Living Through the Home Buying Process
So, you want to buy or sell a home. Yep, that’s the goal, but there is a messy process on the way to that goal. The best we can accomplish here is to first warn you and then validate the pain you will likely experience.
A great place to invest some time before you start the buying and selling process is HGTV. While watching the 30 or 60 minute show, wrap your head around the fact that the show really took months of time and hundreds of hours of skillfully edited film to become entertainment. Living through the real estate process is not entertainment.
No matter if you are a buyer or seller, Real Estate is invasive, disruptive, stressful and personal. Put a big star beside the word “personal” on this list.
Let me clearly say on a personal note, we have been very fortunate to have had the best of experiences with great buyers, sellers and Realtors. Any nightmare scenarios expressed here are not my personal experience in this process, but my observations across 35 years as a fly on the wall at home inspections.
It is personal: For most sellers there is personal pride involved in the sale of the home. Then there is the personal space invasion of people going through your home. Some go through your cupboards and medicine cabinet. Others will go so far as to try out your furniture including your bed.
What gets personal for the buyer is the process of qualifying for financing. What about that bill you were late on last year? Give us your bank accounts. Las Vegas? You took a trip to Las Vegas? We need a letter from your parents that the money they put in your account is a gift, not a loan. As I said, it can be personal for the buyer too.
It is uncertain: There are so many steps, so many landmines, so many places to go wrong. You have the offer, acceptance and maybe several counter offers. Next comes the home inspections which may go well, or may not go very well. You wait to get the report back from the inspector. Then the hurdle of the buyer qualifying for the loan. Next is the appraisal, followed by a title search, and then other preparation details for closing.
The uncertainty can include goofy things. The other party can lose a job, change their mind, get a transfer out of the area, decide to divorce or pass away. A deal on one house falling apart can create a daisy chain of other sales not being able to go forward.
It is a lot of work: There is preparation. There is the process of getting ready for house showings. Then the finding of financial information. Next preparation of almost endless paperwork. Following all of this is the sorting, packing and moving.
It is stressful: Let see, the process is personal and uncertain with lots of waiting time between each step. The unknown factors and the trying to sort out the order of things is nuts. Sell first and then hurry to buy? Buy first and hope to sell? Pay for an appraisal first and hope the home passes inspection or pay for the inspection and hope it passes appraisal?
Let’s start back at the top of the process. The initial preparation and listing.
There are two real estate markets. One is the market where people want a “fixer upper.” Think what happens on HGTV. What a buyer is saying when they want a “fixer upper” is that they want to purchase a home so far below market price that they can spend of ton of money and still make a profit when they sell. Sometimes it is general condition that makes a home a “fixer upper”, other times it is decorating that belongs squarely in the 1980’s or so.
The other real estate market is the “ready to move in to” home. That is a home that has been updated and properly repaired. People will spend more money on these homes. Look at your home through HGTV eyes, not your own. If you want top money for your home, fix the big defects and drag the appearance of the home from the 1980’s to today.
Your decision is to pick which market direction you want to go as either a buyer or seller.
The Big Realtor Decision
You want a Realtor:
· Successful at selling listings in the geographic area and price point of the listing
· Has a good average time “on the market” between listing and sales
· That markets properties at your comfort level meeting your expectations
· That relates with your personality and communication expectations.”
· With good reviews that speak to your concerns
Selecting a Real Estate professional is an important decision. It may be the most important one you make. You can check with people you trust and research local listings and sales to find the answers to the questions.
Getting Your Home Ready to Sell
HGTV stages homes to sell to get the best price in the least time. So should you. Even if you need to move out of the home quickly, get listing pictures with the furnishings in the home.
My suggestion is to use a bugler alarm system. Empty homes are a commonly broken into by thieves and vandals to steal pipes and appliances. SimpliSafe has an alarm system that can be moved when the sale is over and offers a month to month monitoring service.
There is a subliminal psychological component to most home sales. Rid of the home of odor and clutter. A smelly home can cost you $10,000 or more in sales price. A dirty or cluttered home can do the same. By the way, removing clutter does not mean removing tasteful personal stuff. Buyers need to picture themselves in the home. You can provide emotional props such as family pictures as reminders of a happy life in that home.
Remove pets and distractions at showings. A barking dog does not leave potential buyers with a positive experience in the home.
Time the sale for the season that best shows your home. For instance, if you have a steep driveway avoid winter. If you live five miles from a ski resort, embrace winter.
No matter how you slice it, the Real Estate process is difficult, and as we started this discussion, “not entertainment”. Preparation and research takes time and effort, but can reduce the chance of problems. You will probably find yourself wishing for is a time machine that can jump you through the waiting times. That’s not happening.