Dallas Real Estate and Short Sale Blog: We Can Simply Throw a Sign in the Yard

We Can Simply Throw a Sign in the Yard

iStock_000004531492SmallI recently overheard a couple talking about selling their home. As I listened, they were telling each other that in this strong seller's market all they need to do was to throw a sign in the yard and they would sell for top dollar.

I would agree that the greater Dallas area is in a strong seller's market. I base that on the lack of inventory and the number of offers received on each of our listings. That said, if you want top dollar, you still have to properly prepare, market, and show it. Buyers are not going to pay top dollar for a home that does not show well.

It all starts with preparing the home for sale. While we have listed and sold a few homes that did not need any preparation, the vast majority can maximize their sales price and minimize their marketing time by employing a stager. We so strongly believe in this concept that we pay for a staging consultation on almost every listing. The photos below are an example of the difference staging can make (staging done by Karen Otto with HomeStarStaging).


Once the staging is complete, the cleaning stage begins. We recommend that carpets and the home be professionally cleaned. In our market the cost is about $500. Why? A super-clean home looks and smells good creating an emotional appeal to buyers. Emotion leads to quicker and higher offers.

The next stage is getting ready to market the home. Professional quality photography is a must. With over 90 percent of Dallas buyers starting their searches on the Internet, you have to create a compelling reason for buyers to want to see the home. Even in a seller’s market, quality photography instills a sense of urgency in buyers. They realize that the home will not last long and they need to get in to see it quickly.


The last stage is having the home in show-ready condition for every showing. Most sellers know in advance that their home will be showing. When you get that call, it’s almost show time! Have a plan of action to get your home in show-ready shape: window shades open, lights on, soft music playing, etc. It’s all about creating an emotional experience for the buyers.

Don’t let a strong seller’s market lull you into thinking that you can simply stick a sign in the ground and sell your home for top dollar in the minimum amount of time. Take the time and make the effort to get the home prepared prior to going on the market. You’ll be far happier with the results.

Tom and Gina Signatures

Photos: Main Photo licensed from iStockPhoto, Others Copyright Imaged2Sell

Originally posted at http://www.thebranchteam.com/wordpress/2014/03/23/we-can-simply-throw-a-sign-in-the-yard/


Tom Branch and Gina Branch, The Branch Team with RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs, service the greater North Dallas suburbs including Dallas, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Frisco, Lewisville, and Carrollton.  While Gina concentrates on traditional listings and buyer/tenant representation, Tom specializes in assisting distressed homeowners to avoid foreclosure.  Tom and Gina have published two books (Achieving Rock Star Status and The Field Guide to Short Sales) and are available for speaking engagements in the greater Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex. Subscribe to The Branch Team Blog.

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Comment balloon 48 commentsTom Branch • March 23 2014 11:45AM


If only it were that easy Tom. Most FSBOs don't get max price, they probably don't know that.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 6 years ago

Seller selling their own home.  Along comes an unrepresented buyer and I can promise you that in 99% of cases, no sale will be made.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Most home sellers cannot be objective enough to make the sale

Posted by Teral McDowell (Referral Patners LLC) over 6 years ago

I've seen sellers take huge losses compared to what they could have gotten because they failed to hire an agent and get a proper CMA.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 6 years ago

Hi Tom... This seems like such a no brainer to me. Get a good agent, get your place professionally cleaned and have a pro stage it. Why mess around, optimize the home for its best return and do what's smart right up front and be done with it. This is right up there with, "why do I need title insurance?" Great post, good reminders.

Posted by Rene Fabre, Marketing in the Digital Age (First American Title) over 6 years ago

Last year I fell pretty ill, Tom. I went to webMD and diagnosed myself with a ailment and withing 2 hours healed myself. Everything I need to fix my body, car and social life can be found on the web. 

Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) over 6 years ago

Tom, I'm with you. I have actually hired a stager and a professional cleaning lady to get a home ready for market. Professional photos are a must. That with great pricing lead to 100% of my listings selling.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 6 years ago

Tom - I could not agree with you more. Last year I listed condo and the owner was trying to sell on their own, but after several failed attempts hired me. Not only did I sell it in a week she netted $20,000 more AFTER the real estate commission was paid. There is so much more to selling a home than sticking a sign in the yard and entering it into the MLS.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) over 6 years ago

There will always be those who believe that all it takes is a sign in the yard and an ad in the paper. Unfortunately, I've also come across any number of agents who believe this to be a marketing plan, as well. Great post!

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) over 6 years ago

Wish everyone understood the value in hiring an agent. Adament FSBO seller - I wanted to bring young buyers to the house. Could not get owner to understand that if he wasn't interested in listing it, then he should at least cooperate with a buyer's agent. He thought couple was stupid for not knocking on the door. Can't wait to see how long he's on sale for.

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) over 6 years ago

So true. Even though the market has shifted to more of a seller's market, the buyers have higher expectations of the houses they are looking at. Fom time to time I'll see a home that has been staged but not photographed well. If staging is not done in conjunction with good photography, it is money down the drain.

Posted by Pamela Cloud, Serving the southwestern suburbs of Philadelphia (Remax Town & Country) over 6 years ago

We're in a seller's market in middle Tennessee, too, but still need a good agent to list and successfully sell a home here.

Posted by Jill Winchel, We make it easy. You make it home. (Royal Shell Real Estate - The Koffman Group ) over 6 years ago

excellent post, always use an agent to sell your home although some first time sellers may use the wrong agent. 

Posted by Ron Aguilar, Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995 (Continental Mortgage) over 6 years ago

Hi Tom,

Added to these these excellent points, is that a FSBO Sellers does not have comprehensive information about the market. In addition, they may not have guidance on  interpreting TREC contracts, if a Realtor submits a TREC contract.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) over 6 years ago

I sure wish it was as easy as throwing a sign in the yard!!

If it sounds to good to be true...

Posted by John Dotson, The experience to get you to the other side! (Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC) over 6 years ago


Spot on. In my area we have some ahh let's just be nice and say frugal people. Not all but some will not spent any money on prep. I often say "if you put it in the right place 5 will get you 15" and a shorter time on market. Once a property gets stale its an uphill battle to even sell it. 

Posted by Dana Basiliere, Making deals "Happen" (Rossi & Riina Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Selling your own home to save money is like doing your own Brain Surgery to save a buck at the hospital.  

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Throw a sign in the yard, and that's what you get. A sign in the yard. If only some of the FSBO's here would understand that.....I guess eventually they will!

Posted by Deborah Newell (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty) over 6 years ago

Hi Tom, I couldn't agree more! Why would a seller be careless about selling their largest asset? Presentation and perceived value go hand in hand.

Kudos to you and your team for using Karen and Home Star Staging to make sure your listings are presented in the best possible light!

Posted by Tessa Skeens, Staging For Realtors, Builders & Investors (Hampton ReDesign, Home Staging and Redesign ) over 6 years ago

FSBOs in our area are far and inbetween, but the misconception of not having to do anything to the home prior to marketing can be found with sellers who plan to use an agent as well. The smart ones will listen to their agent, the others wait and wait and wait for a buyer to show up.


Posted by Sylvia Jonathan, Broker Associate, SFR (Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties) over 6 years ago

Great post thanks for the read. 

Posted by Gordon Wood, 480.226.2842 (Canyon Ridge Realty LLC) over 6 years ago

Tom, thanks for posting such a needed article. Yes!  I agree with Tessa!  It's GREAT that you believe in the VALUE of Home Staging your listings and that you used Karen Otto's company to do the staging on this property featured in the article. Staging DOES make a difference - It's an INVESTMENT with a GREAT return!  Thanks, Virginia Youngblood ~ DO-STAGE! ~ 704-575-1007 ~ Charlotte, NC area

Posted by Virginia Youngblood, DO-STAGE! LLC - Home Stager - ASPM® (DO-STAGE! LLC - an ASPM® Home Staging Company) over 6 years ago

Tom, great post. Here in Austin, we have a hyper-sellers market especially with homes under $200,000. However, even in our market, if a home doesn't show well it may sit on the market for longer than normal.

Posted by Jordan Gouger, Helping you to achieve your housing goals! (Keller Williams Realty Inc.) over 6 years ago

Locally, still not quite a Seller's Market, so I strongly encourage my Sellers to do as you've mentioned!

Posted by Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Broker/Owner, email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846 (Travis Realty) over 6 years ago

Wider angles, shot on your knees, from up above or the right side capture and running them through photoshop to clean up the noise, remove the milk and adjust for even lighting... Means how you take the images, what you post shows a whole higher level of presentation. Beyond the staging, the prose, the video, maps, plats and rest of the real estate presentation.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 6 years ago

Kudos to you Tom, I love it when the agent makes it clear to the seller how important it is to make sure the presentation is up to snuff, and the photo's online are professionally taken. Karen Otto does a fabulous job!

Posted by Karen Gray Plaisted, Staging Spaces, Renewing Places, NY (Design Solutions KGP~ Home Staging and Interior Decor) over 6 years ago

Well said Tom. Preparation makes a tremendous difference - both in the way the home is presented and in the way the agent presents it to the market.

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 6 years ago

In any market, staging has it's advantages. Preperation is the key.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 6 years ago


Smart advice here for any seller, no matter what the market. I do think some sellers feel that the appropriate preparation may not be needed when the market favor sellers, as ours does as well. Nothing could be further from the truth. Buyers these days are pretty savvy and are not likely to overpay or overlook tons of deferred maintenance among other issues.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) over 6 years ago

The "put up a sign and pray" strategy sounds tempting, but it very seldom succeeds, even in a hot market.

Posted by Eric Kodner, CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 - (Madeline Island Realty) over 6 years ago

Prepping a home for sale is challenging for most sellers because putting a sale sign in their yard doesn't cost them anything but prepping their property to sell at full value does, doesn't it?

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 6 years ago

Having a buyer walk into a home and feel like it is welcoming is big!  The everyday clutter we see and overlook can scream too little space to a potential buyer.  It is always best to let a professional handle your sale, goodness you wouldn't let your 10 year old rebuild your transmission after he build his LEGO race car!

Posted by Karen Mathers - REALTOR®, When it Matters, Choose Mathers! 772-532-3221 (Keller Williams Vero Beach) over 6 years ago

Remove all traces of you from the home!

Make your home as neutral as possible. Anything that interfers with a prospectivebuyers ability to see themselves living in your must be eliminated.

Posted by Marla Yost, The Marla Yost Team (Marla Yost Team- Keller Williams Realty) over 6 years ago

Very well stated, Tom.


Posted by Nora Sims, helping folks like you since 1978! (Northern Shadows Realty, Inc.) over 6 years ago

If only it was that simple. Foolish words said by foolish people. 

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 6 years ago

Preparation and a solid plan is 75% of the battle!

Posted by Chandler Real Estate Liz Harris, MBA, #ChandlerRealEstateAgent (Liz Harris Realty) over 6 years ago

If you are looking for top dollar than exposure is your answer and a Realtor is your only answer. The realtor will also make sure the house is ready to show and more importantly help secure a mortgage.

Posted by Jimmy Faulkner, The Best Of St. Augustine (Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage) over 6 years ago

Well stated but it still takes marketing to get it out to all the available buyers.  A sign will just pull in a few that happen to drive by.  How is a seller to know what the "real" best price is, are they experts-NOT.  What about all the legal documents and handling of inspections and escrow.  Why asign your biggest asset to an amateur?-You?  I personally made that mistake and learned a hard lesson.

Posted by Ric Mills, Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge (Keller Williams Southern Az) over 6 years ago

Gina and Tom-Preparing the home for sale is the critical first step in getting the best possible price.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) over 6 years ago

You are so right..Even in a Sellers market" a home that shows poorly does not get top $$ !

Posted by Lesley Wilson-VanGoethem, Residential Real Estate Broker Associate (Innovative Realty Solutions Group) over 6 years ago

So right, If property doesn't show good people will not discover the beauty in it.

Posted by IRMA Beltran, Your Real Estate Agent 4 Life Always there 4 You! (Century 21 M & M and Associates-Turlock homes Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Great post a must for home seller's to read making sure they have the most qualified Realtor working for them to get their home SOLD is a must. Thanks for sharing have a great weekend.

Posted by Pat Champion, Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs (Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty) over 6 years ago

So many sellers just don't how much they need a good Realtor!

Posted by Jeff Jensen (The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states) over 6 years ago

When a seller gets a quick offer, they do tend to think all the agent did was 'put it on MLS'.  They often don't realize all the prep work we do before the sign goes in the yard...and then during inspections and closing to be sure all goes smoothly

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) over 6 years ago

Attention to details is the flavor that defines the sauce.

Posted by Chad Felter, Providing service through out Hampton Roads over 6 years ago

Excellent post!!!  Best part is, it is coming from a Realtor, which lends a great deal of credibility to the value of staging.


When a property sits on the market with little interest, the knee-jerk reaction is, "drop the price!"


No longer acceptable is the excuse of, "the market is bad!"  Buyers, even in bad times, still want the American Homeowner dream and now that conditions have improved, buyers are coming out in droves and sellers know it!  With limited inventory, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, making this a sellers' market.


But, what sellers (and some RE agents) need to understand is buyers, although they're "fighting" each other for properties, will only offer in the best properties and will enter a bidding war for the best of the best!


Great staging and photography will accomplish that so much easier than dropping the price!

Posted by Dawn Wiggan, Buyer's Eye Design ( Buyer's Eye Design...Transforming OLD Kentucky homes to SOLD Kentucky homes!) over 6 years ago

The photo comparison tells a story.

Posted by Steffy Hristova, Tempe AZ Realtor - Your Home Close to Your Work! (HomeSmart Elite Group Tempe AZ Tel: 480-966-9353) over 6 years ago

Tom Branch 

Really great post, thanks for taking the time to share it. Hope you have a wonderful weekend .

Posted by Alan Kirkpatrick, Alan in Austin (Austin Texas Homes) over 5 years ago

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