8 Things Realtors Want You To Know Before Buying Or Selling A Home

8 Things Realtors Want You To Know Before Buying Or Selling A Home

  • Forbes | Terri Williams
  • 06/20/24

Whether you’re buying a home or trying to sell one, knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have, the more you’re empowered to make the right decisions. Good realtors and brokers are a wealth of information for buyers and sellers looking for ways to maximize their transactions. Here’s what they want you to know about buying and/or selling your home.

Understand The Process

According to Brett Ringelheim, licensed real estate salesperson at Compass in New York, before listing a seller’s property, he has an in-depth conversation about the entire process. “During this discussion, I share my experiences with other sellers, highlighting both the good and the bad,” Ringelheim says. He notes it's crucial that sellers, especially first-timers, thoroughly understand the process before their property hits the market.

For example, one thing first-time sellers might not understand is that they should probably expect to be inconvenienced during the process. “Being flexible with showings and open houses is important, as it allows more prospective buyers to view the property, increasing the chances of finding the right buyer in a timely manner,” advises Mike Downer, broker associate at Coldwell Banker Realty in Naples, Florida.

Be Emotionally Detached

When selling your home, check your feelings at the door. According to India Headley, broker and team lead of Housed by Headley Team at EXP Realty in Connecticut, sellers need to be emotionally prepared to sell. “Once your house goes live on the market, you can anticipate ample traffic with showings, incoming offers that may falsely inflate or deflate your confidence in value, and once you actually sign a contract, there may be some understandable anxiety that kicks in,” Headley says.

However, she adds this is not the time to second-guess your decision when you start thinking of the memories and good times you’ve had in the house. People don’t buy your memories – they want to create their own. “Be proud that you maintained an asset that can serve someone else for years to come, and remember that the grass will always be greener where you water it, so let's move,” Headley says.

Get A Pre-Inspection

If you get a pre-inspection before you put your home on the market, Headley says it can save everyone a lot of time. “If both parties can be made aware of things that are major and/or minor, we can deal with it more effectively upfront,” she notes. Depending on the findings, Headley says your realtor can properly advise you how to remedy the issue by extending their knowledge, resources, and referrals. “It'll also take some stress off the seller during the buyer's due diligence period knowing that deal breakers shouldn't be an issue,” she explains.

Understand That Buyers Have Different Opinions

One reason you should be emotionally detached is that you may hear some unflattering comments about your home. “Every buyer who views your property will have a different opinion, so it's essential not to get discouraged by their feedback,” Ringelheim says. Your favorite features may be the very qualities that some buyers may hate. For example, you may love your all-white kitchen, but some buyers might consider it boring. And that garden you worked so hard to cultivate: Perhaps buyers can’t wait to remove it.

Just make sure that buyers don’t have legitimate concerns. Ringelheim agrees that before listing, it's advisable to conduct an inspection to identify and address any potential issues. “Resolving these red flags before listing ensures a smoother transaction once a buyer is found,” he explains.

Downer adds that home maintenance is another crucial factor that sellers should be aware of. “Ensuring that the property is well-maintained and addressing any necessary repairs can significantly impact its appeal to potential buyers,” he says.

But keep in mind that your home isn’t for everyone, and some potential buyers will let their feelings be known, loud and clear.

First Impressions Matter

Even though it’s still a buyer’s market, you won’t get the best price if you just plop a For Sale sign in your front yard. According to Nicole Beauchamp, associate real estate broker at Sotheby’s International Realty in Manhattan, that first impression is everything – and this goes beyond just making sure that the home is sound.

“It is so important to prepare the home for sale, and investing in refreshing your home and staging, along with pricing realistically, can make a difference in how quickly you sell and for how much,” Beauchamp says. “Declutter, remove personal effects, and never underestimate the impact of a fresh coat of paint and a deep clean.”

While decluttering, here’s something that can be sensitive for some people. Ivan Chorney with the Ivan and Mike Team at Compass in Florida recommends removing personal items that could distract potential buyers. “This includes family photos, knick-knacks, collections, and out-of-season holiday decorations,” Chorney says. He explains that your personal items could prevent buyers from envisioning themselves living in the space.

“While neutral as a theme is overdone, the space must be a canvas for someone else, not an ode to your history, so make your home look less lived in by minimizing personal touches,” Chorney advises.

Your Home Might Not Sell Immediately

In the housing market, both sellers and buyers are trying to get the best price – and that number varies depending on which side of the transaction you’re on. “Depending on the property's market and condition, sellers should be prepared for the possibility of receiving low offers and the chance that the property might not sell immediately,” Ringelheim says. “I explain the importance of reviewing recent comparable sales to set realistic expectations regarding pricing, and how long properties have stayed on the market.” If sellers want to aggressively price their properties, he says they need to understand the need for patience.

In fact, Downer warns that sellers need to understand that overpricing their home can often result in it sitting on the market for a prolonged period. “This can deter potential buyers and lead to the property becoming stigmatized, making it more challenging to sell at a later stage,” he explains.

Crunch The Numbers

Real estate advice often talks about understanding the financial component when purchasing a home. However, Beauchamp says it’s also important for both buyers and sellers to clearly understand the financial aspect.

Selling a house isn’t just about the purchase price you receive. “Sellers may have a home equity line of credit, and that balance will reduce how much money they receive,” Beauchamp explains. For buyers, she says they need to understand closing costs, and the other costs of home ownership. Both need to speak with their tax advisors to gain a realistic picture of the bottom line numbers.

Trust Your Realtor

It’s tempting to look at someone else’s home and compare your situation to what happened to that person. However, Headley recommends leaving the market analysis to the experts. “Just because you know someone whose house didn't sell as easily as they anticipated or for a specific amount, doesn't mean that you'll face the same fate as a seller,” she says, adding there are many contributing factors that determine how properties perform, and a local realtor is your best resource for recommended time to sell, what buyers are looking for in your area, and purchase price.

Dawn David, licensed associate real estate broker with Corcoran in New York, says she wishes consumers better understood the extensive effort required to sell homes. “Sadly, when consumers try to act on their own, they may miss a critical window when a property is first introduced to the market by presenting it in a light that isn’t well received or is mispriced, resulting in a taint of sorts that others can’t pinpoint, but results in the property being ignored,” David says.

While experienced sales professionals can get you maximum value by determining an accurate fit for the actual state of the market, David says consumers selling without an agent are often misaligned with the reality of the market.

“Agents prepare you to capture all qualified interests with exhaustive tips for improvements, staging, decluttering, and we help you avoid the make-it-or-break-it qualities that immediately turn people off and prevent you from getting offers when most factors would indicate a potential offer is imminent,” she says. In addition, David says realtors and brokers present guidance on negotiating for the best price.

However, not all real estate professionals are created equally. “Make sure your licensed professional is up to date on the commission laws, latest marketing trends, and even ask them how they're incorporating tech, like AI, to get your home sold,” Headley says. “Now is the time to ask questions more than ever and choose the agent that likes to answer them.”

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