So you have a home on the water, and you’ve decided that it’s time to sell. Now what? If you’re like most people, you feel overwhelmed. Gosh, where to begin? You may have out buildings full of lake toys that have to be sorted through and organized. What to sell? What to give away? What to dispose of? Ugh. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!
And of course, there’s so much to think about related to where you’re moving, and the timing of your move.
(Is this a 2nd home, or will you need another residence? Do you even know where you’re moving?!) Not to mention the various financial considerations. How much will you net from your sale? What will be the costs of moving? How much will you have to have available for your new property? So much to think about!
The One Thing
With so much on your mind, and so many things to consider, it’s possible that the most important decision you have to make as it relates to selling your lakefront property may get overlooked. And what is that? Simply, it’s this:
Your single most important decision is that of
which real estate broker to hire to represent your property.
Unfortunately, many sellers take this decision for granted, and underestimate its importance. They assume that it’s one more item to check off their ‘To Do List’, and they call the local broker they drive by everyday, or hire a friend or relative who’s a licensed real estate agent.
The single biggest mistake made by sellers of lake homes and waterfront property is that they don’t do their research when hiring a real estate broker to represent their property for sale. In simple terms, their situation calls for hiring a specialist, and they hire a generalist.
This is how the typical scenario plays out: the seller hires a local real estate broker, quite possibly someone they know, or maybe the one they worked with when they bought their property. They go through the steps of preparing their property for sale, pricing it, and signing a listing agreement. They don’t think it will take long to sell, because their’s is a beautiful place, well built, and ready for another family to enjoy it as they did.
But unexpectedly, weeks on the market often turn to months, with little — maybe no — activity. How could that be?
At first, they may be puzzled, and later maybe a bit bewildered. Suddenly, one of the issues they’re facing is the how long their property has already been on the market. Their agent runs out of answers, says the ‘listing has gone stale’, and then it seems that every conversation is about reducing the price.
This becomes more frustrating, especially after they’ve gone through the emotional process of letting the place go, and it gets worse when it comes time to pay the next property tax bill. Ugh. Why is there so little interest in their property? This isn’t what they expected.
The good news is that these frustrations can be avoided with a little bit of research up front, which will help to maximize the possibility of a shorter time on market, and/or a higher sale price. And here’s what you need to know about that research:
Questions to Ask Your Lakefront Real Estate Agent
These are the key questions to ask an agent you’re considering hiring to sell your waterfront home:
1. What’s the profile of the likely buyer of your lake home, and where is that buyer most likely going to come from?
Oftentimes, these buyers are going to come from out-of-town, and not be local buyers. Sure, it’s possibly a local buyer, but maybe not. They’re probably buyers like you were when you bought or built the home, meaning they’re most likely looking for their own dream home on a lake, and they know more about what it will look and feel like, than where it is.
2. How will your broker reach out-of-town buyers for your lake property?
This is a critical question, and it’s very important to know the best answer to the question ahead of time, so you know it when you hear it. Here’s what that means: most agents and brokers will say that your property will be listed for sale on national websites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com, and that therefore, a buyer from anywhere can find it. Hmm, that sounds pretty good, but what does it really mean? That leads to the next question:
3. How will prospective buyers find your waterfront home when they’re searching on line?
In today’s world, it’s a given that buyers will be searching online. Over 90% of buyers search on the internet when they look for real estate. But unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of real estate websites (including Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and most national franchises) require buyers to begin their search by providing the city, town or zip code where they’re looking to buy. Sometimes they might know they want to live on your lake, and will already know this info. But oftentimes the buyers of lake homes and lakefront property don’t know the city, town or zip code of where to search. Oops. That becomes a problem.
4. So, how will your broker target buyers of lake homes?
Given the answers to questions 2 and 3 above, this is the ‘$64,000 question’. If many lake home buyers know what they’re looking for, but not where to find it, and if most websites require those buyers to start their search by entering the city, town or zip code of their search, then the real estate brokers you’re interviewing better have a good answer to this question.
5. How will your broker present your lakefront home to prospective buyers who find it online?
There’s no question that you want to hire a real estate broker who ’gets it’, meaning that they know the target market for your waterfront property, and that the best way to reach that target market is with a strategy that makes it easy for prospective buyers to find your property when those buyers don’t the city, town or zip code of where to search.
But you also want to know how your property will be presented to those buyers when they find it online. Will they use a professional photographer? Will floor plans and a survey be presented? Will there be any aerial imagery? Will the property have its’ own website? Keep in mind that your prospective buyers may be traveling a distance to see your property firsthand, so you want to know what they’ll see online will motivate them to make that trip.
6. What other types of marketing will your broker use to present your lake home?
Will the broker use brochures or flyers? When prospective buyers do visit your property, what will they take home with them to reference the property later on? And though the vast majority of buyers use the internet to search for real estate, will your broker use any other means of marketing, such as social media or catalogs?
7. Is your real estate broker affiliated with a larger company or organization that will attract buyers from a national or international network?
We all know that our world is getting smaller, so you never know where your buyer is going to come from. Is your broker part of a larger organization that will tie into those possibilities?
There are other important things to consider, such as pricing. Unfortunately, many sellers base the list price of their property on what it cost to build the home, or if there’s a mortgage, how much is owed on it. But, though those may be important considerations for the seller, they’re not relevant to what the market will bear for a property.
The good news is that if sellers hire a real estate broker to sell their waterfront home or lake property who has the best answers to the questions above, that broker will also likely have a good knowledge of comparable sales of lake homes, as well as those that will be competing for the attention of buyers. Brokers who specialize in property types typically have knowledge of properties in a wider geographic area, allowing them to bring greater value to sellers.
Ready to sell YOUR Michigan lake home? A great first step is to contact us and learn more about how we can help you.