How did you feel when you realized that the time had come to sell your first home? Were you intimidated? Overwhelmed? Confused? All of the above?
You probably had some nostalgia and even regret mixed in there as well. After all, you'll never have another first home!
Take a deep breath – we're here to help you sort out those swirling emotions and uncertainties. There's a lot to think about, so here's a brief first-time home seller’s guide to help you avoid some of the most common novice mistakes.
1. Don't overprice.
Of course you think your home is highly valuable. To you, it is! But that doesn't mean it's going to fetch top dollar on the open market, even if you've made improvements.
Try listing your home a bit below what you expect it to sell for, but don't start accepting offers right away. Hold a few open houses and get some buzz going. You're more likely to get the offer you want if you have a few buyers interested.
Let's face it – no one wants a toy until another kid tries to grab it.
2. Choose your agent carefully.
If you mention that you're selling a home, you're likely to get a recommendation for your co-worker's cousin's dentist's daughter who just got her real estate license. That's great, but you want someone who has experience selling homes in your area and price range.
Talk to people who have sold homes near you and ask if they liked the agents that they worked with. Search industry sites like the directory of the National Association of Realtors, which allows you to select the certifications or specialties that you need. You can also pick up your local Real Estate Book magazine to find agents in your area who are committed to getting your home sold quickly and for top dollar!
Don't neglect your instincts either. If you get the sense that someone is going to look out for your best interests and communicate clearly, openly, and honestly, trust that feeling.
3. Put your best foot forward.
This can be a tough rule to live by, even for experienced sellers.
When you put your home on the market, your goal is to help buyers envision their future there. They'd rather see something that's straight out of a home décor magazine than a cozy space with children's artwork, family photos, and a stack of mail. After all, if they’re imagining your family living there, they won’t be able to imagine theirs.
Put your personal items out of sight and clean up the clutter. If that means boxing things up early, so be it. Then neaten up the rough edges. Fix up chipped paint or broken fixtures and hire a landscaper to fix up the front yard (if you have one). Dress your house to impress.
All first-time home sellers eventually learn to let go of their emotional baggage, at least enough to focus on pricing and preparing a home so that it entices a buyer. If you want to give yourself an edge in the process, learn all you can about home selling best practices and dedicate yourself to following them. Trust us; your bank account will thank you.