Trulia's Guide to what homebuyers want in every state

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

If you're planning to sell your home in 2017, it's a good idea to spend some time in 2016 planning how to market your home in Santa Fe, NM, or Philadelphia, PA, real estate. Whether you intend to check some best-for-ROI upgrades off your to-do list or play up the features your home already has, it's smart to make sure your home's real estate listing contains the keywords and phrases homebuyers in your area are searching for.

To help, Trulia scoured the listing data of for-sale homes in more than 100 metros to find out what features are most popular in each state. Trulia's data team combed through for-sale listings for more than two dozen common terms, including "hardwood floors," "views," "stainless steel," "open floor plan," "high ceilings," and more, and tallied the terms that appear most often to find each state's favorite amenity.

RELATED: Smart tips to sell your home even if you don't have a real estate agent:

14 PHOTOS
HGTV expert's top tips to sell your home — without a real estate agent
See Gallery
HGTV expert's top tips to sell your home — without a real estate agent

1. Cut Out the Middleman

Real estate agents typically charge a 5 percent to 6 percent commission on a home sale — which is split in half if both the buyer and seller have agents, McGillivray said. If you sell your home on your own, you will save at least the 2.5 percent to 3 percent that the seller’s agent would have charged. If you sell your home for $350,000, you will save more than $8,000 by cutting out the middleman.

Additionally, you can save the full 5 percent to 6 percent if a buyer comes to you without representation. Without agents, you’ll save more than $16,000 on a $350,000 home sale, McGillivray said.

Photo credit: Jack Frog/Shutterstock.com

2. Get Your Home Listed on the MLS

“It’s tremendously important that you get on a platform that gives you exposure to buyers and agents,” McGillivray said. That platform is the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, which is the database of homes for sale in a market. Homebuyers can see properties on the MLS through websites such as Realtor.com, Zillow.com and Trulia.com.

In the past, only real estate agents could have homes listed through this service. However, today's homeowners can list their own properties on the MLS by paying a flat fee to various sites. McGillivray recommends using Owners.com, which places homes on the MLS and gives homeowners access to advisors who can help with the sales process, including the closing. The basic MLS listing package is $395 for six months.

If you don’t get your home listed on the MLS, you’ll have to rely on classified newspaper ads, online sources such as Craigslist.org or luck to find a buyer.

Photo credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

3. Use Professional Signage

Listing your house on the MLS is the best way to get your property noticed by potential buyers. However, you also want to market your home well. According to McGillivray, posting a skimpy “For Sale” sign with a spot to add a phone number in your yard is “a recipe for disaster."

Instead, the real estate pro recommends having a sign professionally made. Online services such as Owners.com and ForSaleByOwner.com provide each home seller with a sturdy sign as part of the MLS listing package.

Photo credit: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock.com

4. Get an Appraisal

McGillivray suggests hiring an appraiser to evaluate your home before putting it on the market. Doing this will help you avoid any surprises when the buyer’s lender has the house appraised to determine how much to loan. Appraisers typically charge $300 to $400, according to Realtor.com, and the price is well worth it.

Photo credit: Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock.com

5. Don't Overprice Your Home

One of the biggest mistakes home sellers make is overpricing their homes. “Everybody thinks their house is worth more than it is,” McGillivray said. “Your house is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.”

If you set the price too high, you won’t get enough traffic. On the other hand, listing your house at a realistic value means you will get more offers sooner, according to McGillivray. Ultimately, pricing your home accurately will help you sell for a better rate.

In addition to securing an appraisal, you can take advantage of information that’s available for free from online real estate listing sites. Check the list prices of comparable homes in your area and see how long they’ve been on the market. Then, consider whether your home offers more or fewer amenities than competing properties.

Photo credit: Laura Gangi Pond/Shutterstock.com

6. Look for Anchor Properties in Your Neighborhood

When someone posts a house for sale and lists it too high, the home becomes what McGillivray calls an anchor property. Sellers will assume that other properties in the neighborhood are better deals, if they’re listed for less.

Not only can an anchor property drive more traffic to your home, but it can also allow you to list your home at a higher price than it is actually worth. For example, if your neighbor puts his house up for sale at $600,000, and you know your property is worth $525,000, you can list it for more because it will still look like a deal next to your neighbor’s house.

So, look for overpriced homes in your area and then list your house for less.

Photo credit: romakoma/Shutterstock.com

7. Depersonalize Your Home

Before you open your doors to potential buyers, you need to depersonalize your home so someone can see himself or herself living there. For best results, remove those family photos and collectibles that might be dear to you but a turnoff to others.

“You don’t want a picture of you and your dog wearing a tuxedo hanging on the wall,” said McGillivray, who actually saw this image in a house that was for sale. “Strip it down and make it appeal to 90 percent of the population, 90 percent of the time."

Photo credit: Iriana Shiyan/Shutterstock.com

8. Make Minor Repairs

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to remodel your home before you sell. However, you should at least clean the space thoroughly, make small repairs, replace worn carpets and add a fresh coat of paint to walls.

You want people to walk into a house that looks well maintained. If buyers see that you can’t take care of minor details, they’re going to assume you’ve let bigger problems escape your attention, too, McGillivray said.

Photo credit: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock.com

9. Improve Curb Appeal

McGillivray revealed that some of the best deals he's found were properties that looked bad from the road. “People do judge a book by the cover when it comes to real estate,” he said.

By the time potential buyers reach your front door, they’ve already formed opinions about your house. For best results, spend a day — and a few hundred dollars — painting your front door, hanging new house numbers and installing updated fixtures, he said. Additionally, sellers should clean up their yards by pulling weeds and trimming shrubs.

Related: 20 Cheap Renovations That Increase Your Home's Value

Photo credit: Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.com

10. Stage Your House

You can stage your house on your own to make it look more appealing by searching for tips on sites such as HGTV.com. However, if you’re in a competitive housing market or selling a high-end property, you should consider spending some money to have your home staged by experts.

Professional stagers have been trained to make houses appeal to buyers by removing clutter, depersonalizing rooms, rearranging furniture and creating a "model home" feel. You can use the savings on real estate commissions to help pay for a stager so your home sells for more, faster.

Photo credit: Breadmaker/Shutterstock.com

11. Disclose Problems to Potential Buyers

Most states require sellers to disclose all of the home problems they're aware of. These issues include past problems, like plumbing leaks that resulted in mold growth.

Don’t try to hide anything, or you could face a lawsuit if an issue is detected after the home is sold.

Photo credit: goodluz/Shutterstock.com

12. Be Ready to Negotiate

A home's list price is a suggestion, not a rule. Said McGillivray, you shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate with buyers when they make offers on your home.

Because real estate negotiations are conducted on paper, sellers don't have to worry about confronting buyers directly. You can also negotiate on both price and terms. If you don’t want to come down much in your asking price, be flexible with your terms, such as the closing date or appliances you are willing to leave in the home for the new owner.

Owners.com and other listing services of for-sale-by-owner properties connect home sellers with licensed real estate agents who can guide them through the negotiation process.

Photo credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

13. Don't Make a Misstep at Closing

When you and your buyer are ready to sign on the dotted line, a mortgage lender will typically be involved. He or she will likely provide you with an escrow officer to walk you through the final steps of your home sale.

However, McGillivray recommends taking the time to understand the legal requirements of your home sale. You might want to hire a real estate attorney or, if you used a flat-fee listing service, request assistance for your closing.

Photo credit: tsyhun/Shutterstock.com

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

The clear winner from coast to coast? In a word: decks. Almost half the country — 22 states — claimed decks as the top home amenity. That's not a huge surprise, considering they rank as number two on our list of top home improvement projects for fall, bringing in a whopping 80% to 120% return on your investment. The rest of the top listing terms, in order of descending popularity, are "granite," "storage," "hardwood floors," and "views." Sellers, take note: If your home includes some (or all!) of these amenities, make sure to play them up in your listings (and in your listing photos).

Read on for a breakdown of the data, or pin it to Pinterest here! How does your home match up to your state's preference?

what homebuyers are looking for

The post Trulia's Guide To What Homebuyers Want In Every State appeared first on Trulia's Blog.

More from Trulia.com:
Trulia's Apartment Rental Inspection Checklist
5 Tips to Avoid Real Estate Regrets
4 Home-Buying Ducks To Get In A Row For 2014


Read Full Story

Find a New Home

Buy
Rent
Value
Powered by Zillow

From Our Partners