Welcome to It's Just Stuff's #whatsonyourmindwednesday guest blogs. Every week #TeamIJS is inviting one of our Preferred Partners to share what is on their minds as it relates to the services they provide and the connection to helping anyone struggling with organizing and executive functioning skills.
This week we invited a local Realtor partner, Adam Sloat, the Broker/Owner at Westwater Realty to share his wealth of knowledge and experience about preparing to sell your home. He is very passionate about Real Estate and negotiating the best deals for all of his clients, whether buying or selling. And he is also very connected to our community, volunteering for a variety of different causes as well as planning events utilizing his years of experience producing music festivals and concerts. As he says, "Serving my community is a core value for me and I love putting smiles on people’s faces through the experience of entertainment at community events." Who wouldn't want to work with someone who is all about making people smile? 😊
Does the thought of selling your home instantly instill a sense of panic?
Are you dreading the chaos to come?
If you answered yes to either/both questions above, st
ep back and take a long breath… and…exhale.
Okay, that’s step one.
Step two is to contact a Realtor like myself who you can trust to keep you breathing and calm because this doesn’t have to be panic/anxiety time! You may not be surprised to hear that real estate brings out a lot of impulsiveness in people, even with hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars at stake. It’s an emotional, sometimes need-based decision to buy or sell.
But even for sellers who are strong at advance planning and organization, it can get stressful quickly.
So here’s a step-by-step guide I put together. Feel free to print and post somewhere you are most likely to see it on a daily basis to help make things go smoothly!
HIRING AN AGENT
This is the first and most important step and while you may be tempted to hire your best friend's sister or second cousin's step-son, do your homework and hire an agent that’s going to put your interests first and work around YOUR timeline as well as one that knows the Real Estate market in your area to evaluate what other comparable homes have sold for in the past 3-6 months. You should want and need an agent that will respect your home, belongings, any kids, any pets, etc. Look for an agent who stresses the need for a plan and at a comfortable pace. And do this NOW! The sooner the better so you don’t suddenly feel rushed at any stage.
Even if you are someone like Beth, the founder of It's Just Stuff, who is constantly editing and decluttering her home and preaching what she practices to her clients every day, you actually need to take a very hard look at your entire home and remove at least 50% of the items on your shelves, in your cabinets and closets and on your walls. Nothing personal, like awards or photos, should ever be left out. The buyer needs to be able to visualize living in what will be THEIR home, not YOURS moving forward so even if you have to put things hidden under your beds, do it ASAP. Decluttering and packing always takes way longer than expected, so a professional can help you predict the time involved.
If your agent recommends staging your home, get an itemized list of what the stager will be providing and the associated costs.
I cannot stress enough how important this particular step is for getting your house listed in a timely manner. Here is a shortlist of action items that could make or break a sale:
Replace any non-working room light bulbs before photos and tours.
Consider painting rooms in all neutral colors or at the very least make sure to do any touch-up painting to make a great impression during showings.
Clean up your yard of any debris, trim any trees with precariously hanging limbs or touching the house itself, spruce up your landscaping, etc.
Make sure to ask your agent and organizer (and anyone else) if there are any odors in your home. Don’t be shy, it happens! Animals, cooking habits, teens, etc. Your agent can likely recommend an odor neutralization professional if needed. Don’t turn off buyers because there’s an odor that you’ve gotten used to and don’t even notice!
Have your windows cleaned! It’s not a huge expense but it’ll have a big impact on photos and showings. The home will look better from the outside and there’ll be more light inside, it’s really essential. I recently had a wonderful company do the windows for a client – exterior and interior sides, plus the tracks on 2 floors above ground with about 2000 square feet - for just $370. Totally worth it given the time you’ll save trying to do it yourself.
SET PRE-LISTING DEADLINES WITH YOUR AGENT AND YOURSELF
You’ll need to work with your agent on when you want/need to list and how far in advance to get the house staged and photos done. I already emphasized the importance of beginning the decluttering and packing process sooner rather than later, but if you want to have your house listed by June 1st, you really do need to start at least a month before packing items you know for sure you won't need prior to your move. I recommend storing packed boxes neatly in your basement, garage, or off-site storage. It really is ok to have packed boxes but do not spread them out in every room. And I really do not recommend a pod unit in front of the home. It just isn't ideal for photos or curb appeal.
Remember, the photos can be taken well in advance of listing your home so there is no reason to procrastinate. Just make sure to discuss your timeline with your agent since this means there will be strangers in your home and you’ll want your valuables safe.
GET A DETAILED MARKETING PLAN
Your agent will likely spend a lot of money on photos for marketing purposes. I personally never use a smartphone camera (some do, unfortunately) because I want to show off the house at its best utilizing a professional who will get the right angles and lighting. In addition, I always create a 360-degree virtual tour so I want to make sure your home looks as open, light, and appealing as possible and free of any personal items that’ll distract buyers while they’re viewing the media. Beyond that be sure to inquire about how many open houses to expect, what marketing materials will be printed vs. available online only, the digital footprint that will be created on the various Real Estate platforms, etc.
CREATE A REALISTIC SHOWING SCHEDULE
Work on a schedule with your agent to show the house that will truly fit with your personal needs. If you’re still living in your home, you may consider leaving for a day or 3 to try and get the showings out of the way. Otherwise, you’ll be having to leave periodically for showings unless you agree in advance to get ample notice from your agent. Again, make sure to safeguard belongings, but also have a plan for your pets if you have any. There are so many showings that provide instructions such as: don’t let the cat out! Yikes, that’s a lot of trust and responsibility to put on showing agents, their buyers, and even the crafty, fast cat. Ideally, your furry friends can be with you or boarded for showings but discuss this in advance so you have a clear understanding of what you can truly expect.
SO YOU'VE GOT A CONTRACT...NOW WHAT?
More planning-ahead! Once you have a great offer and you’re under contract, the buyers will come back for a 3-4 hour inspection, maybe an additional visit or two (with proper notice) to follow up on any inspection concerns or to price out flooring. An appraiser will visit. And the buyer gets a final walk-through right before closing. So, yes, you will need to keep the house CLEAN until the bitter end! If you’re moving out during the process, make sure there are no new dents, huge scrapes, and make sure to CLEAN AGAIN – there’s always dust and such hiding under couches and beds that show up when you move. Again, you may need your decluttering expert to help you reduce the number of accumulated items in your home or just to make packing a smooth process.
lET'S MOVE IT!
Schedule movers far in advance but work with your Realtor to be sure you’re past the essential transaction benchmarks for confidence that your closing will be on time and the buyers aren’t going to bail on you if that would influence your move-out date. Your agent should also help you plan on when utilities are switched from your name to the buyers! IMPORTANT: if you are moving out before a buyer is under contract, you can certainly cancel the internet and any cable TV. But you have to keep your utilities on – the buyer’s home inspector will need the water, gas, and electricity on to do their jobs, and before that, you’ll want showings in a climatized home with running water and working lights.
Regardless of when you move out, schedule a professional cleaning company to do a final deep cleaning. It really is the right thing to do even if you know the buyers are planning to hire someone to do a move-in cleaning.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST...
It’s not uncommon to tell buyers in advance (on the MLS listing) that you’ll need a certain amount of days of possession after closing to complete your move. You can also ask for a Post Closing Occupancy Agreement. Buyer lenders allow no more than 60-days, but you can work with your Realtor to ask buyers to consider this or make it a requirement for whatever number of days after closing should you need time before moving and don’t want to be homeless.
Okay, any questions? Call me anytime at 720-466-8212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know that was a lot of information, but planning ahead and having a great team that includes your Realtor like me and a move management service like It's Just Stuff will save you so much stress and really can mitigate the chaos and panic.
Adam Sloat is a Colorado native and is the Broker/Owner of Westwater Realty serving the entire Colorado Front Range. He has a background in the music and entertainment business and is extremely involved in the Boulder Valley community. He was born and raised in Boulder, with a few years in Littleton and Lafayette, and is now a homeowner in Louisville where he resides with his wife and two twins, a boy and a girl.