When a seller’s market exists, like what we currently have in Pinellas County, many sellers assume that means their house will sell quickly and at top dollar. As that old song lyric goes – “It ain’t necessarily so.”

First of all, there can be differences in market conditions between different cities, communities and price ranges. So you need to know what the market conditions are for your area and your price range.

Secondly, properties that are priced too high will sit on the market longer and the longer they are on the market the more that buyers will think there is something wrong with them and so will be willing to pay less than when a property had been recently listed. There is both an art and a science to pricing a listing correctly and a way of knowing if it is priced too high. Adjusting the price also has to be done correctly and at the right time.

A recent example is a client whose house we priced a little higher than I thought it would go for to see what would happen. I watched certain factors and was able to determine that we had priced it too high and that we needed to adjust the price a little more aggressively than originally planned. We reduced the price less than 5% from the original list price and within a week had an offer at over 96% of the adjusted price which was slightly higher than we originally we’d get when we first listed it.

Another recent example is another client where I had an appraiser do an appraisal of the house, at my expense, to verify the value. I will do this for some clients when I want to be sure of the value or when my client has a value in mind that is not realistic. We discussed all the information and decided on a price which was about 6-7% above where we felt the value was and we had a very good offer come in within 3 days of the listing going live and the house is now under contract with that buyer.

One factor that will help or hinder the price offered by buyers is that condition and appearance of the property. In both examples above, the sellers maintained their property very well and made replacements when needed such as air conditioning systems, hot water heaters, etc. and in once case the seller did some very nice upgrades.

This was a big factor in how quickly these both went under contract and the price on the offers. Buyers like to purchase from a seller that maintained their home well and kept it in good condition.

The appearance in both cases also played a major role in addition to the condition of the houses. The client who received the offer within 3 days of listing spent a lot of time and put in a lot of effort to have their home in the best showing condition possible. Boxing and removing anything that didn’t need to be in the house, doing mulching and landscaping of their front yard, getting some knick-knacks to add some more color to their living areas – all things that made an even better presentation for buyers and made for even better photos.

The final aspect was the marketing. First I make sure that quality photos are taken. I’ve described this in more detail in posts last year, but a high quality camera and a tripod are 2 key requirements and adjusting the photos in Photoshop to make sure the brightness, color balance, etc. are the best they can be is also vital. Now that I’m getting even busier I’m finding that the 3-5 hours spent on taking the photos and adjusting them will be something that I won’t have the time to do in all cases so I’m now working with a professional photographer who will be able to ensure that I have quality photos even when I don’t have the time to do them myself.

After the photos there is the description of the property. This is not something I’ll be able to get someone else to do for me because I have taken training on the correct way to do this to create an emotional bond for buyers with the property from an agent who was trained by one of Madison Avenue’s top names. This is a key point because a properly written description will not only create a strong level of interest, it will interest the right type of buyer for a specific property. Having lots of potential buyers look at your house may seem like a good thing but if none of them are the right type of buyer for your house then it doesn’t sell. Being able to target the right type of buyers for a specific property attracts real buyers for that property and though that may mean less people come to see it, the ones that do come will be those who are most likely to buy it.

Finally there is where the marketing is done. The MLS is always the 1st place to make sure a property is included. But after that you also want to have it showing on Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. If done correctly they should all be showing the listing within 24-48 hours of it going live in the MLS. There should be a virtual tour that the MLS listing links to and this should also be linked from Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. The number of photos allowed in the MLS are a maximum of 25 and every effort should be made to have at least 25 good photos as these will also show up on the other sites and there is way to show up first in the listings in a city on these sites based on how many photos are uploaded.

I would say that these are the basics needed for any successful listing and should be being done as the minimum. There are other techniques that can be used in appropriate situations that can also be very helpful and give sellers an edge, but without these basics in place they will not be nearly as effective.