Home Sellers Start Here

Most home sellers dream of a stress-free sale in which they simply list their home, quickly find a qualified buyer, collect their proceeds and hand over the keys. If only it were that simple! In reality, selling a home involves many moving parts.

Depending on the market conditions and the level of inventory available, it can take up to a few hours, a few days or even longer to get your home under contract. The homes I have staged and sold over the many years I have been in this business comes down to 3 important components:


I will highlight these three things below, but I wanted to share what I call the ‘chain of events’ that will occur once you decide to sell your home.

1. REACH OUT TO A PROFESSIONAL. I always suggest that once you decide to sell your home, reach out to a real estate professional first. Be sure your research these professionals to find someone with the right experience and who understands the area where you live. The best real estate agents are dedicated, determined and eager to help. Consider these top character traits that seller’s rank as extremely important.

TRUSTWORTHINESS: Trustworthiness is the top-quality sellers say is important in an agent.  A trustworthy agent won’t try to persuade you to work with them by giving you an unattainable listing price.  They will always set reasonable expectations and outline their responsibilities.

SINCERITY: Great agents are always honest, even if it means saying things you don’t want to hear—like your home isn’t worth what you think it is or that it doesn’t need improvement before going on the market.  They build a relationship with you based on honesty and keeping your best interests at heart. 

INTEGRITY: Top real estate agents put their seller’s needs above anything else.  That means they will go above and beyond to move a deal forward, whether they are physically pitching in to help get your home staged and/or becoming your concierge: connecting and coordinating with other professionals who provide the types of services a sellers would find most helpful.  (Painter, handyman, roofer, cleaner, plumber, electrician, HVAC specialist, junk removal, window washer, etc.) 

WORK ETHIC: Real Estate is not a nine-to-five job, at least not for me, and a great agent understands and embraces this.  They should never resent clients for reaching out to them outside of traditional working hours. Make sure when you are working with a trusted real estate professional, that you are hearing from THEM, not a transaction coordinator (the middle person); I believe all sellers should hear directly from the professional they are working with. Always. There was a survey taken not too long ago and the #1 complaint from sellers is a lack of communication with their agent. A great agent should return your calls and your e-mails promptly. A great agent should give their sellers feedback on showings.  Staying in touch with your real estate agent is something all sellers have a right to expect.

A stack of coins
Hands surrounding a house
A well-lit dining room

2. SET A REALISTIC PRICE: Even in a competitive market, buyers don’t want to pay more than they must, so it’s crucial to get the pricing right. Going too high can backfire, while underestimating a home’s value might cause you to leave money on the table. I always do a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis), using comparable homes that have sold in the past 6 to 12 months, similar to the subject’s home. All sellers need to remember that if you have a buyer/buyers that are doing a loan, an appraisal will be required. The appraiser will likely use the same comparable’s as I used. (More on this later) Of course, I look at all the updates that my sellers have done and compare it to homes that are of similar size and style and take these updates into consideration when determining a price.

3. SET A TIMELINE FOR SELLING YOUR HOME: About a month before going on the market start working on decluttering and deep cleaning in preparation for staging and then photos.  I get asked this question often:  Should I do any upgrading/updating before I go on the market?  This all depends, as the changes you make must have a high return on investment.

Improvements may not be necessary to sell your home for top dollar, particularly if inventory levels are low.  This is where a good real estate professional can help guide you.  We know what people expect in your area and can help you plan upgrades accordingly. 

4. PRESENTATION/STAGING: In today’s housing market, even in a seller’s market, home staging has become an important tool to sell homes effectively. Staging focuses on transforming your home into an attractive product for sale. The goal of staging is to sell quickly for a high return by appealing to a greater number of prospective buyers which in turn will lead to an offer and/or even multiple offers. I am an accredited home stager. I became one years ago once I realized how this could benefit all my listings. I have a warehouse full of furniture, artwork, accessories, and more. I stage vacant homes and non-vacant homes. Some homes just need something I call “light staging” where just a few items are needed to give the home more of an updated look. These items are carefully matched and chosen to make your home feel like a place where buyers can truly see themselves living there.

5. WHAT DO YOU CHARGE FOR STAGING: I do not charge anything for my staging services or for using my staging merchandise.  This is a complimentary service!

6. PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS: High quality photos are critical.  I cringe when I see photos of homes that should be beautifully photographed, taken with a real estate agent’s phone, or perhaps a seller’s, phone.  A professional photographer with a strong portfolio knows how to make rooms appear bigger, brighter, and more attractive.  You have probably heard of curb appeal, but professionals say ‘online appeal’ is now even more important.  Your home’s first showing is online.  The quality of your web presentation will often determine whether an appointment is made, or the buyer/buyers click on the next listing. 

After a day of staging, professional photographs are usually taken the next day with your home going live on the MLS the day after the photographs are received.

7. MARKETING: Not only will your home be on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), but it will also feed over to every website such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and more. An e-mail is sent out to every agent in Omaha once your home hits the market as well as an e-mail sent out to every past client I have along with any potential clients I know of looking for a home like yours. Your home will be featured on social media…Facebook, Instagram. We also use something called Digital Marketing: Anonymous online data to target ads for your home toward local people who are potential buyers. Ads for your home follow potential buyers everywhere they go on the web. Your home will be on top sites such as USA Today, ESPN, CNN, FOX NEWS and more. For Example: Have you ever searched for, let’s say, a watch online? Then after you do that, you get ads popping up all about watches?! The same goes for your home. That potential home buyer will go to certain websites looking for homes. That buyer will then do other searches on the web and your home and details about it will pop up!
8. REVIEW AND NEGOTIATE OFFERS: After your home officially goes on the market and you have had showings, hopefully you will get an offer/offers. There are so many aspects to reviewing and negotiating but as your agent I will explain all the pros (and cons) of what every contract states. What are the contingencies, what is escalation clause is for, do you truly have a qualified and willing buyer/buyers? Who is the lender? Is it a local lender or an on-line lender? What is post occupancy and is it a good option for you? I am your BEST advocate and go-to source for any advice. My goal is simple: To get my sellers the most money for their home and make this as stress-free as possible for them. As I said in the beginning, selling a home involves many moving parts.

9. INSPECTIONS AND THE TITLE PROCESS : After you have accepted an contract, sometimes a home inspection will take place, and sometimes not. If a home inspection happens, this is usually something that I ask to be done within 3 business days. The buyer/buyers will ask for any repairs that they deem necessary. This is another conversation we have together. What is important and what is not important. Are the buyers’ requests reasonable? Do their requests have to do with safety and/or defective items in your home? This is another item in the terms of the contract that can be negotiated. After the inspection is completed and all parties agree, the title company will contact you to set up a time to meet with you. The title company will ask if you have a mortgage on your property and if so, will order a payoff on the loan. The title company will also ask how you prefer your proceeds. You will have the option of the proceeds being directly deposited/wired into your bank account, you can pick up the proceed check, or it can be mailed to you. Sellers should be very cautious when it comes to telling the title company how to wire. Do not give any loan information via e-mail. Talk directly to the title company.

10. APPRAISAL: :If the buyers are doing a loan on your home, an appraisal will take place. Appraisals are necessary when buying a home because banks won’t lend money if the appraised value of the house is less than the loan amount. It’s a process that involves a third party to review your home and compare it to other homes in the area to determine its fair market value. This will usually occur approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to closing. Many offers today may include an ‘appraisal gap’. This is when the buyers are willing to make up the difference between the appraised price and the price that they offered. Sometimes the appraisal gap is 2K, 10K or more; But often the purchase agreement will read that home must appraise at or above the purchase price. This is why the home must be priced correctly from the start. If the buyers are offering above your list price, usually there is an appraisal gap. If there isn’t, then as your realtor, I will advise you as to what could happen if there is not an appraisal gap. There are just so many components when it comes to the appraisal.

Lastly, there are many buyers and sellers that really trust the ZESTIMATE that is on Zillow.  Can Zillow’s ‘Zestimate be trusted?  What exactly is ‘ZESTIMATE’?  Zestimate is the model that the online real estate company Zillow uses to produce an estimate for the value of a home. Zestimate’s aren’t exact valuations. They serve only to provide an idea of potential value for homeowners, buyers, and sellers.

There are many things that Zillow does not always take into consideration when ‘zestimating’ a home.  If you look up your home on Zillow, you will see that often it pulls ‘comps’ from too far away and some of those comparable homes don’t even compare to your home.  The style, square footage, location can all be incorrect even though they are pulled from the assessor’s website, public records, and the MLS.  For instance, let’s say you updated your master bath or put in a new cabinets, quartz, and appliances in your kitchen which did not require any permit.  Zillow does not (because it doesn’t know) take that into consideration.  Zillow will value your home and your neighbor’s home, with the original 1990 kitchen and/or bath similarly.  Just the opposite is true for another seller who hasn’t updated his/her home.  That sellers Zestimate may be too high because Zillow is comparing that home with the updated home.  Zestimate is “really hit and miss.” Sometimes it is spot on with value and others it’s off by hundreds or thousands of dollars. In general, the more data Zillow has on a home and a market, the more accurate its estimate is going to be.

The problem is that many people take the Zestimate as gospel and won’t hear of listing their home for less or paying more. I feel that the Zestimate can give buyers and sellers a ‘general’ idea as to what someone’s home is worth.  However, it cannot give you the true market value (what people are actually willing to pay for a home).  Only an appraiser or an experienced real estate agent can give a true market value. 

Hopefully, I have given you some insight as to how the selling process works.  I hope this was helpful to you.  As always, I am always here to help in any way.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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