Whether you are a first-timer, or you have been through the process before, selling a home, or purchasing one, can be a stressful experience—emotions can run high on both sides.
But the process, no matter which side you are on, doesn’t have to be so nerve-racking. Keeping a level head, taking a few deep breaths, and following some simple advice can help the process go smoother. Let’s talk through some ways you can keep things in check.
Sellers: When you are ready to sell your current home, there are a lot of considerations to keep in mind as you get your house ready for market. First, pricing it accurately will cut down on the number of days your home is on the market, and more importantly it will help attract the right buyers to your home. Setting the price too high, and above its true market value, can keep potential buyers from seeing your home until you make the decision to lower the price to the right value.
Next, you should discuss with your agent the showing instructions—when and how buyers, and their agents, can tour your home. Making your home as accessible as possible will help sell your property faster. Buyers can’t always leave the office at lunch to tour homes. Having evening hours and weekend showings, even an open house or two, can give more people a chance to see your property. Some buyers are moving in from out of town. The only chance they may have to see your house is on the weekend.
Of course, keeping your house accessible means keeping it “show ready.” My advice? Pack up as much as possible before putting your home on the market. You are selling, right? Moving, right? So get a jump start! It’s the best way to de-clutter before potential buyers arrive. Pack-up out of season clothes, holiday decorations, last season’s sports equipment, and other items you can live without for a few months, and move them out of the house. Removing personal items from bookcases and replacing them with books and a few focal points can help open up your space. Moving valuables out of the home can eliminate the worry of your most prized possessions. Remember, buyers need to see themselves in their new home, not as a visitor to yours.
Buyers: There are a lot of steps to follow when buying a home—even if you have been through the process previously. As a buyer, you need to know how to get pre-approved, what a home inspection can tell you, what an appraisal is and why it is needed, how to put forth a strong offer, and more. And then, there is the process of finding the home. If you get too caught up in the “Instagram Effect,” as I call it, finding the right home can take much longer than needed.
Social media has brought access to beautiful imagery from interior designers, architects, museums, castles and the like. Through those images, we are constantly presented with “perfect” homes. But know that no home is perfect. Even at a high price point, you are likely going to find something you would like to change—a paint color, cabinetry knobs, a water heater, tile in a bathroom, or something else. The best advice is to work to see the vision in each property you tour. Is the home in your desired neighborhood/area? Is it convenient to your office or the activities you enjoy? Does it provide you with a layout that suits the way you live? Are the features what you desire—number of bedrooms, baths, pets policy, outdoor space, etc. You can’t change the location of a home, but you can change the paint color of walls—easily. Don’t start your home buying experience expecting to find the perfect house. Find the one that meets your major needs, in the location that will make you happy, and affords you the price point to make it special to you.
Out-of-Towners: Buying or selling from afar provides a new set of emotions. You may be in a time crunch to find a home, or sell your current one. You may know exactly where you want live in your new area, or you may need to do some research into neighborhoods to find the right spot.
If you are moving in from out of state, there is a good chance that viewing homes in person will be sporadic—you could be a long car ride, or even a plane ride, away. As a buyer, you can certainly “find” a home online, but having the guidance of a good buyer’s agent—as I discussed in my April 6th, 2018, Washington Blade article, “Why you should hire a good buyer’s agent”—becomes even more important. The best advice is to start early. Have your agent set up a custom search that pulls directly from the MLS so the information you are seeing is accurate and timely. Early on in the process, identify days you can be in your new city to tour in person. Another helpful way to view homes is to ask your agent if they will Skype or FaceTime a home tour with you? It’s not the same as walking through in person, but it will give you an idea about whether a property is worth pursuing further. Starting early can also ensure you, and your agent, can sync schedules on the days you can be in town to tour. Relying on open houses as your only point of access when your agent is on vacation could cause you to miss out on a great home.
If you are selling a house from afar, make sure you ask your real estate professional how they will keep you informed of showings and feedback, how they will keep your house show ready, and how any needed repairs will be handled. Knowing your home is well cared for in your absence can lower your anxiety.
So get started! Take a deep breath, call your agent, and make a plan. With some early prep and realistic expectations the home selling and buying process can actually be fun, and of course rewarding!
Editors Note: As published in the Washington Blade, May 25th, 2018.