Required amenities and how buyers pinpoint, tour and purchase the homes they find desirable have changed significantly — and maybe permanently. Here are some realities your first-timers need to be informed of early in the process. 

September is Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. Tips for better branding and in-depth features on how to take advantage of marketing tools provided by Zillow, Redfin and other platforms are all in the works in addition to insights from experts. You’ll find it all at Inman, as well as our two-day virtual, flagship event, Your Playbook for the Fall Market, in October.

This article was last updated on Sept. 9, 2022.

Price, condition, location, appearance and financing remain major drivers for homebuyers everywhere, but preparing first-time sellers for all of the hurdles that they need to jump before they reach the closing table is intensive.

Here are some realities your first-timers need to be informed of early in the process.

Sellers have to get real fast

Although selling can be very emotional for homeowners, today’s sellers must be willing to set their emotions aside and approach a home sale as the business transaction it is. If they’re in a slow market or natural disaster zone, taking a wait-and-see approach could be the smart move.

If they must sell as-is now, they will have to be aggressive on price in most markets. Even if their local market is hot and inventory is low, sellers still have to accommodate buyers’ needs, provide all the detailed information they demand online, and meet a set of ever-escalating expectations. Adopting a business-like mindset is the only way to do that.

The speed of a sale may depend on how strategic the seller’s advance work is

Determining whether their insurance covers them adequately during a sale and fluffing up the property are just a couple of ways sellers can get a jump on the sales process, regardless of the timing.

With their agent’s guidance, sellers can do the homework required to understand what’s selling and what’s not, and create an informed prep list based on their research.

As their on-market date approaches, completing all seller disclosures and standard inspections — along with documenting completed repairs — benefits sellers as well as buyers. Having recent inspection reports in the disclosure package can lower buyers’ anxiety levels and allow shorter inspection periods to be negotiated.

They decrease the likelihood of inspection surprises derailing a sale, and they give sellers an opportunity to get bids for addressing important issues rather than paying for last-minute repairs or making painful price concessions.

Online visual impact is the new curb appeal 

Excellent photography and meaningful virtual tours have become essential elements of our marketing programs. If the house looks cramped and dingy online, that poor first impression will limit the property’s appeal dramatically. And it won’t get foot traffic — whether you’re holding open houses or not.

Staging is essential now

Because appearance is everything for people viewing properties online, staging homes prior to photographing and posting listings has become even more crucial. If you haven’t already done it, now’s the time to ask your stager to help you assemble comps to demonstrate how staging generates higher prices and lowers time on the market.

It’s also much cheaper than having to reduce the price to move a house that looks dated and dreary online and off. Staging is unmatched for its ability to maximize any home’s good features and create desired “features” out of scraps of unused space — like transforming a tiny fourth bedroom into a spacious, functional office. It’s the rare seller who can afford not to stage these days.

Sellers can expect a variety of offer presentation scenarios

Agents have typically gone over listing agreements with sellers before taking new listings, but we haven’t generally reviewed purchase contracts with sellers until we had one in hand. That needs to change.

Today’s purchase agreements often include addenda outlining contingency periods, appraisals, loan approvals and even the terms of the contract itself. Your sellers will benefit from reviewing what happens in a variety of circumstances that are beyond anyone’s control. As the pandemic has evolved and changed policy over the past few years, the real estate transaction has evolved as well.

Prepare them for delays, potential moving issues, and even plan for offers falling apart because of financing and having to re-list the property.

The world continues to see high demand for properties as prospective buyers alter the ways and places they want to live, and all of us involved in selling properties strive to meet their newfound needs.

Electronic signatures and issues around wire fraud are still very important to educate your sellers about.  Especially if they had not been active participants in the market evolution of the last few years or if they are seniors and need additional assistance navigating new technologies.

Fortunately, that’s what we’ve basically always done. So, most of us are pretty good at it by now. You just have to remember that what’s normal for us now is all new to sellers — especially the first-timers. So, stock up on facts and patience. In fact, maybe get a little extra patience. You’re gonna need that.

Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.

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