Selling your house while you live in it sucks. There is no other way to describe it. And if you don’t live alone it sucks exponentially more with every family member, including pets. You may think I am exaggerating… but these words are the awful TRUTH.
The Sucky Truths
You need to keep your house pristine. Not only neat and clean and picked up… but PRISTINE. Sparkly. Shiny. With absolutely no evidence that humans live there. No dishes in the kitchen sink, no toothbrush on the side of the sink in the bathroom, not one water drop on your mirrors. You are competing with model homes, you think model homes have water spots on their mirrors? Never.
Not only do you need to keep your house pristine, but you need to keep your yard the same way. The lawn must be mowed and green, and you actually have to edge as well. No weeds, no leaves, no spiders in the corner of your patio. It needs to look like a story book… which is not an easy thing to do in this dust bowl we call home. You know those adorable bright red cushions you bought at Target last summer? They show every speck of dust, and you must clap them out every single day. You must keep the story book fantasy alive for your buyers!
You must leave when you have showings. Not only must you leave, but your animals must leave too. Every single man on the planet and several women will say they are allergic to cats, so your cat should not be seen. Don’t even get me started on the litter box, get it outside. And Fido, he’s got to go too. Lots of people are legitimately afraid of dogs. Terrified. Irrational fear. Even if they hear the barking of a dog before they enter, they won’t enter. Forget it. If they don’t enter, guess what, they aren’t buying your house.
So now you, your cat, dog, and three kids are in your car driving around in circles waiting for the agent to show up and show your house… and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Susie forgot to use the potty, and she is hungry, the cat just peed in your car, and you are missing Dr. Phil… where is the agent??????? Finally, 32 minutes after he said he would be there he shows up, wearing shorts and a t shirt, and takes the buyers in… and 5 minutes later they leave??? What the heck was that? What happened? When your realtor calls for feedback she finds out they only want a single level home, no two stories. Are you kidding? It is listed as a two story, there are several pictures showing clearly it is a two story, you even have a picture of the stairs!!!! So you did all of that for nothing… again.
When you send your listing to friends and family everyone will tell you how nice your house is, and why again are you moving? They will make you second guess and question every decision you have ever made, and really, look at that beautiful pool…
You will get a ridiculous offer. It will ask for crazy things, like for you to pay all of their closing costs, or for you to leave your brand new Rainbow swing set in the backyard, or sometimes even your pet if they happened to catch a glimpse of the adorable thing before you got him in the car. What are they thinking? You are just selling your HOUSE, not your life!
After hearing about some of the challenges of having your home on the market you might be thinking why on earth would anyone ever do that???? Well, because you want to sell your home. Maybe you want, or need, to relocate. Maybe you want, or need, a bigger house, or a smaller house. Maybe you want to be closer to work, or closer to family…maybe you want a pool, or are done with taking care of a pool. Whatever it is there is a reason sellers put themselves through this.
So what is the solution? How can you make this process easier, as painless as possible, and as fast as possible… while still getting the most money for your house?
Before you go on the market:
Stage your home. Put away all of the clutter. Pack up half of your stuff and store it in the garage. Make sure closets aren’t stuffed, rooms don’t feel crowded, and your personal items and photos aren’t making it impossible for a buyer to imagine the home as theirs.
Make sure your pictures are phenomenal. Whether that is a professional photographer, or your agent, pictures are what 90% of buyers will use to decide if they want to see your home in person. Shine your best light on your house in your photos, get as many people through as possible. But do not overly edit your photos, that will turn people off, and make them feel cheated when they see the real thing.
Price your house reasonably. People will skip your house if it is over priced. Buyers don’t like to haggle with unreasonable sellers, so be reasonable, from the start. Don’t dig your feet in during negotiations. Go for the win/win. If you want way above what other homes around you are selling for, don’t list your home for sale. The chance of finding a buyer is slim, and if you do, chances are they will need a loan… and loans need appraisals. Those are tough enough even pricing at market value, don’t set yourself up for a disaster. And if you real estate agent is letting you choose the price, find another real estate agent. One that will support the list price with comparable sales and with market knowledge… someone that does real estate full time.
While you’re on the market:
First of all, do numbers 1-6 of selling sucks when you are on the market. Don’t take anything personally, and if you fail occasionally, don’t beat yourself up.
Make the house as available as possible. Real estate agents might not be able to give you 24 hours notice, sometimes buyers don’t give them the proper head’s up of what they want to see. Occasionally they will forget to make the appointment and will call from the driveway. If you can, let them in. They might not make it back.
Crank your air down if it is hot outside. Make sure it feels good, smells good, and is as pleasant as possible for the buyers while they are in your home.
After you’ve accepted an offer:
- Expect to make repairs to your house. Lots of issues the buyer will bring to you will be warranted items, make sure you understand this before you accept an offer.
- Pack up, move out, and leave a clean home for the new owners…by the closing day. Leave your extra keys, garage remotes, mailbox location and keys, and any good to know info for them. Move on to your next home knowing you just completed an awesome win/win sale!