Real Estate 101: Tips for Success in the Current Seller’s Market {for sellers}

wood paneling and glass condo building

It’s time to talk about real estate!

I first started working in real estate five years ago in the worst summer of the entire recession. It was super awesome. I took a break and went back into the corporate world in order to avoid homelessness, {hey, you gotta go what you gotta do right} met some awesome people and had some amazing experiences. But I really love and missed working with people in the big transition of finding and moving into their new space, so this year I dove back in and boy are things different than just a few years ago.

These days {in Chicago anyway} it’s a seller’s market. What does that mean, and how does it affect you as a seller?

A seller’s market means that there are more buyers than there are properties for sale. There is a shortage of supply and a surplus of demand. Yay for sellers! Less competition, more customers… and potentially frustrating if you’re a buyer {because there are fewer options and more competition}, but we’ll talk more about that in another post.

Even though there might be less competition, it’s important to remember some key things to make sure you have the best – and least stressful – experience possible. So here are three big things to remember to set yourself up for success and also keep your sanity if you are selling in the current real estate market.

1. Price: How Much is Your Home Worth?

Yes the market is getting better and there is a good chance your home is increasing in value even as you read this. Hurray!

No, that doesn’t mean your place is suddenly worth a million dollars.

One of my favorite most fascinating phenomenons is what happens when someone goes to sell their place. Here are some very true things that happen {a lot of the time} but no one likes to talk about {or admit to}:

  • my place is worth X because I need to make X amount of money one the sale
  • my place is worth X because that’s the total of how much I spent on it plus the money I put into “improvements” { and it doesn’t matter whether the improvements actually improved anything}
  • my home is worth X because look at all of the amazing super custom bold upgrades that I made 20 years ago, aren’t they totally amazing? I almost became an interior designer.
  • my place is worth X because I can’t admit that I’m not quite ready to let go of it and so I’m being a little unreasonable about the price in order to make sure I don’t actually get an offer and have to let it go – even though I say I want to sell.

Any and all of the scenarios listed above can, and do, happen – all the time. And to be clear, I’m not listing them to make fun of or judge anyone – I am writing them because sometimes we don’t even realize when this might be happening to us, and it can really affect what kind of experience you have selling your house.

The most important element of selling your house is pricing, and it can be the biggest hurdle for sellers in listing their house, precisely because of a combination of things emotionally and financially, that have nothing to do with the actual value. It’s a big deal. No question. But what is your place really worth? Your place is worth what the market says it’s worth, right now. That means looking at other comparable properties that have recently sold {usually within the last six months} as the main guide for pinpointing the current value of your home. That’s all there is to it.

Yes, improvements do make a difference, but you’d better do a good job {not everything is meant to be a DIY project}, and don’t be surprised to get a little judgmental side-eye from this lady if you just went to Home Depot for every single finish selection. Feel free to call me before you start that bathroom reno next time, there are other places to buy tile you know!

Things to keep in mind:

If you are thinking about making improvements to your property and selling in the near future, consider bringing on your real estate agent now. This could help you get a clearer picture of your home’s current value and also the potential impact of the improvements you’re considering. It can also give you invaluable insight into whether they are worthwhile and how to budget to maximize your return on that investment. What’s worth the money and what might not be, so that you can really maximize your home’s value, get clarity on pricing, and save yourself some potential time and stress.

Want some inside info? Facts about price reductions:

  • just one price reduction will double your house’s time on the market. Yes, you read right – double. I mean, even if we really like each other, who wants this process to last longer than it really needs to, right?
  • houses that go through price reductions sell for an average of 10% less than those that are priced right from the beginning. If you are looking to make the most profit from the sale of your house, do not price it high to see what happens. I can tell you what will happen, no one will bite and you’ll make even less money. If you really want to give that extra 10% away I’m sure I can think of a few possibilities.

2. Curb Appeal: Alert! – This part of selling your house ISN’T about you

You need to make your house stand out from the rest of the competition. Aka: don’t be lazy. Yes, the market is trending in your favor. There’s less competition and more buyers, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put your best foot forward when it comes to presenting your house to potential buyers.

Since the reality is that we all think that we are the most amazing and that the entire universe revolves around us, this might be a bit of a shocker, but not everything about selling your house is actually all about you. Don’t take it personally, just think about it for a minute. You want someone to come into your home but to be able to imagine themselves living in it. Imagine themselves living in it… that doesn’t have anything to do with you. So please please – when your broker makes a suggestion about rearranging something, or moving something into storage, or taking something down, it’s not about you, and it’s not a statement on your taste. This part of selling is actually all about making your house all about someone else – your future buyer! Which you have promised me that you actually want to have so let’s hug it out and get moving.

We may have suggestions for things to adjust or change to maximize your home’s value and curb appeal. Do them. Especially dumb small things like please change that burned out light bulb. Or agree together that you are forgoing that improvement {for example, maybe you don’t want to spend the time or money to repaint something or remove wallpaper, but have the discussion together so that everyone is on the same page, knowing it may affect the price or appeal of your home}.

3. Timing: Are you really ready?

The current market is your friend! {if you’ve priced your house correctly} So, are you ready to sign the papers and move? The goal of selling your house, is to actually sell your house. If you’ve priced it right, there is a very good chance you’ll get an offer quickly, and right now there’s an equally good chance you’ll get multiple offers – yay! {this does not mean that you’ll get a million extra dollars, or double the selling price, or anything else that’s probably ridiculous, just letting you know in advance} Emotionally, and logistically, make sure you’re ready to move forward and actually accept a fair and reasonable offer. Often times, as I’ve written before, we can have big time emotional ties to our houses… sit with that for a minute, maybe have a bad-ass goodbye house party… get ready to say goodbye and actually move, so that you can say hello – and YES – to that perfect offer when it arrives!

Things to keep in mind:

Even if everything goes perfectly, selling your house does take some time because of all that amazing legal paperwork. So the good news is that even after you’ve accepted the offer, you have another month or so – at least – before you’ll actually have to move out. So there will be time for a few last suppers.

And if you find yourself getting pulled into wistful ‘maybe I should stay’ thoughts, pull out your handy list of what’s not working for you in your place now and reconnect with the exciting energy of taking your new step into your amazing new house!

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