No one puts their house up for sale hoping for an average offer. You want a good offer. A great offer, even. Dare we say it? You want an all-out, claws-bared bidding war that will push your home's price well over what you've asked for in your listing.
It's a dream for any home seller. And if you want to sell a home for over asking, it doesn't necessarily boil down to luck, timing, or even location, location, location. As proof, read these true-life tales of how Realtors helped home sellers wheel and deal their way to profits well above their expectations, and learn how you can (hopefully) do the same.
Aim low in order to go high
"The most fruitful strategy I've seen is to aggressively price the property roughly 5% to 10% below the going market rate. This will always generate more traffic to the property and give buyers a chance to fall in love with the home, when a higher purchase price might have kept them away initially. Not only does it get more people in, but once the buyers see the place, they're more likely to offer over the purchase price, which often leads to bidding wars." -- Collin Bond, Realtor for the Boris Sharapan Team of Douglas Elliman
Lesson learned: While pricing your home a bit below what it's worth may seem counterproductive, sellers who take this leap of faith are often rewarded in spades. After all, a bidding war is a surefire way to push your home's price over asking, and you can't have a bidding war without multiple buyers. So price your home conservatively to up the odds that it will rise exponentially.
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Don't leap at your first offer
"Several years back we listed a three-bedroom home in Star, ID, at a fair price; it received four offers almost immediately. But instead of biting right away, we held back. We notified the buyers there were other offers, and used that position to gain an advantage. In the end, we had two offers well above asking price." -- Nick Schlekeway, broker for Amherst Madison Legacy Real Estate
Lesson learned: Don't immediately accept your first offer (or offers, if you're lucky). Instead, consider it a launchpad for cultivating some fierce competition that could ultimately boost your home's price.
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"I was selling a small studio apartment that needed a gut renovation, and received a lowball offer from a buyer who was very stubborn and didn't want to budge on price. I knew I had to get another offer to create competition, so I showed the property to an investor, presenting him with a floor plan from another unit to prove this one could be remodeled and rented for a high price. The investor made an offer, but I wasn't done. I went back to the original buyer and used the second offer to create a bidding war. Finally, the apartment sold to the original buyer for over asking, all cash -- and I broke the record in the building at that time for getting the highest price per square foot in the building's history." -- Dan Burz, Realtor for Douglas Elliman
Lesson learned: Investors may not be the first people you think of selling to, but they're always shopping for a good deal, and can provide some much-needed incentive for other buyers to pony up more cash.
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Make your place stand out
"We had one home in a neighborhood with sluggish sales. So to stand out, the seller updated the basement, repainted the home, and redid the landscaping. Although we listed at a modest $150,000, as soon as it hit the market, we got offers. By the weekend, the bidding was around $165,000. We ended up getting an offer for $168,500, more than 10% over asking." -- Joshua Jarvis, founder of Jarvis Team Realty
Lesson learned: Granted, coughing up money for renovations will eat away at your profit. But it could also be a way to help your home shine in a lackluster market -- and possibly get more money than you would have otherwise. Just make sure to pick renovations that offer a high return on investment, like your basement or attic. Better yet, you can save money by tackling a few of the simple upgrades (like painting) yourself!
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Highlight the divine in your home
"My team once listed a home for a pastor. It was wild. We had a couple of folks walk through and say they could feel the spirit of God in the house. By the end of one weekend, we had 22 offers, many waiving inspection contingencies, including handwritten letters, and all sorts of other incredible gestures. The sellers studied each person's situation, then prayed about it, and selected the offer that felt right. We gave the property the same treatment we give all our listings, but I wouldn't for one second claim we were the cause of all the incredible things we experienced with this house." -- Chandler Crouch, founder of Chandler Crouch Realtors
Lesson learned: Maybe it was divine intervention in this case, but it never hurts to highlight any unique features of a home -- or you! So go ahead and announce you're moving to join the Peace Corps, or that the home once housed a famous artist or pillar of the community. That extra selling point could just push those offers over the top!
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Watch: The Features That Help a Home Sell Fastest