At 36 weeks pregnant, no one could have prepared me for the stress the next month would produce. We were on the verge of embarking on a grand new adventure; moving halfway across the country to where we knew no one, with an almost five year old and a newborn. Preparing to give birth and move almost immediately after was enough to drive a person mad in and of itself. Factor in the need to sell our first home, and it was hard to see the light at the end of that darn tunnel.
At the time, I was working in relocation and I dealt with the buying and selling of homes daily, so I had some frame of reference for what to expect. However, we had never never sold a home before, and it really is a whole different ball game when it’s your own home.
7 Tips for Selling Your Home
1. Hire a really good agent.
I know you’re probably thinking, “well, yeah, isn’t that a given?”, and yes, it should be. But I cannot stress the importance of having an agent who works hard for his or her clients, and really knows the market. Luckily for us, we were still in contact with our amazing agent, who had helped us with the purchase of the house. (Seriously, if you are in the Omaha or Lincoln area, I cannot recommend her enough!) We had talked off and on about maybe finding a different home in the same area, so I’m sure it came as quite a shock to her when I told her that we were moving to Washington! But she met with us right away, understood our timeline, and got. stuff. done.
2. Understand your market.
Your agent will be an excellent resource to provide you with all the information you need to know regarding comparable and competing properties. It still helps, though, to have an idea of what you’re up against going in. I have a mild obsession with the housing market and I love scoping out all the up and coming homes for sale, so this one was easy for me. But if you don’t know or understand the market that much, I highly recommend doing a neighborhood search of homes similar to yours, so you can have a basic idea of what similar properties are selling for.
3. Timing is everything.
Sometimes this is out of your hands, and it was for us. The market is typically hottest in Spring/early Summer, since that is when everyone seems to sell their home, but it is also when buyers are looking to get settled before their kids start school in the fall. We had no choice but to list our home in the beginning of August, but luckily the Omaha market showed no signs of slowing down at the time.
4. Request professional photos.
This is something that many agents cover for their clients because it can have such a huge impact on the sale of your home. The majority of buyers will look online prior to viewing a home in person. If the photos are poor in quality, or have bad angles or bad lighting, it can affect how the buyer views the home. And it’s those very same photos that will determine whether the buyer is going to even walk in your front door for a viewing. So find out if your agent covers this and if not, find out how you can get these done. It really is worth it.
5. Staging is key.
When you take a look around the internet at competing homes for sale, take note of how the properties are staged. Then, take inventory of what you have in your home. We ended up renting a storage unit and putting about half of our furniture in it, and it made such a huge difference! I then spent about $50 on some accent pillows and place settings for our dining room table and the place looked amazing! I was able to return everything except the plates, too! Just make sure that nothing looks too cluttered. This goes for closets, too. You want it to look like your home has as much storage space as possible, especially if you don’t really have that much closet space to begin with. And buyers will look inside closets trying to imagine fitting their stuff in there. It’s also a good idea to remove personal items, such as family photos, because buyers want to be able to picture their own family in the home, not yours. And finally, if you have any rooms with bright paint colors, consider neutralizing if it is in your budget to do so.
6. Remove pets during showings.
This may not always be possible, but if you would normally be home during the time a showing is taking place, take your pets outside the home. We had two dogs and some showings took place while we were at work. I know our dogs were probably barking their heads off, and this can be really distracting for a buyer who is trying to picture themselves living in your home. When we were able, we packed up the dogs and their kennels to avoid any distractions or conflicts for the buyers who were viewing the home. Also, make sure there are no pet odors looming.
7. Be patient.
This point goes for everybody, whether your house sells fast or sits on the market for a while. We had 11 showings scheduled within the first 24 hours of being listed. It was complete chaos trying to keep the house show ready at all times, wrangling the dogs, the 4 year old, and being heavily pregnant. I had no idea how long we would be able to keep that pace up. Luckily, we were under contract by day 2.
But sometimes houses just sit on the market for any number of factors. This can get extremely stressful. Periodically take note of competing properties and their time on the market. Make sure you are getting clear feedback from your agent about what buyers and other agents have said about the home. Ask your agent if a price drop is necessary or if you would benefit from professional staging. And if your agent isn’t working for you, find a new one (you may need to wait until your listing expires, so just make sure you read over your contract to see what the terms are).
We were so lucky to have an agent who understood our needs and was ready to work hard to get our home sold. It also helped tremendously that the market was as hot as it was. We were able to sell our home within our timeline and above what we were asking, though that is not always the case. Selling a home is hard, stressful work, and it can take time. But the more prepared you are, the smoother the process can go.