So you’ve decided to sell your home. Congratulations! It’s a big step, and definitely a life-changing event not to be taken lightly.

An obvious question you might be asking yourself is: How do I put this all into motion and formulate a plan that will work best for my family?

Truthfully, once you’ve decided that selling your home is the next thing on your to-do list, call a professional, local Realtor. In fact, call two or three of them.

  • Here’s a great place to begin the process:

Ask a few friends or family members that have recently bought (or sold a home) about their experiences. Be sure to ask specifically about their real estate agent. Did they have an experience they can rave about? Did their Realtor go above and beyond to ensure all the details were handled correctly and in a time efficient manner? Could they make a solid recommendation? If so, call or email the agent and invite them to meet you in person so you can chat about your new adventure and what they can bring to the party.

It’s always a good idea to seek out a second or third opinion as well. Google search or call your local prominent real estate firm and ask the Managing Broker to have a respected, well-rounded agent who handles the area of town you’d like to search in to get in touch with you. You’ll typically get a very educated, friendly and ambitious agent giving you a call within a few minutes – to a few hours.

  • But why hire a Realtor? Why not just handle it yourself?

Selling your home without representation could place any family in a compromised position with complex, and expensive consequences in the event something goes terribly wrong. If you don’t understand your State’s real estate laws and practices about disclosure, fair housing, and contract negotiation (just to list a few examples) could find yourself sweating in a court room, when you should be relaxing in your new living room. Professional and competent real estate agents absolutely bring uncompromised value to every transaction. Keeping family’s on target and staying clear of trouble is imperative.

For those people who don’t normally buy and sell a lot of property, or don’t know any Realtors personally, it can be easy to overlook, or be completely unaware of all the hard work that actually goes into the home-selling process on your behalf. You’d be surprised to learn how much weight an agent can really carry for you. It’s also interesting to note that they perform these tasks at no charge to until a closing takes place. That’s pretty impressive when you consider the time and money that goes into this extremely involved process.

  • Yes, Realtors must follow the National Code of Ethics.

Realtors in the United States are required by law to stay informed and take continuing education every two years. Otherwise, they can’t renew their license or practice real estate at all. Realtors spend a lot of time and money receiving education and being involved in the day-to-day challenges/events that not only protect the public, but serve their clients individual needs. The competent agents must have a deep understanding of how the business works. You on the other hand, are not required. Often times, this is where trouble starts.

What makes selling a home yourself even more challenging is the simple fact that it’s not every day that people sell homes. The National average says that most families stay in their homes for a period of thirteen years. Our world evolves quickly and at the rate information is exchanged these days, thirteen years is quite a long span of time! So much can happen, and new rules and regulations are put into place all the time. This is why you should strongly consider hiring a professional Realtor.

  • A quick note about full-time Realtors:

Many agents that work in a full-time capacity spend a lot of time dealing and negotiating with other colleagues “in the biz” and often form strong alliances. Friendships and networking can work to your advantage and bear fruit when buyers are out looking for that “perfect” home that isn’t on the market yet. Sometimes, word of mouth between agents about an up and coming listing gets a deal negotiated and closed without it ever hitting the MLS, or if it does go public, a well-informed agent can help you get a jump start to the front of the line without missing an opportunity.

  • What should I expect from my Realtor anyhow?

Generally speaking, a local, professional real estate agent will be able to explain the process of getting your home ready for sale. This can include a multitude of things including pricing the home, estimate the time it may take to sell in the given market, and a little thing called “staging” which turns out to be a big thing after all!

  • What to do when the agent arrives:

When the agent arrives, walk him or her though your home explaining what you love about it or how it’s helped accommodate your family. Talk about charming features, square footage, neighborhood amenities or proximity to shopping, schools, events you enjoy, and any other practical or functional facts.

It’s important to make sure you disclose any upgrades or repairs you might have done and when. Also let the agent know if they were completed professionally. This will come into play later on when the buyer’s lender eventually asks you to provide clean title for the home and copies of all lien waivers associated with any work completed. If you feel there are any negative factors to your homes current condition, make the agent aware immediately and ask for a professional opinion by a certified inspector to have a look at it. It’s better to know all of your issues (if any) going into the process, not three weeks into escrow.

In addition, it’s a good idea to call your bank and ensure all the paperwork on your home is current and all lines of credit you might have taken out are satisfied, or at least have current pay-off amounts associated with them.

  • The realities of selling. Fact and fiction revealed:

The agent should present the facts about your home and tell the truth about how your home currently stands among the competition that’s out there. It’s important to note that while many websites out there claim to know the value of your home simply by plugging in a few numbers, or submitting your address, are to be taken with a grain of salt. Those sites can be fun to explore but trusting the guidance of a local agent that can back up his or her facts with the latest MLS data is far more accurate and an absolute trust worthy source.

This helps everyone arrive at a price-point that can be agreed upon. Square footage, recent updates, and location are some of the key factors to consider. The goal is to find the “sweet spot.” It does the agent no good to take an over-priced listing and carry the costs only to have it grow stale on the market and, it will be incredibly frustrating for you as a Seller to accommodate multiple home showings with no offers being presented or opportunities to negotiate. Not to mention, keeping your home in showing condition at all times can present its own set of challenges.

  • A Simple Reality about Modern Buyers.

These days, it’s not just a “clean” home that attracts modern buyers. Today’s home shoppers are more educated and expect more than ever before. With so many Reality TV shows promoting fix and flip or home restoration style programming, along with having access to everything at their fingertips at all times via the Internet, the modern buyer is at a better advantage then yesterday’s buyer. They expect their home buying options to include more functional, clean spaces, trendy color pallets, powerful appearances, tasteful upgrades, and a smart use of storage.

Don’t run screaming. This doesn’t mean you have to rehab your entire home simply to secure a buyer. A simple clutter removal, a good spring cleaning and a furniture re-arrangement goes along way. We’ll explain a little further in a blog post titled – Modern Buyers – circa 2015.

  • Talk about marketing strategy:

Discussing a marketing strategy will come next. After placing your home into the local MLS, most agents make certain your home has a strong online presence. This ideally includes professional photos, a video tour, and maybe even mini YouTube presentations that can be shared via Social Media channels. A few open houses may help here and there but in 2015, we have virtual tours and video so, your home is open for viewing 24/7. If it’s priced right, in good condition, staged well, in a desirable location, and we’re in a decent market with low interest rates, showings should come strong and steady, and a few offers should quickly follow.

As a part of the marketing, it’s also important to have creative, well-written descriptions and narratives that not only share important facts about your home, but express to the prospective buyer what your house has to offer by speaking to the emotional attachments a buyer should feel for a home as they envision bring their family into it for living, growing, celebrations, and of course as a place to feel safe and always cherish.

  • The bottom line on selecting your agent:

Before you sign the listing contract, it’s important that you believe in your agent. You truly believe he or she is going to get the job done. You trust in your heart that you see things eye-to-eye regarding the pricing, the marketing, the possible options for staging, and everything else that will ultimately lead up to the grand finale – a successful closing.

  • For your protection:

You might have noticed that some Realtors have designations behind their names. GRI is one example and ABR is another. There are a few more and they all stem from receiving higher education from the National Association of Realtors. This does not mean that an individual must ascertain all of these levels to handle selling your home or help you find a new one.

Everyone out there that holds an active real estate license must follow the National Code of Ethics. They are standards of practice that MUST remain in place to protect the public’s interest first before their own addenda in any and all circumstances. If there is a complaint filed against an agent and it’s found through a court of law that they did not adhere to the code, they face severe penalties including fines, license revoking or suspension, and possible prison. Being a licensed Realtor is very serious and nothing to play around with.

All practicing Real Estate must pass both State and Federal boards in order to obtain their license in the first place. If having a certain accreditation is important to you because you feel it might impact the process of selling or buying your home, ask your agent about it, and get the facts first.

Conversely though, if you ask for facts and the agent responds to you with caviler comments similar to “let me worry about these things, I’ll take care of that, don’t you worry” – you should consider talking to another agent very soon indeed. Professional, highly regarded Realtors practice strong ethical character and considers their integrity to be in the highest regard.