5 “Emergencies” That Are Actually Normal When Selling Your Home Or Condo
Selling real estate can be complicated. There are a lot of moving parts and various personalities to manage.
It's not always easy.
Seasoned real estate agents know that the real work begins once you (seller) and a buyer agree to terms and the contract is signed. And it is during this actual closing process, that you could get overwhelmed and stressed.
That’s because there are any number of issues that can come up at ANY POINT that can affect anything from your timeline to your budget.
When these issues pop up, to you, they feel like an emergency. You worry that you won’t be able to sell, or that maybe you’ve made a terrible mistake, or even worry just because your agent is 100% calm about the situation that’s sending you into overdrive.
Turns out the professional real estate agent is calm for a reason. Some issues are so common that experienced agents build these little setbacks into their timeline. Here’s a quick list of just a few of the most common surprises:
1. You have to completely re-stage your property.
However tactfully communicated, few people enjoy hearing that their current furniture is going to turn off potential buyers, that most of their personal treasures (family photos, heirlooms, antiques, etc.) need to be put in storage and that they need to do an epic declutter before they can sell. It’s a little embarrassing and might push back your timeline. You might think: “They should be looking at the home/condo, not my fun run memorabilia.”
Yet the cliched reactions of reality show buyers are how real-life buyers actually react. They do focus on paint color instead of room size, lighting instead of location, decor choices instead of layout, etc. Plus, the more “stuff” in a room, the smaller it will feel.
Staging isn’t about judging your possessions, but about helping buyers see themselves in the space. If your agent is gently suggesting a lot of staging, understand that it’s probably because your property's present state isn’t going to allow buyers to do that.
PRO-TIP: Try and see your property from the perspective of a new buyer. Take the emotion out of it and "stage" things so it makes it easy for the buyer to WANT this property for themselves.
2. You have to spend money to fix a problem that you didn’t even notice.
A sale can stretch your budget, even if you own your property outright and are experiencing a seller’s market in your area. So when your agent suggests having a carpenter come in to check on the squeaky floorboards that you’ve tuned out over the years, a team of painters to come by to take your walls from beige to eggshell white, an electrician to address the 10-second delay with your front door light and an exterminator to see where a single ant came from, you’re probably more than a little frustrated. After all, you’ve lived with all of this, is it really going to be a big deal?
Yes. Like staging, your agent is coming into your property with the fresh eye and the instinctive knowledge of what buyers always notice. Spending a little now can ultimately mean fewer days on the market.
PRO-TIP: Investing time, energy and sometimes money on the front end to get a property ready for the "showroom floor" will almost always pay off. You will have less hassle and stronger offers as buyers are excited to buy instead of focusing on the negatives.
3. The buyer’s inspector basically wrote a book called “Everything is Wrong With Your Property.”
This surprise really will send you into panic mode, because a heavy-handed inspection report seems like the precursor to a doomed sale. Your agent had already educated you about disclosures, had an inspector come by, asked you to fix major and minor issues and yet there’s somehow a bunch of problems.
Understand one thing...agents see this ALL THE TIME.
The buyer’s inspector might just be more stringent than others or just likes to be exceedingly thorough when listing wear-and-tear issues. You should still expect to hear that there are problems with your property, though. While a potential buyer can (and often will) use the inspection report to negotiate, your agent should offer guidance on how to navigate the situation starting with what has been agreed to in the contract while also relying on experience.
PRO TIP: Experience matters. When interviewing agents, don't just ask about price or how they are going to market your property for sale. Ask them to give you examples of how they have solved closing problems in the past and how they have actually held a closing together so it didn't fall apart. An experienced agent can go on for hours :).
4. The Appraisal Comes In Lower Than The Contract Price
Low appraisals happen but that DOES NOT mean you have to immediately lower your price to the appraisal amount. More than likely, it DOES start another negotiation with the buyer but remember, the buyer WANTS to buy your property. That is why they agreed to a contract in the first place. Buyers can still make up the difference between the low appraisal and the contract price with their own money. In fact, this happens quite often. Keep in mind that by the time the appraisal is in, the buyer is likely very invested in the process. They have spent money on inspections, appraisals, etc. and probably started planning their move. Or, if they are buying a vacation rental, they may have already engaged a rental manager and started accepting bookings!
PRO TIP: Don't jump right to accepting the low appraisal value. Your experienced agent will help you work through another negotiation, and often times can still get you closed at the contract price.
5. You had a buyer…and now you don’t.
The sale couldn’t have gone smoother. You had a few offers, found a great buyer, had a contract signed and you were done…or so you thought. Welcome to the contingency period. Maybe the buyer’s financing fell through. Perhaps the buyers were a couple who suddenly decided they were incompatible. Maybe the inspector found a major structural issue. Whatever the reason was, the contract fell through and you’re back on the market.
While you can’t predict what can happen during the contingency period, you can mitigate some risk here beforehand. Consider offers from buyers ONLY who have been pre-approved for financing and consider a thorough inspection before your property hits the market. Ultimately, your agent should help you negotiate a contract that YOU are comfortable with and should explain the contingencies so that you understand when the buyer is fully committed. They should also create a timeline for you so that you are aware of the important dates in the closing process.
PRO-TIP: There are normally at least FIVE critical dates that you should understand besides just the closing date.
While I tried to outline a few common “emergencies” that can send a seller’s heart racing…I know that every seller has different timelines and priorities.
If you’re unsure of how much you should be preparing your property for an upcoming sale, I'm here to listen to your concerns and help walk you through the process.