19 Things to Expect When Selling Your Home
In case this is your first sale and no one has told you this yet, selling your house is a lot of work, and it’s stressful. If you have already sold a house - and the more recent, the more pertinent - you already know this to be true.
Whichever your situation is, here are 19 things you probably may or may not be expecting when you list your Hamilton house for sale:
1. You have A LOT of stuff - You may think you don’t, but when it’s time to start getting ready for sale, you’ll realize just how much you have. Throw out, donate and pre-pack & store your stuff – think of it as preparing for your upcoming move after a successful sale.
2. Your feelings will probably be hurt by what the Stager recommends - When you work with a full-service agent, chances are you’ll be introduced to a Staging Consultant (I always provide and pay for a staging consultation). This part of the selling process can be taken very personally…and it’s usually pretty painful. Keep in mind: the stager’s (and my) goal is to market your home to its highest and best use and appeal to as many buyers as possible – it’s not a personal attack on your decor style. Your style just may not be what best sells homes and that’s okay for you to live with...but not optimal for selling. Professional stagers know what buyers want to see and what catches their attention, online and in person. Trust the people you’ve hired to do their thing and trust that it will contribute to a faster sale, a higher price, or both.
3. Your renovations may not have added as much value as you think - Some call this the HGTV curse – the idea that everybody has been hoodwinked into thinking that if they spend $10,000 on renovations before they sell, that they’ll make $20,000 in return. Truth: it doesn’t always work out that way, and in fact most times people lose money on the work they’ve done. Truth: before you invest even a penny into renovating pre-sale, call in an experienced REALTOR. They’ll be able to tell you what’s worth doing and what’s not.
4. Some agents are rude - They may show up for a showing appointment late, or not at all, and may not call to say so. Many of them will leave their shoes on, despite the sign that tells them to remove them. I can’t and won’t defend this behaviour, but I can warn you. With 1,000’s of agents in Hamilton and across the GTA, you can expect a good chunk of them won’t respect your time (sorry).
5. While your property is on the market, you’ll have daily stress about the number of showings - Shouldn’t there have been more showings by now? What’s normal? An experienced agent should be able to predict mostly what to expect for the type of property you have and tell you in advance what’s normal in your neighbourhood and for the time of year you list. The number of expected showings will change depending on how long you’re on the market, and hopefully, your agent will let you know at the first sign of something that isn’t normal and expected so you can react and adjust accordingly.
6. While your property is on the market, you’ll wonder about every showing - Was that my Buyer? Did they like it? Are they going to make an offer? In most cases, your agent won’t actually be at the showing (the potential buyer’s agent will), unless he or she is bringing their own potential buyers through the home. Good agents will ask for feedback – but they’ll usually wait a day or so to do it so as not to signal desperation. Unfortunately, most agents won’t actually give much, if any, feedback. So you’ll likely be left wondering most of the time.
7. Between the time after you’ve accepted an offer and the close, you’re responsible for making sure that nothing happens to the home - Buyers are entitled to the home in the same condition it was in when they purchased it, so if something breaks, you’ll need to fix it before close. If it was already broken then it is not your problem. You’ll need to maintain home insurance until you don’t own your house any longer.
8. Speaking of insurance - Sometimes, sales don’t close on the day they’re supposed to, and while this is very inconvenient, you may want to consider extending the insurance on your home a day or two past the closing date, just in case. If you don’t do that, and something goes wrong, and the closing gets delayed, don’t forget to call the insurer and tell them to extend your insurance!
9. You need to disclose some/all of your home’s defects - As a seller, you have a legal duty to disclose anything that can’t be seen upon an inspection (called a “latent” defect) and that could impact the new buyer’s enjoyment of the house. This could be a structural defect that poses a risk of a wall collapsing, or a history of flooding that would foster the growth of toxic mould. These situations would require disclosure.
10. You’re likely to be expected to leave the property in “broom-swept” condition on closing - Your Agreement of Purchase and Sale probably stipulates that you can’t just move out and leave your home a mess. Consider having your house professionally cleaned before you move out to remove any doubt or risk about any complaints, issues - or worse - legal claims.
11. When agents bring their clients back to see your property a second time, that’s a good sign, but far from a guarantee of an offer - It is hard, but try and avoid the roller coaster of ups and downs of emotions. You cannot will any buyer to want to buy your home. They either want it or they won’t and there is no amount of anxiety that can change that (other than always keeping your home in tip-top shape, but that is not hope, that is plain old work).
12. Your buyer will probably see your home for the first time online - Gone are the days when agents introduced buyers to properties. Motivated buyers are online, obsessively checking listings, multiple times per day. If your home doesn’t look good online – spectacular photos/videos and attractive marketing copy – and they aren’t falling in love right away – you’ve got a long road ahead of you.
13. You’re going to become a bit of a stalker - While you’re listed, you’ll wonder about your competition, how many showings they’re getting and how busy their open houses are. You might want to go undercover to your competitors’ open houses - and that is a good idea (as is a private showing). You’ll also wonder how much everything around you is selling for. Totally normal. A good agent will pre-load you with all of that info.
14. Buyers don’t care what’s convenient for you - They want to see your home on their own schedule. Sellers who turn down showing appointment requests often don’t realize the risks they are taking. Stats show that about 50% of the showings that get refused don’t get rebooked. Buyers can be fickle that way, and you may have just refused a buyer with buckets of money who wants to close when you do.
15. The average house gets an offer after 8-12 showings - If there isn’t one by around that time, there is a very good chance that the property is not properly staged, photographed, priced, marketed or easy for agents to show.
16. Leaving your home every time there’s a showing is a pain – but it’s worth it - No buyer can comfortably look through your home while you’re there, watching their every move. You’ll spend a lot of time at Starbucks, in your condo lobby, taking the dog for a walk or at your in-laws – but that discomfort will pay back, I promise. Think of each instance as earning money for yourself.
17. Unless you own everybody’s dream home (most of us don’t), expect some low ball offers and don’t let your feelings get hurt - Even in bidding wars, there will be low ball offers. A good agent will be able to justify your asking price and negotiate the price to market value. Don’t be afraid of negotiating with a low ball offer (especially if it is the only one you have). Don’t make the mistake of walking away from an offer on your property – for instance being $30K below asking and not even consider negotiating. You have a “fish on the line” so see what you can get. Buyers rarely come in with their best offer first, unless it is a bidding war.
18. Bidding wars don’t always work - I know you read about crazy bidding wars all the time, but it doesn’t always work. Getting multiple buyers at the table at the same time is an art, and depends on your property, your neighbourhood, your competition, your asking price, marketing and more. Don’t assume you’ll get a bidding war – and be prepared with a backup strategy if you don’t.
19. Every property sells when the price is right - It doesn’t matter if you own a really gross house full of mould or a condo next to the party room and across from the elevator – there’s a market for every home. The key is pricing it RIGHT.