As prime military moving season approaches, we went back to our real estate experts to get some more advice for service members and families whose relocation comes with the added pressure of selling their existing home.
If you’re not looking to become a landlord, here’s a basic how-to:
1. Find an expert. A real-estate reality check will help get the process started, and relying on online estimates or a neighbor’s asking price from a few months back might not be the way to go.
“Ultimately, it‘s your home and you can price it where ever you want, which is fine if you don‘t need to sell,” said Cassandra Rowley, a Navy veteran and Realtor in the Seattle area. “But if you have orders and you have to go, hire your professional and trust their experience.”
2. Don’t rush to renovate. Just because you’ve always thought your house needed the renovation, new paint job or new carpet you’ve had in mind for years doesn’t mean you should make any major changes prior to a sale.
“Don't go crazy with upgrades, because not all upgrades will give you the desired return on investment,” said Juanita Charles, an Army veteran and Realtor near Kentucky’s Fort Campbell. Instead, be sure to declutter and depersonalize the property to maximize its appeal.
3. Set the right home value. “Don’t overprice to ‘test the market,’” said Travis Winfield, a retired Navy command senior chief and San Diego-based Realtor. “The longer your home sits on the market, the more buyers think, ’What’s wrong with it?’”
4. Open for business? Our experts were lukewarm, at best, on the need for sellers to stage open houses. Rowley said she never does them in homes that are occupied, and all of our experts pointed to a very small number of qualified, interested buyers likely to walk through the door.
You’re more likely to find ”nosy neighbors” who “want to see how this home stacks up to theirs” or are seeking decorating ideas, Rowley said.
5. Pic(s) to click. Regardless of any open house plans, most buyers will see your home’s online listing before pulling into the driveway. Don’t try to set up that listing yourself, Charles warned, even if you’re going without an agent: Hire a professional photographer and make a good first impression.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.