Selling Your House Series
I’m excited about this series (it’s my first) because big changes are coming up for our family. I’ll be highlighting our journey in a series of blog posts about tips, tricks and overall how we are selling our house.
disclaimer: I am not currently a Realtor. My advice is based on my previous experience as an agent.
Deciding to sell is a big deal! This is our home, where we live and grow and make memories!
We have toiled with the idea of flipping for years before we purchased our first house. My father did his version of flipping in the 80’s when the economy was booming and people were spending CRAZY money! I learned what little carpentry skills I have from him and owe my Real Estate background to him as well.
The idea of basically living for free is what sold my husband. It is not an exact science but if executed correctly you could turn enough profit from flipping a home that would cover your rent for the time you lived there by making the investments and using sweat equity to improve the property. – That’s the idea, anyway.
We bought our first house 5 1/2 years ago with the intent to sell in 5 years. HA! Well, four kids, a lot of renovations and unstable job situation for my husband led us down a different path. We spent way more than we first intended on this place and we have invested countless man hours not to mention the memories made. Aaaah the memories! 3 out of 4 of our daughters first came home to this house. All of them took their first steps, said their first words and all those ooey gooey mama and papa memories that we love to hold so tight. We have put a pretty penny into this house making it our home and realizing some design dreams. We have worked hard spending not only money but blood, sweat and tears getting it just the way we want it. We have gracious neighbors. Everyone helps everyone else out, it’s that simple and easy. No fighting over property lines arguing about leaf piles. We’re kind of like family. We are at the top of a mountain with trees and wildlife, which we love! Bear, deer, turkey frequent our yard often. There is always something to see yet the feeling here is peaceful and calming. Hey, it’s the Pocono’s!
So why would we sell?
Four babies (plus one more on the way) 3 cats and a dog, we are busting at the seams and need more space! Having paid down our mortgage considerably and adding value to our home, we have equity we would like to use for vacations and making more memories in a less expensive home. Let’s free up some cash! I have a dream… where we don’t have to buy so many eggs. I would love to raise chickens, for educational purposes and economic reasons as well. Unfortunately, our current home is in a Homeowner’s Association that does not allow farm animals. I have this itch. Not one that is easily scratched as it is the itch to move. I’m a traveler at heart and can’t stay in one place for too long. I know. I know, purchasing anything will not afford this itch to be scratched but going on more vacations with the money from selling our house will certainly do! Our home now is a distance from our friends and family. It makes it difficult to keep up on relationships. We and everyone else would like us to be closer.
||3. Our blood sweat and tears
|4. The “Itch”
Our final decision to sell is based on the space factor. We would need to spend astronomically more than we have already to make this house work for our growing family, funds we just don’t have; we’re selling.
When is the best time to sell?
Spring is best! Buyers, after a long winter, will come out in the nice weather and hop from open house to open house on the weekends and make a “thing” out of it. Fall is good too, not too hot, not too cold but you’re battling “back to school” nights and PTA meetings. Beside, flowers are blooming and everything looks better in spring!
What we are doing before even calling a Realtor:
The MOST important thing to do before listing your house is taking a walk through with eyes of a buyer. Objectively (with NO emotional attachment) drive up to your house, heck drive around the neighborhood, and see what a buyer would see. The neighbor has junk in their yard or a barking dog. Is there a highway or railroad tracks close by? A buyer will be thinking “Do I REALLY want to live here?” After all, buying a house is a huge investment/commitment. Once the deal goes through and you’re in the house, that’s it. So, people want to be sure they are making the best choice possible.
You pull up your driveway and see a piece of trash in the lawn, the flagpole is crooked and the doorbell is broken. If you live here and do not notice these things or they do not bother you; fine. To a buyer, little things like this in a first impression will irk them and they will have a bad feeling from the get-go.
Make a list as you tour the property with your “buying goggles” on and try to be diligent in seeing the tiniest of details. What might not seem like an issue to you could be huge to a potential buyer.
After making the list, prioritize the things that need to be done and make a timeline of the smallest and easiest tasks being completed first, hopefully that same day.
Having completed at least 1/2 the tasks on your timeline, start interviewing Realtors. Going along with the first Joe who comes-a-calling may not be the BEST Joe for the job. I like to use the rule of threes. We’re not trying on wedding gowns here, we’re selling a house. Leave your emotions at the front gate! The Realtor with the best exposure, marketing plan and of course, rate will win. If a potential listing agent shows up unprepared to pitch the listing, pitch them straight out the door. A good Realtor will have already researched comps in your area, know the schools and have a good idea of what your house is worth. A good Realtor does his/her homework.
There is always the option of selling the house yourself without a Realtor, but that is a headache and a stack of paperwork worth paying a commission to the right agent (at least it’s worth it to me).
Here is a helpful link for questions to ask a potential Realtor: 12 Questions to ask when choosing your Realtor
A note: I am not affiliated with the website or being compensated in any way for linking them, I just thought this to be useful for our purposes.
Already have a selling price in your mind? I hope it’s not etched in stone, because chances are your emotions are at work again…ugh! This is your home! You have put time and energy into decorating and landscaping and making those fabulous memories, not to mention what YOU paid for the place…isn’t that worth something? To be honest… no! It’s not worth a thing to potential buyers. Buying is about finding the best bang for your buck in the best place possible at the current market rates.
That figure in your mind might be from an appraisal you had 2 years ago when you considered refinancing, that number is no good now! Things have changed. Things can change in just 6 months as markets dip and boom. Realistically your house is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. As a seller, be realistic, especially when it comes to pricing your home. The term “priced to sell” is real. The lower a home is priced whether at or below market value, the more foot traffic you bring in, the more potential offers on the table. TRY to be open to what the Realtor has to offer. Who doesn’t like options?
If you have done the research yourself, as I plan to do, you will know the comparable listings in your area; listings of homes that have RECENTLY SOLD, not what’s on the market. You have to base your price off of SOLD homes that have the most in common with your property, like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms square feet and lot size. These big-ticket items will decide a sales bracket for your house. Most people search homes based on location, bedrooms, bathrooms and then all the other stuff like garages, pools, updated kitchens. It’s important to pull relevant comps for your listing purposes.
Again with the rule of threes… find the three recently sold listings that are most comparable to your property and figure their average selling price, this is what you can expect to get for your home.
How much to list for depends on the comps and your current appraised value. Although not necessary, having your home appraised for listing is a smart tactic to present potential buyers. One less thing they have to worry…eh…pay for.
Now that you have a realistic idea of what your home is worth you can decide how aggressive a seller you want to be. Do you have time to wait for your price? Do you need to bust a move before the bank comes-a knocking? if you have time to wait, up your price by no more than 10% of the comparable average. If not, list at that number and stand firm. Discussing all of this with your Realtor. It’s important to be on the same page so you can work together and get the house sold!
Overview-6 things to do before listing a house on the market:
1. Decide to sell– debate yourself and weigh out the pros and cons. It’s a big decision!
2. The walk-through– walk through the house with an objective eye to see what a potential buyer might see.
3. Make a to-do list– while walking through, make a list of the little things that might need fixing or sprucing up.
4. Set a timeline– Give yourself a deadline to get your to-do list accomplished. Be accountable and get it done!
5. Interview multiple Realtors– Let them prove to you they can do their job right.
6. Be realistic– review comparable homes sold recently in your area and set your price accordingly.
Having these things accomplished before a Realtor comes into the picture is very helpful. If the Realtor and you have done your homework, the relationship as well as sale of your home will be a great success.
At this point we are in the process of preparing our home for the market and getting ready to interview Realtors, the next segment will go into that process as well as our experience in more detail. Subscribe to the blog for email updates to Stay Tuned for the next post in this series: “Staging for Success!”