It’s not rocket science: the better a home is prepared for the market, the higher its’ potential to receive top dollar and best terms. And it’s usually not very difficult to convince sellers that prep is required to get their digs up to snuff: they are often willing to paint, do minor repairs, clean carpets, de-clutter and even have the home staged to maximize its possibilities.
Top notch agents not only understand this, they work hard to facilitate property prep. It’s not uncommon for listing agents to have preparatory checklists and to provide their sellers with access to certified design and trade professionals to get the job done.
Unfortunately, while many sellers get assistance readying their home for sale, their agent fails to prepare for … an offer.
Top 5 Tips to Ensure that Your Listing is Prepared for an Offer:
1. Provide Maximum Property Information
Information sells, and whether it comes in the form of pictures, well written descriptions, highlighted amenities and so on, the more that’s provided the better. Sites like Trulia do an awesome job of showcasing this information so that buyers have access to all they need to make informed buying decisions. Yet so many agents, while providing great pictures, don’t provide much more. No disclosures. No reports. And so on. Or if they do, they don’t put it where the buyers can readily access the materials provided.
Simply put, buyers and their agents want more. More information. More access.
2. Provide Maximum Access To Information
Savvy agents understand that buyers desire as much information as possible. And they want to access that information BEFORE they actually visit. It’s no longer OK to simply have the material in a binder on a listing’s coffee table. Data-thirsty buyers are looking for full online access to seller disclosures, natural hazard reports, title reports, inspections, building permits and any other pertinent information PRIOR to writing an offer. To facilitate this, this material should be readied BEFORE a listing becomes active.
Our team has a simple goal for every listing: make sure every single document required by a buyer from the listing side during the escrow is available BEFORE going live.
Many MLSs are now providing the means to attach these documents directly to the listing. Some grant public access as well. Don’t have an MLS advanced enough to attach docs? Other website services such as ePropertySites.com provide a section to attach reports and the like. Title companies usually have a solution for parking your information online. Or, as we’ve done, go with a “cloud” solution. Companies such as Dropbox provide a way for you to share documents by providing a link to a virtual folder – which you can fill with any information, documents, pictures, videos and more that you believe may be important. Don’t have space or desire to provide a long URL that links your documents? Go to www.bit.ly to shorten it up!
There is really no excuse for not having complete information available so that agents and their buyers have full access … anytime they wish.
3. Provide Maximum Preparation Of Information
It’s very easy to provide most information upfront – title companies are willing to open pre-escrows and to provide CC&Rs and preliminary title reports, sellers can fill out disclosures during the property prep period, searches can be performed at local building departments for permit records (if required) and so on. In addition, we recommend that you have at least one inspection done up front. If you can provide more, even better. This helps head off any surprises and, in a multiple offer situation, can even facilitate a buyer writing an “AS-IS” offer. We work hard to provide a complete set of seller disclosures, title report, CC&Rs, natural hazards disclosure report, inspection reports (the more you can provide upfront the better), list of property features and upgrades, permits (if recent work has been done) and even a copy of the actual property brochure in a pdf format. We even provide instructions for writing an offer. And … we are now beginning to use QR codes on brochures and in other locations to connect buyers directly to all the information they need to make an intelligent decision. About the only thing we CAN’T provide up front is an HOA Package and Cert – because they are time-sensitive, we can only order them once we are actually in escrow.
We’ve discovered that, since no one likes surprises, the more info we can provide upfront the higher the chance that we’ll get well-written, “informed” offers.
4. Provide Maximum Distribution Of Information
In addition to making it easier for a buyer to make a decision about a specific property, it gives the resulting escrow a jump start and helps keep timelines on track. Everyone has maximum access to all documentation from the very beginning. Buyer’s agents, transaction coordinators and title officers can download everything they need without having to wait for the listing agent. Nothing is more aggravating to a buyer than ordering and paying for inspections and/or appraisals before having access a seller’s disclosure package. I’ve seen buyers expend money on inspections only to discover items in the seller’s disclosures – presented after inspections were completed – that would have nullified the escrow up front.
5. Provide Maximum Property Preparation
Not only should paperwork be prepared ahead of time – the actual property needs to readied as well. Once an offer is accepted, you can assume appraisers and inspectors will begin to appear. To prepare for the obvious, at the very beginning of every listing we give the seller(s) a “Prep Plan” to head any potential inspection “issues.” The list includes items such as:
• Remove everything from underneath all sinks.
• Locate the access to crawl spaces and the attic – ensure that they are not blocked in any way. Make sure they are unlocked if applicable.
• Remove any items stored in crawl spaces, attics and/or garages that might prevent full visual inspection. Storing items in the garage? Make sure inspectors have full access to the entire inside perimeter.
When inspectors are unable to easily access key areas, they write “Unable to inspect – further inspection required” on inspection reports. In most cases, if there’s a re-inspection fee, sellers will be expected to cover the cost. It slows down escrows, affects contingency removal and increases frustration while waiting for re-inspections to be performed.
GET READY! Not just for a sale, but for an offer! We’ve found that the more prepared you can be, the better the chances you’ll get an outstanding offer. Buyer agents love working with listing agents they know to be top notch professionals and will frequently recommend that buyers offer on their listings rather than other, less prepared properties. In addition, with everything prepared up front, everyone’s life will be easier throughout the transaction. Plus … there is a very real chance the seller will end up with more money in their pocket at the end. And that is really the bottom line. Proper preparation heads off surprises …
And separates the listing Pros from the rest of the pack.