Deciding to sell your home is usually the result of a need or a want. You need to sell your home because you have a new job in a different city. You want to sell your home to move closer to your grandchildren. Both of these situations result in the sale of a home but as you can see the motivations are very different and may cause you to act differently during the process. If you need to sell your home you might lower the price so you can sell quickly and get you and your family settled in your new city quickly. If you want to sell your home you might be willing to wait 6 months to get the right offer. I am sure you can see the difference.
As you know I am always going to put in a plug about using a real estate professional whether that is a licensed real estate agent or a real estate attorney. (If you are going to try to sell your home yourself, For Sale By Owner, you might want to stop reading now. I will have another post in the future about FSBO sellers.) If you are still reading then please understand that my recommendation is actually an effort to make the selling experience work better for you.
Your first step in the selling process is to settle on price for your home. A real estate professional can partner with you in coming up with that price. Your agent knows what is going on in your local market. They attend weekly showings of new homes for sale in the area. They have access to lists of homes for sale in your area and homes that have sold in the area. You need someone who can size up your competition. Just like a boxing or baseball coach, your agent has scouted the competition and can offer suggestions to help you stand out from the crowd. Setting a sales price can be one of the first areas of conflict between you and your agent, however if you will listen and hear the agent out, you might find out some things you weren’t aware of. It is also very important that your agent listen to you. Nobody knows your home like you. You are an invaluable source of information about the features that make your home special. Don’t be afraid to share those features even if the agent doesn’t ask. I recently read an article in which the seller said that his agent didn’t advertise that the home was a Foursquare Craftsman design. To be perfectly honest I wouldn’t have known that this design was very special and I might have missed this feature if not brought to my attention by the home owner. You and your agent should be working as a team, and we all know the more cohesive the team the better the results, just talk to the New York Yankees.
Now that you have settled on a price you need to set up a marketing plan. This is an area where most agents can be a big help. I mentioned in my series for home buyers that the vast majority of buyers these days get ideas from the internet. There is no excuse not to have your home listed on multiple internet sites. I am very adamant about this subject. I am a Baby Boomer and sometimes all the social media stuff just makes me shake my head, but if those are the places people are looking for homes then you must be using these sites to advertise your home as well. Your agent should have a complete marketing plan for you that will include postings to all of these sites. Your agent should be able to show you lots of marketing ideas to maximize the exposure of your home. A new trend in marketing is video. I have had more than one person tell me that surveys show that a home with even a short video will get far more attention than a home with only photos, no matter how many photos. Unfortunately most agents don’t take advantage of this marketing resource so be sure to ask about it during your planning sessions.
The last step in this part of the process is to sign a Listing Contract that will spell out all of these items in writing so you have no surprises. The contracts are usually 6 months in length but you are always able to set them to be shorter or longer as you wish. Now bear with me as there are several schools of thought about when to sign the listing contract. In
California for example, once a listing contract is signed the listing agent has only 48 hours to get the home listed in the Multiple Listing Service, unless you agree to a delay to this requirement. Forty eight hours isn’t a very long time and I can’t emphasize enough that this post must be complete. If other agents have set up automatic notifications of new homes for their buyers your home might show up. This notification will be the first time people will see your home. You want to make sure everything is perfect, remember the old adage: There is never a second chance to make a first impression. You want to make sure your listing includes pictures and videos of your home so potential buyers can get a complete picture of your home. Personally, I believe you should sign the listing contract right away so you can have your agent begin the marketing process, but delay the listing in the Multiple Listing Service until you have completed a thorough cleaning and staging of your home. I can’t tell you how many pictures of homes I have seen with toothpaste tubes and hair gel out on bathroom counters, or a refrigerator covered with school pictures and dirty dishes in the sink. Just put yourself in a buyer’s shoes, are you going to find that home attractive? So take some time to get everything in order. Then get the photos taken and videos recorded and get your home on the market!