FAQs About Preparing Your Home For Sale
Q: I have a limited budget to prepare my home for sale, what’s the best use of my funds:
A: A storage Unit! Seriously. A clean and sparse home can forgive a multitude of sins (like an ugly countertop or vinyl floor, a unique floor plan or smaller bedrooms). Get rid of the layers of your “stuff” and let people start to imagine the possibilities. Starting with a clean (literally) and almost blank slate will do that. Think of staging your home like creating a template for the next owner.
Q: What should I do to prepare my home for pictures?
A: Ideally, a home should be fairly sparse for photos. Enough furniture to give perspective on the size of rooms, but not so much that it overwhelms the space or distracts. Although we often hear “neutral” as the key word in selling a home, having some pops of color does make a difference and catches the eye. As a quick checklist to prepare for photos:
- All counters completely cleared
- TVs off!
- Toilet seats down!
- Evidence of pets removed
- Beds made
- Toy boxes moved, book shelves straightened (or go ahead and pack them up since you’ll be moving soon anyway!)
- When possible, no more than 3 pieces of large furniture per room
- Windows open, lots of light
Q: Do you believe in the St. Joseph Statue?
A: (You may have to Google St. Joseph Statue, if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about). Here’s what I know, and I know, It’s going to sound weird, but…. Homes that have good, positive vibes going out sell quicker. Every time. Buyers can sense when a home has worry, sadness or desperation associated with it and even though the buyer may not be able to explain it, the buyer is less interested in that home. If following the St. Joseph ritual is a way that you can send out good vibes and create positivity around your home. Go for it! Thus ends Deb’s moment of now-you-know-I’m-originally-from-California-because-that-was-a-little-kooky. Back to my typical Midwestern sensibilities.
FAQs About Choosing a Realtor and Pricing
Q: What questions should I ask when interviewing a Realtor?
A: Overall, I would advise people to search out a Realtor who has experience, a proven track record and at the same time listens to your family’s goals and needs and keeps those top of mind. Some of that is more gut feeling than anything else, but here are some questions to be sure to ask:
- What is your process for scheduling showings? Are showing requests available 7 days a week, even after business hours? (So important to make the property easy to show.)
- What is your process for getting feedback after a showing? How often are you successful getting feedback?
- What are some challenges you’ve encountered once you’ve had an accepted offer and are trying to get it to the closing table? What sets you apart from other Realtors in handling those challenges?
- What techniques do you have to make my listing stand out from all the others online?
- How often do you communicate with sellers? What kind of listing reports can you provide?
Q: Is commission negotiable?
A: Yes. Realtors set their commission rates based on lots of things including accessibility to agent (do they work 7 days a week helping you meet your needs), advertising, experience, price of home being sold and lots of other factors. Be sure to take all of that into account when discussing commission with Realtors.
Q: What closing costs will I have?
A: It’s different than when you bought your home since most of your closing costs were associated with obtaining a mortgage. Your costs for selling include commission, title insurance, property tax prorations and the settlement fee charged by the title company to perform the closing. Other costs may be negotiated by the buyer, such as seller contribution to buyer’s closing costs or a home warranty. Make sure that your Realtor provides you with an estimated cost worksheet to help you understand your bottom line.
Q: How do I know how to price my home?
A: Your realtor should do a market analysis to compare your home’s amenities with other similar homes that have recently sold to come up with a suggested price. However, the price at which a home can sell is, in the end, determined by the same old economic principles we learned about in school – Supply and Demand. A realtor works hard to determine what the possible demand will be and how the value of your home will be perceived by others, but these factors can sometimes be educated guesses and you should be prepared to make adjustments if the market is telling you that you to (ie no showings).
Q: Do I need an appraisal?
A: No. Typically a Realtor can do a market analysis for you that will help in the discussion regarding how to price the home. Your buyer will most likely have an appraisal done, but there is not typically a need for the seller to pay for an appraisal (around $400 in our market) unless it is a unique property.
Q: How long will it take for my home to sell?
A: Realtors can make predictions, but that’s all they are – predictions. No one can say for sure. Stack the cards in your favor by pricing the house well, staging it well, making sure your have maximum exposure and having a little patience. (I promise you that the most anxious and panicky you get about the selling, the longer it will take! Or at least it will seem that way to you!)
Q: How do I know if I need to change my price?
A: If you are getting lots of showings and no offers, you may need to consider your price. The people who are looking at your home are probably buying homes elsewhere so for some reason, they are not seeing the value in your home that they are seeing elsewhere. (Please re-read that last sentence, because it’s an important one!) So you and your Realtor need to find ways to increase buyer’s perception of value. It may mean making some upgrades so that your home is in better condition than the competition (creating a “better value”) or it may be lowering the price to create that “better value.”
If you are not getting any showings at all, it may be because the home doesn’t appear to have the same value (see above) or it may be that the property is so unique by reason of location or amenities, that there is just not a large market out there for the property. Talk with your Realtor about these possibilities. Be sure to review your competition (same price range) and honestly critique how your listing compares.
Q: How will you find a buyer?
A: The best buyers are the ones who are actively and seriously looking for a home. And the best marketing is geared towards them. Effective marketing goes to where the buyers are – the major real estate websites, the local MLS and local Realtors.
FAQs About Open Houses and Showings
Q: Will I have an open house?
A: That is something that can be discussed with your Realtor. My personal opinion is that open houses can be good to garner feedback, but typically don’t sell a house. Instead, you get to hear what people are thinking about a home.
Q: How many showings should I expect?
A: Almost impossible to say. I will say that buyers are making decisions more and more with just one showing on your home. This is because they’ve already done their first showing online, so when they come into your home in person, they’re serious! Make it count!
Q: How am I notified of showings?
A: Real Estate Brokerages have different methods. In my world, we use a showing service. This is great because there is always someone there to answer the phone and get the showing scheduled. My showing service will notify you via email, text and/or phone.
Q: Will I get to approve showing requests?
A: You can. Definitely. Showings can be set up as “Appointment ONLY” which means you have to approve it. Showings can also be set up as a “Courtesy Call” where you are notified as a courtesy but you don’t have to call back to approve. It’s automatically approved. This is used more for vacant homes or perhaps while you are out of town.
Q: Do I have to leave for showings?
A: YES! Please! It is uncomfortable for the buyer and the agent to have open and frank discussions about the home with the seller present.
Q: How long do showings take?
A: Showings are typically scheduled for an hour. Sometimes people take 15 minutes, sometimes 5. Sometimes the full hour. Plan on being away from the house the entire time.
Q: What do I do with my pets during showings?
A: It’s important to remember that some people have had bad experiences with dogs or cats. And sometimes dogs or cats have had bad experiences with people. As much as possible, it is best to remove the pet or confine the pet. Many people just load the pet in the car and drive around during showings. When I sold my house, I took my two dogs and hung out in the neighbor’s backyard. I could keep an eye on the house and see when the showing was over. But during work hours, that wasn’t possible for me, so I confined the dogs to a kennel. Brainstorm some ideas with your Realtor to figure out a plan A and a plan B. Most important: be sure that the Realtor showing the property knows there are pets on the premises.