I recently read an article about life’s most stressful life events. Guess what was number one? Yep, you guessed it. I’m writing about it so the answer must be BUYING OR SELLING A HOME. Seriously. Number one, most stressful event before losing your job or the death of a loved one. This gave me pause. I mean, c’mon! I live, eat, breathe and sometimes even sleep “real estate” and I found it hard to believe that selling a home was more stressful to the poll respondents than a loved one’s death. But, then I thought about it and it started to make sense. There’s just so much uncertainty with selling your home. Should you sell it on your own? Should you use a Realtor®? What’s the right price to move your home quickly? But, not too quickly because then you have to move and your new home might not be ready. But, you don’t want your home to linger on the market too long, so what changes and renovations and repairs should you make? And then, what about when it’s finally listed? You have to keep it clean. All. The. Time. Then strangers are going to traipse through your house and make judgements about your home and the way you live in it. Are you hyperventilating yet?
Quick, grab a brown bag and take some slow deep breaths. Yes, selling your home is not for sissies, but it doesn’t have to be the single most stressful event in your life. Let’s break it down and tackle that list of panic-inducing, home-selling questions. This whole selling your home thing? It’s doable. With a little moxie, it’s more than manageable, especially if you find a real estate professional to help usher you through the process. Oh, look at that? I just answered question #1. YES! HIRE A REALTOR® TO HELP YOU SELL YOUR HOME.
Finding a Realtor® that you trust will reduce your stress ten-fold. Instead of navigating the ever-changing rules, laws and regulations by yourself, you’ll be armed with information in the form of a Realtor® who should be keeping abreast of market trends, changes and policies. Ask your potential Realtor® how much continuing education they take each year. Don’t pull punches. You’re not hiring a best friend. You’re hiring a professional to help you handle a very pricey transaction and they should be pleased (not insulted) that you’re asking tough questions.
How much should I list my house for? Once again, dear readers, this is a question for your faithful Realtor®. In fact, it’s something you should discuss when interviewing Realtors®. I cringe when friends tell me they hired the Realtor® that suggested the highest price for their home. The truth is, you need a real estate professional who can provide a comprehensive market analysis for your home. By figuring the sales prices of recently sold homes near you, prices for homes that may be your competition and even prices for homes that did not sell, they should be able to recommend the best asking price for you home. And let me be clear… the BEST price is the one that is going to help you sell your home quickly. Research shows that overpricing your home and then lowering your price usually leads to eventually selling it for a much lower price than what you should have originally asked.
What changes, renovations and repairs should you make? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a really good Realtor® will be able to help you come up with a manageable list and then help you find the right home improvement professionals to get the jobs done quickly and with quality results. Maybe you just need to freshen up your interior walls with today’s designer neutrals. Perhaps you want to replace those laminate kitchen countertops with granite. Maybe you need to declutter and depersonalize? Or perhaps you need the help of a staging professional. Even if your Realtor doesn’t arrive with their tool belt and paintbrush, they should arrive with a long list of trusted plumbers, painters, electricians and stagers.
How do you keep your home clean and show ready? This is, I know, one of the most stressful things about trying to sell your home. If you have kids and dogs, you can multiply the stress level by a bazillion. But, you can help reduce stress by having a good plan. By decluttering and organizing before we pound that FOR SALE sign in your front yard, you can create a clean slate that is actually easy to keep, well… clean. The internet (heck, even this blog!) is full of tips for keeping a house neat and tidy. Use baskets to stow toys, books, and papers. Consider making some rooms “off limits.” Make your bed when you get up in the morning. By thinking a few steps ahead, you can greatly reduce the stress of keeping your home constantly clean and sparkling. And if your situation is really dire? Ask your Realtor for their favorite cleaning company. Many companies offer special deals for home-selling clients who are interested in short-term contracts.
A few years ago, I worked with a great couple and helped them sell their first home and then turn around and buy their second. They were both attorneys, tough and smart and focused and I wasn’t a bit worried about their mental health while we sold their home. And then… the open house. As I welcomed the couple home after the very successful event and we began going through comment cards, my tough-as-nails, take-no-prisoners barrister simply crumbled. She hadn’t anticipated how brutally honest buyers would be about her home. “The bathrooms are way too small and need all new lighting.” “The colors in the entire downstairs are completely outdated.” “The listing brochure said ‘new hardwood,’ but it looks worn.” It was a learning moment for both of us. I helped her understand that buyers feel like they’re being “helpful” when they provide feedback, but that it didn’t mean we had to suddenly rewire the bathrooms or repaint the main floor. It just meant that we needed to relax, regroup, grow a slightly thicker skin and keep our eye on the prize. And you know what? That prize wound up being multiple offers on their lovely home. It’s really, really hard, but home sellers need to realize that they can’t take those anonymous comments to heart. Take some calming breaths, grab a latte with your Realtor® and let it all roll off your back.
So, yep… selling your home is not for sissies. But with the help of a trusted Realtor®, it should absolutely not be the most stressful thing you’ll face in your life. You might not ever consider it a fun time, but you should feel proud, confident and sure of your choices and when you sign your name at that closing and collect that check, you’ll know that you’ve faced the challenge and walked away a winner!