It's no secret that Austin, Texas' real estate market is booming. Thanks to high demand and low inventory, the capital of Texas has become a seller's market where multiple offers and over-asking sales prices are frequent. But that doesn't necessarily ensure homebuyers will quickly flood your listing with offers – or that you'll sell for the best price.
"You should hire a real estate firm that understands marketing to create the most demand for your property," says Shawn Culhane, broker and owner of Culhane Premier Properties. "You're going to lose money if you only use the typical three-P marketing plan: Put a sign in the ground, put your home in [a multiple listing service] and pray that it sells. It'll sell, but not at the highest price possible."
U.S. News spoke with two of the top real estate agents in Austin to offer you insight on how to get your Austin home off the market fast and sold for top dollar.
Find the right real estate agent.
To sell your home fast, work with a real estate agent who knows your specific market, speaks in realistic terms and doesn't just tell you what you want to hear. "If they say they've sold 75 homes this year, ask for a printout from the MLS," says Ben Caballero, CEO and president of HomesUSA.com. "If you're paying an agent 6 percent to sell your home, don't be timid about asking them to back up their story."
Caballero adds that you should ask your agent to prove his or her suggested list price by providing a detailed comparative market analysis that shows the location, size, condition and price of homes that sold in your area.
Also, hiring a firm that understands modern internet marketing techniques is critical, Culhane explains. Don't select an agent based solely on years in the industry – that person may only sell a handful of homes annually and operate on outdated principles. Instead, choose someone who's analytical, connected to the industry daily and understands that this is a serious business transaction.
Although selling a home can be an emotional experience, "try to become objective and realize the home isn't yours anymore," Caballero says. "Depersonalize by taking down photos or collected items, and remember the house is the star."
Homebuyers typically zero in on four characteristics: size, location, price and condition. If you have many showings but few offers, chances are your home is priced right, but something's turning buyers off – be it floor plan, decor or pet odor – that needs to be addressed.
However, if there are essentially no showings, buyers aren't interested in paying what you're asking for. "Being realistic and overcoming the emotional attachment to your home are not easy, and they're probably sellers' biggest challenges," Caballero explains.
Stage for success.
It can be difficult for buyers to see beyond what's in front of them, and as the seller, you want to make it easy for them to envision living at your property. Presenting your home in the best light is important for photos and showings, but it also helps reduce the number of days your home sits on the market and increases your potential sales price.
"More often than not, people rush getting their home on the market, meaning they haven't met with a stager or taken professional photos. Prepare as much in advance as you can, and make sure it's staged as best as possible," Culhane says.
Plus, if updates are needed, buyers will estimate a much larger cost for the job just to be safe, and your sales price will plummet. Culhane suggests looking at your neighborhood's comparable sold properties. If many homes have what you have, don't waste money on updates that won't garner a return. Home in on what's selling and what homebuyers are looking for in your area to determine what work you need to do.
Within the first two or three weeks on market, your home has the highest interest and probability of going under contract. But if you overextend on price, by the time you gradually reduce it, your listing is months old and buyers suspect something's wrong with the property.
"There is no magic. To price the home properly, you have to have data and facts, and consider the home's size, location and condition. If you price too high, you won't have showings; if you price too low, you'll leave money on the table," says Caballero. He also mentions pricing based on what area homes have sold for, not their list price.
Develop demand with 'coming soon' marketing.
As you're preparing to list your property, your agent should be placing your home on online portals that advertise "coming soon" listings and getting the word out to local real estate agents to increase buyer demand.
"We do 'coming soon' marketing, and the best ways are internet marketing and making sure agents know about that property," Culhane says.
When you're met with waves of showing requests, be flexible with your time frame and listen to homebuyer feedback. You want as many people as possible to walk through and evaluate the home to boost the number of potential offers.
Looking for a real estate agent in Austin? U.S. News' Find an Agent tool can match you with the person who's most qualified for the job.
Ellis graduated cum laude with a bachelor's in English from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Texas Freelance Association, Freelance Austin, and Women Communicators of Austin. You can find her on LinkedIn and her website, or email her at email@example.com.