Everyone dreams about landing an amazing price for their home, but many aren't sure how to go about it.
Those who own homes in Chicago's South Side are in luck.
While parts of South Side get a bad rap for crime, areas to the north of those troubled spots, such as Hyde Park, Kenwood and the South Shore, have a lot to offer to potential home buyers, from single-family homes to condos to two-flats – the Chicago-area term for a type of duplex.
We caught up with some of Chicago's top real estate agents to help sellers get more than their asking price on a South Side home.
Rehab your home. Experts agree that the best way to ensure the above-asking sale of a South Side home is to ensure that your home is up-to-date before putting it on the market.
"The house needs to look fresh. You want to add that wow factor," says Frank Montro, of Frank Montro Homes. "A lot of times you can invest $5,000 and quadruple that return."
From replacing kitchen appliances to re-doing floors or adding fresh coats of paint, small improvements can go a long way toward getting you your ideal price. Adding modern 42-inch cabinets and replacing vanities are some relatively inexpensive ways to improve your home. Bringing in stainless steel appliances helps, too.
Sunny Lamba, of Publix Realty, often recommends his clients replace larger items like HVACs, air conditioning units or roofs to make an impact. "Big-ticket items always drive people into properties," he says.
Prepare for showings. Rehabbing your home may be the first step when working toward a higher selling price, but it's not the last.
Vadie Reese, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group, often advises her clients to remove all personal photos and any items that may be associated with a specific religion or political party. "Sometimes subconsciously that plays a part in people's decision-making process," she notes.
De-cluttering your home also makes it more appealing to buyers. Reese recommends removing appliances and seasonings from kitchen countertops and putting away your soaps and toothpastes in the bathroom. "You want to give the image of a staged home, not a home that's personalized to your specific tastes or personal items," she explains.
Price it right. Most homeowners are emotionally invested in their homes, but just because a home is valuable to the seller doesn't mean it's worth more monetarily. "You can't overprice because you've lived there X amount of years or because you did updates in the 1980s," Reese says.
To price your home properly, look at past sales similar to the home you are selling to see how it stacks up against the competition. Typically, single-family homes in neighborhoods like Hyde Park sell for anywhere from $400,000 to $1.6 million, while property in areas like Chatham and Ashburn go for around $200,000.
You should also consider your timeline when pricing your home. If you're in no hurry, consider taking a risk and setting the price higher. If you need to sell quickly, a lower price will attract hungry buyers.
Be flexible with showings. In the age of online house hunting, buyers are no longer stuck waiting for real estate agents to see the inside of a home. Instead, they pick out homes to go see on their own at their earliest convenience, and they don't like to wait.
"You have a lot of sellers who want a 24- or 48-hour advanced notice," Reese says. "That creates a barrier because, with technology, everyone wants things now. If they see the property they may want to go out and view it right away."
Some sellers don't want to show their house on weekends or can't be available during work hours. Those restrictions may be reasonable, but can drastically cut down the pool of potential buyers. Sellers with more flexible schedules have a definite advantage, as do those who enlist the help of a qualified real estate agent who can show the home even when the seller isn't available.
Hire professional assistance. Working with a real estate agent who has experience selling homes in the South Side is the best way to ensure you get the best offer on your home. Consider hiring a full-service agent who will help you through every step of the selling process, from preparing for showings to negotiating the deal. Full-service agents can also advise you on property upgrades that will drive up the home's value.
Montro says that in addition to submitting homes for sale to Chicago's multiple listing service, he and his team list homes on as many websites as possible, and he recommends sellers ensure their agents do the same. Common trends for today's agents include spending money on websites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com, and using social media to boost a listing's visibility, along with holding lots of open houses.
Hiring an agent with negotiation skills is also key. "If you have a nice house, there's a good chance you're going to get multiple offers. So you need to get someone who is going to know how to maximize that situation," Montro says.
Hiring a professional photographer can also help your home stand out to potential buyers. Strong photos are particularly important today, as they serve as the first impression of a home for online shoppers.
Looking for a real estate agent in Chicago? U.S. News' Find an Agent tool can match you to the person who's most qualified for the job.