Selling Your First Home 101
By Bob Walsmith Jr.
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors
In last week’s article, I wrote about a checklist for First Time Home Buyers. This week, in the spirit of fairness, I will write about what First Time Home Sellers should do to prepare.
You love and cherish your home. You want the next owner to fall in love with it too — through photos, through words, and through the experience of walking through your front door. But, perhaps most, you want to get the price you want.
Selling a home requires work. It requires time. The journey isn’t always easy. There will be frustrations. But when you seal the deal and move on to your next chapter, it sure feels good!
Below, I will discuss each step in your journey. How to know what you want (and what your partner wants, if you’re selling together), how to understand the market, and ways to make a plan.
Know Exactly What You Want
First things first: You need to know what you want (and what your partner wants) in order to sell your home with minimum frustration. Why are you moving? What do you expect from the process? When, exactly, should you put that For Sale sign in the yard?
Do Your Research
Unless you bought your home last week, the housing market has changed since you became a homeowner. Mortgage rates fluctuate, inventory shifts over time — these are just a few of the factors that affect the state of the market, and every market is unique. Educate yourself on what to expect.
Interview and Select an Agent
This is the most important relationship you’ll form on your home selling journey (as it is for the home buyer as well). Pick the right agent and you’ll likely get a better sales price for your house and it will be less stressful.
Hopefully, the Realtor who sold you the home in the first place is still around and in business, has stayed in touch with you, perhaps has become a friend and an important ally when it comes to suggestions for vendors, and is keeping you up to date on the latest home values, etc.
Price Your Home
How much is your home worth? That’s the … $1,000,000+ question. Whatever the number, you need to know it. This again is an area that you will need to rely on your Realtor. Pricing your home too high will result in fewer people coming to see it, let alone making an offer on it. There is nothing worse than having a home priced too high, and then having to go through a price reduction, sometimes more than one.
Prep Your Home for Sale
Today, home buyers have unfettered access to property listings online, so you have to make a great first impression — on the internet and in person. That means you’ll have to declutter all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years, make any necessary repairs, and get your home in pristine condition. Oftentimes your home won’t need a major staging operation, but just an expert’s touch to make it look its best. This, again, is where your Realtor can help. They can bring in a professional stager to make subtle, but very important suggestions.
Market Your Home
Home buyers look at countless listings online. The best-marketed homes have beautiful photos and compelling property descriptions, so they can get likes — which can amount to buyer interest — on social media. Agents may also use videos, virtual tours, texts, and audio messages. It’s time to consider how to promote your property. Your Realtor might also conduct open houses that will attract buyers. A great Realtor will often think of marketing ideas that are ‘outside the box’ to make your home stand out.
Showcase Your Home
Your agent will help you get your home in show-ready condition, emphasizing its assets and helping buyers envision themselves there. In today’s environment, your agent might disinfect your home before and after a showing to ensure that you and any visitors are safe. To help keep sellers safe, agents are also using virtual showings, relying on Zoom or Facetime to walk a buyer through your home.
Yes, you might get offers (plural) depending on your market. Assuming you’ve collaborated with your agent, you’ve likely positioned yourself to receive attractive bids. Your agent will review each offer with you to determine which is best for you. The highest price may not always be the best offer. There are other considerations such as cash vs. financing, the possibility of waiving contingencies, shortening the escrow period, etc.
Negotiate With the Buyer
To get the best deal for you, you’ll likely have to do some negotiating. Your agent will help you craft a strategic counteroffer to the buyer’s offer, factoring in not only money, but contingencies, etc.
Negotiate Home Inspection Repairs
Ah, the home inspection. It’s as much a source of anxiety for buyers as it is for sellers. Nonetheless, most purchase agreements are contingent on a home inspection (plus an appraisal, which will be managed by the buyer’s lender). This gives the buyer the ability to inspect the home from top to bottom and request repairs. You always have the option to negotiate any repairs. Once again, your agent will be there to help you effectively communicate with the buyer.
Close the Sale
Closing is the last step in the home selling process. This is where you sign the final paperwork, make this whole thing official, and collect your check. Before that can happen though, you’ll have to prepare your home for the buyer’s final walk-through and troubleshoot any last-minute issues.
Bob Walsmith Jr. is a native to Southern California and a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara. During his work with the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Bob has served on the CORE Committee, Education Committee, been Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and the Multiple Listing Service Committee. He also is on the Board of Directors of the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara. Bob lives in Goleta with his beautiful wife Julie. When not working, Bob enjoys playing golf, fine wine, fine dining, and walking our beautiful coastline. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org
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