Welcome to Questions from Home Sellers!
Helping someone buy their dream home is rewarding for a real estate agent, but what about selling? Real estate agents need to be prepared to answer a lot of questions form home sellers.
Whether your hopeful home buyer has a former home to unload or a seller simply wants to unload a property, selling homes is another important function of the real estate agent profession.
And although it seems as simple as listing, selling, and getting out of dodge, things are considerably more complicated than that. As such, you’re bound to encounter a wide variety of questions from sellers during the process.
Here is our list of top 10 questions from home sellers and how to answer them to project confidence and competence in your field. Let’s get started.
1. Questions From Home Sellers – when is the best time to sell my home?
The answer to this question will differ depending on the geographic location, but typically the spring months are safe bets.
Home buyers are more apt to visit open houses or start going to showings during the warmer season thanks to the better weather. Spring also brings the end of the school year, leaving families with some more free time to prioritize this major life change which will potentially require acclimating their children into a new school system.
March, April, and May are usually the best months to list a home to guarantee a quicker sale and minimal time on the market, but this will vary depending on the market as well. In some markets, the fall months are better. In a seller’s market, it may vary very negligibly and you’ll enjoy good luck no matter when you’re listing.
Be sure to look over recent market performance and historical performances to provide a specific and detailed answer for your client.
2. What steps should I take before listing my home?
Home sellers dread the possibility that their home sits and sits on the market, deteriorating the asking price more and more with each passing moment. That’s why you’ll want to nail that first impression.
Make sure the home is clean and well-kept. If the client has free time to tidy up, that’s excellent, but they should shell out for a professional housekeeping service if not. Unsightly messes, dust, and odors should be attended to far in advance of a potential buyer setting foot onto the premises.
Pending repairs must be taken care of as well. Noticeable repairs like a broken cabinet door or running toilet need to be prioritized. Major repairs, like an air handler that’s on its way out, must be given some preventative maintenance to prolong the life of the machine, but the impending need to replace it should be considered in your asking price.
Never underestimate the effect a fresh coat of paint has as well. Other miscellaneous items may fall to the wayside if a buyer walks in and sees freshly painted walls. When painting, be sure to stick with neutral, light colors. White is always a safe bet. It’s easier for a buyer to envision other colors when the current color is white, whereas a dark green may distract them and get them stuck on the wrong details of the walkthrough.
When in doubt, recommend the client hire a professional staging company to consult. Better yet, form a professional working relationship with one and bring them along as a consultant while you prep your client for listing.
3. Questions From Home Sellers – how much is my home worth?
The seller may have an idea in mind based on what homes in the area are selling for and what they originally paid presumably years prior when they first purchased the property. The assumption is that the price has gone up, but it is not always the case if the home is in disrepair or if the market is underperforming.
Determining the home’s worth is based on the following factors:
2.Number of bedrooms
3.Number of bathrooms
4.Upgrades to kitchen
9.Style of residence
Based on what the home is, the condition it is in, and the sale price of other homes in the neighborhood which were sold recently, a great realtor is able to make an educated estimate of what the home will sell for on the market.
Be sure to inform your client that the assessed value, appraised value, list price, and sale price will all wind up being different numbers, sometimes drastically different, but it is to be expected and no cause for concern.
4. Should I price my home higher to leave room for negotiations?
This is the opposite of the “low ball offer” tactic that some buyers are so fond of. They assume that the transaction will be a rigorous back and forth where eventually the two parties meet in the middle after each starting at extreme endpoints of the sliding scale.
In actuality, overpricing your home is likely to produce the opposite effect and discourage would-be buyers who understand the true value of the home from actually making an offer. It’s easier to get away with in a market where less inventory exists, but it’s a foolish maneuver when there are plenty of homes for sale.
Generally, it is best to price the home around its approximate worth to guarantee it moves off the market quickly. Everyone will appreciate it if the transaction is as straightforward as possible in this regard.
5. How much commission do you charge?
The average commission for a real estate broker in Ohio is 6%.
If you are open for negotiations, feel free to engage. If not, state your price and be firm about it. Keep in mind it’s not a commission you collect for simply standing around and letting the home sell itself. Your services have value and your time as well, and you deserve to be compensated fairly for it.
6. Do I need to provide permits for any additions I have made?
The answer to this question depends on the municipality in which the sale is taking place. Some require evidence of the permits in order to close, while others leave it to the buyer.
A seller should be aware that it is usually within the rights of the buyer to request these permits to indicate that the structures added are compliant and acceptable. It’s one of those things that may not matter at all during closing, but could jeopardize the sale if the buyer is asking to see permits and you are unable to produce them.
Tell the client to do themself a favor and dig up any permits from past work including deck installations, sheds, fences, and home additions. If they can’t, tell them to get on the phone with the contractors or the office where the permits were filed for so they can produce the documents in advance of the closing.
It would be foolish to let a deal die over something so simple.
7. Questions From Home Sellers – how do I respond to “low ball” offers?
As with the seller’s “overpricing” tactic, some buyers think they’re cheeky to offer well below asking and assume they’ll get the deal of a lifetime.
Discuss the floor for negotiations with your client and ask them to proceed based on this. If handled with appropriate business acumen and logic, it’s possible the low ball offer is a door to an actual offer and it still might lead to a sale.
Some offers, however, are insincere and wishful, and the would-be buyers have their own lessons to learn. Let them learn those lessons on their own time, not yours or your clients.
8. What happens if the appraised value is below the accepted offer price?
It’s an absolute wrench in the gears when the bank’s appraisal values the house lower than the accepted offer price. In fact, it’s enough for some buyers to get cold feet and start backing out.
When the appraisal is lower than the offer, one or more of the following things will happen next:
•The seller makes a concession.
•The buyer agrees to pay anyway.
•The deal is off.
•The appraisal is challenged.
Unfortunately for the seller, the most common route is the concession route. Buyers are generally unwilling to purchase a home for more than what the bank deems is reasonable, and challenged appraisal is rarely changed.
9. How do you plan on marketing my home?
In our modern day, it’s unlikely you’ll get the sale simply from throwing a “For Sale” sign in front of the property and hoping for the best. Sellers expected a targeted marketing campaign that gets their home in front of buyers to entice them to come for a showing and make an offer.
Most buyers look first online, so it’s crucial your campaign prioritizes an online presence. This will include visibility on your web site, a real estate blog, and utilizing other methods to keep your name and your properties at the top of the search engine results page.
The listing itself is equally crucial, as you’ll want professional photos that really illustrate the space in its best light, a description that paints a picture for potential buyers, and tidbits about the neighborhood that establish it as an excellent place to put down roots.
These things in combination will help promote and sell the house long before a buyer steps foot inside.
10. Questions From Home Sellers – will you hold open houses?
Some buyers like the idea of holding open houses so a wide net of buyers see the property in one fell swoop. This is especially useful if the buyer finds it difficult to vacate for each showing.
However, less than 5% of sales come from open houses, so it’s not entirely necessary. Open houses are still beneficial for a real estate agent, as it brings you into contact with other buyers that may be in need of your services, but it’s arguably not important for the seller.
Leave the decision to your client, and share your insight if asked. It’s not imperative to hold open houses, but it’s not necessarily a bad idea either.
Selling a home is not always an easy task, but it’s easier for your clients to find success on the market if they’re employing your invaluable services and guidance on each step of the process.
Never expect blind faith from your clients, however. It’s important to expect to be asked some of the most common questions regarding the process of selling and what a seller should expect, and it’s more important that your answers illustrate confidence and competency in your field.