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Get Top Dollar for Your House When You Sell — How Your Realtor Delivers

Home sellers evaluating what their home needs to get top dollar on the market

The Ideal Home Sale

Your goal is to achieve what realtors call the ideal home sale:

  • Maximum Price
  • Best Terms
  • Preferred Timescale
  • Minimum Hassle

Succeeding on all four criteria requires two things:

  1. Working with, and acting on the advice of, an experienced and successful realtor
  2. Proper prior preparation

To use an analogy, athletes know that winning an Olympic gold medal begins with proper preparation. Sea captains know that 20/20 hindsight begins with looking at a sinking ship. We go for gold.

I want to focus on the science behind preparing to sell for maximum price rather than simply providing a list of things to do. Effective preparation takes teamwork between you, the owner; your realtor; and home specialists, as needed. This approach puts you in control and your home in exactly the right position to get top dollar for your house and maximum ROI. By sharing the principles of good preparation and the science behind it, it becomes easier and much less stressful to do. So let’s do a deep-dive into how to prepare as we go for gold.

The Basic Principles for Getting Top Dollar for Your House When You Sell

It is too simple for a seller to decide on a listing price that “seems right” and then do some obvious repairing, cleaning, and staging. My approach is about getting you that top dollar contract in a meaningful way. Buyers have a lot of homes to choose from. In Gaithersburg, we attract people who work in local businesses, global industries, local government, and our nation’s capital. In addition, the higher the asking price, the more buyers expect. 

To get top dollar for your house, sellers must emphasize their home’s overall value, as well as its unique and special qualities compared to the other homes potential buyers are also considering. To succeed, therefore, sellers must follow a proven plan based on three powerful principles:

  1. Know the Gaithersburg market.
  2. Know how best to attract ready, willing, and able buyers.
  3. Begin at the beginning, and decide when to call in a specialist and what to do yourself.

This approach maximizes the sale price. Follow these next five major steps to satisfy every potential buyer’s needs and wants because they link directly to buyer motivations. They draw the buyer in from Gaithersburg to your neighborhood and then to your home, its condition, and special features. Everything is self-reinforcing.

Step 1: Price It Right for Your Gaithersburg Market Segment

Our market is active. According to GCAAR, Montgomery County residential property stats for December (the latest figures available at the time of writing) show 1,583 properties on the market with an average list price of $779,643. 343 new properties came on the market, and 213 went under contract. Looking at 2020 as a whole, 9,051 homes were sold. 5,522 of them were in the $500,000 to $3 million price range.

Standing out in your specific market segment and getting top dollar for your house begins with calculating the right market price based on your home’s location, age, size, condition, and special features. I achieve that by preparing a comprehensive and detailed CMA comparing your home to the others your potential buyers may consider and that others have bought.

Step 2: Prepare to Attract the Right Buyers

Ready, willing, and able buyers already know something about Gaithersburg, and they’re going to pay top dollar for your house if it fits their needs. They either live here or are moving from elsewhere. They will have done online research about the city, neighborhoods, school districts, walk scores and commute times, and social, cultural, and sporting facilities. Part of your preparation, therefore, is to:

  • Check online details about your home and neighborhood.
  • Correct anything that is inaccurate. A note to the website admin is usually all it takes.
  • Add useful or interesting information missing from social sites that are relevant to your home, neighborhood, HOA, etc.
  • Decide how you can add interest to the info you will display for buyers who view your home. The longer someone stays in your home, the more they will remember it and have more to compare to other homes on the market. Gaithersburg is in the heart of the Washington-Baltimore region. We are in the middle of the country’s fourth-largest retail market and an hour’s drive of many high-quality centers of higher education. Decide what matters to you and put together a simple, interesting, and entertaining portfolio for buyers to explore while they are in your home.

This sort of preparation is fairly simple. The city’s website has a lot of info you can use. You are also likely to have photographs of events you attended or places you’ve been to. Add a few lines of description, and there you have it. Put it in a new ring binder with a welcoming comment open to the front page.

Step 3: Have a Home Inspection

Maryland sales contracts assume “as is” condition, so buyers add addendums and arrange a detailed home inspection addressing structure, safety, and functionality. The buyer’s inspector’s report can become an issue that can impact timescale, repairs, and sale price. By having your own inspection, you see two benefits:

  1. You know exactly what repairs, replacements, or maintenance work is needed. A home in great condition attracts busy, career-minded buyers who will pay more for “move-in condition.”
  2. It avoids post-contract delays and renegotiation.

So call in an inspector who works to ASHI standards. The American Society of Home Inspectors has the most comprehensive set of inspection standards. Then leave the inspection report, receipts for work done, and maintenance contracts for buyers to read. The more they learn, the longer they stay, the more they remember, and the higher their opinion. This is what helps you get top dollar for your house.

The next two steps are the obvious ones covered by most preparation checklists: “clean” and “stage.”

Step 4: Clean, Do Touch-Up Jobs, and Make Space

These jobs are the most obvious. You can do everything yourself or just call in a pre-sale specialist home cleaning company to handle everything for you.

  • Begin outside and check everything from the roof to the walls, windows, and driveway.
  • Move on to the garage.
  • Inside your home, go through each room. Deep clean floors, carpets, the kitchen, and bathrooms.
  • Store or sell everything you can live without for a while. Make your home look as spacious, well-organized, and cared for as possible.
  • Front gardens and backyards have their own qualities and attractions. Everything should look neat, cared for, attractive, and either fun or relaxing. Plant or arrange pots with seasonal or special blooms (think oak leaves and peonies).

Step 5: Stage Your Home for Showings

In a study by the National Association of Realtors, 44% of realtors said good staging increased sale price by between 1-15%, and 53% said staging reduced the time the house was on the market. This graphic shows the most important rooms to stage for positive buyer impact. The easiest way to stage your home is to call in an expert. Using last month’s average sale price, even a 1% increase in offer price amounts to almost $8,000. That is well worth calling in a staging expert. All you have to do is to lay out your portfolio, inspection report, and related documents for buyers to see.

Back to Science and Buyer Motivation

Couple and a buyer's agent touring a well-prepared home in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

These five preparation steps have a huge impact on buyer motivation. There are four major motivators, depending on the person involved. The portfolio, cleanliness, and staging all key into the “like” and “feel comfortable” purchase motivations. The inspection report and receipts for work done also key into the “respect” and “trust” motivations. By taking these simple and straightforward, but important, steps, you (the seller) directly involve all buyer motivations. That’s what behavioral experts call the psychographics of purchase decision-making.

Final Comments About How the Right Realtor Can Help You Get Top Dollar for Your House

I hope you found this blog interesting, informative, and inspiring. If you would like to learn more about our market, correct pricing, and how to achieve the ideal home sale, please feel free to click here or call me at 301.452.9319.

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Darin Rich Real Estate
Darin Rich, Realtor
RE/MAX Realty Group
6 Montgomery Village Ave
Gaithersburg, MD 20879, #200
darin(at)darinrich(dotted)com 301.452.9319
Darin Rich Real Estate