This post has been sponsored by National Association of REALTORS ®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Selling a house is HARD! It is a huge undertaking even in a “good market.” And it is, honestly, not my favorite thing to do. It has been 9 years since we sold our first home, but the lessons we learned in the process have been seared into my memory. Because we did it wrong the first time we tried to sell it. We learned the hard way that there are a number of things that one can do wrong when selling a home. And we discovered that there really is only ONE way to sell a home. Let me share with you what we learned along the way in a list entitled How NOT to sell a house (and the ONE thing to get it SOLD!)
Here’s what NOT to do when you are trying to sell your home:
Assume your house is “fine” enough for the market.
We tend to have blind spots about the things that surround us every day. Piles of clutter disappear after a little while. Smells become the victim of sensory adaptation. And our home’s decor becomes “normal” to us, even if it is not the norm.
When we first tried to sell our home, we didn’t realize that the colors we picked for the walls in the house were very bold and not the taste of the “normal” buyer. So, we were cutting out a part of the market that doesn’t look past wall colors in a home. We just assumed that if a person didn’t like the colors on the walls, they would think, “Oh, it’s just paint!” We didn’t think it would be an obstacle for purchase.
We needed someone to let us know that if we kept the colors on the walls the way they were, we would likely be cutting out a portion of potential buyers. Basically, we needed someone to talk straight to us about the obstacles in the way for selling our home. If we had had pets, we needed someone to come in and say, “Um…your house smells like a cat (or a dog) lives here.” We needed someone to tell us to put away all the unnecessary junk so that people could see the house. We needed a fresh set of eyes that knows the typical obstacles to purchase.
Stay in your home for showings
I still remember going to look at our first home when we were buying it. It was a complete wreck. The walls needed repairing, a door had a hole in it. The walls were a horrible, dingy, drab white (that needed more than a little touch up). The carpet was this hideous shade of pink and looked like they hadn’t seen the proper side of a vacuum in a LONG time. And the worst part was, the family that lived there was home at the time. We couldn’t look into one of the rooms because there was a dog shut into it. We couldn’t talk above a whisper about how we really felt about the home because we didn’t want to offend anyone. In short, it did not show well and the owners being in the house didn’t make it any better.
I was kind of blown away when my husband said that it was a really good option for us. Thankfully, I married a builder who could see the potential in the property and knew that the cosmetic things were just that, cosmetic. But, he had to tell me this after we left the house because he didn’t want to walk around and say all the bad things about the house and how he would change them. This ended up being a difficult sell for him because I couldn’t stand in the room and imagine it as he talked about it. I just had the memory of the horrible showing it had made.
It would have been much easier on us, the potential buyers, if the people had left the home so we could assess it without prying eyes or pressure to be polite. Not every buyer who walks through your home will see beyond the flaws to see the potential
Take photos of your home yourself
The DIY approach is great in a lot of areas of life and it is more and more popular in our generation to go on the internet to learn how to do everything and become instant experts. But, unless you are a professional photographer, you should definitely NOT take the photos of your home yourself. Get some help, please! If you compare pictures we took of our home to the pictures of our home that were taken by a professional photographer, you would be shocked! Not only do they know how to snap pictures of your home, framing it in its best light; they also see more than you do. They can find the good things to showcase and sort of hide the not so good things just by adjusting the camera angle. They can also make a room appear larger, again just by framing it in the right way.
A friend of mine (who happens to be a professional photographer) came over to our house to give me a quick lesson in how to photograph my home. The pictures she took of our home blew me away. I would never have gotten those photos myself, no matter how many lessons she gave me or no matter how many Pinterest tutorials I read!
Advertise your home in the wrong places
No offense to the Penny Saver (and similar publications), but they are not the avenue to sell your home fast. Serious buyers are not shopping for homes in the Penny Saver. In fact, serious buyers are probably ONLY shopping using the MLS. The majority of buyers, even if they are not working with an agent, are simply not shopping in the discount publications you find at the grocery store.
Placing ads in the right places (and even knowing the right places to advertise) is key to getting your home sold fast. If you think about it like a competition, the other homes on the market in your neighborhood may be getting better exposure simply by virtue of knowing where to advertise.
Depend on your friends to get your home sold
Very often people buy homes within just miles of their previous home. But depending on someone you know that knows someone to get your home sold is just not going to work. Getting your home seen requires a wider net and a broader audience than just friends of friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc.
The first time we tried to sell our home (DIY-style) we did not have ONE person darken our door after over a month on the market. This was before the downturn in the real estate market, so it should have at least had foot traffic from the sign in the yard alone – or so we thought.
What really worked for us is relying on someone with a MUCH bigger audience and better connections in the real estate world.
Spend hours and hours working to sell a home that doesn’t sell
Going the DIY route in trying to sell a home takes way more time than you might think going in. When someone calls and wants to set up an appointment to see the house, you are the one who has to try to figure out a schedule that works for everyone. When you host your own open house (that no one comes to), you have to worry about cleaning, prepping for the open house, greeting potential buyers, fielding questions, etc. And you are also the one doing all the marketing for your home.
What WORKED to Sell our home
All this work and NO house sold makes for serious frustration. I remember what it was like when we were fed up with the DIY house-selling game and started to consider the right solution to our too-much house, not enough buyers problem.
We settled on working with a Realtor ® and all these problems vanished. All the mistakes we had made along the way in our first attempt to sell our house were evident the moment we started working with a Realtor ® to sell our home.
» We had a fresh set of eyes to look at our home and offer constructive criticism that would help to sell our home faster. He also gave us a very clear understanding of the price we should be offering our home for based on homes sold in our neighborhood.
» We had a person in charge of putting together all the showings and the open houses. We just cleaned the house, left when it was time, and came back to hear how they had gone. We knew we could rely on a Realtor ® to talk up the houses good qualities to potential buyers in our absence.
» A Realtor ® brought in a professional photographer and made the most awesome brochure for our home! The pictures he took SOLD the home and made potential buyers want to check it out.
» He also knew how to market our home and had a network of other Realtors ®. And since we had already had our house on the market for a little over a month, he advised that we take it off the market for a time and then re-introduce it to the market.
» He didn’t just put a sign in the yard and wait for the offers to roll in. But when the offers came in, he had the experience necessary to walk us through the negotiations process and get the inspections scheduled when we were in escrow. Since it was the first time we were trying to sell a house, we really DID need someone to show us the way, step-by-step.
Looking back on our experience in selling our home, I would definitely advise everyone to get a Realtor ® and never look back. In fact, a few years later, when my in-laws were trying to sell their home, we recommended the Realtor® we had worked with to them. They didn’t take our advice and it took them almost a YEAR to sell their home! When you are really ready to sell your home, make sure you work with a Realtor ®! You can find one that works for you to sell your home at realtor.com/getrealtor.