First-Time Home Seller Tips

By MICHAEL EDLEN | Special to the Palisadian-Post

For first-time sellers, questions arise. The selling experience can be very daunting without having been involved in a real estate sale transaction in recent years. For those who are selling their home for the first time, the anticipation of the entire process can be very difficult and for some it can be overwhelming or frightening.

Whether the move is essential due to health, financial, personal or job-related reasons, the need to give up one’s home can be challenging on many levels.

Questions arise such as how long the process will take, how neat must the home be kept, how much notice will be given before an agent shows up, if an open house is necessary, how can the valuables be kept safe, if neighbors will be allowed to poke through their home, how much they need to disclose about conditions they might be aware of, whether they need to hire an attorney, etc.

In addition to the usual input that is given to help sellers prepare their home for sale, there are at least 10 specific things that first-time sellers will benefit from knowing before putting the home on the market.

1. Working with a seasoned real estate professional is invaluable. Owners who might be tempted to sell their home without an agent could be risking a great deal, leading to realizing less money at the end of the process or possibly taking a chance on safety or security issues. In today’s world of technology it is easy to find out how to sell anything, what prices have been typical and what is generally involved. However, an agent who has sold at least several homes in the last year will have far more knowledge and ability to assist in handling any issues that inevitably will come up.

2. It is important for a seller to understand the costs of selling a home. Often they are not aware of the numerous closing costs that are involved and might not anticipate what can come up during the inspection process.

3. The timing of a move may be critical to consider in advance. Before beginning the preparation process for sale, it may be practically and emotionally important to decide where they will be moving once the closing occurs. This allows the agent to assist in guiding the process as much as possible to accommodate the ideal timing for the seller to have to move. There are a variety of alternative combinations to put into place that can be considered—and far better to do so before having to respond to an offer.

4. The home will be on display for everyone to see once the listing goes “live.” If the agent uses the full resources available, within a few days that home could be on 700 to 900-plus websites and people will be able to view all of the photos any time of any day. Sellers must be prepared for perhaps thousands of people ultimately seeing their home online, and to understand why perhaps only a handful of people actually request and do a showing in person.

5. Showings requests may give a day or longer advance notice, or occasionally be last minute for various reasons. It can be critical for an owner to be flexible and make it easy to show their home. That way the agents will not be discouraged about suggesting a showing to their clients. A good listing agent usually will be able to control the process so pre-qualified potential buyers are the ones who will see the home.

6. Sellers should be prepared for the process to take longer than they had hoped for or be led to expect it will take. There are occasions when it only takes a few showings before the ideal buyer is found. Other times it might take several months and 10 or more showings before someone writes an offer.

7. Buyers rarely see the home in the same way that the owner does, regardless of how much effort has gone into getting it ready for marketing. Feedback after showings, if not be taken personally, may help the seller make some changes to address issues raised by the potential buyers making the property even more appealing.

8. How a seller responds to a good-faith offer is critically important. The first offer may well be seen in retrospect to have been from the best potential buyer in the market at that time. Sellers who play hardball with an offer may end up with no buyer in hand. Buyers are now much more sophisticated having full access to information about home values and comparable sales, and are not likely to overpay to purchase the house they want.

9. Buyers today will typically do extensive inspections to find out as much as they can about the condition of the property before they remove contingencies. If the seller has had pre-inspections done, it will remove a lot of uncertainties during escrow, even though the buyer may still have some more detailed inspections done such as scoping the chimney and sewer line.

10. Buyers have a contractual right to a final walk-through of the property during the last few days of escrow. It is wise to have as much of the packing done before then and also to have all unwanted items hauled away. The general expectation is that the home will be in broom-clean condition when the buyer takes possession.

Michael Edlen has been involved in nearly 1,500 transactions, and his team provides pre-marketing consultations as part of their service to the community and prospective clients. He can be reached at 310-230-7373 or