- You have some important responsibilities as a seller when selling your home while still living in it.
- Making your home as pleasant and accessible to buyers as humanly possible is critical for getting it sold
Selling your home while you’re still living in it is probably not most people’s ideal situation. Scheduling viewings is a hassle. Keeping the home clean is a hassle. Loading up the dogs every time someone wants to view the home is a hassle.
But do it right, and the hassle will be short lived, because your home will be sold!
I see a lot of homes that don’t sell because they are owner occupied. It is a problem with accessibility. I’ve written before about the importance of accessibility when it comes to selling your home. In fact, it is one of the four most critical parts of home selling, the “A” in my PACE Strategy for selling.
If you are selling your home here are some rules to follow. Note, I said rules, not suggestions. You will do this if you want to sell your home.
#1. Get out of the home during showings
Oh, and you need to take the pets with you. Dogs are obvious – you can’t have dogs running around during a showing. You can’t just leave them in the backyard; buyers will want to see the backyard. And you can’t just keep them in a room or kennel as they may bark or disrupt the buyer’s viewing experience. Other pets like cats should also be taken out of the home for showings. A buyer might let out an indoor cat. Or buyers might just be allergic to your pet.
There may be very rare occassions when you must be present during a showing. For example, perhaps the prospective buyer approached you directly and doesn’t have an agent to let them in. If you are at home during a showing, follow these few additional rules:
- Avoid having too many people present during showings.
- Be courteous with the buyer, but remain in the background and do not intrude on their viewing.
- Turn off any music, TVs or electronics that are playing.
- Do not discuss the price or terms with buyers. Allow their agent to do their job and keep the transaction completely professional. I had a seller who took the buyer on a tour of the home, pointing out everything that he thought might need some work or improvement in the home. Needless to say, the buyer took careful notes and asked the seller to repair everything the seller mentioned on the repair amendment.
- Schedule any other showings with your agent so that they can monitor who is visiting your home.
The problem with being in the home during a showing is that:
- It’s awkward. Following a buyer around the house or sat quietly the corner just makes for an awkward showing. The buyers and their agent also can’t talk openly.
- It makes it feel like “someone else’s” home. You want the buyer to imagine it could be their home, not someone else’s.
- Information can slip. I see it all the time – the seller and buyer talk, and the seller shoots himself in the foot. I’ve seen sellers reveal how much they owe on the home, talk about their DIY projects (that a buyer will NOT be excited about), reveal their motivation and all sorts of other items that obliterate our leverage when the negotiating starts.
#2. The answer is always “YES”
Your Realtor calls. Someone wants to see the home tomorrow at 2 PM. Ehhh, that’s not good for you, you think to yourself. You had scheduled to have guests over for then. You’re about to say the “n” word when you remember this rule.
“YES. Tomorrow at 2 is a GREAT time”.
Well done, seller! While you no doubt have a new and unwelcome hassle trying to rearrange your calendar, your efforts will be rewarded when that buyer turns out to be The One who pays full price and wants to close in two weeks.
I am a buyer’s agent. It is common for a buyer who is in town only one weekend to view homes, preparing for their move to the Killeen area. Or perhaps we are driving around a neighborhood and they see your sign and want to get in a last minute viewing. A majority of the time in my experience, if a buyer can’t see the home on their first try, they will never see the home. They’re looking at nine others and will fall in love with a different home before they have time to reschedule viewing your home.
Also keep in mind that buyers often only have time to see home in their free time. In the era of the 5 day work week and 9 – 5 work day, your free time is your buyer’s free time, too. 7 PM after work, after church on a Sunday, during lunch – being flexible and allowing showings at these times is key to getting buyers in the door and your home sold.
Remember that selling your home is a numbers game. Some buyers will hate your home. Others may love it. Get buyers in the door so you have the best chance of getting the right one.
#3. Get rid of valuables
Unlike all the other rules, this one has nothing to do with selling your home. It’s just common sense. There is a downside of selling your home while you still live in it other than the hassle of keeping it clean. There are going to be strangers in your home. While they will always be supervised by a licensed Realtor, and the lock box keeps a record of who accessed the property when, it is still a good idea to secure in a safe or remove entirely anything of value.
Related, be sure your guns are secured in a gun safe. You should be doing that anyway!
#4. Less is More
Deciding whether you should pack up the end table on the couch, the toaster oven on your kitchen counter, or the unused crib in the old nursery? Answer: do it. Less is generally more when decluttering a home. Move it to the garage. You don’t need to sleep on air mattresses and watch TV in folding chairs – but when it doubt, take it out (to the garage).
Related to decluttering, you may also want to child proof your home. Prospective buyers may have children, and it’s not hard to imagine what can go wrong with three or four of them running through the home trying to pick a bedroom. If it’s breakable, it’s boxable. Git ‘er done!
#5. If it isn’t a piece of furniture…
…it doesn’t belong on the floor. Toys, stacks of magazines or books, laundry hampers, shoes – anything that isn’t a couch, chair, table or bed probably needs to go. That is a simple rule to follow to help you declutter your space and maximize its visual appeal.
#6. Nobody Cares About the Garage
Following the above rules can be a pain in the posterior. What are you going to do with all the stuff you had?
Put it in the garage.
Buyers will look in the garage. It would be good to have a path to the water heater and A/C unit, as well as any sprinkler system control panel or a water softener. But unless it has some spectacular feature like a nice workshop area, it’s just a garage. Not a big deal if you fill it up with boxes. You need to box all the stuff up, anyway – you’re moving!
#7. Light it Up!
This is the one rule that is the same for vacant properties. The tendency when living in a home, especially during a hot Texas summer, is to keep the blinds and curtains closed. That is a great idea except when your home is on the market. Every curtain should be pulled back, every blind open. Lots of natural light sells a home.
#8. Keep it Clean 24/7
24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No excuses. No buts. No waiting for a scheduled appointment and then cleaning 15 minutes prior.
I was once working with a buyer. One of the first homes we viewed, the owners hadn’t received the message we were coming. It wasn’t their fault. The house was a mess, they said, could we come back later? Of course. We went on to the other homes on our list. My buyer fell in love with a different home we saw that afternoon wasn’t interested in going back to view the first home.
It happens all the time. Sometimes we might be in the neighborhood to see a different home, but see your yard sign and are intrigued. If I can’t get ahold of the agent right away, I will go up and knock on the door to see if there is anyone home and if it’s okay to quickly take a look. You aren’t obligated to let us agents with buyers view the home at all times, but I would refer you back to Rule #2.
Selling While Occupied with a Tenant
Thinking about selling your single family home while a tenant is occupying it? I have a suggestion:
Tenant occupied homes sell terribly. Most don’t sell at all. Even good tenants will not follow these rules like an owner would. There is nothing for them to gain by doing so. In fact, they probably don’t want you to sell the home, as that likely means moving when the lease is up.
I understand nobody wants to deal with three months of a vacant home – paying mortgage and rent. But if you’re serious about selling your home, it is most cost effective to sell after the tenant moves out. If you meet all the PACE elements, there is no reason you can’t sell your home in three months tops. I even offer a one month listing agreement for such homes, so confident am I that I can sell it quickly and spare you holding costs.
- Selling Your Home Vacant in the Fort Hood area? That will Cost you $8756.27
- One Month Listing Agreement
I personally recommend selling a home vacant if possible. It solves a lot of these problems. But that is not always an option financially or for other reasons. If you must sell your home while living in it, follow these rules. No exceptions. You will be rewarded with a home sold quickly and at full market value.
Next week of course will be the laws of selling your home vacant – a whole ‘nother list and a whole ‘nother ballgame.
And want more info on selling in the Fort Hood market? Please download my free Ultimate Fort Hood Home Seller Guide. I spent Christmas writing it, and update it regularly. There’s a lot of work put into it, so please don’t let it go to waste!