It takes a STRATEGY to sell a home for top dollar.

Real Estate Agent with Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) DRE# 00809499

Strategy and Marketing signThe Fair Oaks home market has gone berserk in the past 6 or 7 months.  We've gone from a tough, declining market with homes taking forever to sell (6 months average in April 2012), to one where gobs of buyers swarm every listing, vying for the right to buy - like salmon up a fish ladder.  Homes go into the MLS, only to flash the PENDING sign within hours. (Our average is now 23 days to sell!)

But is a quick acceptance the best way to get top dollar?  Heck NO!  In THIS market "Sold in 1 day!" means you had no strategy!

My last 7 listings sold within 10 days, and all sold WAY over the list price.  Way over the price that made sense.  And way over the appraisal, in most cases.

How did I do it, you ask?  Strategy!

First, I price them where they make sense.  I study the comps, the price per square foot, the competition.  I analyze the specific sold homes an appraiser would most likely use.  That's where I price them. Not high, but not low. Just right.

Then I bait the hook.  Staging, primping, decluttering, and professional photography.  They have to look sharp. Then I write good descriptions - written to entice. My listings look awesome in the MLS, and then are shotgunned out to a gazillion places on the WEB.  I'm all over the web! I usually will enter them into the MLS on a Tuesday or Wednesday, for optimal timing. I plan to look at offers the following Tuesday or Wednesday.

I schedule open houses for the first weekend - sometime two a day.  I want every buyer out there to have access to my listing that first week, with time to think about it, and time to bring Mom back, or their contractor.  I don't want a hastily written offer. Make sure you want it.

Usually by Friday I'll have my first offer.  Predictably low.  A bottom feeder.  Someone loking for a deal.  Or a big investment group. But something to work with.

Then I wait. I tell agents we'll consider offers the following Tuesday. Then I start reeling 'em in.

"Hi, this is Suzie Q Realtor, do you have any offers on Podunk Street?" Yep I got one. Presenting on Tuesday, so bring me your best and final offer by Monday night."

By the weekend, I'll have more, and by Monday night it usually shocks me.  This past Tuesday, I presented fourteen offers to my client.  Six were all cash, most had a pleading letter, and many were over the listed price.  The last offer began like this "My client is interested in Podunk Street, do you have any offers?" Yep, I got 13.  But you have time. I'm presenting to my client in 35 minutes, so make it good!

So think about it! You know that 13 other people like the house and want to buy it.  You better make it REALLY good.  And they did. WAY over the list price, no appraisal contingency, proof of a ton of money in the bank, and a self-imposed penalty if his loan caused any delay in closing! Now THAT was a strong offer.

And my sellers??? Over the moon happy.  "We picked you because you were the only agent we talked to who had a strategy. and you were RIGHT!  Your strategy WORKED!"

As my Dad would say, "It's like shooting fish in a barrel!"

But you gotta have a STRATEGY!



Posted by


Your Fair Oaks Realtor for homes for sale in Fair Oaks and the Sacramento Area of California.... I'm your gal (Sally Dunbar). I'm occasionally knowledgable, periodically humorous, and always willing to tell you everything I know.  What more could you ask for?

Here are the newest listings for Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Folsom, Carmichael, Gold River, and Roseville - all CA, of course.

More Blog posts by Sally Dunbar at www.FairOaksHomesAndMore.comSally's Website at to search for all homes in the MLS, and for tons of information for buyers and sellers.  You'll find schools information, market statistics... you name it, I got it!  Come visit me.




Sally Dunbar, 35 year Broker Associate, Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks, CA (916) 524-1548, "Your Fair Oaks Realtor"

Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Bill - Yes Appraisals are an issue.  If you have multiple offers, you are in a better position to negotiate away the impact of the appraisals before you have a fully accepted contract.  So I might ask the buyer to guarantee they will increase their down payment to cover the difference between the purchase price and the appraisal, for example. And they have to provide proof of funds to show they are able to do that. Hard to do it you only have one offer, but with the other nipping at their heels, you stand a better chance.


Norman - The pleading does work!  OK... not really pleading, but a nicely crafted letter painting the buyers as real people who will fit into the neighborhood.  I also talk about my own strengths as an agent and that I won't be a pain to work with. That can help get the seller's agent on my side.  But the bottom line is the seller's net.  I recently had a seller who wanted to choose the amazing dad with 4 foster boys - none of whom had ever lived in a home they owned.  But he was $35K short of the highest offer, so my sellers just couldn't make it work, and the buyer/dad couldn't come up any higher.  We took the investor.

Cheryl - Thanks for the re-blog, girlfriend!  Good seeing you.


Jun 14, 2013 11:09 AM
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Kathleen - In a market like the one we are in now, I only like the "sold in one day" strategy when it is MY buyer the listing agent accepts!  I just came from my buyer's inspection and we were so happy the seller took our full price offer on the second day of the lsiting - feeling confident there may have been higher offers if she had waited a few more days.

Jun 14, 2013 11:12 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

My clients strategy was not to make an offer when they heard there were 4 offers already in.  They offered on another house.  I'll be glad when we're out of this market.

Jun 14, 2013 12:12 PM
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Sally, this is a great blog. Every market is different but one thing for sure, we all need a strategy to get the best price for our sellers!

Jun 14, 2013 12:38 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

It certainly has been a tough Greater Sacramento market for homebuyers recently.  I did hear that many of the bottom feeding investors have moved on to Modesto and Stockton.  Even they are feeling the pinch from lack of inventory here.  You've written a great blog here, Sally.  Very worthy of the feature it received!

Jun 14, 2013 01:19 PM
Juli Vosmik
Dominion Fine Properties - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739

Sally, I stopped by because of Kathleen's re-blog.  This is happening to me and I have the EXACT marketing strategy you do.  Put it in MLS on Thursday, open house the first weekend, highest and best by Monday at 5 PM.   But here's where it's already gone awry.  I mentioned this to two  other agents and called two previous investor buyers to let them know this is coming on the market next week.  ALL of them assured me they will put in a contract BEFORE I put it in MLS.  Is it because they know the home price will probably get bid up?  Or, they just know it's a great listing in a great area?  And, will I do the client justice to take any offers BEFORE putting it on the market?  OMG - this post hit home so well today!!!  Thank you for posting it. 

Jun 14, 2013 01:27 PM
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

I love this strategy Sally. It is a good measure of how well the agent can help the seller get the maximum value from the sale.

Jun 14, 2013 03:28 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Sally. I missed this until Cheryl re-blogged it and I'm glad she did. Strategy is everything and your focus is terrific. Well done.

Jun 14, 2013 09:05 PM
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Carla - I HATE being a buyer's agent in this market.  cmpeting with ten ther offers is so heartbreaking, wepecially when your first time homeowner LOVES the house and an investor gets it.  I am with you on that.

Beth - Yes, and it keeps changing. Different markets, and prbably different customs require a different strategy.  For example, our California cntract onely promises confidentiality if the buyer send in a separate form asking for it.  Yet our CUSTOM is to not share details of the initial offers with other agents.  That takes a different strategy.

Meryl - Yes, I heard Blackstone has moved on.  With 34% increase in prices, they should!

Juli - My feeling is I wouldn't tell anyone abut it befre, unless I made it clear that this is the strategy the seller wants, and we will not accept an offer early.  Of course, you HAVE to have this agreement from the seller first.  If THEY want to accept an eary offer, then yu have to.  IT's their mney and their house.  But I am not an agent to talk about my "coming soon" listings.  I dn't want early activity.  I want the hsue to be fully primped pimped and primed for maximum exposure before anyone sees it.  I keep being surprised by the final offer.

Tom - In THIS market it really is!  Thanks.

sheila - Thanks so much for the visit!

Jun 14, 2013 10:10 PM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

We just sold one in 1 day and followed much of what you are stating !!! Great advice !!!

Jun 14, 2013 10:16 PM
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Hi Sally~ Thanks to Kathleen for reblogging your post or I would have missed it. Love your strategy. May have to "borrow" that idea!

Jun 14, 2013 10:22 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

When I meet with prospective sellers I'm always emphasing "marketing" strategy, "pricing" strategy. It's a powerful word and ensures you have a game plan. Sellers love that.

Jun 14, 2013 10:59 PM
Suzanne Otto
Six Twenty Designs - Lansdale, PA
Your Montgomery County PA home stager

Great strategy Sally! I'm sure your sellers will gladly give out referrals to you for the awesome job you did!

Jun 15, 2013 12:17 AM
Edward & Celia Maddox
The Celtic Connection Realty - Queen Creek, AZ

You are right on, need to put some thought in how you are going to show the homes best to potential clients.

Jun 15, 2013 01:14 AM
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Sally, love it, having a strategy what a concept, and you're knocking your competitions socks off! Rock on!

Jun 15, 2013 03:09 AM
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Your strategy definitely has to change for our changing markets.  One year ago, my strategy was completely different.    But now, this is the first time I have ever done things quite this way.  But it is working.

Jun 15, 2013 03:19 AM
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Kathleen - what a nice way to re-blog a post, by disabling the comments and suggesting they leave cmments at the source.  Very classy.

Jun 15, 2013 03:23 AM
Karen Johnson, Realtor, ABR
Addison Wolfe Real Estate - Doylestown, PA
"Bucks County PA Homes"

Great article and great advice especially for a new agent!  I would love to have 14 offers on a house.  You did an amazing job.  Keep up the good work!

Jun 15, 2013 03:48 AM
Ron Tissier
Chapman Hall Premier Realtors (404) 580-9069 - Atlanta, GA
Defining Homes. Defining Lifestyles.

One of, if not the best blog post I've seen outlining a marketing strategy/pricing strategy for listings.  Bookmarked!

Great job Sally!  Cheers!  

Jun 15, 2013 03:54 AM
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

I am revisiting some of my earlier blog posts and this one was a doozy! While this was written in 2013, we are once again in a market where this is my strategy.   It has been awhile since I have seen 14 offers on listing, but a few weeks ago, I had my seller paint, carpet, and stage his little halfplex for sale.  It sparkled when we took our photos.  We held it open on the weekend, and by the end of the first weekend - BAM!  5 offers, all over list price.

Feb 08, 2020 03:45 AM