If there’s a mantra every first-time seller should memorize, it’s this: expect the unexpected. While your realtor is going to educate you about the process of selling your home and share their thoughts about how the sale could go based on what’s going on in your market right now, no two sales are exactly alike. That’s because there are a number of issues that can come up at any point. These issues can affect anything from the timeline to the budget.
When these issues pop up to you, the first-time seller, they feel like an emergency. You worry you won’t be able to sell your home at all. Or maybe that you’ve made a terrible mistake. You could even worry because your realtor is 100% calm about the situation that’s sending you into overdrive. However, your Realtor is probably calm for a reason. Some issues are so common that experienced agents build these little setbacks into their timelines.
Here’s a quick list of just a few of the most common surprises when selling your home:
1. You have to completely re-stage your home.
However tactfully communicated, few people enjoy hearing that their current furniture is going to turn off potential buyers. Nobody wants to hear that most of their personal treasures (family photos, heirlooms, antiques, etc.) need to be put in storage. Then of course there’s the dreaded decluttering that is essential when it comes to selling your home. It can be a little embarrassing to admit to yourself how much you need to clean. Plus, you might think potential buyers should be looking at the home and not your memorabilia.
Yet the cliched reactions of reality show home buyers are not how real-life buyers actually react. They focus on paint color instead of room size, lighting instead of location, and decor choices instead of the layout. Furthermore, the more “stuff” in a room, the smaller it will feel.
Staging isn’t about judging your possessions, but about helping buyers see themselves living in the space. If your realtor is gently suggesting a lot of staging, understand that it’s probably because your home’s present state isn’t going to allow buyers to do that.
HERE is some more information on staging your home.
2. You have to spend money to fix a problem that you didn’t even notice.
A move is going to stretch your budget, even if you own your home outright and are experiencing a seller’s market in your area. So when your realtor suggests having a carpenter come in to check on the squeaky floorboards that you’ve tuned out over the years, or a team of painters to come by to take your walls from beige to eggshell white, you’re probably more than a little frustrated. After all, you’ve lived with all of this, is it really going to be a big deal?
Yes. Like staging, your realtor is coming into your home with a fresh eye and the instinctive knowledge of what buyers always notice. Spending a little now can mean your home sits for fewer days on the market. Luckily, because of the strong seller’s market, you probably don’t have to do any major repairs when preparing to sell your home. However, that just means anything your realtor suggests is even more important to accomplish.
3. You need to bump up your insurance before showing your home.
You might think your homeowner’s insurance is adequate. However, you might need to increase your coverage to protect yourself if people are going to visit your home. This is because potential buyers bring potential accidents. Even though open houses are now virtual, there will still be some potential buyers going through your home. The difference is, they will all be pre-approved and more serious than your typical open house goer. That’s why home insurance is still important, even in the age of COVID.
When selling your home, you’ll also want to get ahead of potential hazards like:
- Fencing off your pool if you haven’t already
- Sending pups to doggy daycare
- Putting non-slip pads under area rugs
- Anything else your home needs to make it safer
Worried about selling your home because of COVID? Here’s how to safely sell your home right now.
4. The buyer’s inspector basically said “everything” is wrong with your home.
This surprise can really send you into panic mode. A heavy-handed inspection report seems like the precursor to a doomed sale. Your realtor had already educated you about disclosures, had an inspector come by, asked you to fix major and minor issues, and yet there’s somehow a bunch of problems.
The issue comes down to the inspector. The buyer’s inspector might just be more stringent than others. Or maybe he or she likes to be exceedingly thorough when listing wear-and-tear issues. You should still expect to hear that there are problems with your home, though. While a potential buyer can (and often will) use the inspection report to negotiate, your realtor will offer guidance on what requests are reasonable and which aren’t.
You can find more information on what to expect during a home inspection HERE.
5. You had a buyer…and now you don’t.
The sale couldn’t have gone smoother. You had a few offers, found a great buyer, had a contract signed and you were done. Or so you thought. Welcome to the contingency period, where anything can happen. Maybe the buyer’s financing fell through. Perhaps the buyers were a couple who suddenly decided they were incompatible. Maybe the inspector found the beginnings of a thriving termite neighborhood under your deck. Whatever the reason was, the contract fell through and you’re back on the market.
While you can’t predict what can happen during the contingency period, you can mitigate some risk here beforehand. When selling your home, consider offers from buyers who have been pre-approved for financing. Also, opt for a thorough inspection before your home hits the market. Then, schedule a few fun things during the contingency period to keep stress levels manageable. Finally, if you can get back-up offers in hand, it could help alleviate some potential stress.
Selling Your Home Can Be Hard
While we tried to outline a few common “emergencies” that can send a first-time seller’s heart racing…we know that every seller has different timelines and priorities. If you’re unsure of how much you should be preparing your home for an upcoming sale, we’re here to listen to your concerns and help walk you through the process. For more information on selling your home, please give us a call or fill out the form below!