My experience for this article comes from being a frequent home buyer and not a Realtor. As the owner of a handyman business, I participate in a wonderful online real estate community called Active Rain where I get insight into the real estate market which is incredibly valuable during these challenging economic times.
There have been several articles on teamwork that made me realize that almost every successful home sale isn't because of one person, but rather a team of people working towards a common goal. When you buy or sell a home, you are building a team and ideally everyone looks at the relationship as a partnership, much the way you must partner with your doctor, accountant or attorney.
Real Estate Partnerships
You can't assume all real estate agents are the same. Every individual is unique and the first thing you should recognize is that a Realtor is someone who's made a commitment to their profession, has ongoing training and works according to a code of ethics published by the National Association of Realtors.
Finding the right realtor – takes me back to San Jose, CA in 1999. With 2 sons moving on to schools located in the east, my husband agreed to move east to reduce my coast-to-coast commuting and bring us closer to both families.
- For our “selling Realtor” we visited numerous open houses and talked to at least 20 Realtors. We picked someone who was very outgoing, fairly aggressive and she lived in our neighborhood and understood the market. When the relocation company balked because they had pre-negotiated contracts with certain offices, we fought for 10 days until our Realtor (and her office) were approved.
- For our “buying Realtor” we had limited time in NH to find a home so I interviewed several prospective Realtors by phone. I explained my criteria, and 3 national real estate companies provided me with someone to interview. I picked my Realtor, flew to Boston for a weekend tour … and bought 1 of 5 houses visited (sent my husband photos via email before making offer).
- The message here, find a Realtor who understands and respects your values and your needs, someone you connect with easily to help a stressful process go more smoothly.
Listening to your Realtor – appears to be the more challenging area. Just as you have expertise in your chosen profession, good Realtors have invested time to build expertise in real estate. They are consultants who know how to present your home for sale because they know what is selling, what comparable prices homes like yours are listed for … and how much competition there is currently. There are so many variables today that a good Realtor is key.
- Pricing – gets a lot of discussion on Active Rain, and the question you have to ask is “Do you want to list your home … or do you want to sell your home? Too often the home owner insists on setting too high a price, only to lower the asking price one/multiple times. This lengthens the selling cycle and often means the seller accepts a lower price than they might have gotten with realistic pricing at the beginning.
- Prepare Your House for Sale. At any time, there are buyers who have been looking, and will be interested in your house. When your home comes on the market, it only take a few days for their Realtor to review the listing with them and schedule a showing. You want home home to be perfect for this first rush (2 to 3 weeks) of prospective buyers. Unfortunately many home owners list their homes before they're ready – I did this when I was living in Tokyo, and we were coming home to a new location. The Realtor found a contractor but once the house was listed, didn't make sure things got done quickly.
- De-clutter so your home looks spacious. Clear counter tops, put away (start packing) knick knacks and sometimes an extra piece of furniture that makes a room look smaller than it is.
- Have your home professionally staged. This means you'll be painting some rooms, changing some of your accent pieces, maybe taking down window treatments. The goal is to highlight your homes key selling points and remove distractions.
- Have an inspection and make repairs before your house is shown. Buyers will do another inspection but there shouldn't be any surprises. You will benefit from having a home that is “well cared for” and there will be fewer things for the buyer to negotiate.
To illustrate the importance of these actions, let me share a story about one of my customers. I recommended we make repairs before the house was listed but an open house was scheduled. Instead of making the repairs in March before they listed their home … they called us to do the work in July after the family moved out (already on the market 4 months), and there hadn't been even one offer.
As we were completing the repairs, I suggested home staging to really showcase the house. The owner reduced the price and if the home doesn't sell … will take it off the market over the winter. We have a schedule for staging the home in February, to re-list March 15th. Fortunately, the right buyer arrived in the fall so when I called the homeowner in February, I was able to congratulate him on the sale of his home.