a house can be a lot like remodeling: It takes longer, costs more and
is more emotionally draining than you thought it would be, but in the
end it was worth doing. Unless youâ€™re the rare home owner who gets
multiple offers above the asking price days after listing, the sales
process can be emotionally challenging.
Prepare yourself by reviewing what happens once you sign a listing
agreement. Generally, you can expect a three-step process: Getting the
house ready, showing it off and responding to the marketplace.Listings, Lockbox, and Signs
Probably the first thing your agent will do is place your home in the
local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This notifies all other agents in
the area that your home is for sale. Your house will also likely appear
here at realtor.com.
Soon, a for-sale sign will appear in the yard and a lockbox will be
attached to your house, most likely on the front door. The lockbox
allows local agents access to the house when you arenâ€™t there.
That may seem unsettling, but itâ€™s important to allow agents to show
your home when you are away, especially in a slower market. If you donâ€™t
have a lockbox, many agents will put you at the bottom of their
clientâ€™s list of homes to see, because itâ€™s a headache to track down
your agent, who must contact you to find out when youâ€™ll be available,
which may not fit into the buyersâ€™ schedule. Plus, unless youâ€™re in a
hot sellersâ€™ market, there will be plenty of other houses to see.Open House
Your agent will want to hold a couple of open houses as soon as
possible, which is why you shouldnâ€™t list your house until itâ€™s ready
for showing. This means youâ€™ll probably be swamped with last-minute
touch-ups and clean-ups to get the house ready.
The agent will likely have a brokersâ€™ open house during the work
week, so that area agents with clients looking to buy can see the
property. Next will be a public open house, traditionally held on a
It is best if you are not present during open houses, because buyers
want the freedom to look in closets and make comments. If you are home
when potential buyers come for a viewing, try to step outside while they
tour your house.
Whether you have additional open houses is up to you and your agent.
Many sellers incorrectly think that multiple open houses are needed to
sell a house. In fact, few homes are sold at open houses, but there are
many good reasons to have one for the public and another for agents.Traffic Patterns
You should get the most traffic in the first two to three weeks after
your house is listed. Anyone looking for a house like yours will want to
see it. Donâ€™t fret when the traffic dies down.
The average days on market (DOM) can be 60-90 days in a normal cycle,
depending on the area of the country. In a slower market, buyers can
take their time and usually do. If you have buyers come back a second or
third time, it usually means they are seriously considering your home,
and youâ€™ll want your agent to keep in contact with their agent. Any
offers â€” even one you consider lowball â€” is a chance to begin
negotiating, which often leads to a sale.Neat Freak
Keeping your house in tip-top shape, especially if you have kids and
pets, is one of the more difficult parts of selling your home. But
remember: Buyers will walk into your house and try to picture living
there. Most people donâ€™t have the vision to look past toys scattered
throughout the house, dishes in the sink or pet food spilled on the
floor. It doesnâ€™t matter that they probably live the same way.Changing Course
Sellers usually hit the wall at about six weeks. The initial excitement
of listing has waned, youâ€™re tired of keeping the house looking like a
model home, and you are irritated at yet another looky-loo coming
through the front door.
Unless you are in a very difficult market, if you have not had
serious interest in six weeks, itâ€™s time to meet with your agent to
discuss sales strategy. Markets can change quickly, so you need to
consider price and any physical changes or improvements that could
enhance the home. This doesnâ€™t mean you have to remodel the kitchen, but
maybe cleaning out the garage or repainting the pink bedroom walls can
make a difference.
Knowing what to expect when your house goes up for sale can be half
the battle of getting through the transaction. Be prepared, especially
for changes in the marketplace, and you can avoid home-sale stress.Rick Hazeltine wrote this article.