Tips for First Time Home Sellers

Last week, I wrote some do’s and don’ts to help first time home buyers prepare to buy their first home.  Last week, there were tips specifically for selling a home during the fall.  Yesterday, I started providing information for sellers, specifically about tips for selling a vacant home.  Today, I’d like to address first time home sellers.  Newness to the home selling process and a lethargic real estate market could make anyone balk at the prospect of selling a home for the first time. Here are some tips particularly for people who may be selling a home for the very first time. 

  1. It’s Not Impossible. About 5.25 million  existing homes were sold throughout the year in 2001. About 5.65 million existing home were sold in 2007, the fifth highest year on record, even though the market was down.  Though that figure is still 12.8% short of the 6.48 million sold in 2006, it shows that even when the real estate market may look dismal, other people have been selling their homes.  You can sell yours, too.
  2. Get Representation.  You knew it was important to have a real estate agent help when you bought the house.  Know that when you are selling your home, it’s even more important to have a Realtor looking out for your best interests.  It is your equity that has been building up in the house. Take time to pick the right Realtor with experience and knowledge, don’t just choose the first person you interview or your second-cousin who just got their license.  For your home sale to be a true success, you must have an effective negotiator help you to get the best price and terms possible.
  3. Get with the Times. It has probably been a while since you purchased your home.  If it has been five years or more, know that today's real estate market is entirely different than it was when you were shopping for a home. Home buyers are informing themselves through use of the Internet, asking for seller disclosure forms, demanding home inspection contingencies, and are usually coming to meetings represented by their own buyer agents. All this adds up to you needing to make extra efforts to market your home and attract the right buyer.
  4. Fix It Up. When most people decide to purchase a house, they expect everything to work and be in fair condition. Even if a potential buyer misses a problem with the house, the professional home inspector they will most likely hire probably won’t miss it. Fix anything which may need mending before the home is on the market.  It could mean the difference between you picking who fill fix it (and how much you will spend on it) or the home’s buyer.
  5. Make It Shine. When it comes to selling a home, first impressions can make or break whether or not a potential driver makes it up the driveway or across the threshold.  Your home needs to look its best, both inside and out.  Evaluate what your first impression of your home is from street-level. This is what is known as “curb appeal.”  If your house is has it, people will want to take a look inside.  That is step one.  Step two is making sure that they don’t turn tail and run when the inside doesn’t match.  Do everything you can to spruce up and clean your home before you put it on the market.
  6. Reduce Your Furnishing. Remember when you’re showing your house to potential buyers, they should be able imagine their own things in your space. That could be complicated if the house is filled with a lot of very personal item.  If you can try to make a few rooms look like those in Home & Garden, couldn’t you imagine how quickly a buyer would fall in love with it?  You don’t have to make every room look perfect, but try to pick the most important or striking rooms and really make them look their best.   When choosing what types of decorations to keep, simple is always better.
  7. Analyze Your Market. Real estate is incredibly local. Your Realtor, real estate agent, or broker can help you to understand current market trends in your individual neighborhood, including what types of homes are selling, which aren’t, and why. Knowing this will help you get the best possible price and terms when you sell your home.
  8. Research the Competition. Selling a house is a competition.  Right now, it’s a buyers market out there, with sellers trying to get their attention.  Buyers have the luxury of taking their time to choose exactly the right home.  Gather information about other properties in the area which are up for sale, competing for the attention of potential buyers. Your realtor will be a valuable resource to help your home be competitive in your specific market.  They should also be able to tell you if your property has an edge over others which may be nearby.
  9. Play the Timing.  Timing is another part of the equation which can effect how and when your house sells. Like now, when interest rates are low, your odds of selling your home are good. Likewise, when the credit market is being crunched like now, homes still sell.  The goal is to be realistic and sell your home for as high of a price as current local market conditions allow. This could sometimes mean holding off until later to sell, but only in some cases. Talk to your Realtor to know for sure.
  10. Know The Plan. It takes more than putting photos on the internet, putting a “For Sale” sign in front, and placing an ad in the paper to market a home to potential buyers. A good Realtor will use many ways to attract potential home buyers to your house. You should discuss with your Realtor what individual strategy they will use to sell your home.

Even if you’re a motived and exicted seller, selling a first home is an emotional event.  It was your first home, so naturally you will have some attachment to the property.  Remember the reasons you’re moving, whether that is relocation, a bigger house, or more features.  Then it will be much easier to find the motivation to sell your first home.

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