Here is my “Top 10 List” of what you need to know before selling your condo on Maui. I believe this is a great checklist to have on hand when working with a Maui Real Estate agent/realtor.
#1 MANDATORY - Get professional photos, along with a 2-3 minute video and aerials. This is an absolute MUST. Don't you let an “el-cheapo” agent take pictures with their iPhone or a point and shoot camera. It will result in pictures that are dark and simply don't look good. (And yes, I see them show up every day on new listings!) Just look at how much commission they are charging and ask yourself "can they afford a few hundred bucks?" Also, DO NOT assume they are going to do it - just because you asked! Tell your newly hired star agent that you would like to see a receipt for the work after completion. Make sure they hire a professional to take pictures of every single room, from 4 different angles, and be sure to include the "actual" view from the lanai (not doing a reverse inverted yoga move to get that ocean shot!) and of course all the complex amenities. Especially the ocean! Also, make sure they shoot on beautiful blue sky day... which is not hard to do on Maui. But, you'd be surprised how many photos and videos I see that are semi rainy and cloudy - not exactly what people are expecting in their Hawaiian Vacation Home location! Oh, and also make sure that they use a good drone company to get aerial photos. This used to be considered a fancy extra….now it’s becoming the standard. I actually own a drone service photography company. Check it out at www.MauiPhotographyDrone.
#2 Collaborate and make sure your Maui Real Estate Agent authors a FULL write up of the property. Most lazy agents want to write two or three boring sentences and call it good! You don't let them get away with that!! Did you know that there's a pretty large maximum word count that's *allowed* for every MLS listing? Make sure that they use every available word allowed and allocated for your Maui Listing! It’s actually a great idea work together with your agent on this…. tell them why it is that you bought the unit, what was it that motivated you, what have you learned over the years from guests that makes it so special and unique in the first place? I personally like to read through the comment section of your guest log to get ideas. This is precious feedback that is ultimate marketing material.
#3 Push the Button for Full Listing Syndication. When you do this, your Maui listing will not just be on the local MLS system but it will also get syndicated out to Zillow, Trulia and all the associated waterfall websites. Ask your agent to provide a list of all of the websites that they syndicate through their particular Maui Real Estate company.
#4 Non-Branded Brochures on the kitchen Counter. OK, “non-branded” - that means that your listing agents contact info and picture are NOT on the brochure. Why? Because other agents are not going to want to give those to their potential buyers. You WANT them to grab one during the showing so later they remember your unit. That’s why your agent needs to make these available on the kitchen counter -- along with a note asking all the buyers agents to leave a card. The card is for YOU the seller, so you have an accounting of who has been showing the unit and who to call for invaluable buyers who passed feedback.
#5 Schedule All Open Houses 3-6 months in advance! Look, when we are trying to sell a VACATION Condo on Maui, it can be very difficult because it is typically booked with vacationers when buyers are on-island. 65% of ALL real estate sells in the Winter on Maui. That's when most buyers show up. Also, when the unit is booked we don't typically interrupt people on vacation to show the unit. That means we need to FULLY take advantage of every opening in the schedule to not only do open houses, but to slam as many showings into that window of opportunity. So, I would highly encourage you to sit down ahead of time with your agent and come up with a schedule of when that unit is going to be open for 1 or more days (I would not do an open house on a turnover day, but regular showings are fine) As a very important side note, **make sure your vacation rental management company** is AWARE of these open house days and showing days so that the unit is cleaned and ready. Nothing worse that showing a dirty unit that has just been vacationed in for 2 weeks!
#6 Probably my most valuable money making tip! Email Blast all Maui Real Estate Agents every quarter….and especially before your open house dates and the Realtor open house caravan. This is commonly accepted and allowed email that is sent to every registered/licensed real estate agent here on Maui (if your agent has NOT done this yet, check pulse) Here’s the deal though. It’s a step most agents skip. Why? Hmmmm. Surfs Up? Busy waiting tables..basically if your agent is not “on the ball” a gentle reminder I am sure will work.
I can’t tell you how many homes and condos on Maui get sold this way. Why? It’s real simple. Realtors are basically lazy. So when they have a new buyer land on-island that wants a condo, then bingo, that morning this email hits their iphone that JUST happens to match their clients desired request, and bam, the agent shows it to them. It sounds too simple to be true, but it really does work this way....unless of course, your listing agent is not sending out the email blast.
#7 Signage. Yes! - A condo does need a sign. But is can be very difficult when it comes to a condo. Most times they are not allowed by the AOAO aka the HOA. So get creative! You CAN put one in the public road easement. I have even put one on the inside of my vehicle and in the bed of my red pick up truck when I am on property or doing an open house or showing. Real simple. A For Sale Sign, with the Unit number taped on and my phone number. Done.
#8 The Price HAS to be Right! This is a long one..but worth every penny! One of my favorite sayings in real estate is “ 50% of our marketing is done we set the PRICE. “ Here are some very simple things you need to ask for from your agent to accurately assess the correct asking price. (It is very important that you nail this aspect of the offering)
So here's what I would ask for: Every similar unit within 1 mile of your complex. By similar I mean specifically, bedroom count, square footage (all within 10%) and similar view (ocean, garden, mountain, mountain/ocean) and similar upgrade level (remodeled or not) Believe it or not, that's relatively easy to do in the MLS system (assuming your agent has been properly trained on working in the RAM (Realtor Association Maui) MLS advanced search functions.
You want to see not just what has sold in the last 12 months but also everything that is currently on the market (your competition) and don’t forget…..currently under contract/contingent (i.e. not yet closed) They are all crucially important for you to know and analyze this data. This information IS the Real Estate market for YOUR condo. Everything else is frankly just noise!)
When you are looking at other similar listings currently on the market (your competition!) put yourself in the mindset of a potential buyer and literally ask yourself…”what would you buy if this was your hard earned dollar?” That’s the best way to analyze your ultimate decided upon asking price.
But, the way you get there is by looking at ACTUAL sold units in the last 12 months. You come up with a dollar value per square foot and back everything into that calculation. It’s actually quite scientific and black and white. You then should add 2-8% on top of that expected SOLD dollar amount to account for negotiation cushion/wiggle room. To realistically try to get more than 8% of that the market is currently bearing is a waste of time for all involved. Price it out in the reality of recent sales and you will be the next sale.
Go for that extra 10-20% and prepare to wait and blame your agent for not selling even though it’s clearly a unrealistic pricing expectation. Finally, ask you agent what is the current DAYS ON MARKET (DOM) for your unit. Many unseasoned agents will spit out the average days on market for ALL condos, or all homes. This is useless information. YOU need to know what is the DOM for your complex and the DOM for all complexes within 1 mile (also “like-kind” condos for vacation rentable vs. local long term and fee simple vs. leasehold) The you know about how long it SHOULD take to sell IF your agent has done their job diligently.
#9 Plan Your Contract Deadlines Properly for a Tenant currently occupying. You don't want end up losing a tenant if the deal falls through (then you're stuck without any Revenue and without a tenant) The best (and only) way to successfully do this is to write the contract in such a way that you clear ALL contingencies (J1 Inspection, Termite, Survey, Title, Loan) and THEN give your tenants 45 days notice. Just remember this strategy. It works. Longer closing, but almost zero risk if your buyer drops out. If you have a vacation rental with bookings, consult with your management company cancellation guidelines for how long you have to give notice with financial penalty.
#10 The goal of my final tip? Keep you as far away from an attorney’s office as possible after closing! How? Simple. Disclose EVERYTHING. On the form called the “Sellers Real Property Disclosure” (SRPD) spend a few DAYS filling it out. Be as brutally honest about everything negative that has ever happened before and during your tenure as owner. You simply can’t go wrong by telling ALL. And this takes time and reflection. Ask other owners what they disclosed, ask your agent, ask the property manager, or vacation rental manager what they know. Especially anything to do with money, HOA projects, damage, surrounding environmental impacts, construction projects. This is your CYA form. Use it well.
Questions? Speak directly to Eric at 808.298.2030