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Selling a home presents a great opportunity to put some extra money in your pocket. But, it can also mean leaving money on the table as you pay closing costs and real estate agents’ commissions. By planning ahead and using some smart negotiating techniques, you may be able to keep your overall expenses down and walk away with more cash than you expected. Here are six money-saving tips to get you started.
1. Work with a proven, local real estate agent
Looking to sell your home fast and at a competitive price? An experienced agent who knows your area, prices homes well, and markets them effectively can be key to your success. Even though you’ll pay a commission, their know-how may ultimately save you money if your home sells quickly and you can avoid making extra mortgage payments. Their negotiating skills may also lead to a higher selling price than you’d get otherwise.
To find a strong agent, take time to interview candidates and ask about key stats, including their:
- Listings’ median days on market (DOM): This will reveal how long an agent’s listings tend to stay on the market before they sell. This is key because the longer a home sits, the more likely the home’s price will be reduced. To see how each agent measures up, compare their results to your area’s median DOM, which you can research online.
- Number of transactions per year: This will help prove how experienced an agent is. To hone in on their selling expertise, you can also ask how many of those transactions involved them representing sellers versus buyers.
- List-to-sale ratio on sold homes: This figure will give you an idea of how well an agent prices homes and negotiates sales. You can calculate it by dividing a home’s sale price by its list price. As an example, if a home sells for $248,000 and was listed for $250,000, its list to sale ratio would be 99%. As a seller, you’ll want that rate to be near 100% or above. (If it’s above 100%, it will show an agent has sold homes for above their list price.)
2. Negotiate a lower commission
As you interview agents, you can ask if they’re open to reducing their commission. Many agents don’t advertise this upfront but are agreeable to it if the deal presents a win-win. There may also be discount brokerages in your area you can use. Regardless of your choice, ensure the lower cost won’t result in a lower level of service.
3. Cut your moving costs
Don’t forget to pack in some savings as you prepare to move out. According to HomeAdvisor, movers cost an average of $1,395 for jobs under 100 miles alone.
A few possible ways to save while selling your house include working with a real estate agent who offers perks like a free moving truck, and using sites like freecycle.org that list free moving supplies. U-Haul® also offers a box exchange where users can pick up boxes for free. And their Armed Forces Connection helps soldiers and their families save on moves and storage.
4. Make cost-effective upgrades
If you’re thinking about making major updates to your home, it’s wise to discuss them with a real estate agent or an appraiser first. That’s because some upgrades don’t return their value when a home sells, particularly if a home sells soon after the update is made. As an example, Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report estimated that a kitchen remodel could cost $23,452 but only add $18,206, or 77.6%, of that to a home’s resale value.
You may save money by focusing on simpler projects that make your house appealing instead. A few upgrades that may deliver value include new landscaping, fresh paint, and adding hardwood floors. Two simple options you can also take advantage of are decluttering and doing a good cleaning. In an interview with Investopedia, appraiser Ralph J. Vaccari explained that “a dirty or unkempt home can increase its appearance of wear and tear beyond normal, and that condition can, in fact, affect value.”
For more insights, see our blog, “5 Home Improvement Projects that May Pay You Back.”
5. Make smart seller concessions
As you sell your home, buyers may ask you to help them with their closing costs through “seller concessions.” Seller concessions are amounts sellers pay toward a buyer’s closing costs. They can cover expenses such as:
- Inspection and appraisal fees
- Loan origination fees
- Attorney fees
- Mortgage points (or discount points)
- Property taxes and title insurance
- Recording costs
Rather than paying out of pocket, some sellers negotiate a slightly higher price for their homes with the difference going to these costs. For example, if your home was selling for $300,000, but your buyer needed $5,000 to make the sale work, your final sales price will be $305,000. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need your house to appraise for the higher value if you use this strategy. The amount of your concessions will also be limited based on a buyer’s mortgage type.
6. Offer furniture or appliances as bargaining chips
If you’re not open to seller concessions or want to find a way to sweeten a deal, consider offering buyers furniture or appliances you’re willing to part with. This may work in your favor if you’re downsizing or planning to replace them when you move. It may also be especially welcome if you’re selling to first-time homebuyers who need help furnishing a home.
Speaking of furnishing a home, check out our blog, “Home Staging Tips for Selling Your Home” for added insights on low- and no-cost ways to boost your home’s value. By leveraging these techniques, you may manage to save money while making money on your house.
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