Selling a home is just one of those experiences you've got to go through to truly understand—it's a lot more involved, emotional, and exasperating than you might think.
As a real estate agent in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, for the past four years, I’ve worked with lots of home sellers. And I’ve seen my clients go through these emotional roller coasters time and again. In an effort to prepare folks for this process—or at least help you laugh and nod if you're already in the thick of things—check out these moments that will strike a chord with any seller who's been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale.
1. 'Wow, there are a ton of real estate agents to choose from'
Finding a listing agent you can trust can be tricky, just based on the sheer number of real estate agents that are out there vying for your business.
To find agents in your area, use online tools such as realtor.com®'s Find a Realtor search, which will give you useful info such as number of years of job experience, number of homes sold, and the price of homes typically dealt with.
2. 'Excuse me, you want me to clean/paint/remove what?'
It can be hard to swallow negative criticism of your house from your agent, but this is an inherent part of selling a home. Indeed, you might think that each complaint—no matter how small—is a blow to your design aesthetic, or a knock on how well you’ve maintained the property. But the reality is this info can help you sell your home.
For example, if your agent says that your house is too cluttered or that the carpet needs to be cleaned, those are things that you can address. You wanted to sell this place, right?
3. 'Do I really have to leave when the buyer gets here?'
Last-minute showing requests are a natural part of the home-selling experience. You could get a phone call from your agent saying that you have just five minutes before a potential buyer arrives. Regrettably, some sellers make the mistake of sticking around the house for showings, but that’s a huge mistake.
“Buyers already have apprehension about touring a stranger’s property,” says Peter Boscas, owner of Red Cedar Real Estate in Washington, DC. “That anxiety is ratcheted up when the sellers are home during the tour.”
If you want to give your home maximum exposure, you have to be prepared to step out at a moment’s notice. This also entails keeping your home relatively clean, since you may not have time to tidy up before a buyer shows up.
4. 'Why didn't that buyer show up?'
Sadly, no-shows are yet another common experience people have when selling their home. From my experience with home buyers, I can say that no-shows (or last-minute cancellations) aren’t personal. When I work with home buyers, I usually show them multiple properties in a day; hence, there’s a good chance we just fall behind and don’t make it to our last one or two showings—or we see a property that the buyer loves, so we cancel the remainder of that day’s showings.
The important thing to remember as a home seller: Don’t take no-shows personally.
5. 'My home doesn't feel like home anymore'
One thing I often advise home sellers to do is put some of their personal items in storage. This might include removing furniture so that we can professionally stage the home. Once you’ve taken these things out of your house, you might feel a bit strange living in your home while it’s for sale. (The living room just doesn’t look the same without your La-Z-Boy.)
The important thing to remember is this only temporary, and it can make your home sell faster.
6. 'Is that a true offer, or an insult?'
With all the emotions that accompany selling a house, many sellers feel insulted if they receive a low offer. One case sticks out in my memory: After presenting the seller with an offer that was $20,000 below list price, my client said to me, “Is this buyer on drugs?!”
Unfortunately, my client refused to even make a counteroffer. I understood his frustration, but the seller soon realized he made a mistake. The next two offers we received were also below list price. The home wasn’t overpriced, but home buyers are always looking to get the best deal that’s possible—which means many people make lowball offers to get the ball rolling on negotiations.
The take-home lesson: As a seller, you should consider every offer that you receive and, in most cases, at least make a counteroffer. Even if you make only a $5,000 price reduction, you never know how the buyer will respond.
7. 'Why is this taking so long?'
Unless you’re in a white-hot seller’s market, it might take a substantial period of time to sell your home—even if it’s priced aggressively. As long as your real estate agent is doing everything he or she can to market your property, do your best to be patient. The right buyer will come along. That being said, if your home sits on the market for more than a month, ask your agent whether you should make a price reduction.
8. 'Why am I having such a hard time saying goodbye?'
Even once you've sold your home, detaching emotionally from it can be tough, especially if you’ve lived in your house for a long time. Odds are every room triggers a memory—Thanksgiving dinners in the dining room, game nights in the family room, birthday parties in the playroom. Still, selling your house means it’s time to let go. If you want a greater sense of closure, here are some sweet ways to say goodbye to your home.