Most people seem much more excited to buy a new home than to sell the home they’re in; sometimes they ignore key details and take risks they could avoid. Here are 15 things to think about before you sell your home:
Don’t buy a home until you sell your home
There are people who pull this off successfully, but ask anyone who has ended with two mortgage payments for a year if they would do it again, and they’ll tell you to sell your house before you buy a new one.
Real estate agents really help
Because sellers pay the real estate agent rather than the buyers, sellers sometimes seek to sell a home without an agent. The first thing owners hear when they don’t have an agent is, “Since you won’t be paying an agent, we’ll expect a 6 percent discount.” Even if you don’t pay an agent, you can’t likely save the money. Get the help and protection of a good agent. It really is much closer to free than you might imagine.
If you sell your home to someone contingent upon the sale of their home, keep marketing your home for sale until the sale of their home closes. Sales fail for a thousand reasons. Protect yourself.
Keep it clean
If you want to sell your home, you need to keep it spotlessly clean all the time. You never know when a buyer will drive by and knock on the door asking to see the house. Don’t miss the opportunity.
Choose a tech-savvy agent
Increasingly, home shopping occurs on-line. Be sure you’ve got a tech-savvy agent who can help you get maximum exposure on-line.
Leave for the open house
When your agent holds an open house, take the family for a picnic or other outing. Just get out of the house. This frees buyers to talk honestly and openly while they are in the house, increasing the chances that your agent can hook someone.
Maximize curb appeal
While your home is for sale, but sure to keep the yard groomed and the kids toys parked where they belong so your home looks as good as possible.
Paint the house
If you can do the work yourself, the cost of a fresh coat of paint — especially one that is neutral in color — will make your home more appealing.
Get rid of stuff
When you move, you’ll discover you have a lot of stuff you don’t want or need anymore. If you’re not careful, you won’t figure this out until after you’ve moved. Purge even before you put the house up for sale. A sparsely furnished and uncluttered home looks bigger than one crammed with furniture and stuff.
Be sure to tell neighbors, especially those who won’t see your home is for sale, that you are selling your home. You never know when one will say that they know the perfect buyer.
Price your home at the high end of the range
Don’t ignore your agent’s counsel, but when the agent recommends that you sell your home between $200,000 and $220,000 start at the top of the range. You can always come down, but you can’t go up. Even in a soft market, price is only one factor of many.
Be prepared for the long haul
Selling a home can take a year or more. Be patient and don’t panic.
Don’t turn down a reasonable offer
It is tough to predict the direction of the economy and home prices. Remember the old adage, a bird in the hand beats two in the bush. When you have a buyer, work hard to reach a reasonable deal. I’ve never talked to anyone who regretted accepting an offer from a bona fide buyer.
Don’t sell your home on contract
Some buyers who can’t qualify for a traditional mortgage may try to offer to buy your home on contract or to assume your mortgage. This will likely become more common in 2013-2018 as the economy recovers from the Great Recession, when so many people had their credit ruined by foreclosure. The low interest rates of 2012 will create demand for people wanting to assume mortgages with low rates. Don’t put yourself at risk. If people can’t or won’t qualify for a mortgage with a bank, you don’twant to be their lenders!
It may be tempting not to tell buyers everything you should about your home. You are required to disclose any problem you know exists. Buyers will have legal recourse in most states if you neglect to disclose a material fact.
With these few tips, you’re ready to sell your home and get a fair price while avoiding some of the pitfalls that have trapped people who’ve done this before.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.