Selling a home can be an exciting process. It can also be a frustrating and emotional effort. Well-meaning family and friends will offer a lot of advice, and it can be difficult to tell what’s fact from fiction. So, let’s look at 5 popular myths and sort out the truth.
1. Spring is the only time to sell. Spring is the busiest time of year in real estate. Buyers come out after the winter, sellers prep their homes during the winter, and school schedules influence summer moves. This drives many sellers to list their homes during the spring market.
And that opens up an opportunity. Listing your home at other times of the year, when the market is quieter, reduces the competition. First time homebuyers and many downsizers are often looking for homes year-round. Corporate relocations also go on throughout the year.
There are two times of the year when you may want to reconsider listing your home. The first is during the year-end holidays. If it is approaching mid-November, consider waiting until after the first of the year to sell your home. Another time when you may want to hold off on listing your home is when serious snow and cold hits.
2. Zillow has the best estimate of value. Zillow is the go-to website for many consumers and the Zestimate® is often viewed as the gold standard for home values. According to Zillow, “The Zestimate® home value is Zillow's estimated market value for an individual home and is calculated for about 100 million homes nationwide. It is a starting point in determining a home's value and is not an official appraisal. The Zestimate® is automatically computed daily based on millions of public and user-submitted data points.”
The thing with any of the estimation sites is they are based on market information and do NOT reflect your home’s condition including any improvements you’ve made since your purchase. The best source for understanding home value is a licensed real estate agent knowledgeable in your market. They will come to your home to determine a value and can often make suggestions to improve value and curb appeal.
3. Your home is already “decluttered.” You live in your home. Over time you accumulate “stuff,” be it furniture, decorations, knick-knacks or other items.
When selling your home, buyers need to be able to see the home, not your personal items. This means you need to get rid of any superfluous items in the home either by donating them or storing them in preparation to move (possibly using a storage container).
This is where staging comes in. People often think of staging as replacing everything in the home with rented furniture. Generally, a stager can work with what is in the house, pruning and rearranging. And remember, staging for sale is different from staging to live.
Closets also need to be cleared. Any offseason clothing can be put in storage outside the home which immediately frees up closet rack space.
4. The sale happens when the deed is recorded. Sales are finalized with the recording of the deed, but the process starts before the house is even listed. Sellers often comment how their home feels like someone else’s once the staging begins.
This feeling intensifies when showings start on the home. The need to keep the house in showing condition and the inevitable requirement to leave the home for showings reinforces the sense the home is no longer yours.
One thing sellers can do is reasonably limit showings. Showings on weekends are common. Requesting no showings on Mondays is a simple way to grant yourself some personal space. If a serious buyer comes forward, an exception can be granted.
While this part of the process can be very frustrating, remember the goal is to sell the home and buyers must see it in order for you to sell it. The more flexible a seller is, the sooner an agent can likely sell the property.
5. Open houses sell homes. Less than 2 percent of homes are sold during open houses. So why do real estate agents do them? To find buyers to work with!
Even if your home isn’t the “right one” for a particular buyer, available agents will offer to help this buyer find a home. Your home is the bait to build a series of leads for the agent.
There’s also a downside to open houses. You are inviting the general public into your home. It’s possible that criminals are in the mix of visitors possibly stealing items from the house.
Serious buyers will make appointments to see a home.
And if your home isn’t selling then an open house is the quick remedy. However, you may be best served by a price change if the home is “sitting.”
An experienced real estate agent can help guide you through the home sale process as well as have the contacts and resources to help you with determining the optimal strategy for selling your home in your market.