Oftentimes in my parenting, I say things like: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Or, “Trust me, I know these things.” These great words of wisdom have now come into play in my professional career. For the first time in the 10 years I have been selling real estate, my husband and I have taken a turn in your chair- the client. Over the next few months, I’ll be writing a series of articles on the things I have learned about the process from the other side of the table. This week, I am starting from the perspective of selling your home.
Let me start by giving my sincere apologies to all my past clients who felt like I didn’t get how hard it was to get your home ready to sell, to go through the showing process, and the emotional process of letting it go. You know I am a checklist girl, I manage the back side of a transaction like a well oiled machine. But, you’re right, I didn’t get the emotional side of just how freaking hard it is to sell a house.
The house we sold today was Jeff and my’s first house together. It was the house where we bought both our babies home. It was the house we had our most exciting memories in. It is also the house we’ve probably lived some of our hardest days in. We’ve lived here all but 18 months of our marriage- 12 years in this house full of memories and let’s be honest, a whole lot of crap! I’m not really the emotional one in our marriage, I’m the more black and white one… But, today was emotionally harder for me than I thought it would be, as we signed our rights away to the first home we owned together. I’m sure the day we move out will be even harder. And, holy moses is getting a house staged and ready to sell a nightmare when you are living in it. We did rent a POD, and I probably should have gotten a dumpster too, but the downsizing furniture and fighting the kids over the toys they could live without for a couple months would have made for some great reality tv. And, I won’t even give details about the possibility of the unkind words I said to my husband when I didn’t think he was going to get the list of “upgrades” I wanted done before picture day completed. It was a rough couple weeks, but we made it.
So, back to the do as I say, not as I do part. From the day I put the sign in my yard until the day we closed was 18 days. You read that right, eighteen days. We listed on a Thursday and had multiple offers on Friday. And, of course we took the lowest price offer. Because, all good realtors negotiate a terrible deal for themselves. Just kidding, it wasn’t a terrible deal. It was the smart deal, even if the sales price dollar was lower than it should have been. As I tell my clients, there are many more factors in the negotiation than price, know what your wins have to be. It’s been pretty much a nonstop whirlwind of preparation, showing, inspections, repairs, and bam- closing. I tell my clients to always give themselves a bare minimum of 21 days, thirty preferred. There are just too many moving pieces and parts to cram it all in to 2.5 weeks. But, we did it. It was every bit as stressful as I expected it to be. I wouldn’t do it again. You need time to breathe. If you think it sounds heavenly to rip the bandaid off, and do it that fast, trust me, you don’t want to do it this way. I touched the stove for you, learn from me…..
My one saving grace is another place where I didn’t take my own advice. Trade keys for money. I always get nervous when my clients want to let buyers move in early or sellers stay beyond closing. Well, the one reason we took the offer we did on our house (it was a multiple offer situation, with all cash offers) is because they agreed to let us stay 45 days beyond closing. So, yes, my house closed in 18 days, but I didn’t have to have it all packed up. So, that made it mostly better. We didn’t buy our new house contingent on this one selling. And, it needs a good 3 weeks worth of work, which requires cash. I am beyond grateful in this situation to have a quick close on our current house, and then get to stay here while we do the work. It far beats having to do temporary housing and storage. Let’s all just pray that I don’t live to regret this the rest of my life. I still think the best occupancy policy is day of closing, but I’m warming up to the idea that it just works better in other situations.
What have I learned from being the seller? The big thing was the emotional element of it. Yes, this is a business decision. And, when you decide to sell, it is no longer your house. But, we’re all human and there is no way to totally remove yourself from the emotion of it all. Beyond that, cling to those checklist. All of the staging tips, things you need to do to get your house ready for listing, documents to have ready on listing day, all of that- great tips. The more you follow the checklists and have things together and prepared, the easier this whole process goes. Having your house truly ready to go to market gives you the absolute best chance of selling the house for top dollar in a very short period of time. And, it helps you navigate the deals between contract and closing with relatively little stress.
We can do this! And, I’ll do it with a little more compassion the next time around with my clients.