The decision to sell your home is a big one. There are so many factors to take into consideration.
- Is the market in the right place?
- Can you sell your home for enough money that you will be able to pay off what you owe?
- Where will you move?
- What kind of timing needs to be in place?
- How will you choose an agent?
As a first-time home seller, you may be surprised at the amount of work that goes into selling your home. It’s not a matter of just calling a real estate agent and packing your belongings. Most of the time, selling your home is a months-long process that starts weeks before the home is listed. It’s essential to have a plan for selling your home; this will make it easier for you to transition into your new home later down the line.
Knowing Your Home Selling Goals
For most people, the fundamental home selling goal is to sell your home for the highest price in the least amount of time. However, you may have completely different goals. If you have accepted a job in a new city, your goal may be to sell quickly, knowing that a quick sale will equal a reduction in price. If you know that your home is going to need a lot of work, your goal may be to sell for a high enough price to see a return on your initial investment, but that it may be below market value. If you are selling the home of a loved one that has passed away, you may simply want to move on. All these factors matter when determining your home selling goals. Make sure that you are communicating these goals to your real estate agent.
Choosing a Real Estate Agent
If you live in a metropolitan area, there are dozens of agents from which to choose. Choosing one may feel overwhelming. However, there are some qualities that you can look for that will help you make your choice. A good real estate agent will help you achieve your home selling goals. They will understand why you need to sell fast or why you made the decision to list your home as a “fixer-upper.” A good agent should have a solid background in marketing. It’s one thing to list your house; making sure the house is seen is another matter altogether. Your agent should have expertise in both online and traditional marketing. A good agent should be enthusiastic about working with you. Sometimes, you may need to make a few calls to find an agent that you click with; just like anything else that you would hire a professional for, the first person you choose may not be the right one. Finally, an excellent real estate agent will be realistic. They will be able to give you solid advice about how to achieve your goals within the current real estate market in your area.
Creating a Plan for Selling Your Home
It’s your agent’s job to help you draft the plan for selling your home. A great plan will include a comparison of like properties in your area, ideas for necessary renovations and upgrades, whether you should hire a professional staging company, and the deadline for getting your home listed on the market. You should know ahead of time when Open Houses will be scheduled, and there should be a plan for private showings. The agent may go over how offers and negotiations work, and what to expect on closing day.
Part of the plan to sell your home should include a budget for renovations and improvements. In some cases, this will be minimal. However, you should be prepared to spend some money to increase the home’s value.
All in all, your agent will be a partner in selling your house, and the plan that they help you build will set the stage for meeting your home selling goals. It’s crucial that you commit to doing your part in completing the plan. If the plan to sell your home includes renovations, don’t agree to them if you can’t have them finished in the weeks before you plan to list the home. The plan will serve as sort of a “to do” list of how to achieve your goal.
Setting the Right Asking Price
For first time home sellers, setting the right asking price is often one of the biggest challenges. It can be problematic to find an asking price that meets your goals but is realistic to the market. A pre-appraisal can often help to give you a better idea of a home’s value. In most states, residential appraisers need to complete certain education minimums and must pass a state exam. Their background makes them a reliable source for determining your home’s value. They can look at the size, construction, and physical state of your home to obtain the home value. Because these are factors you can control, you can determine what upgrades you need to make to increase the market price of your home. In addition to the physical state of your home, the value will be influenced by factors that aren’t in your control, such as the neighborhood, property tax rates, and current market outlook.
Renovations and Upgrades
Renovations and upgrades are the most significant factors of home value that a home seller can control. While you may have thought that the avocado green kitchen was quaint or retro when you bought the home, it will probably prove a detriment to selling. Your real estate agent will be able to show you what trends are popular in homes selling in your area. While you don’t want to make your home a cookie cutter image of others in the neighborhood, you do want to make sure that your home is comparable. If smart homes are selling well in your area, you may want to make that investment. If your target demographic is baby boomers because the neighborhood is aging, you may want to spend your renovation budget in upgrading the kitchen or improving the backyard. As you build your plan for selling your home, work with your real estate agent to make sure that your investment will see a return.
Staging and Professional Photos
Home staging is the process of inviting a professional into your home to help you present the best image possible of your home. It won’t hide flaws, but it can certainly help to accent the positives, such as the naturally bright kitchen or the cozy bedrooms. According to Realtor.com, staging can not only help increase your asking price; it can help your home sell faster. Your real estate agent may provide staging for you as part of their listing service.
Professional photography is essential for selling your home. If you’ve ever browsed through real estate listings, it’s very clear which homes were professionally photographed and which were not. The images taken by a professional photographer are brighter, crisper, and tend to show homes in a more favorable light. Again, professional photography may be a service provided by your real estate agent. If not, they can recommend some professional photographers that their agency has used in the past.
Open Houses and Private Showings
Once you’ve made all the upgrades and renovations, and the home is on the market, your real estate agent will schedule at least one Open House. An Open House is the perfect opportunity for you and your real estate agent to show off your home’s charm! An Open House will be scheduled for a set time, and it gives potential buyers the chance to wander through your home at their own pace. If you choose not to hire a professional staging company, you will want to prepare your home as if it is going to be photographed for a trendy magazine. The Open House is your home’s time to shine!
An Open House may result in an offer within a few days; especially if there’s a lot of traffic. When buyers know that other people are interested in buying the house they’ve got their eye on, they tend to move quicker. To help make that goal a reality, make sure that you create a space that the new buyers can picture themselves inside. You may want to rent furniture to create a clean, uncluttered esthetic during the open house.
If your home doesn’t sell right away, your agent will schedule some private showings. Your contract may specify a minimum amount of time that they must notify you in the event a showing is booked; this gives you time to clean up and get out of the house. While buyers usually understand that they are viewing a lived-in home, they are not likely to buy if the house looks cluttered. You will need to work diligently to keep the house clean enough so that you only need a few minutes to get everything on track.
Offers, Negotiations, and Closing Day
If someone loves your home, they will put in an offer. Working through their agent, they will submit an offer that reflects how much they are willing to pay for the home. That offer may not be as much as you’re asking; in that case, you will want to wait for a better offer or consider accepting the lower offer; this depends on your goals. The potential buyer may be open to negotiation; if their offer is twenty percent less than the asking price, you can counter with an offer that is a smaller reduction in price. Again, your goals will matter here; if you aren’t willing to negotiate, then you may need to accept that your home may take a bit longer to sell.
Once an offer has been submitted and accepted, things will begin to move pretty quickly. You will be busy getting ready to move, but you will also need to prepare for the closing day. Closing day is the day that all of the papers will be signed; you will be expected to hand over the keys or have a contract in hand that spells out when you will be out of the house.
On closing day, you will be expected to pay for the costs associated with your end of the deal; the real estate agent’s commission, fees for the escrow company, title insurance, transfer taxes, and more. In many cases, these items will come out of the final price for the home; however, when drawing up your plan for selling your home, you should ask your agent what you will be expected to pay out of pocket on closing day.
Pet Care when Selling a Home
Pet care is often something that sellers don’t consider until the last minute. Even if your pet is friendly, you want to line up pet care for your Open House and any private showings. Potential buyers may be allergic to your pet or may have a fear of or dislike of animals, no matter how sociable your pet may be. Even well-behaved pets might act differently if you aren’t home.
You can find pet sitters and kennels with a Google search for your area. Many sitters, kennels, and even dog walkers will take last-minute bookings, but you will need to have paperwork submitted in advance. Before boarding your pet, you will need to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Many kennels recommend or require that your pet also is vaccinated against Bordetella, which causes kennel cough. Bordetella isn’t a commonly given vaccination, so make sure to check with your vet to ask if your pet has already been vaccinated or will need a yearly booster shot.
When arranging pet care when selling a home, be clear with your pet care providers that you are selling your home. The extra renovations, packing, and staging may cause your pet to be feeling some stress; if your caregivers are aware, they can make sure that your dog gets extra love and attention if they seem grumpy or scared.