I’ve sold hundreds of millions of dollars in properties. Here are nine simple truths that every seller should know.
1. Expect more from your agent. When considering and agent to represent your house ask yourself this simple question: Do they spend more time promoting themselves or the properties they represent? An agent that is constantly looking for new hands to shake and new homes to represent isn’t spending their time selling your property, they are focused on the next listing, hoping that yours sells itself.
I work an incredible number of hours, consumed with marketing, showing and selling my listings. I know that no one knows my listings better than I do, so when a cooperating agent asks to show my listing, I don’t just hand over the key or a code for a lock box. I show the property to buyers myself.
Most of my business comes from referrals. You won’t find my face on bus stops or shopping carts. Those agents are in the business of selling themselves, not your property.
2. Learn how to listen to advice and feedback A great agent identifies their client’s needs. A great client knows how to listen to their agent.
Whether it’s a conversation regarding pricing, strategy or customer (buyer) feedback, there needs to be a clear, open and honest channel of communication between the agent and their client.
I do my best work when I’m on the same page as the seller. We need to agree on how we’re going to work together, and we need to be free and open to discuss what is and isn’t working. Sometimes it’s in the form of agreeing on expectations, and sometimes it’s simply tough love. Feedback from potential buyers regarding the home or it’s pricing can help us to identify issues quickly and take the steps to resolve small problems before they become larger ones.
3. It’s all about telling the story. Selling a home is about telling the story. Not the story of the seller, but keying into all of the little details that make your property unique, enticing browsers to look a little deeper, and buyers to compose an offer.
The story of your home can be told with images, floorplans and text on the MLS and marketing materials, with staging, lighting, sounds and smells on actual showings, and most importantly with pleasant, comfortable and informed interaction between the potential buyer and your broker.
I employ professional photographers to photograph your home, and I have floorplans drawn on every listing. We only have one change to make a first impression, and the moment that the potential buyer first interacts with your home is often long before they see the home in person.
4. Negotiation is for professionals. I’ve sold hundreds of homes, representing buyers and sellers. My experience enables me to read buyers and agents, and to gain understanding into their offers and counteroffers, in ways a less experienced agent may never see.
In the end, a professional negotiation can be the difference between getting the deal done or having the buyer walk away. It can also be the difference between an acceptable price and an exceptional one.
I always endeavor to keep my clients involved and informed during a negotiation, because it’s not just about the price, it’s about the quality of the buyer, the agreed upon conditions of the sale, and the form of payment. With my guidance you can make an informed decision on how to respond to an offer.
5. Pitfalls are everywhere. An agreement in principle is not a contract. An astute agent is always protecting the deal. I work to manage every interaction to keep a deal moving forward, overcoming objections whenever possible, and seeking to guide the deal forward until closing. Understanding that pitfalls are everywhere, I try to keep the buyers and brokers on track, using momentum to my advantage to protect the deal. This also means continuing to show the property until the contract is signed. Sometimes a backup offer is the seller’s (and agent’s) best friend.
5. The devil is in the deal sheet. Upon acceptance of an offer the listing agent drafts a deal sheet. This deal sheet contains all of the information regarding the deal so that the seller’s attorney may draft a contract based on the agreed upon terms. It’s extremely difficult for a buyer or seller to introduce terms to a deal which were not agreed upon at the time the offer was accepted, therefore a skilled listing agent will negotiate all terms prior to the drafting of the deal sheet. Whether there are particular inclusions or exclusions (such as your mother’s chandelier) or whether the property is being delivered vacant or rented, furnished or not, as-is or with specific warranties can make or break a deal. We also must discuss whether the contract is contingent upon home inspection, environmental inspection, bank appraisal, financing, or other potential contingencies. Each of these things must be discussed with the seller, so that we can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
6. The home inspector isn’t your friend. I’ve always had mixed feelings regarding home inspectors. A good one is worth their weight in gold, but a not-so-good one can kill a deal in a moment. As the listing broker it’s my job to make sure that defects are dealt with in a way that the buyers feel comfortable continuing. Every home has some defects, most are curable, and developing a plan on how to handle objections is the agent’s primary job during the inspection.
7. Neither is the bank. Let’s say it. Agents love cash deals, but if our offers are including financing, it’s my responsibility to manage any risks that might occur due to the mortgage. These risks start when the offer comes in, and having a firm understanding of the buyer’s financial ability allows me to better value their offer and likelihood of receiving a mortgage. At the contractual phase, limiting the contingency conditions regarding appraisal and financing, and continue through doing everything we can to receive a positive appraisal, through maintaining continuous contact with the buyer’s broker or buyer regarding the current state of the bank’s underwriting is all part of the job. In the end, we want to be sure that an offer we accept will make it all the way to closing. The deal is never done until it’s closed.
8. You’re not moving out, you’re preparing the home for someone else to move in. The final walkthrough is important. It’s the first time the buyer will see the home, naked and ready for them to inhabit. It’s vital that we don’t make a misstep here. Technically the purpose of the final walkthrough is for the buyer to check the home for defected caused by the removal of the seller’s belongings, but more importantly, It may uncover defects which were obscured by the seller’s furnishings. In order to protect the deal, I always recommend a professional cleaning after moving out. Let’s keep the buyer engaged and ready to close.
9. Good closings are boring. One would think that all closings are boring, but I’ve seen closings where the bank has pulled their commitment, where the buyer (or seller) changed their mind, or ones where title issues postponed the closing. In a perfect closing we have a happy seller, and a happy buyer and a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate our luck and hard work!