Musings from a life of chances and changes
There's No Place Like Home
It's no secret that we all deal with emotional decisions in our lifetime. Some decisions are easy, and some pull at our heart strings. Selling our homes is often a gut-wrenching decision. The attachment we have to our homes is enormous. When faced with selling your home the most difficult loss may not be its aesthetics.
I'm about to take my own advice and downsize from the house where I've lived for the last twenty-five years. Faced with this major transition, I'm thinking about my children digging for worms in the yard, putting them in a plastic sand pail, and bringing them into the house to show me their fine work. I'm thinking about sitting on the driveway surrounded by their brightly colored chalk paintings; planting a vegetable garden on the South side of the house; picking apples from the backyard trees; kicking, throwing, batting and chasing balls all around the yard; setting up elaborate snow forts in the wintertime; making thousands of chocolate chip cookies while the kids sit on top of the kitchen island; and enjoying many meals with our close-knit community. My experiences are not unique but illustrate the difficulties of letting go of what is arguably one of our most valuable investments.
So when you make the decision to sell your home, how do you maximize its potential and avoid sabotaging the outcome?
1. Don't let your emotions dictate the price. Yes, it's generally a seller's market, with low inventory and high demand, but overpricing is a recipe for a market backlash. Let your realtor present you with a market analysis and trust the statistics.
2. Don't ignore the market clues. Are potential buyers critical about the price based on the square footage, the style of the house, the location of the house? The market dictates a realistic price, and honestly, buyers don't care about your emotional connection with the house.
3. Don't refuse to make a price adjustment. When the listing continues without a reasonable offer, it makes no sense to be overconfident. A "stale" listing can get a bad rap. Buyers begin to believe that something must be wrong with the house if it hasn't sold. Others may just present low ball offers with the assumption that the sellers must be getting desperate to sell.
4. Don't disregard your realtor's advice about staging the home. You may love the photos of your family from every age and every vacation, but when you are asked to de-personalize your home, that means to remove these kinds of items. Buyers get distracted with all different types of clutter, and you need the focus to be on your home.
5. Don't make a fish dinner, leave the dog or cat food out, or the cat litter box out when showings are set. Also, it’s a good idea to find a place for your pets while the house is being shown and to create a neutral or positive smell that may influence a buyer’s reaction to the home.
6. Don't air your dirty laundry, literally and figuratively. Putting clothes away makes sense, but also bills, mail, and other private documents should be stored in a safe place.
7. Don’t leave your valuables out. It is not only expensive jewelry, but also sentimental items that you would not want “lost” or broken.
8. Don’t hover around your house showings. Buyers at a listing appointment or open house want to speak to your agent freely and will not feel at ease if you are in the house. If questions arise be available to respond if possible.
9. Don't argue about needed repairs requested by the buyer or fight about negotiating an offer. The goal is to sell the house, not to keep it for old times' sake.
10. Don't forget that your realtor is a professional, understands the market, and strives to do the best job for you. Have an open dialogue with your realtor about your concerns during the course of the listing. A responsible realtor takes the duty to market and sell your home seriously and will make every effort to get the job done.
Certainly, realtors and clients can make the selling of a home a better experience with a positive exchange of ideas. A collaborative relationship benefits everyone. In the end, an empathetic realtor recognizes that selling a home is laden with layers of emotion. After all, there's no place like home.
Judi Berger is an attorney and real estate broker who is blogging as she begins a new chapter in her life.