Selling a home for more than asking price

By Elizabeth Erickson | Jun 13, 2012

This spring the overall real estate market has morphed from “languishing” into an environment that is generating multiple offers. This quick turn-about includes Mukilteo, Edmonds and greater Puget Sound over the last three months. (Not that prices have once again skyrocketed to the bygone years of 2005-09... they’ve not.)

But currently, homes that have some illusive combination of features – fairly priced and well-maintained, gorgeous yard and stunning kitchen – some special mix creates a petri dish which may grow multiple offers higher than list price. (Operative word; may. And short sales and high-priced homes are not included in this topic.)

Every home has a range of value. Many sellers have seen their home’s valuation on, as Zillow has most homes in their system whether listed or not. But a “Zestimate” is only a computer-generated “guesstimate,” as are our tax-assessed values. Neither assessor nor Zillow have been inside your home nor seen the neighbors’ rusty trucks and piles of garbage (part of the “location” valuation).

Neither have they accounted for beautiful, costly updates. Zillow’s estimates of value compared with actual SOLDs, have a range of between 20 percent higher to 20 percent lower, a 40 percent margin of error.

That’s about par for many original listing prices compared to actual sales. True value of a property is only established with a sale; what a buyer and seller have agreed to. It’s why SOLDs are the only comparables that appraisers use to establish other values.

Establishing your home’s range from the highest to hope for to the lowest to beg for should be a broker’s first goal in suggesting/advising a home’s Opening List Price. It’s then up to the sellers to chose the “high, mid or low” end of that range.

Currently, many sellers are taking a deep breath and pricing closer to the low end of their range. They’re willing to abide by that price even if only one offer comes in. But if there is that illusive combo of ‘Pottery Barn’ charm and gorgeous lot, you might just draw in multiple buyers, wanting to make your home theirs.

The art in this scenario is pricing it just the upper edge of “too low” in combination with home and landscaping preparation. Then our current glut of “value-demanding buyers” who’ve been bemoaning the current few homes for sale – may just be knocking at your door.

“But this is just a ploy so the real estate brokers get paid sooner, right?” Sadly, cynicism is oft deserved in this industry. But that’s why it’s oft repeated here: Get referrals. There are many great local brokers who are willing to tell the truth, even if they lose the listing. (... now with that ugly challenge is set aside...)

Brokers looking out for your best interests will tell you this statistical F.A.C.T: The longer a home remains on the market, the lower the final sales price will be. Sellers’ best opportunity to realize their highest net proceeds is to be under contract within the first two weeks of listing.

It’s about price, location and condition... in perfect balance.

Elizabeth Erickson is owner and designated broker of Gallery Homes Real Estate. Contact her at or at the office: 425-212-4300 or direct: 425-508-1405, or go to

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