Atenas, Costa Rica: 10 Tips For Selling Your Home in Paradise
As real estate professionals it is our job and duty to put our best foot forward and help sellers sell their homes and buyers find their dreams. We are often called upon and expected to give our expert opinion on how a seller can best sell their property. There are very specific details that can set you as a seller apart from the competition. I have outlined what we feel are 10 most important things you can do as a seller to achieve our common goal; selling your home.
- Pricing: BE REALISTIC when you price your home. Do your research and then ask several qualified agents to give you their professional opinion. We always ask our clients; “Do you really want to sale?” Because many times sellers think they want to sell, but in reality they are just fishing. For this we offer three prices to sellers; a quick sale, fair market value, and fishing. In our opinion a “quick” sale price is one that is at least 25% below market value. Fair market value is just that, the price that other comparable homes are selling for in your area. Fishing more times than not should be called dreaming because people tend “fish” for double the real value of their property. If a seller is asking more than $40,000.00 over the real value of the property, then we will not take the listing. It is never our goal to offend anyone, but I cannot waste my buyers time, the sellers time, or my time trying to sell a property that is over priced. Try not to get emotionally stuck on a certain price.
- Curb appeal: After price, curb appeal is the most important part of selling your home. Know your competition and make sure your home shows BETTER that theirs. If needed retouch paint work, and spruce up the garden. In particular make the front door and entryway welcoming. This is the gateway to a buyers heart. If they don’t feel welcome, then chance are they will not buy! The first impression is the only impression so make it a good one.
- No clutter: Once you decide to sell, the home is no longer “yours”. Wether you and I agree with the idea or not, 99% of buyers want to see model perfect homes. Keep things basic and not too personal. Many professionals believe you should remove ALL personal items and photos but I don’t feel this is necessary. HOWEVER, excess of anything is too much. If you have ten photos of the grandchildren, then take it down a notch to two photos. Take everything off the countertops in the kitchen to make it seem like there is more counter space. Remove any unnecessary furniture and put it into storage. Lighting is KEY so open all the curtains and turn on the lights. Make your closets feel bigger by removing clothing you are not using. You want your house to appear as big as possible. The idea is you want the buyer to come into your home and make it their own! They must make that connection and get that feeling of being at home. Once they make that connection, they will mentally “move in” and start placing their own belongings in the house.
- Make repairs: Any major issues will be a big turn off to buyers. No matter what the price of the home, they will automatically see money going out the door. Leaky roof? Repair it. Peeling paint? Repaint. Moisture, mold and mildew on the walls or ceilings (common in Costa Rica due to the climate)? Clean, repair and stop the issue if possible. Anything that can cause instant dislike for your house should be fixed, as long as it isn’t too expensive. Go throughout the house and make a “honeydew” list of the small things that need fixing. These are things that may be a turnoff to a potential buyer. Take the time to go around and fix those things one by one. If you noticed them, the buyer will too! Chances are these small things will only take a few days to repair and in the end it will make you feel better and help you achieve your goal; selling your home!
- Staging: A well staged home will sell faster than a cluttered, messy home. You want your home to feel more spacious that it really is. Again, lighting is key. Not only will good lighting invite the buyer to come in, it will make your house look and feel bigger. There are many great TV programs about decorating and real estate out there. Take the time and turn on HGTV. Try to emulate what the experts do to stage a house. Remember you are selling the “dream” of a tropical, Costa Rican paradise.
- Professional photos: We cannot stress enough how important it is to have HIGH QUALITY, professional photos of your home. This is something you as a home owner should have done and the offer a CD to all the agents who are listing your home. Here in Costa Rica, exclusive listings are not common like in the United States, Canada or Europe. Most agents will not going invest money into taking professional photos of your home without the “guarantee” of the exclusive contract.
- Commissions and incentives: Offering bonuses is a good way to motivate agents and buyers. Don’t negotiate real estate commissions either. You want a motivated agent to help you sell your home. Cutting their pay will not help you achieve your goal. We have had clients in the past say, “We won’t pay 5% commission because we don’t feel you work hard enough.” Our response is always the same, thank you, but NO THANKS. We don’t take these listings. We know our value and we will give you your monies worth. Remember this, if your competition (similar properties) are paying 5% commission and you are offering 3%, which house do you think we as professionals are going to show and sell first? Also, sweeten the pot for they buyer. Offer the house TURN KEY with furnishings and a car when possible. This works wonders in a foreign country were the buyers are often unfamiliar on where and how to set up their new home.
- Use the web: The web has change the world in many ways. Be proactive in selling your home. Rely on your agent but you too can help to sell your home. Use online venues and social media sites such as Craigslist, Facebook and Twitter to help sell your house. Post flyers around town, in Spanish and English. Tell friends and locals alike that your home is for sale. Remember, word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertisement.
- Hire a qualified professional: Having an experienced, professional agent to help sell your house, will make all the difference. In sales as in other professions, experience in the field is KEY. Having a licensed agent with 16 years experience on your side compared to that of an unlicensed, inexperienced agent who has just hung their shingle, will be the difference in selling your home or not. Your house is one of your biggest assets, and this is no time to do someone else a favor. Call a local real estate office and ask for their top salesperson. Interview a few agents and ask them to tell you what their marketing plan is for your home. Use someone who understands the power of the internet, the importance of good photos, and an overall marketing strategy for your house.
- Showings and open houses: When you are having a showing or open house, LEAVE! We say this with LOVE because our goal is the same as yours; to sell your house. There’s nothing more annoying than having the home’s owners in a house when a buyer is trying to look at it. A buyer needs to make a house their own, and with a homeowner around, they cannot be themselves or honest about the property. Opinions, unnecessary comments and negativity by a homeowner can kill a deal faster than anything! If you have pets, take them with you. We are animal lovers, but not everyone is. Many people are afraid of dogs and will not even leave the car to see a home when dogs are present. Pet odors are a MAJOR turn off. This will run a buyer off quicker than anything. Also, make sure the house is perfectly clean so that it shows well. Finally consider baking cookies before a showing, or lighting one of those cinnamon roll candles. It is a small detail that will make a buyer feel at home.
Often times when a property has not sold, it is for one or several of the reasons outlined above. In most cases you as the seller and we as the agents may feel that most of items above are petty. That is nether here no there. What is important for us to understand is that the buyers take these things very seriously. If we keep our eye on the prize and set our personal beliefs and opinions aside, it will make achieving our common goal that much easier. We are all human so emotions can get the best of anyone. Our wish is always of putting together a win/win situation and having a positive experience for everyone involved. In that way everyone gets what they want; the owner sells their home, the buyer has their dream and the agent has happy clients who will do repeat business in the future.
Costa Rica Realtors Chamber
Tours in Costa Rica
Pure Life Development of Atenas is a full service tour company. We feature full vacation packages and day trips for the family. Our tour director Nelson Conejo is very experienced and provides a personal service and attention to detail second to none in Costa Rica. Please write Nelson or give him a call to arrange your next Costa Rican vacation at (506)2446-0447 or
Retirement Living in Atenas
Interview with Pure Life Development co-founder and certified realtor Dennis Easters, about Costa Rica ranked by AARP as "one of the best places to retire abroad".