Your home is where you’ve lived and loved, where you’ve laughed and cried, where you’ve huddled and snuggled. You’re the pea, your home is the pod. And you’ve been through a lot together.
Now that it’s time to put it on the market, you’re likely experiencing some sadness, plus plenty of anxiety. Because really: How often does your future depend on selling your past? If you’re a little overwhelmed, we don’t blame you.
But there’s also good news: You don’t have to go it alone.
A professional REALTOR® has your back when it comes to the financials, like setting a listing price and marketing, staging, and making repairs to your house. He or she can also help you navigate more personal issues, such as your timeline, and what you’re hoping to achieve with the sale.
For all of those reasons, it’s important to find an expert who is right for you and your specific situation, and who can help you get what you want. Here’s how:
Know what a REALTOR® can do for you
Before you start interviewing prospective agents, have a clear sense of what you want to get out of the selling process. When so much money is on the table, it’s crucial to know what your goals are, so that you can find a REALTOR® who really speaks to them.
Then, it helps to understand what a REALTOR® does (other than sell your most valuable asset — no big deal).
The REALTOR® will:
• Work with you to price your home;
• Market your home (we’re talking pretty pictures, social media promo, cute staging — the works);
• Negotiate with home buyers;
• Usher the home sale through inspection and closing.
Now, let’s break all of that down . . .
Pricing your home
This is the big question, right? How do I set the price? The short answer is you’ll need to trust your REALTOR® to recommend a smart listing price.
So how can you tell whether a REALTOR® — a relative stranger to you — is choosing the best price for your home? You need to do two things:
1. Know, generally speaking, what your property is worth. Do your research on the prices of local comps, (but understand the limits of online property sites). Run your info by your REALTOR® for an informed perspective. Your REALTOR® can also do this for you.
2. Ask the agent for pricing information on homes he or she has recently sold. Specifically, what the differences were between their listing prices and how much the homes ultimately sold for.
You’re looking for accuracy. Anyone could suggest a high price for your home, knowing it’s what you’d like to hear. But nobody (especially you) wants to have a house languish on the market, or to reduce a price repeatedly.
Marketing your home
The REALTOR® will also get the word out that your house is on the market, using a combination of old-school (but powerful) marketing techniques — such as direct mail, signage, and open houses — and the modern methods we know and love, like MLS® and social media. Savvy agents will post pics of your house on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and any other platform that can get likes plus the attention of other real estate agents who can bring buyers to the table.
Negotiating with buyers
When offers start pouring in, your agent will negotiate with prospective buyers on not only the sale price but also on what contingencies (aka special circumstances) are attached to the contract. As with any negotiation, there could be some stressful, fraught moments with the buyers. You’ll want an agent who can step up for you, and who has a negotiation style that you’re comfortable with.
Closing the sale
Once you’ve signed a purchase agreement with a buyer (woo-hoo!), your agent will help you navigate the sale’s remaining steps. This includes negotiating home repair requests post inspection and dealing with any last-minute surprises before closing.
The average REALTOR® does all of the above. A great REALTOR® does all of the above, while also inspiring your confidence — that they’re getting the best price for you, and that they’re representing you and your home in the best possible light.