Selling a home is stressful anytime. With the economic turmoil of the last few years, it can feel like a minefield. But if you’ve picked an agent you trust – someone you know to be experienced, knowledgeable and effective — you’re well on your way to a successful sale. Here are your next steps:
- Listen to your agent. If you don’t trust your agent or think you know a lot more about real estate than your agent does, find an agent that you’re certain knows more than you do so you will trust him or her. Then listen to that agent.
- Get inspections done first. Pest, roof and even home inspections cost money and time up front. But spotting problems in advance allows you to fix or otherwise address them before setting the final price and listing the house. Plus, being able to provide clear reports eases buyers’ fears – always a plus.
- Accept that this property is not your home anymore: It’s a product that needs to appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers. To do that requires that you create a “blank canvas” that buyers can imagine their furniture, their accessories, their family happily inhabiting. Decluttering and depersonalizing your home can be a painful experience, especially if you are not completely reconciled to the idea of leaving the home you have loved so long. You may very well feel like you’re living in a hotel. But it’s all part of the process of moving on. We may even decide, after the general decluttering, to employ a professional stager to give your home even broader appeal. Having a home that’s a move-in-ready showstopper is a very good thing! At a minimum, a house has to be uncrowded enough for people to move through easily and to see the house – not fixate on your furniture and accessories.
- Don’t go overboard on pre-sale improvements. Yes, buyers fall in love with dream kitchens and spa baths. But they quickly fall out of love if the stove doesn’t work and the spa smells moldy. Make sure your home looks and smells fresh and clean and everything works. Then let’s discuss any improvements you’re considering beyond that to ensure they make sense financially. Remember: it isn’t your beloved home anymore. Whatever you buy, someone else enjoys – or has to tear out.
- Price your house realistically for the fastest, cleanest sale. I will provide you with a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) before we list the house. Study it. The price range into which your property falls will be graphically clear. The price may not be what you hoped for; it may not even be what you owe. If so, you can (a) wait for the market to rise or (b) list it as a short sale. What you must not do is list it for a higher price because you “need” more. Your best buyers – and their savvy agents – show up first, and they move on fast if they don’t think your asking price is realistic.
- Until you’re in contract and all contingencies are released, keep your home ready for showings — from the sidewalk to the attic. Mow the lawn, Live clean. Pick up your shoes. Banish strong cooking or pet odors. Make the beds, stick dirty dishes in the dishwasher, put dirty clothes in the hamper, straighten the towels, wipe down the stove after every use. Like that. The day you fail to do these things, every buyer in town will want to view your property. But they won’t buy it.
- Don’t try to force your agent to “oversell” your home. Buyers’ #1 pet peeve is getting excited about a property that doesn’t, upon inspection, even come close to living up to its hype. Agents do sell positives but trying to gild the lily almost always backfires.
Finally: Call me at least three months before you want to list your home so we have plenty of time to obey Rules 1 through 7. J