These are questions we ask at our listing appointments all the time. Homeowners don't always think things through before they make the decision to sell and as professionals, it is our job to help them see what they need to do to make the transaction a success.
Most people know how important it is to prepare your home before you sell, but even before that it is important to do your homework by asking yourself some important questions.
1. Why do you want to sell?
Your motivation for selling tells alot about how you will approach the whole process. If you aren't truly motivated and just thought it might be a good time to move but aren't commited to the process you could be setting yourself up for disappointment.
Some common reasons for selling include... job transfer, change in personal relationships, health problems, change in financial situation, home is too small, upgrade, find another home that fixes the things that really annoy you about your current home, move closer or further away from family, neighborhood changes, empty nest, retirement, deferred maintenance, maxed home improvement, find a home/location that more closely matches your lifestyle.
- If you are selling because you have to, just move forward and do what you have to do to get it sold as quickly as possible
- If you want to sell but don't have to, examine your reasons and financial situation to determine if now is a good time for you to sell
2. Where will you live after you sell?
Some people already know where they will go once they sell. If you fall into that category... just get on with the selling process so you can move on with your life.
If you will be buying another home, will you be able to find and buy a home that supports your reasons for selling? Some important next steps are...
- Get an estimate of what your current home will sell for
- Get an estimate of your net proceeds at time of sale after selling costs... in today's market of declining values, this sometimes isn't so much a question of how much you will take away from closing as how much cash you will have to bring to closing when you sell
- Talk to a lender to determine the price range you will qualify to purchase
- If you have the option of buying before you sell, find out how much you qualify for both if you do sell and if you don't sell your current home before closing on your new home
- Some people decide to keep their current home as investment property and rent it while waiting for more favorable selling conditions... think of this as a mid- to long-term option, rather than just waiting a year or two
- Go 'shopping' for your next home to determine if you can find a new home that meets your needs... be sure to actually visit homes, not just view them online... you can be very surprised either way once you get inside!
- If you find quite a few options, move forward with selling your home and get ready to find and buy a new home as soon as you get an offer on your current home
- If you have specific requirements that make your options pretty limited but still possible, you may consider buying before you sell if that is an option for you... or you may consider the possibility of renting for awhile until you find the right home to purchase after you sell
- You may be surprised at how far your buying dollar will stretch in today's market with lower prices and low interest rates... even if you need to bring money to close the sale of your current home, you may find you get much more home for you money on your purchase
- What you have learned from this question will help you decide your next steps, which may include setting aside more in savings to be able to make the change, looking for other money options such as gift money or borrowing from your 401k if you need more cash
If you determine that it makes sense to sell now, you are ready to start getting your home ready to sell and move on to the next question...
3. Are you ready to disassociate yourself from your home?
For many people, especially if you have lived in your home for a long time, this can be one of the most difficult parts of the whole selling process. It is also one of the most essential, because until you are ready for this step you aren't truly commited to selling your home.
Think of listing your home in the MLS as putting it on a shelf in the 'house store'. At this point it ceases to be your home and becomes just a house... a commodity to be sold. And just like products in a store are staged to appeal to your emotions and attract as many buyers as possible, the same is true of preparing your home for sale.
Preparing your home for sale may include...
- Repairs and fixups
- Freshening up walls, floors, countertops, bathroom fixtures
- Rearranging furniture, closets and cabinets
- Removing favorite items you plan to take with you, such as a treasured antique light fixture or the curtains your mother hand made for you
- Creating impact and pizzazz as soon as you come in the front door, as well as in each room
- Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning... it should both look and smell sparkling clean!
- Enhancing curb appeal
- Making sure visitors can clearly read your house number
If you have made it this far, you are indeed ready to sell your home... congratulations and good long along the journey!