Located about a 10-minute drive southeast of downtown Denver, Washington Park (referred to locally as "Wash Park") is one of the city's most coveted residential neighborhoods. Consisting of mainly craftsman-style bungalows built in the early 1900s, homes here are highly sought after for the area's central location, easy access to transportation, walkability and historic charm. But with a median home price of nearly $930,000, the real estate market here is not for the faint of heart.
On par with the housing trends dominating many parts of Denver, the combination of low inventory of single-family homes in Washington Park, high rental rates and increasing population have produced a seller's market where multiple-offer situations are the new norm.
In order to help you take advantage of the current market conditions, we've gathered advice from some of Denver's top real estate agents on how to sell your Washington Park home for seven figures.
Plan and prepare. All of our expert sources agree that the first step to securing a high sale price is to take an assessment of the home and, with the help of an experienced real estate agent, determine what needs to be done to make the space presentable to potential buyers. This includes removing clutter and personal items from each room, investing in updates and doing some staging.
"The biggest mistake sellers make is not spending enough time preparing their house for market," says Susie Best, with PorchLight Real Estate Group. Sellers should not assume that they don't have to make their home show well just because the current market is robust. Taking professional advice about which updates to invest in will likely get double their investment back on the home sale.
Laurie Erb, a local real estate agent with the Erb/Steelman Team at Re/Max of Cherry Creek, agrees that the key factor in getting top dollar for a Washington Park home is making sure it shows well – that includes decluttering rooms before an open house and making sure the staging is on point. "I can get people more money if their house looks good," she says.
Erb asserts that homeowners who invest in good updates are the most likely to get the higher sale because most buyers at this price point want turn-key, move-in ready homes. Leo Rowen, with the Leo Rowen Group, concurs. "Wash Park is now at the level of areas like Cherry Creek, Country Club and Cherry Hills, and those buyers want a move-in ready house," he says. "If you have all the bells and whistles and it shows perfectly you will find those buyers where money is not an object."
Erb adds, "They'll write the big check for something that's totally re-done."
Rowen says the majority of buyers start their search online – therefore, it's important that sellers invest in professional, high-resolution photos for their home's website. Having a quality online listing will create interest and demand for the home before it even goes on the market, which will help bring offers in quickly.
Price it right. It goes without saying that price is an important factor in real estate. Even though sellers are enjoying a bit of a heyday, it's important that they don't become stubborn and greedy when it comes to setting a listing price. "Buyers are smart right now and do their research, so they know if they're over-paying for something," Rowen says.
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, Best says the key to getting into a multiple-offer situation is to price lower and let the market demand raise the price. "If you overprice in this market it can hurt you because it won't move quickly enough. You're better to be listing a little bit on a more realistic price point and hoping it will draw more attention. If they try to shoot the moon out of the starting gate they don't allow the market to create that demand."
And just how, exactly, can a seller ensure a smart starting price? Best explains that she sets a listing price just three days before coming to market after she has thoroughly reviewed the home's condition and recent comparable listings in the neighborhood.
A good agent will also talk to his or her colleagues to see what listing prices they are currently working with. "If you have a skilled agent who knows how to work multiple offers you won't leave any money on the table," Erb says.
Time is money. Pricing a high-end home aggressively will also make it move quickly, which is a crucial component in the Washington Park market. According to Rowen, in a normal, healthy real estate market, a house will usually sell within 90 days. Currently in Denver, houses are selling within 50 days.
"If you don't get it sold in two or three weeks, people think something's wrong with it," Rowen explains. "The first thing on their mind is why it's taking so long. You don't want a buyer's first thought to be that negative."
Best believes the window for selling a million-dollar home in Washington Park is even tighter. "If they miss out on selling it that first weekend, the prices will have to drop a bit more," she says. "In that million-dollar range they might have seven to 10 days to get an offer at that top price point, but having offers on the first Saturday and Sunday of the listing is ideal."
In that first listing weekend, Best advises her clients to make showings as easy as possible by being flexible and accommodating. She suggests people to take their family – including pets – and leave the house for the weekend so it's fully available for showings at any time.
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