What to Expect While Selling Your Home

By Diane Saatchi

When you first list your property for sale, it’s exciting.

You’ve prepared your house and your property to appeal to a buyer [11.4.15 Preparing to Sell Property & House] and you’re emotionally ready to move on [1.26.16 The Psychological Side of Preparing to Sell Your House], so your broker has an open house and other brokers stop by, bringing their clients to see what’s on offer.

Then, you sit by the phone, waiting for the call that will send you off to your next home with good memories and hopefully full pockets 

However, the days, weeks, or months leading up to that fateful call can be confusing and seem like forever if you haven’t sold a home before. Or if, the last time you listed and sold, the market was more robust than it is now. Here’s what you should expect:

You’ll have a whole team on your side.

Aside from your listing broker, you’ll have an attorney (at least in the Hamptons), and often an inspector, a surveyor, and sometimes a stager and even a declutterer.

Your broker will be in close touch.

Out of that team, your broker will be your closest contact. The selling process is a really critical time for brokers to be in touch with clients. It’s also a very hard time for brokers to be in touch with clients, because they often have to deliver no news, or worse, bad news. As much as you love your home, there’s no guarantee potential buyers will feel the same -- and it’s up to your broker to pass on the message when buyers aren’t feeling it.

There are some things that will be out of your control.

In one real estate course I took, the teacher said, “Two things sell houses: price and location. And there’s nothing you can do about the location.” If that’s the case for your home, you need to either adjust the price to the market’s condition or improve the product to better appeal to buyers.

Your taste might not be as widely appealing as you thought.

Improving the product oftentimes means staging your home, which can be emotionally difficult. Sellers sometimes think they can stage a house themselves, but by decorating it in the first place, you have staged it already. Your staging just isn’t appealing to potential buyers. A professional stager can cost upward of $30,000, but it makes a big difference. What doesn’t make as big of a difference, however, is lowering your asking price by the cost of staging (something I’ve seen sellers try to do). While it seems logical on your end, it doesn’t have the same effect on the buyer.

You might be surprised by what you don’t know about your home.

I’d estimate that about 50% of the houses I’ve sold over the years have conditions that are not accurately portrayed on a new survey or in the certificate of occupancy (CO). Usually, the story goes, a client brings their broker downstairs to show off a beautifully finished bedroom and bathroom that they insist their builder registered appropriately on the CO. He didn’t.

Sorting out an inaccurate CO can be a headache, and sometimes a potential buyer doesn’t want to wait. This is the reason I recommend getting a new survey and an inspection before you list your property.

Sometimes sellers are mistaken about the correct boundaries of their property, or even surprised to find out the remaining balance on their mortgage.

Whether your house sells quickly doesn’t depend wholly on your broker.

Sellers whose property remains on the market often think they can change brokers, and then it will sell. Sometimes it does, because the next broker convinces them to change the price, or the market has changed. Some brokers are more effective than others, and some personalities are better matches, but if there is no market or the price is too high, even the most gifted broker won’t be able to sell your house.

Don’t get discouraged.

Your home will sell. It might not feel that way after a few months or even years listing your property, but a motivated seller, in tune with market conditions, will transact. The price may not be what you had in mind at the outset but markets, not wishes, ultimately determine the price.


© 2016 Diane Saatchi