After weighing all the factors, you’ve decided to sell your property. Now what?
Whether a family property, a second home or a prized investment, the decisions you make can save or cost you thousands of dollars. The process in Panama is secure and straight-forward, but it’s essential to take the right steps to make sure you get the best deal and the most value for your property.
Selling property can be a stressful experience, but here are 10 steps that can ease the tension and help ensure you have a rewarding selling experience.
1.Hire the right real estate agent
It sounds simple. But every seller needs an agent who is ready to represent your interests, work to find buyers and offer some real value. Many agents are not licensed in Panama, which makes this a critical first step. Does the agent have connections and a network to find qualified buyers? Do they have the market knowledge and data to correctly price the property? Are they reputable and honest? Will the agent protect your interests? A good sale starts with finding the right agent.
2.Look for an expert estimate of the value
Too many owners rely on rumors or bad data to determine the value of their property. It’s not enough to query friends and neighbors. And many agents don’t have access to a broad range of data. The MLS in Panama is in its infancy and has very little participation, which makes it very difficult to find real numbers. Any in-depth comparability study is the best way to determine the real value of a property in the current market.
3. Price it right
One of the most important parts of the process. Set the price too high and the property can sit on the market. Price it too low and you leave money on the table. It is essential to take the time to review all the factors, bringing in the data and expert opinion of your agents (see points 1 and 2). The right price point is the one that achieves your goals.
4. Sign a clear listing agreement
Your contract with the agent to market your property should be a roadmap for the business relationship and the transaction. It should set the right expectations and make it very clear what the agent should provide and all the fees. There should be no surprises. And you should know what you’re getting from the arrangement.
5. Decide on a minimum acceptable price
This is a tough one for many sellers. But it’s important to have a clear bottom line before you go into any negotiations. Not only will it give you leverage in the discussions, it will help you set your asking price and ensure you won’t be disappointed by accepting an offer below what you really want. When you set your price, you give yourself the freedom to happily accept a higher offer, even if it is below your asking price.
6. Stage the property for showings and photos
Cleaning up your house is not enough. People want to buy their dream home. They want to project themselves into the property, not see you in the home. There is an art to staging a property and making it look dynamic for potential buyers. First impressions are everything. Your professional agent should be able to help you stage your home to impress buyers.
7. Chose unique features to promote
Selling home is a competition these days. Buyers see a lot of homes listed for sale and they tend to quickly browse different properties. It’s important to make sure your home stands out. It’s not about “listing” the property; it’s about marketing it. Find the best features or little details that make your home different than the rest. Or find elements that appeal to very specific buyers, and that can be anything from a young family to an investor.
8. Hire a local attorney
A good agent can smooth the transaction process and make sure all the elements are in place, but we always recommend hiring an attorney to review all the documents and to advise on tax concerns. An attorney can address any title concerns or any liens on the property. For non-Spanish speakers, an attorney can also help make sure all documents have been translated and interpreted correctly.
9. Prepare for final inspection
Assume that any reputable buyer is going to do a thorough inspection of your property. A lot of deals fall apart at the last minute or small details. Try to predict any problems areas and solve problems before the buyers find them. It’s worth it to spend a little money upfront to make sure the buyer doesn’t find any problems.
10. Close the deal
When a buyer is ready to buy, it is essential to make sure everything falls into place and the final contract is signed. Connecting the right buyer with the right seller is always difficult and when the match is found, you can’t let it fall apart. Too many buyers are allowed to walk from a good fit. Close the deal, achieve your goals and everybody is happy.
Jeff Barton is managing director of Punta Pacifica Realty, a Panama real estate agency focused on Punta Pacifica, the exclusive neighborhood of 18 towers perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.