Whether or not you have ever sold a home, there exist challenges to selling a home never seen before. It takes a “cool hand” to make the deal work. Maybe I should say, it takes a lot of cool hands to make it work. There are lot of different ways to sell a house but the reality is that each house, each situation, each agent, each seller, each buyer, each month, and each lender make for a unique set of circumstances that can affect the home sale. I decided to put together some quick tips on today’s market for sellers. I do mean these tips to be exact for today not next week, next month or next year – but today. Some may be true later, but the point is that things change.
1.) Never believe that your next door neighbor knows more about your home’s value than your REALTOR®. This is absolutely the first mistake in pricing your home for sale. Your neighbor has a biased opinion. They want you to increase the value of their home. If you don’t sell the home, it has no affect on them. It does affect you. You did not sell your home.
2.) Whatever appraisal value you received in the past does not matter now. Many sellers commonly had their home appraised during a re-finance or home equity line application and believe that value should be their current value. Those appraisals were a part of the super-hype-lending-frenzy period and do not reflect the value of the home today. The appraisal guidelines have become much more conservative. The credit for granite counter tops has dropped to insignificant and comparable properties are scrutinized over and over again through the appraisal quality control system now in place.
3.) It is great that you upgraded your home. If you upgraded with weekend trips to Home Depot understand that the buyers in this market know the difference between Home Depot remodels and designer remodels. Don’t get me wrong, any update helps in the selling of a home. But recognize the value of that update is dependent on design, consistency, quality, and whether or not the buyer can tell you did it in a weekend. If you have oak cabinets in the kitchen and then found some cherry cabinets on sale and threw those into the laundry room; buyers notice. If you remodeled for your own personal taste, that is great. I hope you sincerely enjoyed it. If you are remodeling for potential buyers, remodel with quality and consistency in mind.
4.) Curb Appeal does matter. Generally, the first photo taken of any home is the front of the house. That is your first 3- second impression moment. Make sure it counts and catches the buyer’s eye. Move the cars out of the driveway. Take the “home sweet home” sign down. Wash, paint, rake, plant, beautify as if you were holding a wedding on your front lawn this coming Sunday. Truly.
5.) Make your home accessible to showings. Answer every phone call request with a smile, and vacate the property for each showing. Make sure your agent uses a digital lock box so that every agent that enters your home is recorded (for safety). Then let it be shown. It takes on average 100 people to see the home on line, 10 agents to show the home, for one offer to be generated. You want your home shown a lot! If you only show between 1-4pm on Saturdays, you are limiting your pool of buyers. You are in fact limiting your chances to sell your home.
6.) Review all offers. Have a strategy for offers coordinated with your REALTOR®. When will you review offers? As they come? After the first open house? After two weeks on the market? What are the exceptions? All cash? Know what the perfect offer looks like by sitting down with your agent and reviewing a typical purchase contract. There are four main considerations, Price, (Financing or not), Time Periods (contingencies), Terms (AS IS- etc), and Emotions. I know. You are suppose to keep emotions out of it. (Remember cool hand?) But the reality is – human connections matter. If you want a young family to have your home over an investor that will turn it into a rental, know that before you put in on the market. Know that, communicate it to your agent, and prepare to manage the deal around it. Only you can decide if that will make a difference in your priorities to sell for highest price to the highest bidder, with cash, before Monday.
7.) Patience and reciting over and over “It ain’t over until it is over” and, another one of my favorites from my dear friend Gabe Bodner, “It is, what it is” will get you through the selling process. For the average buyer, lending is required and borrowing money today presents a unique challenge that seems to be illogical, inconsistent, and therefore is not predictable. With that said, even cash in not always king. Cash needs to be proven and needs to stay committed to the deal. Since most cash buyers are “deal” buyers, they are ready to pull their cash and go somewhere else at a minute’s notice. Work with every committed buyer. In this market, a committed buyer is better than no buyer. The time it takes for a buyer to work out an underwriting glitch may well be worth it. Don’t be too quick to cancel the contract and look for another buyer. If the buyer must withdraw their offer, stay positive and work with your agent to find another buyer. This is the reality of this market place.
8.) If you are one of the millions selling your home as a short sale, understand that the process will require even more patience than a normal sale. You will be required to provide financial documentation to be able to sell your home short. You will be required to prove your hardship. Your agent is not your fiction writer. You will have to update any financial statements (bank statements, pay stubs, unemployment, etc) every 30 days for your file to stay current in the short sale lenders eyes. Remember, a short sale credit hit is far better than a foreclosure, or bankruptcy. If loan modification is not possible it is in your best interest to try to sell your home. Recognize that buyers may come and go. They may not have the patience to wait a minimum of 90 days for an answer from your lender. If you receive a notice for TRUSTEE SALE, notify your agent immediately. Trustee sales can typically be postponed if a deal is in the works. Communication, patience, and honesty will go a long way in the short sale process.
9.) Trust your REALTOR®. It is assumed you did not choose this person on a whim. There is a reason you gave this job to this agent. Remember that reason and don’t hesitate to remind them of that reason. Keep them in touch with your expectations, your concerns, and listen to their advice. They work for you. They work for you. If they are not working for you, take steps to resolve the relationship and find someone who appreciates your business.
10.) Let go. Selling your home means letting go of the memories and the stuff. Neither action is easy. Some people can let go of the memories and they can’t let go of the stuff. Some people let go of the stuff and hold on to the memories to a point of detriment. Let go. Look forward to the next phase of your life and realize this ending is the next beginning. Stay cool.