Selling a home can be an emotional process. You’ve invested money and memories in your property, and you want the payoff to be worth it. But, selling a home is also a transaction—probably one of the biggest you’ll make—and it’s important to set some of those feelings aside and stay focused on your financial goals and your moving timeframe.
So…how do you do that?
- Start with your real estate agent.
A real estate agent will help you price your house based on comparable property sales—taking into account its condition, in addition to other factors. He or she should (tactfully) let you know what you can do to make your home more appealing to buyers. Consider this your first taste of the feedback to come, and try to take the critique in stride. Comments on the décor you’ve painstakingly chosen, the little DIY projects you’ve put off for another weekend, the state of your curb appeal and other details about your home may feel very personal, but they’re meant to help you strengthen your bargaining position.
- Plan ahead.
Armed with your agent’s input, think about the things you’re willing to do to prepare your home for sale. This will help you avoid reactionary decisions when buyers and their offers enter the picture. If your place is fairly new and doesn’t need significant updates or repairs, you may only need to do typical decluttering, cleaning and home staging. But, if your house needs some work, your agent may recommend more substantial improvements to help your property sell faster or get better offers. It’s up to you to weigh that advice against your individual circumstances and resources.
Some questions that might help you decide:
- Are you in a hurry to move? (How long is TOO long for your home to be on the market?)
- Do you have ready funds for improvements?
- Will you have time to manage the work, or do it yourself?
- Would you be willing to take a lower offer or make concessions instead?
- Is your home in a hot market?
- Will you be living in the home while the work takes place?
- Can you reasonably expect a sale with additional improvements?
Try making a list of projects and their pros and cons, so you can reference it in the future if circumstances change.
- Communicate your expectations to your real estate agent.
Knowing your limits will help your agent find the best strategy to market your home. Not willing to change a thing? Your agent will make it clear the property is for sale AS IS. Prepared to offer a flooring allowance or other concessions? Your agent needs to know that’s an option in negotiations.
- Track feedback and look for trends.
Obviously, you shouldn’t be present for Open Houses and showings, but you can ask your agent to keep you informed about the feedback coming from potential buyers and their agents. They may even use automated surveys to collect the info and pass it along to you. Some comments about the home’s condition or asking price may be used as a tactic to justify lower offers, but if you start to see a trend in responses, there may be some truth to it. That’s when you might want to move on to #5.
- Reevaluate as needed.
Maybe you’ll decide to move up your moving day. Maybe you’ll find the comments are unanimous about a property or pricing flaw. Maybe you’ll be in a better position to tackle a repair or two.
If it’s time to reevaluate home improvements, there are some ways you can maintain your objectivity:
- Involve your real estate agent. No one knows better what’s holding up your home sale.
- Consult your project list, if you made one, and see how your pros and cons have changed.
- If you haven’t already researched costs, consider collecting bids for the work. It may be less (or more) expensive than expected.
- Tour other comparable homes for sale in your area. You might get ideas for new ways to be competitive.
Looking for more ways to help your home stand out? Read: