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Selling your home? What to do that first crucial week

House hunters need to know the new rules

House hunters need to know the new rules governing Federal Housing Authority loans. (August 2010) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Like the proverbial 15 minutes of fame, your home’s first week on the market is a moment in the spotlight that won’t happen again -- so it’s crucial to make the most of it.

Thanks to an endless array of technologies, from e-mail alerts to iPhone apps, when a new listing is entered in the Multiple Listing Service everybody knows it -- so your home had better be ready for its close up. “It is instantaneous,” says Cyndi Sheppard of RE/MAX Alliance in Miller Place. “The minute we load it, your listing is automatically on the internet.” And that’s not just the MLS site. “Everybody has access to it. Whatever sites your office is involved in, they all feed off the Multiple Listing automatically.”

That’s big exposure – so plan for it carefully. “You want your house to be staged beautifully and make a big impact. With all the competition, you have to make sure that the marketing of the home is perfectly in place,” says Sheppard. “When someone is coming on the market the first week, it’s all about timing. Plan everything. What day I put it on the market, when the signs go up. You want it to hit with a big bang.” In other words, if you’re not ready fling your doors open for a showing that will knock their socks off this weekend – don’t list your home this week.

Here are some tips for exploding onto the scene and maximizing that new-listing luster – before it fades away:

Price it right

Sellers, understandably biased, are notorious for overestimating the worth of their homes. But this is no time to be sentimental -- it’s time to be pragmatic. If your home is more expensive than comparable ones in the area, or if similarly-priced homes are offering more for the money -- the same model house with a newer kitchen, for instance -- rethink that number before you list it. “Most important about that first week is going to be the price. You don’t want to be so far over price that nobody looks at the house and then you have to drop it,” cautions Sheppard. Also, if an appraisal indicates the home’s not worth the price, the buyer’s bank won’t agree to the loan, she says.

Make it picture-perfect

When agents and buyers receive a new listing alert, they expect to see pictures of the house immediately, inside and out. If they don’t, they’ll likely pass it over. So don’t list the home till you’ve got photos in place -- and good ones. “Ask your agent for help with staging the property interior and exterior,” says Sheppard. The photos should depict a home that’s spic and span, with a neatly manicured property for inviting curb appeal.

Be ready to show it at any moment

If you have to turn buyers away because you’re unavailable or the place is a mess, you may not get a second chance to make that first impression -- they’ll move on without ever having seen your house. “Make sure the home is neat and presentable at all times,” says Sheppard. “Make arrangements for the home to be available at all times. If you’re not there, you can leave a key with your agent,” she says. “If you have children, get laundry baskets for their room and play area, and you can just put the clutter and the toys right in there so that you can get it ready within 15 minutes of showing.”

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