Selling a home is nothing like buying one. Whether you've been in the home for four years or 40, first-time sellers need to consider some important points before getting started.
You need the right agent
Unless you're offering the home For Sale by Owner, you will need to sign an agreement with a real estate agent and their brokerage. You'll also have to pay a commission. Because the agreement contractually ties you to your agent for three to six months, choosing the right one is more important this time around. Unlike when you were a buyer, you can't simply come in and out of the market.
You've got to be ready to sell
In the Internet age, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Information flows more quickly than ever. If you list your home at an unrealistic price or not in the best condition, the number of days on market (or DOM) will add up — and could come back to bite you later.
Sellers who resist their agents' pricing suggestions may not be emotionally ready to separate from their home. By overpricing it, they will self-sabotage the sale. It's better not to list your home than to "try" at a high price or in bad condition.
DOM factors into buyers' offers
A typical buyer looking at a listing will first notice the price and size. They will then scroll through the photos and look at the listing history. If a home has been on the market more than three months, they may think there is something wrong with it.
Or, what's worse, when you do get serious and adjust your price or condition to what it's really worth, buyers will penalize you for it by offering even less.
You'll never interface with the brokerage — only your agent
The agent you choose matters more than the brokerage, although you should consider both. If you list your home with Suzy at XYZ Brokerage, Suzy will be your only contact with the company. Agents are independent contractors who choose to hang their license with a company whose brand and culture match their business. While a well-known or large brokerage is an important consideration for listing, if your agent is successful and someone you trust, they will do a good job no matter the brokerage.
If you get an offer, you have to move soon
Once you get an acceptable offer from a buyer and you sign the contract, the clock starts ticking toward your closing. Many sellers underestimate the amount of time it can take to list, sell and close on a home. Know your market before you list, and put a plan in place for where you'll move when your home sells. If your market moves quickly and your agent expects the home to sell within a few weeks, it might be better to wait.
The best advice for first-time sellers is not to sell until you are ready. Have a plan, know where you are going, and work with a great local agent early on. You should do what it takes to present your home in its best light and price it right.
Selling a home can be very stressful and emotional. Add on top of that packing and moving, and it's a lot to deal with for anyone. Be sure you're prepared before you start the process.