What to Expect When You’re Expecting (…an Offer On Your Home)
If considering selling a home for the first time, the task can seem as daunting as having your first child (you just don’t know what all to expect!). Sure…you know what people “tell” you, and you’ve heard the good, the bad, and the ugly…but what “really” happens when your home is on the market? You may be asking yourself questions that you feel too embarrassed to even ask your Realtor: “Will people have access to my home at all hours of the night”?, “How DOES that blue device on the door work?”, “How much notice will I get before showings?”, “How clean does my home really need to be…is there a balance between sanity and clean enough not to turn off potential buyers” and so many more. Here, I will attempt to uncover the mystery so that when you put your home on the market…you know what to expect.
First and foremost, no question is too silly for your Realtor. We’ve all been there. I remember years ago, prior to getting my Real Estate license, I was working at an apartment community and found this device in the parking lot (a Realtor’s supra key…except at the time, I had no idea what it was. I knew it wasn’t a calculator; there was no screen). I picked it up, eyed it carefully (as it kept beeping at me ((“beep!”, “beep!”, “beep!”)) and thought, “Oh my gosh, it’s some type of bomb!”.
Thankfully, I’ve made a lot of progress since then…but I still have my days So, go ahead, ask your realtor those questions you are dying to ask. Chances are, we’ve been there, too.
SEARCH FOR HOMES
First and foremost, make sure you do your homework and find a Realtor whom you’re not only comfortable with, but who is also responsive to your needs and seems to be working towards your goals, and most importantly, listens to what those goals are. Every person’s motivation for selling a home is different. We can’t assume everyone has the same goals, wishes, concerns.
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So what “does” happen before putting a home on the market, and while it’s on the market? Before the “For Sale” sign even hits the yard, a savvy Realtor will:
Meet with you to determine your goals
Get a look at your home / possibly snap some photos to see how it compares to other homes that have sold with like features, structures, within a similar area in close proximity (“comps”) and suggest a competitive list-price.
Make suggestions in furniture-placement, possible decor, painting, touch-up, cleaning, etc to make sure your home presents well in the photos to get the prospective buyer to want to see your home in person. You also want to make sure that your home doesn’t “just” look good in the photos, but will make the buyers fall in love once they get to your home as well. You don’t want your home to be the one who has a showing appointment and the buyers walk in the front door and are in and out, then off to the next home in less than 5 minutes. *Remember…you have 7 seconds to make a first impression. What impression does your home give within those first 7 seconds? (Is the temperature at a comfortable setting? Is music playing? Are the blinds all even, working and tilted 3/4 of the way up to allow natural light to flow throughout the floorplan? (Yes, this is the time to make it look lived in, yet not If you’ve ever sold a home, you understand my sarcasm. Don’t worry…most of our homes aren’t picture-perfect all of the time, either (though most of us wouldn’t admit it). My biggest suggestion here is don’t delay a listing appointment because your home isn’t picture-perfect yet. Your Realtor can help you get your home to this point…and you may be closer than you think. You want your home depersonalized enough so that the potential buyer can see themselves in the home, but not so much that it seems cold and “sterile”. Your home likely already looks great, so just keep in mind that anything we suggest in terms of changes or enhancements is to get to your goal (usually selling at a higher price or faster pace). A big part of our job is to tell you what to do to get there…a fabulous marketing plan alone will only get you so far…or worse-it will attract a large number of potential buyers to be turned off by a home once they get there in person. (Don’t worry…if I’m your Realtor, I will not let this happen to you
Your Listing Goes “Active” and You’re On the Market!
The listing agreement is signed, the sign is in the yard and your home sparkles like never before…and you wait. “What happens now?”, you ask yourself.
Then…you get the call from the appointment-showing service, letting you know you have your first showing. “Yay!”. (You jump up and down and do your happy dance, wondering if you should start looking at homes). This is typically an hour’s notice and an hour’s showing time, though you can discuss options with your Realtor. Remember that most buyers are looking at several homes, so they may not be there at the beginning of the showing appointment. You have a key in the lockbox, of which only Realtors have access to with their e-key or supra key device (which also tracks which Realtors show your home, along with their contact-information), so your only job at this point is to leave your home(lights on, music at a low level, smelling great ((not over-powering)). Some sellers attempt to stay at home during the showings. Most buyers feel very awkward with the seller there and make their showing short and sweet, because they feel uncomfortable looking around. (Remember…you need to give the buyer time to feel at home there-so “at home” that they can see themselves living there and want to send you an offer). It’s difficult for a buyer to get in that mind-set when they see you at home and still see you in your home. Give them space to feel at home…
A reputable Realtor should always respond to your calls / emails and texts during a reasonable time, but remember…we service many clients at one time, and with a lot of that time spent behind the wheel, give your Realtor at least until the end of the day to respond. (I, personally do not answer my phone when I’m in front of another client as I strive to give the person in front of me my undivided attention). As independent contractors, we are also typically the ONLY person to answer our calls…which come to ONE phone- our cell. (Some teams are set up a little differently, but for the most part, this is how it works). Be mindful of the fact that a LOT goes on behind the scenes, so even if you are not hearing from your Realtor every single day, that doesn’t mean that they are not skillfully working on your behalf to market your home, following up with showings, working on search-engine optimization to get more buyers to your awesome home-listing on their website, creating pay-per-click ads and spending money on a plethora of different lead-generation sources to get your home SOLD. Sometimes there’s not an update every day…but definitely expect a marketing update once per week, with any suggestions on what you may need to both do differently in your strategy. (This is a different market we are currently in…and some “tried-and-true” methods now sometimes do not work, and others that may surprise you, actually do. Every home, neighborhood, marketing audience is different. A good marketing plan will analyze those factors and have a plan to tackle objections!
FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME COULD SELL FOR RIGHT NOW
Once you get an offer (happy dance!) or possibly even a few if you are priced well and your home is in a neighborhood that’s very popular, along with a dynamic Realtor, it’s show-time! (Contrary to popular belief, you actually do NOT have to accept the first offer, or any offer for that matter. However, even a low-ball offer can go up, and chances are, your Realtor will do their detective-work to find out just how much those potential buyers love your home). Go ahead and make that counter!
People are always willing to pay more for things they love
The initial negotiation process may last a few days. It could even last as long as a week. In my experience, it takes longer to close smaller “gaps” than larger ones. From there, you enter the transaction phase of the contract (repair negotiation, title searches, appraisals, oh my!) that your Realtor will gracefully guide you through. This is when we put on our “Project Manager” hat, and let you know what’s coming “next” before you get there. We may repeat things (I typically give people an overview when the process begins, but they are typically thinking of other things so I remind them, every step of the way. Let’s face it…you usually have a lot on your mind when selling a home…much less selling one home and trying to find the next one that feels like “home” all at the same time! Couple that with the emotion of letting go of a family home that you may, or may not be ready to move from (but “need” to move from), and emotions can fly. In these situations, I try to take myself back…back before I sold Real Estate, and put myself in my sellers shoes. Sometimes, we are guilty of getting into our “robot modes” because we do this for a living every day. We aren’t being anti-caring; we are simply task-oriented beasts attempting to get your home sold.
Fiercely protective of our clients, the fangs sometimes come out for you during negotiations, but don’t despair–your Realtor hasn’t lost their mind.
All is fair in love, war and Real Estate and everyone typically shakes hands and makes nice before the closing. The goal is ultimately the same, even though we (the listing agent and the buyers agent) represent different parties. (Most sellers are surprised and glad to know that they won’t need to talk to the other party at all).
That’s pretty much it.
Obviously, there are some details and blanks to fill in that may fit your own situation, but it’s really not brain-surgery. That’s what to expect when things go “right”. The most complicated situations that those who are NOT well-versed in the Real Estate contract encounter is what to do when things go WRONG. (This is the pitfall many find themselves in when trying to sell a home themselves, without a Real Estate Agent). As Licensed Realtors, most of us have been through it all…and can easily guide you through the next step or exactly how to jump that hurdle.
I would love to hear your comments about the fears, questions and concerns you had when selling your first home! Perhaps you’re there right now…I would love the opportunity to answer any questions that you may have. Even if you’re in the “pre-planning” stage, it doesn’t have to be such a cumbersome process!
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Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
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