Monday, January 5, 2009

How to Sell a House - Part One

First, do your homework. It's all about preparation, some of it financial but a lot of it is motivational.

Why are you selling? Sit down and think about it. If it takes two seconds (you've been transferred to the North Pole and you leave Monday) then so be it. If it's for other reasons - down-sizing, a better home, because you're tired of it - they will all play into your motivation to sell. And they will come back and influence what you do and how you do it. So stretch out on the couch or sit at the kitchen table and write down exactly why you are selling. Make a list if need be. But know why you are doing this. Hone it into a simple sentence that will become your mantra over the long months ahead.

This is a process and preparation is key. You want to be fully informed so that when the house goes on the market and suddenly a buyer appears you are not thrown into panic. Or as the months stretch out you can reflect that you did the work initially and something else is playing into the equation.

After you know what you are doing, go and see what everyone else is doing. Check out a couple open houses if you have the time. You can be honest - you are seeing how the house is presented because you - or a good friend - is thinking about putting a house on the market. I never see it as an intrusion. I get to meet sellers this way and frankly, sellers have friends who buy properties. If you don't want to be hounded by Realtors - and some will - go with some loose explanation. But please don't pretend to be interested in buying the house unless you really are. You will learn as a seller how deflating it is to have people come to an open house and pretend to have an interest when they don't. Honesty is always the best policy. Do the sellers a favor - compliment something that you truly find attractive in the house; it pays for your presence.

Check the newpapers. The Post-Standard lists sales on Sunday for the different areas. Again, if you have enough time, keep that section for a few weeks to get a sense of what is happening. It's not 100% accurate - this week a condo in Marcellus was included under Skaneateles, for example. But it does show trends.

Look around the neighborhood. What has sold recently or what is still sitting, not selling. Think about it dispassionately - would you live here if you had the choice again? Look at things differently than you do every day. Is the new sewage treatment plant moving in a block away? You've always given that old guy with the 27 cats a pass, but would you if you were thinking about buying on this street? When you moved in Miss Lavender kept her roses pruned, but since she left this world the gardens have been paved over. How does this impact your sale?

Get on the internet. There's a world of information out there, from which gives you property information to or And don't forget the blogs!

So now you've decided to go ahead. You want to sell your house because 5 bedrooms and 3 full baths is too much to keep up. You know that other homes are not moving as quickly as you want them to, but you've seen how they were readied for the open house and you know you can do better. You kind of liked that condo you saw listed in the paper, but there are 10 more just like it. Good job! You've done a great deal of homework!