In selling your home, there are common, easily identifiable traps to avoid — for your sake and the buyers. The more you can treat the experience as a business proposition, the better for all concerned.
** Create emotional distance. **
Once the “for sale” sign goes up in the yard, stop thinking about the property as your home. To steal a line from The Godfather, “It’s just business.” You are not selling your dreams or your memories, you are helping someone else to find their own. One of the best ways to divorce yourself from the house is by staging it for sale.
– Remove extra furniture.
– Paint the rooms a neutral color.
– Remove personal memorabilia and keepsakes.
– Create vignettes in each room that highlight its purpose.
In this fashion, you not only get a jump on moving — packing up your things and removing the largest piece of furniture — but you also begin the process of disassociating yourself from the house as “yours” and you help a potential buyer to see is as “theirs.”
** Get your top price with an expert. **
Make no mistake, you can sell your home on your own. You will need to research recently sold and currently listed properties to arrive at a sale price. You’ll need to get your home placed on the Multiple Listing Service (about $300), and all the showing, negotiating and paper shuffling will be up to you. (Seriously, if you go this route, get a real estate attorney.) You’ll still have to pay the buyer’s agent a fee of 1-3%. You’ll save a few thousand dollars. Is it worth it?
That’s a question only you can answer, but consider these points about real estate agents:
– They know how to set an accurate price for your home.
– They know how to negotiate and get the best price.
– They have no emotional attachment to the home and will not be offended by buyer criticism.
– They have the time to show the home. It’s what they do.
– They’ve done the paperwork a million times.
Bottom line. Working with an agent is easier, more efficient, more cost-effective, and in the end, more profitable.
** Avoid price fumbles. **
It is inevitable that homeowners and agents will argue about setting a price on the home. Again, this can be a factor of emotional attachment. Over-priced homes, especially in the wake of an economic recession and the real estate market adjustment, will not sell. There’s just too much inventory out there.
You cannot know what the final price will be, especially if multiple buyers are interested and start bidding. Trust your agent. Price is crucial to a successful sale.
And price expectations are integral to avoiding a sense of failure and disappointment. You are probably not going to get whatever that asking price may be. If you’re lucky, you’ll get more. You may get less. The important thing is that the negotiations are carried out fairly, based on solid reasoning on both sides, and that the price you do get represents reasonable value for all concerned.
** Prepare your home properly. **
Getting a home ready for sale isn’t just about cleaning. All those things you’ve ignored for years? The missing doorknob on the hall closet? The toilet that runs unless you jiggle the handle just right? Fix them. Don’t put a patch on them or a big potted plant in front of them. Trying to hide problems is a huge mistake because when they are revealed, they put you in a bad light and make the potential buyer wonder what else is wrong that you’re not telling them about.
The best way to avoid problems due to unforeseen home repairs is simply to have your home inspected before you list it, not after there’s an offer on the table. Why dread the results of a home inspection when you can be proactive and preemptive? Get an inspector in. Listen to what he says. Fix what’s wrong, and look forward to a higher sale price.
** Put the focus on the buyer. **
You may think this process is about you, but it’s about the buyer. When someone wants to see your home, get up, get out, and let them. Accept that short-term inconvenience is part of the package — and that includes keeping the place in constant “show” condition. That spur of the moment showing may be the one that seals the deal.
That being said, don’t trust every Tom, Dick, and Harry who comes up the walk, especially if you are selling your home on your own. Don’t sign anything with an unqualified buyer. Insist on a pre-approval letter from the mortgage company or other proof that they do have the money to go through with the transaction.
While each of these pitfalls is easily understandable, they are also easily avoidable. The movie line was right. Selling your home is business. Treat it that way and make the experience smoother for you and for your buyer.