May 13, 2023 in Selling Process, Tips for Sellers

Looking to sell Costa Rica property but not having any luck with getting a good offer? Here are a few helpful hints to get you started on the path to success. According to International Living, Costa Rica’s Southern Zone is one of the top places to invest in foreign real estate. Buyers from all over the world are looking to pick up their perfect property close to the Pacific. People are searching for that indoor-outdoor living with constant access to the serenity of nature. They want nothing more than to live an easier, more peaceful, and more beautiful life, or they want to provide that type of haven for their guests (while also earning a great return on investment.) Our Costa Ballena real estate market is currently fast-paced and in favor of sellers because of the strong demand for properties in Costa Rica. But different buyers have different requirements and not every property will be right for the majority of buyers. For those sellers who are happily selling their home in the state that it is and ready to take a loss or to wait a long time to find their property’s perfect buyer match, we commend you on your 'pura vida' nature. But there are some who need to sell fast because of a life event, financial reasons, etc., which can make the process of selling even more stressful because they feel like they are on a tight deadline. If you are in the latter party, here are some tips for speeding up the process and getting the most out of your real estate investment in Costa Rica.

Preparing Your Lot For Sale

If you have land for sale in Costa Rica, you should at least try to maintain it in the state that it was when you fell in love and purchased it. The lot should be cleared and with boundaries demarcated. There should be an easily identifiable building site with water management already in place. Having access to electricity and water at the property is also a must in today’s market. And if you have a potential view of mountains and ocean, don’t leave it up to the buyer to imagine what that view will look like. Top any trees that have grown to cover the view so that they can see what you saw when you bought it.

Increase Privacy

The serenity of life in Costa Rica is the biggest draw for most buyers. Having nearby neighbors can hinder the tranquility that buyers are seeking. So although you cannot change the placement of your home, building site, or that of your neighbor, there are ways to increase the privacy of your property and alleviate some of the worries from potential buyers. Consider planting a bamboo hedge (and keep it maintained and looking nice), clever landscaping, or big fruit trees, which will not only add to the privacy but will also provide you with delicious boons. 

Freshen Up Your Home

Declutter, paint, and touch up — make this your home-selling mantra! Get your work clothes on (or hire someone to help) and deep clean your home, top to bottom. This process can include things like painting the front door, washing windows, fixing broken fixtures, trimming trees and bushes, and even planting lots of flowers. The first impression is the most important one because, for many property sellers, their home may not get another chance for that buyer. If your property is a mess, buyers may not be able to picture themselves living in the home or on the land. Give your home the best facelift that you can manage so that potential buyers don’t automatically assume that there must be more that is wrong with the home than they can already see on the surface. A tidy exterior not only looks nice but signals to potential buyers that you’ve taken good care of the home. And don’t forget to declutter: home buyers can’t seem to get enough of houses with lots of storage, but these spaces can be a real mess when homes are well lived in. There have even been deals lost because of the master bedroom not having enough closet space. A useful tip is to take half of the things out of your closets and organize the items that are left to make the closets look presentable. You may not think that people will go through your closets but almost everyone does.

Stage Your Home

Staged homes sell on average for 20% more than unstaged homes according to the National Association of Realtors. It is a relatively easy and inexpensive process to stage your home, especially with the possibility of maximizing the value of your property to potential buyers. The focus should be on showcasing your home’s best assets through tasteful additions that highlight these features. Maximize the light in your home by taking down heavy drapes, cleaning the windows, changing out lamps, and increasing the wattage of light bulbs. Bushes and trees that are near windows should be cut back to increase the amount of sunshine getting into the home. Make things look as bright and cheery as you can. Take away any evidence that your house is also home to pets. Not everyone is a pet-lover and some see this quality as a detriment to the condition of a home. Smelling dog food or cat litter can be an immediate turn-off for some people, as is seeing pet fur everywhere. Rearrange furniture so that your home looks more inviting to buyers. Make sure that all walkways are clear so that people walking through your home are not squeezing past furniture or bumping into anything. Store bulky items in your storage (a crowded room looks smaller). Put out patio furniture facing the pool (if you have one), lay out towels, and any other touches that will make your home present itself like a comfortable, ready-to-live-in haven. If you are going to highlight any one area, focus on the first impression items. Fresh cut flowers, baked cookies, and a nice rug at the entranceway will go a long way to making the first impression a good one.

Give Your Home A Tasteful Facelift

Remedy any small issues for the same reasons because buyers will notice, even if you have learned to live with these things. You will want to smooth over anything that will immediately catch people’s attention in a bad way. Fixing loose tiles, touching up paint, tightening door handles, and removing any stains will go a long way to make the place feel immediately liveable. If you have the time and money, it can be a good idea to do further upgrades like updating fixtures to a more modern style, buying new high-end appliances, and giving the interior a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint. All of these lower-budget fixes make strong impressions on buyers who will be excited not to have to make these changes themselves. If you don’t have a big budget to stage and upgrade your home, focus on the first impression items like the yard, the entranceway, and the front foyer. This will give you the best chance of impressing the most potential buyers who often tend to make up their minds in the first few seconds of seeing a home. Quick fixes to your property pay off more than big makeovers. You probably won’t get your money back for big improvements that you make on your home, like remodeling bedrooms, adding an office, changing kitchen cabinets, or retiling the floor. These are the things that people do to better their own quality of life but it is not worth it to assume what your prospective buyers will want to do with their space. Out of every space in a home, the kitchen comes first for almost every buyer. Home sellers are, in fact, kitchen sellers. Remodeling your kitchen is the best thing that you can do if you want to take on a bigger project with a better payoff. A buyer is likely to offer much less for your home if your kitchen looks dated. Remember this one tip more than any of the above: repair all of the things that your real estate agent advises. They get to hear all of the buyer feedback. If every potential buyer that comes through your home for sale says the same thing about the lack of lighting in the living room, take steps to remedy this.

Tackle The Due Diligence Items Preemptively

Buyers today want to take the steps to protect themselves, including having a recent boundary verification by a reputable, accredited topographer. There is nothing quite like getting a great offer on your property, only to lose the deal due to an issue like inaccurate boundary verification. Think about preemptively surveying your property to verify boundaries, especially if you didn’t do this when you purchased. This is one of the biggest deal-killing due to diligence items to come up in our region, where property developers didn’t use to worry about having completely accurate boundaries delineated with the National Registry. You may need to negotiate to retrace boundary lines with a neighbor and the length of time required to satisfy all parties can be a real deal-killer for a buyer, even if they have fallen in love with your property. Other due diligence items that can be deal-breakers include faulty wiring, broken items, a leaky toilet — these are the things that a buyer may balk at or demand a lower price because they feel that immediate attention is needed on the state of the home. Be well prepared for the buyer’s home inspection. Due diligence is where most home sales fall apart. Address the problems that are likely to come up beforehand.

Depersonalize The House

Keep your emotions in check and get ready to say goodbye to your home. Although it is a place that is filled with memories for you, it is about to be a fresh start for someone else. Put yourself in their mind frame and remove all of the items that can make them feel like this is still someone else’s home and maybe not the right place for them. Hide personal items so that buyers can better visualize themselves in the space. Think of yourself as a salesperson rather than a homeowner. You are selling an image and a lifestyle, as well as property. Going through the remodeling and staging process will help you to distance yourself from the home while also increasing the value of the product you are about to sell.

Don’t Trick Potential Buyers

Decor needs to be sold with the house if it is a prominent feature in the home. This goes especially for luxury homes which buyers expect to be completely turnkey as they see them. This obviously does not include personal items like photos and anything specified during the showing, like heirlooms and priceless pieces of art. But the decor is a big part of what people fall in love with and it is very disappointing when sellers decline to leave behind furniture, art, and other decor items that suit the home perfectly.

Hire A Great Realtor

Finding and hiring a great realtor is a crucial step towards selling fast and for a good price. Skilled real estate agents will know the market and have a sales record to prove how quickly they sell properties. They will take professional photos, make a walkthrough video, promote it to their database of buyers, put a sign on your yard, and do all of the other necessary things to showcase your property to the most people. They will do all of the heavy leg work so that you don’t have to, nor are most property sellers skilled to do it on their own. A good agent will have your best interests at heart. They will help you qualify potential buyers and eliminate tire-kickers who have no intention of making an offer on your property. Your realtor will be the best person to research comparable properties to set a realistic price for your property to sell in today’s market. They will also know which price ranges the different types buyers are looking within and will advise you to stay inside those brackets, even if it means listing for a few thousand dollars less than you planned.  A good realtor will be a pair of fresh eyes on your property and they will take notice of trouble spots that you have become immune to. And they will be there to help you negotiate problems that are very likely to crop up in the offer and due diligence process, making sure that the deal goes smoothly.

Choose The Right Time To List

The right time to sell property in Costa Rica is difficult to place in the tropics. Costa Ballena tends to get more qualified buyers in the off-season, between May and October. These are the rainier months that see much less tourism traffic. But these are also the months that people who are serious about buying properties in Costa Rica come down to get a taste of what life will be like at different times of the year.  If you want to play the numbers game, you will likely end up getting more showings during the busy tourism months (between November and April) when the most amount of people are visiting this area. But what may not be intuitive to sellers is that a property will show much better in the greener, rainy season months, when the trees are fruiting and flowers are blooming and dirt roads are much less dusty.

Have Great Marketing Content

Listing photos are essential in a market when a large percentage of people are looking for properties online. Most potential buyers have been to Costa Rica enough times to know that they want to have a home here. But they may not be ready to move here and need to search for their perfect Costa Rica property online from a distance. Even the buyers in the country like to take a tour of the home before they decide to visit in person so photo and video tours are essential in today’s market. 

Get Out Of The Buyer’s Way

Don’t be present during showings. Don’t be present during showings. We literally cannot say this enough. You may think that you know more about your property than your realtor and you want to help sell it. But a good real estate agent will know your property well enough to sell it to their buyers if they think that it is right for them. The fact that they are showing your property means that they think that it has strong potential. It is the buyers that get to decide for themselves if their agent is right. You being pushy and forcing features on them that you love about the home will more than likely turn them off more than anything. They will assume that you are hiding the things that you do not like about the home and that taste of dishonesty will have them running towards the next property on their list.

Be Accommodating To Buyers

Accommodate buyers by letting them see the home when it is convenient for them, even if it is an inconvenience to you or your guests. Those who sell their vacation rental homes most quickly are the ones who block off time in their guest calendar and leave their home vacant and staged, ready to be seen by potential buyers for a stretch of time. Property buyers are sometimes in the country for a short amount of time and they cannot wait days to see a property. Be ready to show your property at all times (meaning that it is clean, staged, and vacant) if you are serious about selling now.

Be Ready To Accept An Offer

It is a standard real estate trope that the first offer is the best offer. This is because buyers typically look at a lot of properties and when yours comes on the market, buyers who fall in love with it will give you a good offer because they know they want it. Although you may think that your home has a certain value, it helps to be ready to compromise. Not everyone will see and feel what you do about your property for sale and it is important that you listen to what the market has to say. This starts with pricing your property competitively and then being ready to lower your price if you don’t have any offers by a certain date. It also helps to offer terms to sweeten the deal for buyers, like paying for part of the closing costs. Make the deal more attractive to prospective buyers by sweetening the pot and offering to pay some or all of the closing costs or even offering buyer financing. This will go a long way to make the buyer feel like they are getting a good deal, even in this seller’s market. Don’t expect to get your asking price as an initial offer. A good agent will help you to negotiate the counter offers to bring the price up closer to what you initially had in mind. 

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