First-Time Seller “Setbacks” (and How To Prepare For Them Now)
Think back to when you bought your current home: There were things that happened during the transaction that sent you into a panic, but ended up being a totally normal part of the process of buying a house. In hindsight, you can probably even laugh at how issues that seemed like a setback (like that big inspection report) were resolved relatively quickly.
Now that you’re ready to list your home for sale, you’re about to go through something similar. Selling a home for the first time isn’t as easy as sitting back and having your Realtor rake in offers. Just as when you bought your home, there will be matters that require your immediate attention, appointments that have to be made, and issues that just might trigger unexpected emotions.
While this sounds overwhelming, these situations all are perfectly normal — and preparing for them now will make selling your home go so much more smoothly. Here are the five most common things to expect when you’re a first-time seller.
It’s time to book a therapy appointment, get back in your favorite stress-relieving exercise routine and have your best friend on speed-dial. Even when you’re excited about your new home or have been counting down the days to move out (and away from a neighbor), selling your home is a life change that will stir up emotions you didn’t expect to have.
Whether you’re nostalgic about the memories and question if you really want to sell, or a potential buyer’s comment about renovating the kitchen you loved dearly makes you deeply angry, take a breath, calm down and hold off on sudden decisions. Emotional reactions might make you feel better in the short-term, but the feeling won’t last. Always think of the big picture and your goals before changing course.
Even if you feel very confident in your taste in decor, anything that fills your home is a potential distraction for buyers. It’s nothing personal, though it feels that way. Your Realtor is going to likely suggest a thorough staging to show your home in the very best light to a buyer, so you can get the best offers.
Any work you can do on your home now will save you the time and cost of what the stager will have to do later. Go ahead and do the big decluttering project you’ve been meaning to do, rent a storage unit for that big sectional that takes up your living room, organize your wardrobe so your closet looks picture-perfect, and start selecting neutral paint colors for every room. Hire cleaners to do the kind of deep-clean you would do if you were moving out of a rental.
You remember the short novel-length inspection report that you received from your inspector back when you bought your home, right? And how you hired the most thorough inspector you could find? That’s what a potential buyer is going to do with your home.
Acting now to address any issues will save you the headaches that pop up when a potential buyer looks to negotiate based on an inspection report. A pre-listing home inspection will turn up things you should repair, potential problems you might not even know about, and gives you a clear answer on the exact condition of your home. Concerned about cost? Your Realtor will advise on the changes worth the money, and what’s okay to leave as-is.
There’s a difference between an offer that is slightly below asking price and one that’s tens of thousands below that. The latter will trigger a strong emotion (so go to #1 on this list) but will ultimately be rejected outright without thought. However, if you are fixated on low offers, a change in perspective might be in order.
Recognize that low offers are real-life feedback about your home. If there is something about your home that a range of buyers considers an issue, it’s an opportunity to address that. Or, this might be a time to address your expectations. If the offers aren’t far off from your price and you’re disappointed because you envisioned offers far above asking, recognize that fantasy isn’t reality. While you see all the potential value in the home you’ve loved, others see the property as it is: A property.
Whether we’re talking about lower offers, a back-and-forth about making changes based on an inspection report or a potential buyer who comes back with multiple contingencies, understand that you have power as a seller (even if your area is a buyer’s market). You can always say no, or you can always counter.
Basically, everything is a negotiation. It might help to think of this as an ordinary transaction — like buying a car — instead of selling your home. Just as you wouldn’t even think about buying a car without negotiating, a buyer is going to do the same on this even-larger-ticket item. And just as an auto dealer wouldn’t accept just any offer, you don’t have to give in on every ask. You also have the advantage of a great Realtor who will advocate on your behalf every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to let them know your comfort level at any time.