What Are the Pitfalls of Marketing a Property Before Its Ready?

Selling quickly is a high priority for some home sellers. A job transfer can prompt the need to relocate on short notice. When trade-up buyers find their dream home, they often need to sell their current home quickly in order to complete the purchase of the new one.

Regardless of the motivating factor, when sellers decide to sell they often want to get the process started as soon as possible. But putting a home on the market prematurely can be a mistake.

Some sellers insist on marketing their home before it's ready. Rather than complete the work that will make their home more salable, they offer to reduce the sale price to compensate buyers for shoddy conditions. Or they credit money to the buyers at closing. This generates fix-up money for the buyers who take responsibility for completing repairs after closing.

These approaches work with some buyers. But most buyers lack the vision to imagine how a home will look in its fixed-up condition. Many buyers, particularly first-time buyers, don't have any experience fixing up homes. The entire process intimidates them. Repeat buyers may have had too much experience with the process and vow to never buy another home that needs work.

In their haste to get a quick sale, some sellers jump the gun and put their home on the market while the fix-up is in progress. Notices tacked up around the house or a statement made in a flyer describe the work the sellers will complete before closing -- replacing a tired-looking linoleum floor or re-carpeting a room. This strategy rarely generates the desired results.

Agents and prospective buyers remember a home the way they see it. A bright pink dining room creates a lasting impression. It's difficult for most people to imagine the bright pink transformed to a stylish taupe. And it's hard to get agents and buyers to come back to take another look after the work's completed.

First-Time Tip: You may have only one chance to sell your home -- the first time the public comes to take a look. That's why it's best to wait until your home is in its best shape before showing it to anyone other than your own agent.

Select a listing agent who has good powers of visualization and who can advise you on how your property should look when it hits the market. If your agent feels deficient in this area, call in a decorator who specializes in fixing up a home for sale.

The broker's open house is a vitally important marketing event. This is when real estate agents preview your home for their buyers. Your agent shouldn't hold the broker's open house until your home is completely ready. Recently, a home under construction in the Oakland hills was marketed to local Realtors before it was completed. The agents had a hard time imagining it in its finished condition.

Far worse was the fact that one agent slipped and fell on the gravel- and mud-covered driveway. She hurt her leg and ripped her slacks. She's unlikely to have positive memories of the house, nor will the agents who witnessed the event.

As a seller you want agents to have fabulous memories about your home. That way, they'll promote your home to their buyers and fellow real estate agents.

The Closing: Sellers who market their home before it's ready usually wait longer for a sale and sell for less than if they'd done the fix-up work first. It defeats the purpose of selling quickly for a good price

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