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Even at an advantage, home sellers have homework to do

People selling their homes are making plenty of money, but they're competing against each other and there are ways to maximize profit.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It doesn’t need repeating: The current real estate market is tilted sharply in favor of sellers. 

However, this does bear repeating: Sellers can influence their final selling price significantly by things they should, or shouldn’t, do.

Yes, it’ll probably be pretty easy to get your house sold, but remember you’re still competing with other sellers and, according to Elena Cardone with eXp Realty, a few dollars invested and some small efforts can yield substantially better offers. 

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“I don’t see it quitting or stopping any time soon," Cardone told First Coast News. "I just think we’re going to be in this super cycle for five, ten years for sure.” 

She offered eight suggestions saying each can make a difference individually, but especially when considered collectively. 

“Cleanliness is crucial,” Cardone pointed out what should be an obvious point but also one she said especially holds true presently. “People just got out of the pandemic. They don’t want to be looking at dust bunnies or dirt.” 

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Specific examples, she said, include vacuuming, sweeping, and cleaning windows – things easy to overlook in our own homes. 

On a related note, Cardone said pay attention to the basics, including curb appeal. 

“You do want to give a good first impression, so if your front lawn needs mulch or sod, go ahead and spend the money there. Paint the front door and the garage, make sure there’s no scuff marks," Cardone explained. “Paint the walls, especially if you have dark-colored walls. Make sure you paint the walls white so it makes it feel bigger, roomier.” 

Again she pointed to psychology, reminding that buyer emotion is influential. 

“So they’re not walking in so overwhelmed by all the work that’s going to need to be done.” 

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Her third pointer traces roots back to the Bible: Let there be light. 

“Open up the curtains," Cardone said. "If you have big heavy drapes we’re taking those off. I want as much natural light in the place as possible. If the room doesn’t have a lot of light, make sure all the lights are on.” 

The rationale, she said, is that a well-lighted room appears larger, which is attractive. Then she offered another trick toward that end. 

“Mirrors are great because they make the room look bigger and they reflect light.” 

Her next suggestion might hurt a bit. Sure, it’s okay to leave decorations on the walls and elsewhere, but the most sentimental stuff might need to come down. 

“Get rid of all the personal pictures of your kids and your dogs and your wedding photos," she said. "Someone wants to come in and see themselves living in their home, they don’t want reminders that you are there.” 

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On a related note, she said, de-cluttering of items that haven’t seen the light of day in years can save the cost of moving them. 

“You can probably even sell some of that stuff and pick up some extra cash.” 

Next, she said, hire a professional photographer to take the pictures you’ll be using in your listing. 

“They can really see angles," Cardone explained. "They know how to shoot the room to where it’s going to accentuate its strengths.” 

The second-to-last might be tempting to dismiss, given current market conditions: Don’t overprice your home. 

“If you price too high you are potentially not even attracting potential buyers who would have bought your home, because it’s just too much of a stretch or out of their league,” Cardone said. 

To emphasize that point, Cardone suggested that a properly priced house is more likely to create a bidding war, which could wind up yielding you a better final selling price than if you set the bar high at the outset. 

Finally, she cautioned that listing independently to avoid paying a realtor’s commission might be penny-wise, pound-foolish. 

“The realtor has all the connections that you need from start to finish […] to really see the process through to a completed finish.” 

As Cardone pointed out, even collectively all of these items aren’t costly compared to the difference in dollars they can make. And given that most sellers face at least some pressure because they’re buying elsewhere, ignoring them can cost time as well, and time is money. 

“You will be leaving money and deals on the table and probably stretching out the process of what it takes to get the job done.” 

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