Before we discuss the remedies, let's discuss what emotional stress is all about. Stress is a reaction to uncertainty, fear and the unknown. Nobody enjoys feeling hurried or rushed, particularly when there is a sizable asset and there are financial consequences for making a poor decision. The best advice I can give for selling your home is to take your time and do things in a well-planned, organized way. Of course, the first thing I recommend is to have an outstanding Realtor manage the entire sale. The more things you have somebody manage, the less burden there will be on you, and the less you'll have to think about it. Here are a few things you can do that will probably be recommended by your agent.
1. Home Inspections in Advance: Although there is a small cost involved with having an inspection and buyers will still want to do their own inspection, I recommend having an inspection in advance. You will be well-prepared for whatever comes up and can make decisions without being pressured. It is totally up to you whether you want to make some repairs in advance, or just dig your heels in and say the house is being sold as is. When the market is good, you could sell as is and probably get away with it. When the market is not so good, you may want to do those repairs in advance so the buyer doesn't get scared off by a laundry list of repairs. Of course, you will need to show the buyer that you did an inspection and any repairs you've done. Even if you are not going to do repairs, having an inspection in advance levels the playing field and will let everybody know what to expect.
2. Appraisals: Although many offers are currently being written without an appraisal contingency, you might want to know well in advance whether your house will appraise out. This does not mean you need to hire a professional appraiser, but at least have your Realtor run comparable sales so you know if you are in the ballpark. If you are trying to sell your home for above what the comparables show, be prepared for a potential problem. Look to your real estate agent for a strategy on how to deal with that problem upfront so you're not faced with it at the last minute and you don't fall out of escrow. There are certainly ways a good Realtor can work around the fact that there are not adequate comparable sales. You need to get that direction from your agent -- that is one of the things agents are paid for.
3. Home Showings: Although it is never comfortable to have people walking through your home, you want to be prepared by packing up your valuables so there are no problems with the house being shown. I recommend putting away medications as well as valuables. You might even want to depersonalize your house by removing pictures and things with your name on them. You don't want a buyer knowing your personal business. Showings can be by appointment only or by open house. Have your agent explain the pros and cons of an open house.
4. Preparing your House: A good real estate agent should help you prepare your house. Even if it is somewhat of a fixer-upper, there are things you can do to make it show its best. You want the house to be photo ready when the photographer comes. And, by the way, a good real estate agent should have an outstanding photographer.
Staging might be advisable to discuss. It is difficult to stage a house when you are still living in it, but perhaps your agent has somebody on their team or a consultant who could help make suggestions on moving furniture around, deleting certain pieces of furniture, or adding necessary furnishings or art. Sometimes plants will enhance a house, but dead plants will do just the opposite. If you are anticipating selling your house in the next six to nine months, make the right moves pertaining to landscaping and so forth. You may want to sell your house in the springtime or when the flowers are in bloom, for example.
At the end of the day, be prepared for the market by asking good questions and choosing a good agent. Price your home accordingly; understand the market; and be prepared. When it comes to escrow closing, make sure your agent has cleared all the contingencies long in advance and that you are not waiting until the last minute to find out whether the sale is going to go through. That is one of the biggest stress components. The sooner things go through, the more you can prepare for your move.
I am always happy to discuss selling procedures and how to make selling a seamless and comfortable experience.
For more information, please call Ron Wynn at 310-963-9944, or email him at Ron@RonWynn.com. To find out more about Ron and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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