For years West Valley was unfairly maligned throughout the Salt Lake Valley—particularly in the housing market. We’re here to confirm what you already know: those days are over. West Valley is now one of the few places a normal human can buy or sell a home east of the Oquirrh Mountains and north of Lehi. But you’re not here to untangle socioeconomic prejudice or grapple with government resources. You just want some quick real estate tips that don’t sound like we outsourced them to a marketing AI (and actually help you sell faster or for more). At the risk of losing you in the first paragraph with local historical clichés…you’ve come to the right place.
Honeycomb Homebuyer views homes in West Valley every day and we’ve operated in the city for nearly a decade. We felt the city reel from the shock of 2008 and rally to frankly dangerous highs in 2021. Things have cooled off considerably, and we’re officially in a buyer’s market. Don’t worry though, over that span we’ve learned a thing or two about how to sell a home efficiently and for top dollar in any economy.
These are our favorite 7 tips for doing just that.
1. Curb Appeal is Absolutely Real
In case you haven’t turned on HGTV, purchased, or sold a home in the past 20 years, curb appeal is exactly what it sounds like—it’s the first impression your home creates as potential buyers pull up in their 8-seater Suburban. That’s right, before they even step through the door they’re judging your yard, the neighbor’s yard, and poking at your entire family tree to see what their yards were like.
We listed this first because it competes with your kitchen as the number one factor in whether or not your house moves like traffic on Redwood Road during rush hour or I-15 at midnight on a Sunday (for the metaphorically disinclined, the latter is better). A lawn that hasn’t been cut since West Valley was founded. A chimney that looks like a prop from The Fall of the House of Usher. You already know that these will hurt your home’s value and potential homebuyer’s interest. But did you know that on the opposite side a well-landscaped home often fetches 5.5%-12.7% more than its overgrown counterpart*?
The other keys to curb appeal are only slightly less important in terms of the damage they can do to your asking price: old, flaking exterior paint and original windows on any home built before 2005. Conversely, a fresh coat of paint—provided that it’s not what you like but rather what a half-dozen Instagram accounts have curated for the masses—transforms old materials into new. New windows bring the added benefit of energy efficiency and the opportunity to get vinyl casing in colors other than entropically yellowing white or unpolished aluminum.
So, mow the lawn, water your plants, weed the garden, and paint the place before you scare everyone into a lowball offer.
2. Stage or Purge Your Home
Once your prospective buyer declares that they love the shutters you replaced just days before listing, you’ll know you’ve passed the curbian test. Now the trick is to help them see a house that’s move-in ready. Better yet, one they can actually picture themselves living in. If your stuff is cluttered all around the house, however, they’ll be more preoccupied by the fact that you still have a DVD collection than the fact that your mass of worthless discs is housed by an adorable built-in bookcase.
If you’re to invest some upfront cash, a professional home stager can make the inside of your house more appealing to potential buyers for a fraction of the decreased time on-market and the increased overall purchase price. They’ll organize furniture, lighting, artwork, and anything else that makes an otherwise empty house feel like a home. How much is that worth to a potential buyer? You might be surprised to learn that they’ll spend 1%-5% more on a staged home than on an un-staged one. If you’re unwilling or unable to front a home stager, then Instagram has a million ideas for staging your home just a click, swipe, and watch away. Drop in on any home goods store and stock up on the trends social media has surfaced for you and stage the home yourself. You’ll likely have to use existing furniture to complete the looks so be prepared for disjointed move as your clear out your house. If you’ve done your research right, then you’ve swapped a little bit of your time for a lot of your money—not a bad deal.
Staging your home requires that you move out all your stuff. It’s a blank slate with a few pieces of furniture and artwork sketched onto the surface. If you can’t provide that due to how much stuff you have, your timeline, or you simply don’t want to deal with the hassle, then at the very least you’ve got to de-junk. If you haven’t used it in the past 6 months, put your stuff on notice. If you haven’t used it in over a year, then you need to put it all in a pile and consider giving it way, selling it in a garage sale, or tossing it. Anything that doesn’t have true sentimental value or a functional purpose in your day-to-day should go. Don’t get me wrong. This process is brutal. And it will take longer than the move itself. You’ll probably even have to rent a dumpster to do it right. BUT, if you truly want your property to sell in a buyer’s market, it is essential. Curb appeal sells homes. Junk sends buyers screaming back to their real estate agent and on to the next house.
3. Make Necessary Repairs
Junk causes a complete about-face. A home in disrepair gradually deflates your buyer’s enthusiasm until they either give up or send an offer that matches their attitude. Don’t get us wrong, you can have a few small dings and drips, but no one wants to buy a project. Not traditional homebuyers anyway (Honeycomb Home buyers does make our living off of difficult houses after all). But if you’re going to sell your home the traditional route—with a real estate agent through the MLS—then it’s absolutely vital that you fix anything that’s broken. Buyers will tolerate some wear, but anything their inspector turns up is coming back at you as an addendum requesting cash or repairs. Why? For two reasons. 1- It’s simply good negotiating to hit the other party where they’re weakest. 2- Most homebuyers get bank loans that require them to purchase a home that’s in good shape. Since the buyer is gonna ask you to fix it anyway there’s no pointing in putting this off to the stage where previously willing purchasers might walk. Best to avoid that conversation altogether.
4. Update Appliances
This is step down in importance relative to the Big 3 above. Even so, buyers today care a lot about the appliances of the home they’re buying. Are your existing appliances modern? Functioning properly? Energy efficient? Or are they from an era before electric cars and LED lighting? Given that most buyers are already preoccupied with their own relocation plans and issues, they want to deal with your cast iron HVAC system even less than you do. They’ll reflect that lack of enthusiasm in their offer. So, make a list of your appliances (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, fridge) and give the future citizens of West Valley City what they want: replace anything 10+ years old and repair/clean everything else.
Again, the home inspection will surface any concerns so keep the following logic in mind:
The presumption regarding any home on the MLS is that it’s in perfect working order. So, after a buyer walks through and makes an offer that you accept, they’ll spend every second up to closing trying to find the ways in which it isn’t (thereby clawing back as much money as possible). And since this is a buyer’s market now, they have a significant amount of leverage—who knows how long you’ll have to wait before someone else puts in an offer (and who knows if it’s any better than the last one given that your home is now 3 weeks older on the MLS)? To this end they get an inspection. Every item in that report is an implied gap between the MLS perfection your house is supposed to represent and the piggy reality of your home as-is.
Fix it all before they get the chance to tell you to.
5. Find a Trustworthy Real Estate Agent
It stinks, but some agents are just in it for the money.
Now, there are plenty of fantastic and helpful real estate agents, but there are also plenty just trying to make a quick buck that don’t really care about your timeline or home value so long as they get their commission. If you’ve signed a contract with them, it doesn’t matter how helpful they are or aren’t—they get paid either way.
What does a bad agent look like? If they don’t schedule open houses, do house showings, get you some great photos, or just list your home and let it sit…find a new agent. More subtle signs are if they only funnel buyers without an agent to you and don’t tell you what’s happening to the 3% commissions their agent would normally take (because your agent plans on pocketing it themselves). In scenarios with novice unrepresented buyers, an agent can end up doing twice the work they’d normally have to do. But usually homeowners without an agent know what they’re doing. Another tactic is to promise that they can for sure sell your home at a super high price to get you to sign an exclusive contract with them. Then they list at the aforementioned price and you find the market ignores your property. It sits and sits and your agent sighs and says, “Boy the market really turned around quickly. Bad luck. If we had listed even a month ago your house would’ve sold in a day.” They decrease your price again and again, never paying the consequences for all the opportunities you passed up in order list with them (options like flat-fee listing, selling as-as to professional homebuyer like us, or a realtor that doesn’t overpromise to inevitably underdeliver).
So, try and find an agent that will go the extra mile for you and be honest along the way. When you’re looking for a real estate agent, we recommend calling them and asking some important questions:
- How long have you been a real estate agent?
- Have you ever had to drop the price on a previous house listing of yours?
- What services do you include as a part of being a seller’s agent?
- Can you introduce me to a client you’ve worked with in the past?
If they can’t or won’t follow through on the above, then move on to someone who will.
6. Get Professional Photos
You’ve done the work to put your home in the best shape ever (cue home remodel montage), but poor lighting, lack of a wide-angle lens, and zero photoshop skills have turned your domicile into a dungeon. When it comes to selling a home on the MLS, good-looking photos make a big difference. Think of your photos as pre-curb appeal. If people don’t like them then you’ll never get the chance to change their mind. Don’t create a listing that gets easily passed over—hire someone to get photos that catch the eye and encourage people to visit your home. After all, house listings with high-quality photos sell 32% faster. Not only that, more photos also help a home sell faster. A home with one photo spends 70 days on the market on average while a home with 20 photos spends an average of 32 days.
So don’t skimp. Good photos are worth it (and if your real estate agent disagrees…you know what to do).
7. Consider Selling As-Is For Cash To a Professional Homebuyer
A lot of people assume that selling through a real estate agent—the traditional route—is the best way to sell a home. That isn’t true at all! It’s all a question of what you value and how much time you have. If you have a lot of time and the desire to make improvements to your house before listing then the MLS is your best bet. But if your time is precious or you’re facing a relocation deadline or your home is just too big of a project to take on, then a professional homebuyer is probably the best option for you. For example, at Honeycomb we help people sell their homes fast (often in as little as two weeks but we’ve even closed in as little as 72 hours) for a fair cash price as-is, which means absolutely no repairs or changes needed (basically you can just ignore the previous 6 tips).
Or, as we hinted at above, you could also sell as a for-sale-by-owner or flat-fee listing. The point is, you have options. Do whatever’s right for you. If you do need to sell your home fast, you don’t want to worry about making updates and repairs, or you don’t want to pay an agent 6% commission, or worry about closing costs, then give us a call at (801) 515-4343.
We can make you a fair cash offer and close in as little as two weeks. No strings attached. We’ll even pay all closing costs!
*it’s Homelight’s stat, not ours