5 Things Every First-Time Seller Should Know
First-Time Seller “Setbacks” (and How To Prepare For Them Now)
Think back to when you bought your 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 (wouldn't that be nice). 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.
First-Time Seller “Setback” #1
Surprisingly Strong Feelings
How to Prepare:
Be Mindful of Your Emotions
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 THAT 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.
Once you have made the decision to sell, it's important to think of your home less as your home, but more of a product you must sell in the marketplace.
Pro Tip: Download the Calm App for an easy daily mindfulness exercise.
First-Time Seller “Setback” #2
Your Home Will Need a Lot of Staging
How to Prepare
Let a Professional Home Stager Guide You
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. If your Realtor is like me, as part of their services, they are going to hire a professional stager to ensure your home shines 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. 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.
First-Time Seller “Setback” #3
The Buyer’s Inspector Will Turn Up Many Issues
How to Prepare
Get a Pre-Listing Home Inspection
You remember the short novel-length inspection report that you received from your inspector back when you bought your home? And how you hired the most thorough inspector you could find? That’s what a potential buyer is going to do with your home. And if there are any items you haven't taken care of that showed up in your own inspection report, they'll likely appear again in your buyer's report.
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? Hire a Realtor who covers this as part of their services (like I do).
First-Time Seller “Setback” #4
How to Prepare
Realize That Not Everyone Sees Your Home Like You Do
There’s a difference between an offer that is slightly below asking price and one that’s insulting. 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.
First-Time Seller “Setback” #5
A Buyer Wants Many Concessions and Contingencies
How to Prepare
Understand That EVERYTHING Is Negotiable
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.
Pro Tip: When interviewing a potential listing agent, ask how experienced they are in negotiations and what training they've had to further their skills.
In the end, selling your home for the first time is an opportunity to learn about real estate. The more you know before you sell, the bigger the advantage you’ll have in the end. You’ll be calm, focused on decisions that benefit your sale, and even more knowledgable about what concerns you can bring to your Realtor.