(D)emo­tion: It’s im­por­tant to take your feel­ings out of the sale


If there’s any­thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there is one over-arch­ing prin­ci­ple for get­ting the most money for your home: feel- ings and emo­tions muddy home sale wa­ters. I can’t stress enough to keep them as far away from your busi­ness de­ci­sions as pos­si­ble.

How­ever, I do ap­pre­ci­ate that it’s eas­ier said than done. Most of us have strong ties to our homes, and they in­vari­ably get in the way of the ul­ti­mate goal, which is to sell. I am of­ten sur­prised by how sell­ers can un­know­ingly hin­der their sale by mak­ing de­ci­sions based on emo­tion rather than on data. Here are the five rules you should fol­low to help you de­tach from your sale.

1Choose your Real­tor wisely. Don’t choose a Real­tor be­cause he or she looks friendly from the park bench ad­ver­tise­ment. I tell peo­ple to act as though you’re hir­ing a CEO for your com­pany. Meet with at least two or three and let them know you’re do­ing so. You need a Real­tor you re­spect and one who has a solid plan for you.

Bar none, this is the most im­por­tant piece of the puz­zle be­cause the right Real­tor will guide you through the rest of the sale process. Tell them ex­plic­itly that you’re in- ter­ested in max­i­miz­ing your profit and that you want their un­var­nished opin­ions.

Your best friend or brother-in­law may be a Real­tor, but keep in mind this doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily make them the best can­di­date for the job. In fact, it prob­a­bly makes them the wrong can­di­date. They may have trou­ble be­ing frank with you or you may be ir­ri­tated when they are — ei­ther way, this isn’t a de­sir­able sce­nario. The last thing you want is to jeop­ar­dize a re­la­tion­ship.

If you should de­cide to act as your own sales agent, the one thing you will need is heaps of time (for re­search and show­ings), oo­dles of ob­jec­tiv­ity and ex­tremely thick skin. Be pre­pared to deal with low of­fers, as po­ten­tial buy­ers tend to of­fer less when faced with a pri­vate sale.

2Set your price wisely. There is no ques­tion that you love your home, and you feel it’s worth a great deal.

But ask for too much and you’re likely to scare buy­ers away. Your house will linger on MLS un­til you’re forced to hang that dreaded “Re­duced” ban­ner, telling buy­ers that you’re des­per­ate for of­fers and prompt­ing them to won­der what’s wrong with your home.

Wouldn’t you ask your­self those same ques­tions in their shoes?

As tempt­ing as it is, don’t as­sess the home’s value based on what you paid, or on how much money you’ve put into im­prove­ments. The more re­search you do into com­pa­ra­ble homes in your neigh­bour­hood, the bet­ter you’ll be at gaug­ing its true mar­ket value. At­tend open houses. Rec­og­nize that other homes may have de­sir­able fea-

tures that yours is lack­ing.

3Come from a po­si­tion of strength — and if you can’t find it, fake it! To be in the ideal ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion, you won’t have to sell by a cer­tain date, and you won’t have a pur­chase rid­ing on the sale of your home.

Re­al­is­ti­cally, though, you may have no choice; you may have a new job, a baby on the way or a con­di­tional of­fer on the home of your dreams. Do what you can to keep prospec­tive buy­ers in the dark — par­tic­u­larly if you’re get­ting di­vorced. Your place should look hap­pily in­hab­ited, even if you’re not liv­ing there any­more. You want buy­ers to think you’ve got all the time in the world, and that you’re wait­ing to be im­pressed by an of­fer.

4Stage your home Stag­ing is the per­fect word for it. To max­i­mize your re­turn, you’ve got to put per­sonal taste and at­tach­ments aside and pre­tend your home isn’t yours any­more. I find home­own­ers strug­gle the most with this task. Ask for ad­vice to get it look­ing as much like a show home as pos­si­ble. If your cof­fee maker doesn’t gleam, keep it in a cup­board. Hide elec­tri­cal cords. Stow at least a third of your stuff in your mother’s base­ment. Make it invit­ing and neu­tral, and splurge on flow­ers. All of this will pay off, I as­sure you.

5Keep calm and carry on Don’t take it per­son­ally when buy­ers present low­ball of­fers. Re­mem­ber, they’re not in­sult­ing you; they’re test­ing the wa­ters. Some sell­ers are so offended by low of­fers that they refuse to ne­go­ti­ate. As hurt as you may feel, don’t shoot your­self in the foot. Take a deep breath and talk to your real­tor about an ap­pro­pri­ate counter-of­fer.

And once it’s a done deal, feel free to un­cork those emo­tions right along with a splash of cham­pagne.

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