First time home seller jitters
July 26, 2010 1:10 PM   Subscribe

How should we prepare to meet with a realtor to sell a home?

We're selling a home for the first time. The home is part of a probate we're representing. It's paid off with no liens or anything against it. Not knowing where to begin we contacted an area realtor's association and the president took us on. He's only been a relator for a couple of years but he's done lots of research looking up tax records and nearby sales and given us three possible scenarios depending on our needs and interest in the property once it's listed. We're meeting him for a walk-through this weekend and he mentioned bringing some papers for us to sign. If we like him everything makes sense will we be unwise to sign something without shopping around? He doesn't work much in that geographical area, being centered about 60 miles away, where we also live. We'll ask how he plans to manage the distance for showings.

What should we be prepared to ask him? We're renting the home to trustworthy relatives, with a good lease. The rent is low for the market but might we be better off continuing to rent if the prospects look grim after a few months? Our renters don't want to leave so we can't count on them to show it unbiased.

We'd appreciate any ideas.
posted by Mertonian to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My wife and I have our place on the market, and we interviewed three different people for the job of selling our place. We went with a lady who seemed the most organized and informed about the market in the area, and she was locally based. We signed a contract for 90 days, which she thought would be sufficient to sell our house (we have a small place compared to neighbors, but it's in the best shape of any around here, and we're not asking for as much as houses around us, if not less). We're not so excited about her any more, so we could go with someone else at the end of this period.

Getting someone who is at least an hour away from the property to sell makes me worried, as that means anytime he needs to get there, he'll have to factor in an extra two hours into his day. If he is managing a number of other places closer to his home, he could almost be able to do an extra open house in the time it would take to drive to your place and back.

And I don't think you'd want to have any non-professional (especially a renter) showing the place. Find someone closer to the house, and check a few people out. Get their ideas on the time to sell, a reasonable asking price and a likely sale price, and any improvements you could or should do before trying to sell the unit.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:22 PM on July 26, 2010

Best answer: I am not a realtor, but we sold our first place just a couple of years ago and here's what it came down to:

The realtor's going to take the listing, get your place into the MLS and put a for-sale sign up. As a new property, it'll go onto the hotsheets that are traded around the various offices so that other realtors can see what's coming on the market this week.

There'll be a lockbox installed so that folks can see the place when no one is home, which means keeping the place in decent shape and being ready to bolt at a moment's notice. There are other staging tricks, like repainting to neutral colors, clearing out the closets to make them look bigger, turning on all the lights and throwing fresh mulch down on the front yard where needed. In Georgia, the realtor had a certain time period to try to sell the place. I want to say it was 90 days. After that, we could take it off the market or try a different realtor.

Your bigger issue is going to be reconciling these 2 things:

I think that rather than call the realtor, you need to reconcile these two things:

We're selling a home for the first time.


Our renters don't want to leave so we can't count on them to show it unbiased.

...since you're hoping for a good showing when prospective buyers come in to see the place: neat, tidy, no weird smells or odd stains, and so on.
posted by jquinby at 1:29 PM on July 26, 2010

Best answer: Why sell at all right now? You are selling at the worst times in years - home prices are crazy low right now. We are in the best buyers market in a generation, and you want to become a seller?

You have renters. Find a property manager. Since they are your relatives, they are not likely to completely destroy the property.

Just let the property float - do not take any of the money in rent. Just make sure the rent covers the property manager, taxes, building insurance, and a bit more for repairs when your renters move out.

Just by holding the property for three years or more, you may end up getting considerably more money.

Institutional investors are investing in real estate right now - what are you going to do with the money. Do not leave the real estate market to invest in a mutual fund - real estate is more stable right now.

Unless you need the money for something else - hold the property. And even if you do need the money, it might be smarter to take an equity loan out on the property to get money, rather than sell the real estate now.
posted by Flood at 1:38 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: might be smarter to take an equity loan out on the property to get money, rather than sell the real estate now.

I am so glad you suggested this, thank you!
posted by Mertonian at 1:54 PM on July 26, 2010

We also interviewed 3 people when we sold our house (in Austin in late 2004). I'm glad we did, because we got three very different interpretations. I would be very wary of signing up with the first/only realtor interviewed, especially since he is 60 miles away.

But also, I wonder pragmatically how you will sell the house when you have renters with a lease--what are the terms of the lease agreement with respect to the possible sale of the property, and what are the relevant laws in your state? But more than that, selling a house well requires a lot of work, as jquinby pointed out.

Finally, I agree with Mertonian that this may not be the best time to try to sell if you don't need to. Unless your specific market has been relatively unaffected by the recent downturn, you might seriously think about waiting.

When we sold our house Austin was just starting to come back from the bursting tech bubble, and I knew a lot of people in the area that were taking major hits on houses they had bought just a few years earlier. We did a ton of research before we even met with any realtors to try to get our own sense of what the market was doing and how long houses in our neighborhood were on the market and what they were going for. The MLS is your friend here.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 3:26 PM on July 26, 2010

oops--you're Mertonian, I agree with Flood, but apparently I can't read!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 3:27 PM on July 26, 2010

Best answer: Interview at least 3. Have them prepare a written market analysis, which will give you a projected sale price and time estimate. (Don't assume the one who gives you the highest estimate is the best choice. You're looking for reality here.) Also have them give you their opinion on what improvements, cleaning or maintenance should be undertaken to maximize the value of your property. Also, someone local who knows the neighborhood is best. Good luck.
posted by mbx at 4:52 PM on July 26, 2010

Response by poster: DiscourseMarker, our lease allows for 30 days notice on both sides, so if we sell our renters will be out before the new owners take over. We're really considering the wisdom so many are giving us here about waiting until the market changes. I hope I won't be struck down for asking but what if the market gets worse, this must be a concern for many, too. If we can get a small equity loan for improvements, though, we're going to hang on to it for awhile.
posted by Mertonian at 6:48 PM on July 26, 2010

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