The Home Seller's Survival Guide

Posted on Aug 16, 2016


Selling your home without a plan will end up costing you emotionally and financially. Here are ten strategies we suggest that will help get you to the closing table with your sanity intact. 

A home is oftentimes the largest asset you have. You invested a large sum of your hard-earned money into it and the price you can fetch for your home can have a significant impact on the future, including your ability to purchase your next dream home. 

But it’s more than that. Our homes are filled with memories. They serve as the backdrop of the families we’ve built, the friendsgivings we’ve hosted, and the parties we’ve thrown. We retreat to them when we’re sick, when it storms, and when we’re worn out. Over time, we learn to love their quirks (or at least view them as “character”). All of this adds up to an emotional attachment that can get the best of you and give you a distorted perception of your home’s value. 

When these emotions surface in the process of selling your home, they can have a very real and negative impact on your bottom line and your Realtor’s ability to achieve the result you want. And of course, it can take its toll on you and make your selling experience downright miserable. 

Despite what it sounds like, it is possible for selling your home to be enjoyable. Here are ten strategies we suggest that can help you not just “get through” the experience, but actually thrive and achieve your goals.

1. Start the process early.

Selling your home requires you to shift your perspective from a “homeowner” to a “home seller.” You’ll need to start thinking objectively and understand that you are selling a product. Give yourself a few months to get prepared and to separate your emotions, bias, and expectations from reality, or you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Do some research, talk to other people who have sold homes, and figure out what your ultimate goals are so your Realtor can build the right plan to get you there. For instance, is it more important that you sell your home within a certain time frame or that the home sells over a certain amount?

2. Find a Realtor you can trust.

Who you choose to partner with is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when selling your home. Your Realtor will either add to your stress or relieve you of it, so finding the right person is essential to your emotional and financial wellbeing. They are responsible for aggressively marketing your home, equipping you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions, negotiating your deal, and guarding your interests. They run both your offense and defense. It is imperative that you partner with someone who not only specializes in selling homes, but who has your best interests in mind.

3. Understand the real costs before you begin.

The money from your sale doesn’t go straight to your pocket. Realtor fees can be pretty hefty and sometimes can be the deciding factor in whether you walk away with a profit or a hole in your pocket. The vast majority of agents work on commission. Working with traditional agents normally costs sellers 6% of their home’s sale price (3% to the buyer’s agent and 3% to your listing agent). If you sell a $750,000 home, that comes out to a whopping $45,000 in commissions alone. This traditional brokerage model has caused sellers to flush thousands of dollars down the drain. The idea that you have to spend tens of thousands to get excellent service is bogus and archaic. Instead of basing our fee on your home’s worth, Houwzer’s full service listing agents will sell your home for a flat $995 listing fee plus 3% to the buyer’s agent, saving you thousands. Don’t sign the dotted line before you know what it will really cost you.

4. Fix the little nagging things.

It’s time to address the side projects you’ve been avoiding. First impressions matter – especially to prospective home buyers. View your home through their lens. The seemingly small issues like loose door knobs, broken screen doors, and faulty drains will lead buyers to assume that disrepair carries over to larger items as well. Get rid of the mildew in the bathroom, clean the carpet’s mystery stains, and solve the odor in the basement because buyers will most certainly notice.

5. Dress your home to impress.

Here’s the thing. The clutter and loud, outdated decor are distractions for many buyers. Is it possible for them to see past your stuff and envision the place as their perfect dream home anyway? Yes. But your home will appeal to far more people and things will be a lot easier if you remove those hurdles from the get-go. Your personal preferences need to take a back seat for a bit while you “stage” your home to win over buyers. Ask yourself: “Am I highlighting or distracting from my home’s best features?”

This doesn’t mean you need to give your home a total makeover or spend a fortune on new furniture, but you do need to create a space that is tasteful, clean, and neutral. Pack away the clutter, the personal items, and the collectibles sitting on your countertops. Replacing the “fun” hot pink walls, the scuff marks, and 90’s floral wallpaper with fresh, neutral colored paint will make a world of difference. Add some plants to give your home life (and improve your mood). Open the blinds, let the light in, and really – take down the plaid curtains.

6. Price your home according to the market.

Selling your home for more than you bought it for is every homeowner’s dream, but it’s not a given. How much your home is worth and will actually sell for depends on the current market – not the price you paid for it or how big you’d like the return to be. It takes a knowledgeable Realtor with a deep understanding of the local market and current real estate trends to price your home correctly. Don’t settle for a Realtor who just tells you what you want to hear or who lacks local market insight and an aggressive strategy. Their expertise is critical to you achieving your goals and getting what your home is worth.

7. Focus emotional energy on your next dream home.

In the same way that a watched pot never boils, obsessing over the little details and metrics is not going to sell your home any faster. It is, however, the quickest way to drive yourself (and your Realtor) crazy. You should absolutely monitor how things are going and listen to feedback your Realtor provides, but don’t get wrapped up in the minute details like how many people commented on the hardwood floors and whether or not you highlighted the “spa-like jacuzzi” in the listing description. Instead, redirect your emotional energy towards finding your next home.

One of the benefits of working with Realtors who specialize in one side of the transaction is that you get the undivided attention and focused expertise that each side requires. While your listing Realtor is overseeing the sale of your the home, your buying Realtor is hard at work helping you land the home of your dreams. Distract yourself from the emotional rollercoaster of selling by enjoying the excitement of this next chapter.

8. Develop thick skin... and get out of the house.

Trust us when we say you staying out of the house during showings and open houses is best for everyone. Prospective buyers are evaluating your home as a potential investment, and most come in with preconceived ideas of what the home should be. Don’t be surprised if buyers are hyper-critical and pick apart even the most miniscule flaws. There will be others who leave quickly or without asking questions. It’s better for you to leave the house than to stick around and risk being disappointed, offended, defensive, or pushy. Your absence will be beneficial to buyers as well. They’ll feel more comfortable exploring, speaking openly, and visualizing their life in the home without the seller hanging over their shoulder

9. Be prepared for lowball offers.

Any offer is a good offer because it shows interest versus other homes on the market and allows your Realtor to have a meaningful discussion about the value of your home with other buyers’ Realtors. Besides, who wouldn’t want to get their home for a bargain? A few lowball offers doesn’t mean full- or over-asking price offers won’t come in. Generating offers early in the process is a good thing and pricing based on the market will effectively draw multiple prospects and bids at the right price.

10. Let your agent do their job.

Think of it this way: you are the team owner and your Realtor is the coach. You hired them for their expertise and knowledge of the game. Share your goals with them, work together to build a game plan to achieve those goals, and then trust them to get the job done. If you can buy into their strategy, have realistic expectations, and focus your emotional energy on finding your next dream home, you’ll experience much less stress and hopefully find joy in the entire process.

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Thinking about selling your home in the near future? Find out how our full service, salaried Realtors are saving home sellers an average of $15,000.


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