There are several reasons why you might be thinking about taking that step:
Your family’s needs have outgrown your current home or you may need to relocate due to work or family reasons.
Or perhaps you are at a point in your life where you want to go down in size and simplify your home maintenance.
In a previous blog post I discussed the 3 questions you must answer to determine if you are ready to buy a home.
Today I want to look at the 3 keys to success when you decide it is time to sell your house: information gathering, getting the house ready, and being patient with the process.
1. Information Gathering
One of the first things you should do is to get professional help in the form of a real estate agent.
You want to work with a person that you can trust, that knows your area well, and that will give you objective information about the prospects of selling your home.
When we decided to move from Round Rock, TX to Frisco, TX almost 6 years ago, we met with an agent and this is what we discussed:
What do we have to do to get the House Ready?
At that time, we had owned the house for about 14 years. We asked the agent to do a walk through of the house and make recommendations on what we needed to do.
You want to make the house appealing to potential buyers. You have to put yourself in the mindset of a buyer.
Here are some examples of the actions he recommended:
- Fresh coat of paint for both the interior and exterior of the home. Unfortunately, I had not done anything in that space in all that time. A mistake I hope not to repeat in the future.
- Replace some of the light fixtures. In 14 years the preferred styles had changed quite a bit and we needed to give the home a fresh look.
- Make some minor repairs to the back porch and also on our fence. We also replaced the carpet in the entire house for the 1st time and even spent a little money on adding a kitchen back splash.
- Eliminate the clutter. When you live in your house for a long time, you tend to accumulate lots of stuff. As you get ready to show your house to prospective buyers, you may want to take an opportunity to sell or donate unused items.
Remember, this list of recommendations will be specific to your home and your situation. You will have to decide what makes sense to you.
Sale Price for Comparable Homes
This is what it is normally referred to as “comps”. You need to have an idea of what homes are selling for in your area at this time.
This will greatly inform you when it is time to put a sale price for your home. You want this price to be realistic with what the market dictates.
The market will tell you the truth about the worth of your home in spite of what you think the home is really worth.
Average Days on the Market
This is what is normally referred to as the “DOM” metric. It will tell you on average how long it is taking for homes to sell in your area.
This will give you an idea of how long the sale process might be in your case. Remember that no matter what the national or even state news might say, real estate is a local proposition.
The sale of your home has more to do with local factors than with any national numbers in the real estate market.
2. Getting the House Ready
This was of course the fun part. Once we decided to sell our home and were armed with information, it was time to create a plan for the required renovations.
Now you know me. I am a Project Manager by trade and a natural nerd. So I created a simple spreadsheet for a budget and a timeline for the projects we had to complete before putting our home on the market.
First we had to decide on our budget for the required renovations. You know we don’t borrow money, so we had to assign a total amount for the renovation consistent with our savings.
We also had to decide on which projects we wanted to do ourselves and for which projects we wanted to use professionals.
For example the painting and carpet replacement we outsourced. Cleaning and minor repairs/replacements we did ourselves.
In terms of the timeline, we discussed with some of our providers what order made sense. We put down the new carpet down first and then we had the house painted (it makes sense, trust me).
Once we selected the timeline and budget for our projects, we were able to target a date for putting the house on the market.
And then it was time for doing the work. It was a lot of work and lot of items to manage but we were extremely pleased with the results.
We even got to enjoy some of those changes for a while. The lesson is that home renovations should be an ongoing task consistent with your budget and needs.
It is definitely easier and more cost effective to renovate as you live in the house vs. doing it all at once. Again, lesson learned!
3. Being Patient with the Process
This is both very important but also very difficult.
Hopefully you are not in a situation where you have to sell your house due to a financial hardship or other critical situation.
When you are in a “must sell” situation you make different decisions because the main driver is how quick you need to sell the house.
But in a situation where you can afford to wait, patience is your best friend. When we decided to sell our home, the main driver was being closer to family.
In our case, we did not need to sell our home so we could afford to wait for the best possible offer and then make the move.
Remember also, that once you put the home on the market, you will need to keep it ready for visits from prospective buyers at all times.
Your real estate agent might give you a call at any time saying he has someone that wants to look at the house within the hour. Sometimes, you will even have less time than that.
Get yourself in a position where you can do that with minimal disruptions, but expect the disruptions. You will need to be patient, because this will happen multiple times.
Finally, do not get frustrated with how long the process is taking or how many views the house has seen. If you picked a good real estate agent, trust his process to market your home. He is your ally.
In our case we had less than 5 home visits but we sold our house in 30 days (to a cash buyer!).
In the end, thanks to information gathering, a careful plan to get the house ready, and patience with the process we achieved our goals.
What other keys to success have you found in the process of selling a house?