Home Selling 101: So You Want to Sell? Here’s What You Need to Know

In the first of three posts about home selling, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Specialist Les Christie walks us through what sellers need to do and consider when putting their house on the market.

As the housing market continues to rebound from the depths of the Great Recession, many homeowners find themselves ready to make a move.

There are several things driving home sales. One of the main strengths of today’s market is in move-ups, according to Budge Huskey, Coldwell Banker Real Estate CEO. Existing homeowners are looking to upgrade to bigger or more luxurious homes from the starter homes they purchased in their younger years. Many have waited until they were sure their homes would sell for a decent price.

“More sellers are confident about putting their homes on the market because of the solid growth of the economy,” he said.

Adding to the sales volume of existing homes is that many graying boomers are downsizing from their family-sized empty nests into smaller places more suited to their current needs.

A third factor buoying sales is that the warming economy has more people moving because they found a new job, been reassigned by their companies, or to look for work.

Whether they’re relocating across country, downsizing from an empty nest or trading up to a bigger house, homeowners intent on selling have a lot to think about.

Among the many recent trade-up sellers are Jessica and Matt Allcock, a 30-something couple from Cincinnati with a three-year old son and another boy on the way. Jessica thought for years about a new home, but the coming addition to the family pushed her to make her dream a reality.

The couple’s three-bedroom ranch, which they bought eight years ago, was just a little too compact at just over 1,000 square feet and she craved more closet space.

The first step was to find an agent. There are three basic choices: Selling it yourself; selling through a fee-for-service brokerage; or opting for a full-service brokerage. The Allcocks asked friends and relatives for recommendations and decided on a full-service brokerage, the Oyler Group with Coldwell Banker West.

“We weren’t comfortable with the idea of handling a lot of the sale ourselves,” said Jessica.

They bonded with agent Scott Oyler right away, who, they felt, gave them good advice from the start.

“Homeowners are emotionally invested in their homes,” said Oyler. “That’s one good reason to have an agent for their sound, objective advice. Even when I sold my own home, three years ago, I had a couple of our agents go through the house for a good gut check.”

In the Allcock’s case, Oyler met with the couple and examined the house, a well-kept brick ranch on a big lot in a suburban area within city limits.

“He told us what we needed to do to get the house ready to sell: Do some repainting; declutter, paint the deck,” said Jessica. “It took three months.”

Plan ahead

Oyler said it’s important for sellers to take their time getting a home on the market, like the Allcocks did. Just as sellers have an emotional attachment to their homes, buyers can fall quickly in love with a property. But there are condition issues that can turn off buyers.

“I make a list of all the things they need to do to prepare the house for sale,” said Oyler. “If something needs to be fixed, get it fixed. I would rather a seller take time to get a house fully prepared for the market rather than try to go for a quick sale.”

The prep paid off for the Allcocks.  “When he came back to see it, he thought he could sell it for more than we originally thought,” said Jessica.

In the next post, we’ll consider some marketing decisions home sellers need to make before officially listing the home…

Les is a Real Estate Market Specialist for Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

Born and raised in Whitestone, N.Y., and never having lived outside of NYC, Les is a graduate of City College of New York in Manhattan. Les switched careers in his late 30s, studying writing at New School and Brooklyn Polytechnic, now the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. Les has written for several magazines and copyedited books on early childhood education prior to joining CNNMoney as a personal finance writer, where his main beat was real estate. His wife and partner of 42 years is a retired magazine editor who spent her career at the New York Zoological Society (Bronx Zoo). They are residents of the Upper West Side.

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