One of the smartest things someone can do when they’re in need is consult an expert. We do it when our tooth hurts, or we have a legal issue, or we’ve slipped and hurt ourselves. Turning to someone who has years of training and experience with a track record of proven successes — particularly in an area that is outside our own realm of expertise — is rarely a mistake. The same is true when it comes to selling a home. Yes, as the owner, you may feel exceptionally positioned to extol its virtues, but you’re also seeing things through rose-tinted glasses. If your goal is to get the most money for your home in the easiest, fastest way possible, the very best thing you can do is find an expert and then let them do their job. And with that in mind, here are eight things your realtor needs you to understand about selling your home.
So Much Hinges on the Cleanliness of Your Home
It’s human nature to overlook things in a familiar environment. But buyers aren’t familiar with your home, and the seemingly little things that you fail to register are glaringly obvious to them. Dingy baseboards and trim, a crusted oven, a dirty fridge, dead bugs in light fixtures — it’s surprisingly hard to come back from mistakes like these. Buyers are judging the cleanliness of your home and if it doesn’t pass muster, it’s a distraction from all of the showstopper details.
Your Stuff is a Problem
Buyers are motivated by the notion of a clean slate, and that means your stuff can be a problem. Clearing out the clutter and presenting your home as a bright, clean space for new buyers to start fresh can be difficult, but it’s so important. Just remember — no one wants to go through the hassle and expense of a move for more of the same. You need to give buyers a way to really see themselves living in your home, and that usually means clearing out a ton of personal stuff.
Realtors Aren’t all Equal
There’s a tendency to default to a friend or family member who also happens to be a real estate agent. But familiarity doesn’t mean someone is good at their job. You’re far better off shopping for an agent the same way you would any expert — checking out their online presence, reading reviews, asking for referrals, and generally doing your homework. The most important qualities in an agent are negotiation skills, industry connections, experience, and a mile-long list of happy clients, so start there.
Be Realistic about Your Role
Bringing in a professional agent to sell your home is important, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t expectations on you as the seller. It’s not easy keeping your home show ready, especially when you have a family. But being willing to vacate quickly, following the guidance and recommendations of your agent, and being reasonable about timelines and offers can mean the difference between a successful sale or not.
Remember that You aren’t the Expert
Yes, you’re intimately familiar with your home. But just because you’ve lived in it for the last ten, twenty, thirty years doesn’t mean you know the best way to market and sell it. The opposite is probably more accurate, because your perspective is tainted with emotion. Let your agent do their job — they know what details matter and what just muddies the marketing. Keep in mind that your home likely isn’t the only option buyers have, and trust that your agent knows what they’re doing. Then, just get out their way and let them do their job.
Professional staging is an art. Put aside your personal preferences for what works in your home for your family, and let the stager position your home to appeal to the broadest range of buyers. It’s hard to hear that your taste in home decor is largely irrelevant, but in this case, it’s probably true.
And yes, some degree of staging will most likely be needed. It’s an easy way to differentiate your home from others on the market. Again, your level of familiarity with your home means you don’t necessarily see what others do. Staging teams are in the business of staging — it’s what they do day in and day out. They’ll make sure your home is at its very best, so let them get on with it.
Trust Your Agent’s Recommendations on Home Value
Don’t assume the number listed on Zillow or Redfin is accurate. Those are generalizations that don’t account for current market trends and important stats and figures in your market. Your real estate agent will come up with a listing price that’s far more realistic, and fighting for a higher number against your agent’s recommendation will backfire. Overpriced homes don’t sell, and all of your combined hard work will be for nothing if you insist on a price that’s unrealistic. If you’re working with an agent you trust, trust their advice on this. And if they have recommendations for adjusting pricing down the road, heed that too.
It’s Not about You
You work with an agent for a common goal — to sell your home. Don’t be offended by an agent’s recommendations and suggestions, all of which are being made to reach that goal. Removing the emotion and staying as objective as possible isn’t easy, but it’s important. It puts you in the best position to receive professional advice, even if that means changing the paint, replacing fixtures, or putting in new carpet. Remember — same goal.
Ready to sell? If you’re in San Francisco or Reno, Nevada, I’d love to help.