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5 THINGS YOU MUST DO TO REDUCE THE STRESS OF SELLING YOUR HOME

ACCORDING TO SOME STUDIES, SELLING A HOME CAN BE AS STRESSFUL AS  GETTING A DIVORCE OR GOING THROUGH BANKRUPTCY. YOU CAN'T  ELIMINATE STRESS WHEN SELLING, BUT YOU CAN MINIMIZE IT BY TAKING  THE STEPS DESCRIBED BELOW. 

1. THIS MAY SOUND SELF-SERVING, BUT  CHOOSE THE RIGHT LISTING AGENT 

Our industry is rife with agents who don't  understand business, don't know how to provide  customer service, and don't communicate well. They  may "know real estate," but they don’t know how to  "do real estate." This is evident from start to finish— from showing homes to closing deals. 

Consider home showings, for instance. As a listing  agent who represents home sellers, I frequently hear  from my sellers about the bad habits of some  buyer’s agents: They don't turn off lights, close  doors, or wipe their feet. They let their client's kids  run amok, they break things, and they show up  unexpectedly. They even steal. Keep in mind, that’s  really a minority of agents…but those problem  agents do stand out! Ten agents may show up and  behave professionally, but the eleventh damages the  reputation of the previous ten by doing something  unprofessional. It drives responsible agents mad! 

My job is to minimize negative factors throughout  the transaction. That starts with controlling the  showing situation by managing the lock box, being  strict about showing instructions, and helping you  get your house ready for a bombardment of  strangers. I'm here to help, and that may even mean  helping you pack up your valuables to prevent theft  or breakage. 

No matter how you prepare your home, showing it  will still be uncomfortable, simply because you have to keep your home in show-ready condition. Together we can work out a system to make it at  least tolerable for the duration of your marketing  time. 

2. KEEP YOUR HOUSE 10 MINUTES AWAY  FROM BEING "SHOW READY" 

It is a huge pain to have to show your house. A huge  pain. There's no getting around it. And the longer it  takes your house to sell, the more painful it is.  

SOLUTIONS FOR "SHOWING STRESS": 

1. Move out first. But if that’s not an option… 

2. Pack most of your belongings in preparation for  moving. Live minimally in your house. 

3. Clean as you go. For some people that's easy.  But if you're the type of person who'd rather  play than clean house, you may not always have  the tidiest of homes. No judgement there, but if  that's you, spend a long time getting everything  deep cleaned, then close off areas you don’t  need to use. It'll be easier to do maintenance  cleaning in the areas you still use while selling.  And if a buyer complains that things aren't as  clean as they were when he first saw the house,  spend a little money to allow the buyer to bring  his/her own house cleaner in before moving in.  There's an old saying that "no one's dirt is as  clean as your own dirt," so no sense in arguing  about cleanliness. 

4. Have a plan for leaving the house during  showings. If you have a dog or kids, this can be a  bit harder to arrange, but is still important.  

If you can't leave the home, don't "lurk." Buyers  can't wait to get out of a house where they feel  the seller lurking in the background. Tell the  buyers you'll go read on the patio while they're  looking, or you'll take the kids for a walk, or  you'll be in the front yard, etc. Just remove your  "presence" as much as possible. 

3. LET GO OF THE HOUSE EMOTIONALLY 

I've sold a fair number of houses and I understand  that no one loves your house as much as you do. You  love the gardens you worked so hard on. You think  your decorating is great. You adore your cherry  wood kitchen cabinets. Your brand new expensive  carpeting is the perfect color.  

But buyers will still want to rip much of it out. 

They’ll say things that make you spitting mad, like  opining that your paint is ugly, your stone fireplace is  dated looking, or your light fixtures would have to be  changed. Right in front of you, they'll discuss getting  rid of your expensive carpeting or chopping down  your favorite tree—the one your kids played in as they were growing up.  

You must view your house as a commodity. Buyers  are trying to fit themselves into their own house, not  fit themselves into your home. They will want to  remove anything that doesn't feel like them...and  they want the freedom to talk about it with one  another while they're shopping for a home. So if you  don't want to hear it, then try to leave the house  when it's being shown. 

4. DON'T BE A TOUR GUIDE 

Buyer's real estate agents spend hours upon hours  with their buyers, going from home to home until  they're completely exhausted with trying to make  the buyer's dream come true.  

The last thing the buyer's agent (or the buyer) wants is for a seller to start playing tour guide. I've been in homes where the seller spent 45 minutes detailing  everything he'd ever done to his home. I knew what  he was doing. He was certain that his real estate  agent wasn't doing enough to "sell" all the special  features of his home, so he was taking matters into  his own hands.  

It doesn't work. Or at least it doesn't work any better  than typical showing strategies, and takes way too  long. Buyers know quickly if this is the house for  them, and just because the seller spent $2,000 on  "better" quality sprinklers, or the water softener is  only 3 months old, the buyers are not going to love it  any more. They'll try to be polite, but they'd really  like to leave.  

A better strategy is to tape a small sign to anything  special that you want to call attention to. Then if the  buyers are interested in the house, those extras will  be a nice touch that can put them over the edge.  

5. KNOW THAT YOU WILL HIT TURBULENCE ON THIS FLIGHT 

Once you get an offer, let your agent pilot the plane (metaphorically speaking). If you're running up into  the cockpit every time there's a bit of turbulence,  you'll just distract the pilot...but you won't actually change the turbulence. It's much better to hire an  excellent pilot in the first place, so that when turbulence does hit, you are confident he or she will handle it correctly.   

In real estate transactions there is ALWAYS  turbulence. There is never not turbulence.  Turbulence will happen. Always. 

For example, a problem always seems to arise with  the house itself, no matter how perfect you think it  is, and no matter how many advance repairs you  made. In many cases, that issue is something you  didn't know about. Or something you'd always lived  with, but never thought of as a problem.  

There's a better than average chance the house issue will arise at the worst possible moment, often at the  closing table...just when you think you're finished.  Keep in mind that a good buyer’s agent will press for  advantages for the buyer, which means they may  use the house issue to negotiate for more  concessions.  

Your best security for those last-minute negotiations  is what you do in advance to prepare. Here are a few  things I suggest, even before you start marketing  your home: Have an advance home inspection,  which will be in addition to the buyer’s home  inspection. Get a preliminary title report, which will  prevent any surprises on the title, such as old  easements. Take photographs around the house to  “prove” that things are where they are supposed to  be, which prevents last minute claims by buyers that  you “removed” something (usually light fixtures).  Look for the kinds of issues that buyers might notice,  such as stained carpeting. If you can fix it, go ahead.  

CONCLUSION 

If you can’t, then don’t hide it…but don’t call  attention to it, either. 

Even so, there will be surprises that none of us could  foresee. Here are a few things that I've encountered: 

A piece of drywall not being fastened down  properly, causing the buyers to demand all the  drywall be replaced. (Solution: We provided a drywall inspection demonstrating there were no  further problems.) 

A damp spot in the ceiling after rain, causing the  buyers to demand an entire roof replacement,  instead of the simple repair called for. (Solution:  We asked the roofing company to certify that  their repair would solve the problem, and the  seller offered to pay for the repair and an  extended warranty.) 

Buyers claiming a repair was done incorrectly  and refusing to close until it was redone…because the repair used average materials instead of high-end expensive  materials. (Solution: We stood firm, politely  letting the buyers know they didn't have any  grounds to prevent closing. Also in this case, we  served them with a Notice to Perform, which is  a legal way of saying, “you only have 24 hours to  close, or you’re going to have a problem if you  don’t.”) 

When it's time for you to sell your home, I'm on your side, and ready to stand up for you. Together we'll try to  control the showings, eliminate problems during showings, manage your time effectively, and stand up to the  challenges that will create turbulence during the sale. Experience counts for a lot when it comes to working with a  good listing agent. Call me at (559) 272-8557 for a listing appointment the moment you start thinking about selling.

 

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