There’s a lot of stress and anxiety involved in selling a home.  It’s honestly one of the hardest things to do and it’s because of the combination of factors involved.

  • Huge financial consequences?  Check.
  • Tremendously time consuming?  Check.
  • Terribly invasive of your privacy?  Check.

The last one is not often acknowledged and in our opinion, it’s actually the factor that causes the most amount of stress.  Your home is where you can be yourself, have privacy, shut the door and not let anyone in unless you want them in your home.  Except, when you’re selling your home, none of those things are true,

  • You can’t be yourself.  You’re sitting on rented furniture because your furniture didn’t send the right message.  Your photos of your family make it too hard for potential buyers to picture themselves there, so instead you’ve got some bland piece of art that has the right colours.
  • You can’t have privacy.  Keep those blinds open, those lights on and splash pictures and 3D tours of your home all over the internet where anyone can see exactly what updates you’ve done, what work you’ve put off, what lifestyle choices you’ve made.
  • You can’t shut the door and tell people to go away.  Well, in theory you can, but you’re not going to sell your house if you do it often.  You’ve got to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice, it doesn’t matter if you’re sick or have had a bad day or the kids are going slowly feral.  A potential buyer wants to see the home?  Off you go.

While we do work with our seller clients to try to make the above a little bit less difficult, there are some inherent challenges with the act of showing your home to buyers that make living in the home difficult.  It’s somewhat ironic that the time when you least like living in your home is the time you’re most trying to convince people they want to live in it themselves.

In the lead up to putting the home on the market there are tons of questions that need to be answered about how to best present your home.  The fact that we actively work with both buyers as well as sellers gives us tremendous insight into how to position your property to sell.

When we are working for clients on the sell side, we take that knowledge of how buyers approach the purchase decision and flip it around to make our listing as attractive as possible to buyers.  The better we are at that task, the more showings we have, the more offers we receive and the higher the pricewe negotiate for our seller.

Here are the three key things we keep in mind when working with our seller clients to make sure we achieve our goals while maintaining our sanity.

First off, it’s just a little problem.

Within our team, we’ve been to thousands of homes for sale.  Not a single one has been perfect.

Not a single one.

Every home has its imperfections.  When we sell a client’s home, they are often quite stressed about the imperfections in their home.  They know that underneath that area rug is a scratch from when they moved a table 6 years ago.  They know that the cabinet in the bathroom isn’t perfectly straight and you need to lift the door a bit to close it.  They know all about their home, because it’s their home.

When selling a home, we always remind our sellers that no home is perfect.  We fix what we can, when we can, but it isn’t always feasible.  Sellers run out of time, money and patience.  The list price should be reflective of the imperfections of the house and if we fixed everything that was wrong, we’d charge an extra $40K.  For buyers it is a chance to get the home at a better price and a chance to earn some appreciation by fixing some of the little problems themselves.

Unless there are an awful lot of those little problems.

Think of each problem or imperfection in a home as a dot on a blank piece of paper.  One problem is just one dot.  Two problems are just two dots.  Three, four, five, 10, 20 problems…well those dots start looking an awful lot like a line pointing the buyer away from the home.

One very interesting aspect to working with buyers is that you can actually see when they decide against a property.  As we show properties, we’re watching our clients to see what they think, gauging if we made a good call in showing them this property.  When we see enough problems or imperfections in a home, you can actually see the change in the body language and facial expressions as potential purchasers, become people who are ready to leave.

When we work with our sellers to get ready for a listing, we go through the property to identify how many problems we see.  If we are running into lots of these little problems throughout a home, then we tell our clients, we need to fix a number of these.  Too many imperfections give the impression that the home is fundamentally not a good property.  We are all pattern recognition machines and if every room we go into has some issue, we pretty quickly decide it’s a rotten apple.  We’ve seen many buyer clients have what we call the ”Pack your bags Martha, we’re leaving” moment, where they stop considering the property as a potential purchase and they just want to go.  At that point, the seller has lost them as potential buyers.

Wait a minute, what’s the story here?

The final thing we keep in mind when preparing our clients to sell their home is the story that is being told.  Charles Dickens’ had it right when he said that we are all the main character in a story of our lives.  Think back to the last home you bought and how you described it to family or friends.  We construct a narrative around the purchase that supports what we want to believe.  That house with the shag carpet and peel and stick tile everywhere wasn’t a disaster, it was an incredible bargain where we didn’t have to pay for someone else’s renovations that were done to their taste, not yours.  The tiny condo with a balcony you couldn’t fit a chair on, let alone a table?  It could not be more centrally located and it’s amazing how you live in the heart of a vibrant area that is effectively an extension of your home.  Tiny?  You’ve got a huge space all around you to live your life!

With every listing, we need to find the story and share it.  We need to cast the buyer as the hero in the story so that when they look at making that purchase, they can place it in context.  If the listing agent can’t develop that story, then buyers don’t know how they feel about the home.  They either make up another story, such as how they avoided overpaying for that one property, or they fail to make a decision because they don’t know how it fits into their narrative.

There’s always going to be some stress in real estate transactions, but if you work with the right agents, the stress is lower and the results are better.  If that sounds appealing, don’t hesitate to get in touch.