After a home is sold, a seller often reflects on aspects of the process that didn’t go quite the way that they wanted. After all, selling a house is usually a lengthy process and lots of mistakes are made. Here are some of the things that sellers wish they had known at the beginning of this process.
Don’t hire your friend as your agent. As mentioned previously, the selling process can be a long one. You should feel empowered to speak up without worrying about putting a personal relationship on the line. It just is a horrible idea. Nothing good ever came from listing your house with your best friend.
Go beyond word of mouth. Referrals are handy, yes, but they’re not the only way to come up with a short list of potential realtors. Check out brokerage websites and read up on their agents (many provide biographies). See if anyone stands out to you, then give them a call. Visiting open houses is another good way to meet agents who represent similar properties to yours.
Consider keeping the contract with your agent short. Even if you adore your Realtor right now, you may feel different once the selling process is under way. Your best bet is to sign off on a three-month contract, which is the standard minimum. That way, if things go South, you’re only locked in for ninety days. The time frame can also help your Realtor as well. A good agent will invest a lot of time and their own money into marketing your property, and you want to give them sufficient time to see their marketing plan through.
Study up on comps. Your agent will study up on the comparable sales, or “comps,” in your area, but you should do your own research, too. Knowing what other homes are going for in your neighborhood will give you an idea of a fair asking price for your own. A lot of people have inflated ideas about what their place is worth. Sites like Trulia and Zillow are great places to start, or you can ask an agent to print out MLS listings for you.
Make sure you and your agent agree on what your home is worth and how it should be marketed. You and your agent should agree on the listing price, so if the number she suggests doesn’t match the one in your head, don’t be shy about asking for her reasoning. Just as important, of course, is how your home will be promoted. Find out whether professional photos will be taken, where ads will be placed and whether your agent will hold open houses and entice other agents to bring their buyers. Asking these questions will not only give you an idea of the resources available to an agent, it will give you insight into how they work and their level of excitement about your property.
Avoid the urge to list high. Sure, you want to get as much as you can for your home, but try to look at your home objectively, and list accordingly. If the price is too high at the outset, the house could sit on the market and start to look stale. Perspective buyers notice it’s been on the market for a while without selling, assume there must be something wrong with it and cross it off the list. Meanwhile, pricing just at or slightly below market value can help generate word of mouth needed in the first couple of weeks after listing, when sellers usually see the most activity. The right number can also mean your home moves faster. See: 8 Things Buyers Wish They Had Known Before They Bought The House.