while finding true comps on other properties, such as luxury homes, is a little more difficult. Still, make sure your Realtor can give you statistics, sold data, and a detailed analysis of how she arrived at the recommended price range. In that analysis, make sure that each amenity and feature that sets your mountain home or condo apart has been taken into consideration.
There are a variety of methods your mountain Realtor can use to make sure the property is priced correctly from the beginning. (There is also a virtually fail-proof method that we can discuss.)
When pricing a home, you and your agent should consider the health of the market and the current inventory levels, including currently active comparable properties, recently sold properties and the corresponding market climate when these comps were sold.
Your agent should also give you guidelines on how long the sales process might take by going over the absorption rate in the market as a whole, as well as the rates for your particular area and price range. Your agent should also tell you, ahead of time, about the key indicators that will signal a price drop may be in order.
Selling Your Mountain Home – Properly Marketing Your Property
A home’s marketing plan will vary greatly from one Realtor to another. Your agent may have a great deal of experience, but that doesn’t automatically mean he has experience with the online and social marketing methods that are so crucial in today’s real estate marketplace.
More and more, people are using online sources to find property. More than 90% of home buyers start with an online search. Check to see if your Realtor maintains a solid online presence, as well as a regular presence on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Since much of online real estate browsing is done on tablets and smartphones, make sure your agent’s Internet presence is designed to be mobile responsive, as well, meaning that the design is optimized for all screen sizes and devices.
Check to see if the marketing system your agent proposes includes print advertising or direct mail, and make sure that the Realtor you choose uses professional photos and virtual tours.
Additionally, I love to do video walkthroughs for potential buyers, sharing my impressions of a property just as though they were standing alongside me. (And, finally, it gives me a reason for that University of Missouri Broadcast Journalism degree!) Video tours allow me to give a good rundown of the area and neighborhood, too.
Professional Photography and Virtual Tours
Professional photographs really should be part of every home’s marketing plan. Most of the buyers who contact me from my site are already familiar with each of the photos available for many of the homes they like, before they even talk to me. Prospective buyers are looking at listings at all hours of the day and night, and it’s vital that all photographs and videos showcase your property in the best light.
A professional real estate photographer has the knowledge, the lenses and the lighting to ensure that the property is being showcased in just this way. A professionally produced virtual tour is also essential. While the Summit County MLS and the online real estate portals, such as Zillow and Trulia, limit the number of photos that can be posted, a video tour or virtual tour is a great way to provide everyone the ability to virtually walk through the home. These can give a much better idea of the home than simple photos can.
I recently listed a home that had been on and off the market for more than 800 days with another Breckenridge Realtor. When I took on the listing, we priced the home higher than its previous list price. Within 7 days, the home had received multiple offers, and went under contract. I attribute the success, in part, to some beautiful professional photographs and precision copywriting that targeted a very particular buyer.
Supplementary Information and Marketing Materials
A good Realtor will ask you for any supplementary information that can help in her marketing efforts when selling your mountain home. If you have done recent upgrades, provide a list. If you have a floor plan or blueprints or ideas on how the home might be improved, share this, as well. You may even consider writing a narrative describing how much you love and appreciate the home, including information about details or amenities that set your home or neighborhood apart. Your agent can compile these items into a binder to have available in the home for prospective buyers to peruse as they tour the home with other agents.
While there is some debate about the effectiveness of open houses, my experience is that, particularly in the mountain real estate market, open houses work. They work because they get potential buyers (or those who might know one) into the home, and they generate buzz.
In our resort mountain towns, we have new people visiting our area each week. Many of these visitors are excited to see what kind of property they could buy here, or what they might recommend to their friends and family.
On a side note, when your agent does hold an open house, make sure there is a plan in place for marketing the open house event itself. Perhaps it will be an ad in the paper or a social media promotion/announcement, as well as announcements via the online real estate websites and the broker’s personal website.
An open house’s effectiveness will vary with different price points, and your Realtor will discuss with you, individually, whether open houses make sense for your situation.
One open house that is particularly effective in all price points is the Broker Open House, whereby area agents tour the home so they can get a feel, firsthand, for what your home offers and, hopefully, share this information with their buyers. At the very least, make sure a Broker Open is scheduled soon after your home goes on the market.
Lifestyle Marketing and Copywriting
You’ll want to make sure that your agent understands how to properly showcase your property. Make a checklist of all your property’s amenities and special features and make sure each is being showcased. Also, make sure that your Realtor knows how to market the lifestyle that your property represents. When you are purchasing a mountain home, you are buying into a particular lifestyle, and a good Realtor not only recognizes this but knows how to capitalize on it with images and words.
Word choice and good copywriting does a great deal to market a home, so make sure your agent knows how to properly position your property. The other day, I saw a listing with a description that said simply, “Great house!” Failing to properly capture the details of a home (and the searchable keywords in the property’s description) is a huge missed opportunity.
Your agent should know which words help to sell a home, and which words don’t. For example, did you know that, according to a recent study, homes where the sellers were referred to as “motivated” stayed on the market 15 percent longer than average and sold for 4 percent less? Or when homes are listed as “handyman specials,” they sold in half the average time? Make sure your agent knows.
Word choice matters, and your agent should know how to use copywriting to your maximum advantage. She should know how to paint a picture of the home, play up its best features and capitalize on the unique lifestyle component of our marketplace, all within the short word limit.
On a related note, make sure your agent takes the time to get to know your property. Make sure she knows what kind of appliances you have, about any special features or requirements that other agents will call and ask about. Each of these details should be committed to memory.
Staging Your Home for Sale
What kind of skills or contacts can your Realtor give you when it comes to staging? Good staging ensures that each of your amenities is being properly showcased. At the very least, you will want to declutter the home, and you will want to make sure it is very clean. (See this great article on staging for easy and practical tips: http://rochesterrealestateblog.com/5-staging-tips-help-maximize-price-minimize-time-market/)
When your home is decluttered, it will be easier to show at a moment’s notice, as well. Especially in a resort market, there are many showings that have very little notice, as people are in town just for the day or the weekend.
Make sure your Realtor takes the time to tour the property with a buyer in mind. Ask her to share ways you can highlight your home’s features and to provide suggestions and resources for any improvements that may need to be made.
When it comes time to sell your mountain or resort property, you need an agent who will deliver exceptional customer service and market knowledge, while making the marketing of your home a top priority.
If you have a property in Summit or Park County, Colorado, read more about what you can expect when you list with me or request my checklist: “90 Things I’ll Do for You When You List with Me”
If you are located outside my area, give me a call or send me an email. I’m always happy to refer you to an agent who can help.