Top 10 Home Seller Challenges

There are many motives to sell your home and move on. You may be looking to upsize, downsize, acquire a new job, get out of the heat, get out of the cold, etc. Whatever your reason, there are challenges you should be aware of so that you may plan for them. You can find much success if you keep an open mind and are diligent in your pursuit.

  1. Age Old Dilemma: Buy Another House or Sell Your Current One First?
    If you are renting and moving into a new-to-you home the process is usually fairly simple - you just let the lease expire or find another renter to fill your shoes. But what if you have a home to sell first? Do you sell it and move afterward with the need to rent or stay with family or friend? or do you buy another home and then with the risk that your current home doesn't sell quickly and you get stuck with extra monthly mortgage payments? or do you make your contract for the second house based on the sale of the first?

    There is no easy answer. You basically have three choices: move twice, risk paying extra mortgage payments, or ask the seller of your new home to accept your contingency.

    If you are tight on money and have the option to live with a family member or friend or you can rent for cheap you can live off the bare necessities until the first house closes and you are able to move into the second. If money isn't an issue then it makes sense to move ahead with the purchase of the second home and then take your time with the first. An option that may make your life simple but put stress on the seller of the new home is to make your contract contingent on the sale of your home. Be prepared to have that countered out of the contract because the other sellers may be under a tight time frame themselves. Each situation requires some analysis and an appropriate decision.

  2. Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent
    Be aware that a great deal of homes sold "For Sale By Owner" never make it to closing because of missed steps and a lack of ability to negotiate a deal for all parties. When you sell your home using a reputable, responsible agent can save you time, money, stress, and grief. How do you find such an agent? It is likely you have lived in the area for some time. Ask around. Interview multiple agents to determine their marketing plans. Call them out of the blue to see how long it takes for them to respond an what kind of answer you receive. Ask them about company aids. Ask about company recognition. Call again out of the blue and later in the evening. Do they answer their phone? do they get get back to you quickly in the morning if they didn't answer? If an agent comes highly recommended, seems very professional, knows what they are talking about, and responds to you then you may have a keeper. You will be signing an agreement with the agent (the agreement is typically with a brokerage and the agent is acting in their behalf). Be loyal to them. Understand they are human and that there are many moving parts in a home transaction. Don't crucify them too easily. They are there to aid you and many do a great job.

  3. Tight Timing for Your Move
    An agreement to sell your home most often comes with time frames for many things. Once you enter that contract it is likely that you are to close escrow and be out of your home on a certain date. Your move to your new location will need to be based on the time frames in your contract. You will likely be asked to pay a daily fee for any time you are still in the house you sold. It can get expensive. Plan accordingly.

  4. Maintaining a Presentable Home
    In some parts of the US a house may be on the market for months. A lot of things can go wrong during that time. Challenge children to pick up clutter a couple of times a day. isolate the pets in a certain area of the home if they live inside. Keep a can of touch up paint for mishaps. Act quickly to get things repaired. Don't let things pile up. Ask your Realtor to call a half hour or more before allowing the property to be shown.

    Consider a home warranty program. Many plans allow you to apply before the home is sold. They will actually cover until the home closes free of charge in some cases. That way if an A/C unit or water heater goes out they will come and repair it and only charge a deductible.

    Keep beds made throughout the home. Keep laundry folded and put away. Put shoes away. Help the home seem open and clean.

  5. Making the Right Repairs to a Home
    There are books out there that tell you to add a feature to a home and you will turn around and sell it for $10,000 more than you paid for the enhancement. The reality is that rarely does a newly added feature bring equal to or more than the money you put into it unless the home is in awful shape. A fresh coat of paint nearly always helps. Keep the colors neutral and lighter. Flooring is important and can be relatively inexpensive and leaves a huge impact on a buyer for better or for worse. Adding a car port can help but make sure you get the right permits and don't over build because it can get costly for the return you may see. It is important to make functional repairs in the home or plan to reduce the price to cover them. Then focus on cosmetics and make the home seem as new and well kept as possible.

    Quick note: if you live in a place where pools are common do not add a pool just to resell the home. You will almost always loose ground in your return, sometimes as much as $10,000-30,000. If you add a pool it needs to be for your use and should be done much before you resell.

  6. Determining the Right Price
    Here is where we talk of greed versus reality. The event your neighbor sells his/her house for $X doesn't mean your house will sell for that. Buyer's agents and appraisers pull area comparables to determine value. They try to "bracket" a home. They find one a little higher in price and one a little lower. They make adjustments based on the whole industry and based on your area. Sometimes you may want to test the market but be reasonable if an offer comes in where the house should realistically sell. Don't be offended if the market won't support your expectation. Nearly always the comps will indicate the price. Only in unique situations, where a buyer "just has to have this house" or a market is booming will you get an abnormal amount. Let your agent guide you. Have an official appraisal done for a second opinion if the amount seems wrong.

    Keep in mind: most home buyers will need to take out a loan to get their home. Banks and lenders will only lend money based on what the appraiser says the home is worth. If the asking price is more than the appraised value then someone will need to come to the table with extra cash or you will need to lower your asking price. The loan amount is determined by the appraised value and that should be your guide.

    Often you can "test" the market and list the home 2-3% about adjusted area comps. An appraiser may believe that the market is hot enough to support the value increase and allow it. If not you will need to negotiate the difference.

  7. A Weak Market
    Generally real estate is a great investment. There are more and more people and less and less inhabitable land. Home values typically appreciate at steady rates based on job opportunities and other factors. However, some markets suffer losses. Home owners have to decide whether they are going to "get out" and cut their losses or wait out the storm until the market bounces back. There are very few ways to counter a loss in home value. A home may sit on the market for months or years if it is over priced. The best a seller may be able to do is list it at a loss and allow equity in the home from previous years cover the losses of the current market. Another option is to rent out the home in hopes the values will rebound at some future.

  8. Buyers Want too Much
    Sellers are usually pretty set on what they will give in their negotiations. Ironically, buyers usually have set limits too. Usually, the two parties can come to a common ground and get what they both need. Occasionally, a buyer (cash investors) is accustomed to getting great deals and will offer way too little for the property. You will need to determine how motivated you are. Don't get offended in any case. Just counter them back and budge little if any at all. They may be testing you and you may find that they really do want the property and will give you what you want. If you get multiple offers you can choose which to work with and you can attempt to negotiate what is needed. If they counter back and have not moved then maybe they aren't a fit and need to be cancelled. Using an agent will help a great deal in these negotiations because a qualified agent will know what the market is doing and can guide you. In the end, however, the decision is yours.

  9. Managing People and Pets
    There are many things in motion when selling a property. Part of your plan should include what to do with people and pets as you get packed, make negotiations, and get moved. Challenge family members to help out as much as possible. Negotiate with them too. Determine what you need and give them something they may need. Make it win/win. Pets need to be minimized in the eyes of a buyer. Do what is necessary to make them disappear in the buyer's eye. Take care of everyone and stick to a plan.

  10. Managing Stress and Anxiety
    Selling, especially during times of negotiations, can be very stressful. Do what you can to keep an objective view. Base your decisions off of facts and data where possible and keep emotions at bay. Exercise, eat right, get sleep, and talk things out with others. Let you agent take on as much of the stress as possible.

Selling a home can be a great experience. Often is suggests one gets to move up, move on, and move out in a positive way. At times is may be sad or disheartening. In either case, try to find the facts, stick to a schedule, and work out details with your agent.


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