Deciding to sell your home is a huge undertaking, and there are numerous items to consider when doing so. From the simple thought of where to move next, to the complex details of accepting an offer, from negotiating with a buyer through inspections and repairs, to moving the process through title work so the home's deed is transferred correctly, the home selling process can become convoluted quickly.
In today's day and age of online marketing, online document sharing, digitization of media, and thousands of resources devoted to staging, design, inspections, and repair, it can be easy for families to lose site of where to start and how it will end. Choosing to sell a house on your own can be an undertaking many homeowners find overwhelming and time consuming, and most often end up changing their minds. But then there's the important decision they must make on who to hire to get the house sold.
Preparing to take on such a task of listing a home for sale entails some serious work and should begin with a Realtor. Interviewing agents is the best way to feel more comfortable about the decision to sell your home. And interviewing agents will allow you to, hopefully, garner a relationship with an agent you feel most confident in, and who will do what they're paid to do - sell your home. But what should you look for in an agent and why?
Today, as opposed to just a dozen years ago or so, online inquiries of homes for sale dominates the landscape. Over 90% of all home searches begin online, and where someone begins can have a bearing on how your own home sells. Did you know that the major sites, like Zillow and Trulia, don't list all homes that are for sale? Even some big brokerage listings aren't placed on these sites because of differences in agendas. So, be sure to inquire if your home will actually be listed on these sites. These sites are chalk full of inaccurate information as well, so be prepared to review them prior to listing to make sure specs are up to date.
Deciding on the price of your home is another major obstacle to overcome with an agent and, more importantly, yourself. Are you prepared to potentially learn your home isn't truly worth what you think it's worth? Always remember that it's not you or the agent that dictates what your home is worth, it’s the market. Any agent or online program can tell you what they think it's worth, but the true indicator is the price at which homes similar to yours in quality, age, and size have been selling for in your area.
Deciding on what agent or team to use to market and sell your home is no easy undertaking. While interviewing agents, find out what they do to market the home that's out of the norm. Everyone's home will be put online but, as stated earlier, not all major sites will be utilized. Verify how the agent will push your listing to market and via what platforms. Ask what their marketing budget is, where the most money is spent, why, and for how long. Our team, for instance, is one of the biggest spenders with Zillow and Trulia so that we capture more buyers for our listings. We additionally budget funds for advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. These social sites create a buzz and we know how to get that started.
What kind of yard signs will be installed? Will the pictures be professional or taken on the agent's cell phone? Do you have an option for drone footage or 3D mapping and imaging? If so, who does this? The agent, or a professional services that does it on a daily basis? Once these images and videos are posted online, how do they track traffic and how do they focus on verified demographics to push these media types out? It’s complex...but in today's market, you need to be coupled with an agent or team that understands the digital age, not just someone who posts "I Just Sold This House" on Facebook.
The other main topic of selecting the right agent for the job, I believe, is contract negotiations. Many sellers feel that an agent that can get them the most money for the house is the best negotiator. But, how would you ever know if that's the case? Beyond the final sales price, what other pieces of the process can cause the final sales price to fluctuate? Typically, the inspection response and the appraisal. How well do you think your selected agent can manage a transaction with another agent at this critical moment in the process? Being able to understand all options available to a buyer and seller in regards to repairs is essential.
Inspection response and repairs can cause many deals to fall apart. I believe this to be the hardest part to navigate for most agents, but it doesn't have to be. Preparing the seller of what to expect during this point of the sale needs to take place in your initial interview. Have them walk the house and share with you what they see in the house that he/she believes needs to be addressed before listing. Do they know and understand the appraisal process to be able to call out items that need repaired before even showing a house? Do they know what is expected in an FHA appraisal as opposed to a conventional loan appraisal?
Negotiating through inspections is probably the most taxing part of the process (aside from packing boxes for the move) but an appraisal can be the most nerve racking. There's not much you can do but let the appraiser in and wait for his blessing. Or receive the bad news - your home didn't appraise. Now what?? Is your agent well versed in speaking to an appraiser and pleading your home's case for being worth more than they said? Can your agent even speak to them? Will it matter? What if it's an FHA loan, which will remain "attached" to the house for months, no matter who buys the home?
As you can see, getting through inspections and an appraisal takes some navigating, and it should be done by someone who understands the process and guidelines. Don't be afraid to ask the agents you interview what experience they have. How many homes have you sold? Where? For how long? What did you do before you got into this business? You may be surprised to find that some of the best agents in the industry haven't been doing it for dozens of years. They come from financial backgrounds, insurance, teaching, law enforcement etc. Just know that there is not necessarily a positive correlation between how long someone has been in the business and their ability to sell your house effectively or for the most money. So, just ask!
Selling a home can be one of the most stressful occurrences in anyone's life, but with the right agent, it doesn't have to be. Selecting the right agent who puts your mind at ease with their understanding, compassion, knowledge, and experience can make a huge difference during the process. Do your homework, ask questions, and don't rush if you don't have to. A good agent will tell you when a good time is to list but never push you to do so.
Best of luck in your decision to sell your home!
-Josh Latham | Realtor/Broker | Indy Home Pros Team