Friday, August 23, 2013

Selling a House - What We Wish We Would Have Known

We OFFICIALLY closed on our house yesterday (HOORAY!!!), and we have had a lot of really important insights that we wish we would have known as a first time home seller, so I thought I'd share them and hope they help someone else!
Do your research ahead of time
  • Know what the market is like in your are
  • Look for comparable houses - see what's available in your house size as well as in the same schools (these can be separate - if you are the only 4 bedroom house in your school district, that's a big deal)
  • Look at the finishings in those houses to see how yours compares - if your house is more move in ready and needs less updating, that's a reason it should be listed for more
  • Know what you think your house should be listed at and see if your realtors' market value is similar - this should be a factor when deciding which realtor you want to work with
Interview multiple realtors
Just because you like the first realtor you meet doesn't mean you should stop there.  Talk to a couple of others and if you still love the first, it should just confirm to you that they are your best choice!  Once you have chosen, be ready to give reasons to the others that you did not select - they will ask and it's nice if you can give them something meaningful.

Ask who you'll REALLY be working with
When you are interviewing realtors, you are going to get to know the person whose face will be representing your house - that doesn't mean that you'll have much access to them, or that they will actually be doing most of the work.  Ask them who schedules their appointments, who draws up their paperwork, and who answers the phones.

After the interview, our realtor was the person who contacted us about 10% of the time - the others in the office were the ones we had contact with 90% of them time, and we didn't get to meet them ahead of time.

Don't accept contingencies
Unless of course you have all the time in the world!

We were supposed to close on July 26 because that's when our buyers were supposed to close on their house.  It's now almost a month later and their house buyer's loan has still not been signed off on by the USDA - don't even get me started on the USDA writing home loans.

Next time, we will not accept a closing contingent on another closing - we will set a date and after that date, there will be a charge for every additional day that goes by that we haven't closed.

Know how offers and counter offers work
If you get an offer on your house, and you want to counter, you have to be sure EVERYTHING written down - if you are removing something from your counter, you have to put it in writing - an example:

$100,000 purchase price
$3,000 in Closing Costs
$500 for a home warranty

If you want to counter at a price of $105,000 and you don't want to pay closing costs, you can't just counter with this...

Purchase price $105,000

You also have to say Seller will not pay closing costs.  If you don't wan to make any changes to the home warranty, then you don't have to mention that.

We had a situation like this, and we didn't know that our realtor's office had screwed up our counter, but they did and we were FURIOUS - as first time sellers, we didn't know how that worked and we almost got screwed by it (we also almost fired our realtor because that's their job and you should be able to trust that they are doing it right)

Don't show your hand
Your realtor doesn't need to know what your bottom line is, so don't share it with them.  Yes - you should know in advance what you'd like to make on your house and where you're willing to give, but that doesn't mean you need to share that information.  Realtors want to make a sale because they want their commission - that's their job - so giving that information to them could make them push you to make a deal that you don't really want to make because they are trying to seal the deal.

Selling a house is stressful - most people are on a timeline when doing so, so be prepared when choosing your realtor, listing your house and going through the process.

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