Why You Should Ask an Agent BEFORE Marketing Your Home

I was sitting in a hospital waiting room yesterday, having just begun to read “Eat Pray Love” in anticipation of spending a full day in that same chair. Two women adjacent to me, who were also waiting for their loved ones to be treated, began a conversation. I continued focus on my reading for another 5 or 10 minutes, until I thought I heard the conversation turn to house selling. Naturally, I stopped reading and started to eavesdrop.

“I really think that I would be perfectly happy spending the whole year in Florida at this point. Two homes are just becoming too much to deal with. We really need to sell the condo here” said the blonde woman to the brunette. The brunette woman replied: “I understand completely. My husband and I bought a second home about 8 years ago, thinking that we would retire there. Now, taking care of 2 houses is a lot of responsibility.” (I’m paraphrasing this, but you get the gist of the conversation…) The blonde woman continued, “There are just so many things that I would have to do to the condo before it could go on the market. I don’t know how I would ever get it ready.” Clearly, she was overwhelmed.

I resisted the urge to admit that I was listening in or to simply thrust my business card into the woman’s hand. It just didn’t seem appropriate. However, what I wanted to say to the woman was “You need to call an agent before you do anything. Your agent will help you to decide exactly what, if anything, needs to be accomplished, will help you to set up a schedule and will help you to hire the appropriate contractors if any are needed. Your agent can set up everything from home organizers, packers and storage facilities to painters, roofers and home stagers. That’s what a good full service agent does.” Additionally, an agent can help you to determine what changes would bring a higher return on your investment and which would not….knowing this before you spend any money and/or time is crucial.

I am regularly contacted by homeowners who say: “I’d like you to come over and take a look at my house; I have it ready to put on the market.” The homeowner then brings me into their home and as we walk from room to room, he or she describes the recent changes that they have made to the home in preparation for the sale. Much too often, I have to break the bad news to the homeowner that the substantial investment that they just made is not going to add the value that they were expecting. There’s no upside to telling the homeowner that I wish that they’d contacted me sooner. At that point, needless money has been spent, and so often it has been directed to the wrong items.

The other thing that I hear often is this: “I’d like to talk to you about selling my home, but I don’t want you to see it until I have it ready. I’d be too embarrassed for you to see it as it is.” Luckily, in these instances, I have the opportunity to tell the homeowner that they have no need to be embarrassed, and that it’s to their advantage to have me see it in its present state. I reassure them that I’m not looking at their stuff, but at the amenities and condition of the structure. Honestly, agents who see homes every day have pretty much seen everything, and your pile of junk stacked up from floor to ceiling in the game room is not going to shock them. They are adept at seeing a home’s best potential, even if they have to step over 30 pairs of shoes to get in the front door. Just the fact that you are concerned indicates that the condition of your house is probably not nearly as bad as you think.

Aside from taking advantage of your agent’s full service capabilities with regard to helping you clear things out and fix up, having a professional opinion as to what items really need to be addressed prior to a sale in order to maximize your return is critical. You may think that the Waverly floral wallpaper in your living room is beautiful, and it may very well be, but the 30 year old buyer who typifies your target market is probably going to be turned off. An experienced agent can help you to determine whether spending the money to remove the wall covering would be money well spent or not. In defining your target market, your agent will help you to determine which of your home’s features should be highlighted to appeal to that particular buyer, and which should be minimized. By evaluating homes already on the market and homes recently sold, your agent will be able to give you a range of price in which your home would be most likely to sell, an important component in determining not only what potential changes would be worth it, but also that you know how much you will effectively come out with to put into your next home.

The bottom line is that when, as a home seller, you are paying a full service commission for a full service agent, be aware of the range of services that are available to you and utilize your agent to lessen the burden, emotionally and financially.