Thinking of Selling Your Home?
If you’ve thought about selling your home, you might have received lots of advice from friends about finding the right agent. However, you might not have heard what you should do before meeting with an agent.
It’s important to remember that you’ll most likely be working very closely with this person on a major transaction—the sale of your home. So it’s in your best interests to be prepared and ready to provide them with as much information as possible from the beginning.
There are several things homeowners should do before contacting (and hiring) a real estate agent.
Conduct Some Research on Nearby Home Values
Most sellers have an idea of what they think their home should list for. Many people look at pricing their home based on what they paid for it and what they want (or need) to clear in terms of cash at the sale. However, that type of thinking can get you in trouble. What you paid for your home or how much money you’ve invested in it over the years may have little relation to what the home is worth on the market at any given time. Markets go up and down—so it’s essential to know what homes that are comparable to yours are selling for right now.
Before meeting with an agent, take the time to check your local market, since conditions have likely changed since you bought your home. The goal is for you and your agent to be on the same page in terms of the value. Sometimes conditions will be in your favor, and sometimes the market may be lagging your expectations. However, doing your due diligence here will help you and your agent create a realistic plan for selling your home.
Look at recent comparable sales (known as “comps”) in your neighborhood. You can find that information through online real estate sites, but be realistic when comparing homes. Look for homes that sold in the past year with comparable square footage, the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a similar level of amenities. It’s also important to consider your home’s condition relative to the comps.
Compile a List of Upgrades
While expecting to recoup the costs of all your upgrades over the years is unrealistic when it comes to pricing your home, you still need to compile a list of improvements that have been made during your ownership. From major expenditures such as additions to smaller investments such as new carpet or flooring, having a list of updates can help your agent price your home correctly and market it effectively to buyers.
However, while listing agents want to know about improvements, they don’t need to know what you spent. The price is not as important as the fact that they’ve been made. Your listing agent will know what value is added to the home for specific upgrades and will factor those into the pricing plan.
Check Your Mortgage
You probably have a rough idea of what you owe on your mortgage. However, before meeting an agent, it’s a good idea to dust off your loan documents and calculate a more precise figure.
Knowing your loan amount up front helps a Realtor know what strategy to take with your home. If you owe more than the market value, then you may have to go the short sale route—which is a different ball game from an equity sale.
Even if you’re not underwater on your mortgage, it’s important to work with exact dollar amounts to get a better feel for what you stand to make from the sale. Depending on what your agent thinks your home will bring in the current market, having this information might make the difference between listing now and waiting until market conditions are more favorable for you.
Identify Disputes and Liens
Unencumbered properties are easiest to sell. However, that’s not always possible. The more you can tell your Realtor in advance about any liens and other issues that could hold up a sale, the better.
When an agent knows about issues like liens or property disputes, they can deal with them before the house hits the market. What kinds of things can hold up your sale? Here’s a short list:
- Tax issues
- Disputes with contractors or other problems that could have allowed a creditor to put a lien on the house
- Disputes with neighbors, especially regarding property lines
- Title issues when selling a property that belonged to a deceased relative
Being upfront with your Realtor about possible issues before signing a listing agreement can make a big difference in your experience.
Don’t Make Major Improvements Before Listing
It can be tempting to add value to your home prior to listing, but it’s better to hold off on improvements, at least until you’ve hired your agent.
Why? Because what you think is going to net you a return on your investment may not actually be the case. Your Realtor will know the current trends and what buyers in your area are asking for, as well as what they will pay a premium for.
It’s not just a question of making the wrong upgrades. An agent can work with you to determine where best to spend your money in fix-up. However, if you’ve already spent that money, there really isn’t much that can be done.
As an example, you might want to replace your carpet prior to listing your house. However, the local market trends may dictate that most people would rather have wood floors. Work with your agent to determine what upgrades to make, so you don’t waste money that you won’t get back in terms of return on the sale. Your listing agent can help you stick to what’s necessary and keep you from making choices that are specific to your tastes, which might not appeal to buyers.
Keep it Clean
First impressions should not be underestimated! If a Realtor believes your home is fantastic, they will be more likely to market it at a higher value. If it looks cluttered and unkempt, however, that could negatively color their approach to pricing your home. Before having an agent visit, it’s important to clean the home as if you’re having your relatives over for dinner.
You wouldn’t have clothing on the floor or dirty dishes piled high in the sink if your in-laws were coming over, would you?
However, don’t limit your cleaning to inside the home. Curb appeal is major to both agents and prospective buyers. You want the agent to have a mental picture of your home as a prize that buyers will love, so de-cluttering the outside, and having a mown lawn and pruned bushes will help cement that impression.
Check Your Schedule
Giving some advance thought to your daily schedule will help maximize the time that your property can be shown to prospective buyers. Your agent should make recommendations for ideal showing times, but it’s also good to be ready for the potential change in routine if needed.
Be as flexible as possible
You may have to make some small adjustments to your life during the listing process. For instance, work schedules may need to be changed slightly to accommodate showings. If a pet lives in the house, then be prepared to put up the animal with a friend or neighbor for the day, especially for open houses.
Showing your home successfully comes down to scheduling and planning, but your agent needs to know your level of flexibility to make the listing work.
Are you looking to buy? … Are you looking to sell? … Let me help start you on your journey today. Give me a call at 443-553-3658 or send me an email so we can talk about your needs.