What Every First Time Homeowner Needs To Know Before Selling
First-Time Seller “Setbacks” (and How To Prepare For Them Now)
Think back to when you bought your current 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. Even when you're working with a full-service team like ours, selling a home for the first time isn’t as easy as sitting back and watching the offers roll in. 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 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 much more smoothly. Here are the five most common things to expect when you’re a first-time seller.
First-Time Seller “Setback” #1
You’ll Experience Surprisingly Strong Feelings About Your Home
How to Prepare:
Leave Emotions Out of the Transaction
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.
First-Time Seller “Setback” #2
Your Home Is Not "Show-Ready"
How to Prepare
Work With a Team That Has a Stager In-House
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 might feel that way. It's just that prospective buyers want to envision their things in the home, and if there are too many of your things, that can be difficult. We have a dedicated stager on our team that we have meet with sellers prior to photography to make small recommendations that can make a huge difference in showing your home in the very best light to a buyer.
Some of our stager's go-to tips for projects to tackle if you're thinking about listing your house? 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. It's also never a bad idea to hire cleaners to do the kind of deep-clean you would do if you were moving out of a rental.
First-Time Seller “Setback” #3
The Buyer’s Inspector Will Turn Up Many Issues
How to Prepare
Think About What Items You Would Be OK Giving the Buyer a Credit For
You remember the short novel-length inspection report that you received from your inspector back when you bought your home, right? And how you hired the most thorough inspector you could find? That’s what a potential buyer is going to do with your home.
For things that you know are damaged or not quite working as they should but you don't have the time or money to afford to fix before listing your home, it is sometimes beneficial to offer a seller-paid credit to repair or replace those items. This could apply to things like replacement carpet, windows, the roof or even mechanicals, and would be advertised upfront so buyers would be able to take knowledge of the credit into account when making an offer or reviewing a report from their inspector. The credit can be taken out of your proceeds at closing, which can be especially helpful if you don't have the cash to pay for repairs or replacements before the sale of your home.
If, however, there are any delayed maintenance items (i.e, gutter cleaning, fixing peeling exterior paint, HVAC servicing, etc) that you are aware of, you should probably take care of those before putting your house on the market. The more you do ahead of time that will more than likely show up on a post-inspection report, the less you'll have to do when you're also trying to coordinate packing and moving later on.
First-Time Seller “Setback” #4
How to Prepare
Realize That Offers Are Starting Points, Not Ending Ones
There’s a difference between an offer that is slightly below asking price and one that’s tens of thousands below that. The latter will often trigger a strong emotion (see #1 on this list) and be rejected outright without thought. However, if you are quick to dismiss a low offer, 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. If the offers aren’t far off from your list price and you’re disappointed because you envisioned offers far above asking, recognize that fantasy isn’t always a reality. While you subjectively see value in the home you’ve loved, others objectively see the property as it is: a house.
All that being said, it will always benefit you to be partnered with a real estate agent who has experience negotiating. They will help you get the most out of any offer, no matter where it starts. You never know when or if another offer will come in, and there's always a chance it could be even lower than the first one. Even if it takes several rounds of back and forth to get to a number you're happy with, it is worth working with every offer that comes in to see where it could go instead of prematurely rejecting it.
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 currently 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 qualified real estate agent with decades of negotiating expertise (see item #4) who will advocate on your behalf every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to let us know your questions and concerns at any time.
In the end, selling your home for the first time is something that can be made much easier when you partner with a team that has in-depth knowledge of the process and a well-rounded team to make every part of the journey easier. We take away the stress and guesswork so you can be calm, have the bandwidth to focus on important decisions that coincide with selling, and more time to get excited about your next destination!
We're Here to Help
If you’re concerned about potential issues unique to your home or the local market, we’re here to listen and help walk you through the process.