(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.