Home foreclosures are down and the housing market is finally experiencing some positive momentum and a slow upswing. With supply still available, many owners are looking to sell their current homes and "right-size."
Recently, my friend, a successful top real estate broker and entrepreneur, asked me if I had any suggestions to help her clients ease the stress of selling their homes. She readily observed that her clients' emotional stress levels seem to rise during these three stages of the home selling process:
1. Home Inspection-working with a certified inspection professional to prepare your home for sale by making improvements to add value and/or curb appeal.
2. Appraisals- working with a certified appraiser to determine the current market value of your home, which will have an effect on the determination of your listing and selling prices.
3. Home Showings-keeping your home looking great and visitor-ready for walk- throughs by perspective buyers.
Before I address a few stress remedies, let me clarify what (emotional) stress really is. Stress is your body's reaction to uncertainty (fear) or to continued overwhelm. Each body handles stress differently depending upon your unique make-up, your "conditioning" (as a child) and your own beliefs about the situation/event you are perceiving.
Because you may feel stressed when you are rushed or hurried to do something, one of the most proactive ways you can deal with home selling stress is to Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! This mantra applies to all three stages (above) of the home selling process. If you become better prepared for the stages you are about to undergo in selling our home, you will be less open to surprises. Now, please understand that you can't be prepared for everything... life is all about uncertainty, and there may be a few surprises during your home sale that you could have never really planned for. However, planning ahead and preparing will MINIMIZE the surprise factor and get you off to a great start.
First and foremost, hire a seasoned real estate professional/broker who will not only be your advocate to negotiate sales price, but who has a track record of handling many parts of the sales transaction including inspection, showings and appraisals. Hire a broker who has both the professional business experience AND wisdom to guide you through the many decisions, questions and concerns during your sale.
Prepare to Repair
Do your homework! If you anticipate selling your home in the next 6-9 months, hire a reputable certified home inspector. Walk through your home with her and discuss what you need to do to make your home saleable and in line with what the "market" is offering. Slowly begin the repair and improvement process with the guidance of your broker. He should be able to make recommendations as to what improvements are absolutely necessary and those that are "add ons" but NOT necessary to enhance your sale. Compile a list of any and all improvements you have done, including the dates and costs. (This list will add to the cost basis and selling price of your home).
Prepare So Its Fair
Next, the appraisal process can be particularly stressful because the appraisal will ultimately affect the asking/listing AND selling price of your home. Mortgagees will only give loans to new buyers for at least the amount of the appraisal price. Your goal as a seller is to get a fair market price (or above) for your property. If you prepare in advance by making important home repairs and work closely with your broker to help you understand current market prices, the appraisal process won't be too challenging. Select a knowledgeable certified appraiser who is familiar with your neighborhood and area. Walk through your home with her and point out any and all improvements you have made to your home in the past 3-5 years. The goal is to help your appraiser understand what is UNIQUE about your home and how he can relate that special quality to a fair market value determination. Provide your appraiser with attractive comps (comparables) which she may have missed. Then let him do his job.
Prepare Your Lair
The craziness and stress of home showings can make you anxious, since brokers may call with little notice asking if they may show your home to a prospective buyer. Keeping your home orderly and "show ready" can be a challenge in itself. Here are a few ideas:
1. Get organized. Declutter your home BEFORE your first showing. Do a deep clean of every room in advance.
2. Create a daily routine. Incorporate a light "tidy up" each day, so in case the broker calls to ask for a showing, all will be in good order.
3. Get feedback (after a showing) from your broker. Find out what prospective buyers are saying about your home, changes they would like to see or just general constructive information about how you can make your home more "show ready".
If you have prepared properly and trusted the direction of your broker to help guide you through each stage of the selling process, selling your home will be much less stressful.
Home Selling Spirituality
Now that we have reviewed some tactical strategies to DE -Stress Home Selling, here is more of a spiritual perspective to this whole process:
Put everything into perspective. Know that everything in life usually works out exactly as it is supposed to. Stress and worry won't change the situation... it will only zap you of good energy and create havoc with your health.
Take some personal time for yourself. Periodically, "let go" of thoughts of your house for awhile. Give your mind and body a break. Selling your home can be an arduous process lasting from a few months to a year or more. You need to keep your good energy and spirits UP .
When you don't know what to do, do NOTHING. There will be many decisions along the home selling process. Its okay to "sleep on it" like your mom or grandma used to tell you. Hasty decisions regarding money or assets are usually poor decisions. If it doesn't "feel" right, then it probably isn't.
A little humor can work magic. Laughter is key. It releases tension as well as reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline),dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins (the "feel good" hormone). When you are feeling stressed out during this process, just remember to "not take yourself so seriously." Look forward to the positive changes ahead in your future new home and location.