Selling a home can be stressful, fruitful, painful, exciting, and many other emotions all at once. It’s no small venture; for many, our house represents the years of our lives during which we called it home. For others, the house represents equity just begging to become liquid. Others still might just be finding themselves thinking about downsizing, perhaps out of a home of decades.
These emotions and priorities find themselves intertwined with the intricate reality of real estate when selling time comes around. Finding an agent, remodeling or repairing, making upgrades, working out the legalities of the agreement, and showings ad infinum. It can become a lot on your plate in a very little amount of time.
Given all of that, a smart seller finds themselves with a lot of work ahead of them. And as with any great mission, a lot of work is best handled with a plan at the outset. A home selling plan can take many forms, but for someone just looking for a place to start, answering your own questions is often a great way to organize your thoughts. Here are a few questions that we’d recommend a home seller have answers to before beginning their efforts:
1. Why am I selling my home?
You’d be surprised – this seemingly obvious question isn’t always answered before the initial trigger is pulled. Many home sellers are quick to identify with one of the three reasons that we mentioned in the first paragraph, or some other “push” into a new phase of life requiring a move. Even with one of those broader reasons in mind, flesh out your justification before moving forward. For example, if your goal is to gain some liquid capital, why? Will you net a profit with all of the expenses of your home sale? And will your next move (ostensibly to a new home) be worth the whole ordeal? With that in mind…
2. Where am I moving to?
When the object of sale in question happens to be your residence, your own well-being is on the line. It’s important that you have a new living situation in the pipeline at the very least when you set out. Beyond that, you should decide early on whether you want to buy a new home before you sell, or vice versa. There are advantages of both sides that are more pertinent for different situations. For example, should your situation allow, waiting to buy until after a sale will allow you to consider offers and get the best financial return possible on your home. As well, establishing a legally binding contingent period in your contract early on will allow you to to cancel the contract during a small window if you are unable to find a new home. This sort of foresight can end up being your parachute in an uncertain market.
3. How long can I afford to have it on the market?
You always want to have some form of leverage over the transaction, and realizing that you need to sell at the last minute out of circumstance is not exactly the best way to achieve a sale in your interest. Before getting your home on the market, determine the absolute worst case scenario that you would still be able to handle financially and situationally. You don’t want your home sale to stretch into the next phase of your life unexpectedly – far too many a homeowner has found themselves with one foot in each house attempting to juggle two transitions at once due to a lack of planning. And even more pertinent…
4. How much will it all cost?
You definitely don’t want to run out of money halfway through the home selling process – or at any point. Calculate costs of repair, agent commission, remodels, upgrades, marketing, photography, and anything else that will be needed through the process before you make your first move. It’s crucial to have this part at the very least squared away, lest you risk finding yourself in an enormous conundrum. Don’t assume that your agent will “figure it out” either – your agent will help you along the way, but they won’t do it all for you. Keep them abreast and keep yourself in the loop.
There are many other factors that go into the preparation of your home sale, but these are just a few questions to get you started. Hopefully you’ll take them into consideration when you set out to get your home off your hands. After all, failure to plan is planning to fail.