A recent survey conducted for real estate powerhouse Zillow reported that the stress of selling a home brought nearly 40% of sellers to tears—20% of them reached for the tissues five times or more.
It's hardly a surprise: Like most of life's major stress-inducing events, the process of selling a home feels largely beyond our control. We wait for agents to notice us, wait for buyers to consider us, wait for bids that may never come—all while keeping the house and property immaculate and available at a moment's notice, no matter how many humans or pets call it home.
So, are there happy home sellers? And if so, what do they have in common?
Well, sure. A fast, top-dollar offer from an easygoing, well-qualified buyer all but guarantees a happy home-selling experience. For those lucky sellers, the journey from listing to closing is the real estate equivalent of riding the goose that lays golden eggs to the end of a rainbow where there's even more gold, and maybe a unicorn.
Unlike golden eggs, rideable rainbows, and unicorns, this delightful home-selling experience can happen; but, like winning the lottery, there isn't much you can do to make it happen.
Since it's not something you can conjure up at will, let's focus on a few experiences happy sellers share that they felt were in their control. These are some of the most frequently cited responses, along with a bit of perspective from Stacey Simens, an award-winning agent with Coach Realtors in Hewlett, New York.
They liked their listing agents. A good agent is one reason happy sellers enjoyed their real estate experience; a less-than-satisfactory agent can make the experience less than pleasant. Fortunately, there are plenty of agents out there, and finding one who's capable, competent, and compatible with you is entirely in your control. "Hire a Realtor® you feel comfortable with and connect with," Simens recommends. The power's in your hands – ask questions with quantifiable answers, ask to speak with recent clients, and speak with more than one agent. Approach this as you would hiring a new employee, because technically, you are. Successful agents expect to be interviewed; they're comfortable answering these questions and can easily provide the information you've requested. Not sure which questions to ask? Here are a few to start with from realtor.com.
They had a strong team. Here's something that's usually not top-of-mind: You'll need an attorney to handle your home sale and, just like when you decided on your listing agent, you'll want to choose wisely. It's tempting to reach out to someone you already have a relationship with, but it's not a good idea. "I've had clients use attorneys who specialize in a different area, such as their tax attorney," Simens recalls. "It's always a disaster! Seek out a real estate attorney who does numerous closings per year." A knowledgeable real estate attorney will work with your agent and make your sale much easier – and happy sellers agree that the ease of the whole transaction counts.
They knew what they didn't know. Once the team was in place, happy sellers spent little time second-guessing them. Of course, this is much easier to do when your listing agent maintains clear lines of communication, but if you've done your homework, your agent has that covered. Simens agrees, "Let your Realtor work for you! It's why you chose them." She or he is on your side and will advise you accordingly.
They tried not to take it personally. It isn't logical, but we’re only human: For many of us, selling a home triggers all kinds of emotions. One trait happy sellers share is a willingness to reframe this experience for what it is: a business transaction. A critique, whether from a buyer or another broker, isn't an indictment of your standards. An offer that's lower than you'd like isn't a personal insult. Everyone involved – including you! – just wants the best possible outcome from their perspective.
Separating your feelings about your soon-to-be-former home from the ideally neutral reality of doing business can go a long way toward keeping you cool, calm, and level-headed throughout the negotiations.
Take the advice of every agent ever, and don’t be present for open houses or showings. It's inconvenient, but it's important for a multitude of reasons, and it can help you maintain a feeling of detachment. After all, Simens confirms, "Sometimes buyers are brutal."
They said yes to help.There's no sugar-coating it: When you're getting a house ready to sell, your to-do list is comically long. Simens encourages her sellers to use every service available to tackle it. "In our area," she says, "there are tag sale vendors, clean-out services, and charities that pick up donations." Happy sellers find ways to break down their needs and bring in help that's inexpensive, and sometimes even free.