Selling a home is a big decision and it’s made for as many reasons as there are people. It can be a very stressful time in your life and it can be the greatest moment. Once you’ve made the decision, you need to find a Realtor. If you have a Realtor you worked with in the past and they did a good job – call them. If not, do a little research and have a couple of them come to your home to discuss listing it.
When a Realtor comes to your home, they’re gathering a great deal of information. For instance, they need to know:
- Why are you selling your home – you want something bigger, you’re being transferred, you’re in danger of losing your home, you want something smaller, etc. This information gives them a better idea of how quickly you may or may not need to sell and what your goals are.
- How much money do you expect/need to make from the sale?
- What is the amount you think your home should be listed for?
They’re also looking at the home with more objective eyes and a greater knowledge of the price the market will support. If the market is a Buyer’s market, you may not sell your home for what you believe it’s worth. The market simply will not support the price you hoped for. The Realtor knows what stage the market in your area is at and can advise you. Maybe it’s a Seller’s market and that works in your favor. In addition, the Realtor has a good idea of the selling price of other homes similar to yours in condition, size, location, etc. All of these things determine the selling price. Notice, I’m saying “selling” price. This is the critical number – not the “listing” price you may have seen on a neighbor’s house.
Ask for a Current Market Analysis (CMA). The agent will write down information about your home, go to their office and create the CMA and email or deliver it to you. The CMA compares your home to others that have sold in the last 6 months and those currently on the market, providing you with a reasonable Listing Price. Ask both Realtors to do this for you and compare the two. Ask questions if there are significant differences.
Sometimes, home owners believe their house is worth more than the market will actually support or, their situation requires them to go higher to get what they need in the end. The CMA is important because it helps you determine whether to try to sell or to wait. It gives you a realistic picture of your competition. Why does the price of Sold homes matter? Because, your home will be appraised by a professional Appraiser. The Lender for the Buyer will not loan $145,000 on a home that appraises for $135,000 and the Buyer may not have $10K laying around to make up the difference. Your home is worth what it appraises for and an appraiser compares your home to similar homes near your home which sold in the last 6 months. They take into account features your home may have that others do not – 3 car garage, granite counters, new furnace, etc. The Realtor will do much the same thing in the CMA.
Once you’ve decided on a Realtor, they will come back to your home and help you with things like:
- Small repairs that need to be made
- Staging your home
- How to get ready for an open house
- Decorating suggestions – planting some flowers, re-painting that purple room your daughter loves, etc.
The Realtor will also explain the selling process to you since there are many steps to selling a home. Because all REALTORS® belong to a local Multiple Listing Service, this means that your home will be seen by every REALTOR® in the area and will be sent out to Zillow, Trulia, and probably 100 other similar places. Make sure that they will also be putting your home in places like Craig’s List. They probably also have a website with a search engine on it so that people who are surfing the internet can find your home as well.
Make sure that the pictures they use to advertise your home are high quality and large enough for a person to actually see! That may sound silly but sometimes agents use pictures that are so small that they’re of little value. Go check out your own listing online and make sure it emphasizes the best features of your home.
Be patient. Your REALTOR® cannot wave their magic wand and bring in a Buyer in the first week. What makes your house sell is this – location, correct pricing, and the condition/features of your home as compared to others in the same price range. Your REALTOR®has no control over any of those things since the you are the one who sets the Listing Price for the home. The REALTOR® can suggest, but it’s your decision.
Remember that the suggestions a REALTOR® makes regarding staging, decorating, repairs, etc. are just suggestions. However, they have a good reason for making those suggestions. To the extent you can, seriously consider following their advice.
REALTORS® want you to succeed and get the most you can for your home. They will work hard to make sure that this happens. Selling your home is a process of teamwork between you and your REALTOR®, and, hopefully, one that is enjoyable and profitable for both of you!