For anyone who’s selling a house, anything that drives the final selling price up is a good thing. From this point of view, a competitive market is really good, and bidding wars are the ultimate goal. They are the highest expression of competition and the most dramatic path to a satisfying selling price.
Having said this, I’ve never advised my clients to aim for a bidding war as a goal unto itself. Planning for competition is like trying to plan a memory – because when you want good memories, what you actually have to create is good experiences. In real estate, bidding wars are most likely to happen when you successfully highlight the best features of your property. Here are a few “do’s and don’ts” to keep in mind:
Do price your home strategically: If you start to high, fewer buyers will even come by for a look. If you go too low, you might have to deal with offers that are below what you are willing to consider. Price competitively and you’re more likely to inspire competition.
Don’t skimp on prep: The bumps and bruises that you’ve come to accept as the “character” in your home will be seen as faults by potential buyers. The back porch steps that need replacing, for instance, should be taken care of before you list. The rule is, do everything you can to create a good impression.
Do clear and primp: Apart from the actual fixes from the to-do list above, there is also a lot of cosmetic stuff that needs to be taken care of. As much as possible, you should see it as a process of moving out before you move out. When potential buyers look at your house, they should be seeing their futures, rather than your past.
Don’t assume the highest offer is the best offer: When considering multiple offers, there are more points to consider than the bottom line. It pays to look at how the offer is being financed, what contingencies are attached and other factors. Remember, an offer is just an offer until the transactions are finalized.