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Five Key Questions For Home Sellers

Are you having trouble deciding whether or not to sell your real estate - home, recreational property, investment property?

It's not the length of time you've lived in or owned a property that determines when it's time to sell. There's no magic number of ownership years that triggers a move.

The reasons for deciding to sell are not the same for every seller nor for every property they own. What is the same are the issues and decisions facing sellers as part of the decision to sell or not.

The following Five Key Questions for Sellers summarize the issues and decisions involved, so answering them facilitates the decision: sell now or not?

#1. Why now?

#2. What's next?

#3. Who will be the ideal buyer?

#4. What would a "successful sale" include?

#5. Who will help achieve this success?

Your answers to these questions will be unique to your situation, your goals, the current market, and your property, but the following insights into each of the five questions reveal what your answers might involve:

#1. Why now?

What is driving you to feel you "must" sell now, not in a few months or next year? What problems or inconveniences could arise if you don't sell now?
Is there one main reason you are considering a sale now? Need the money? Is it the benefits of selling in a hot sellers' market? Is it a new job or relationship that drives the selling decision? Or, have you lost your job or do you face a divorce? Are other circumstances like escalating costs, including taxes or heating, or the necessity for major repairs making the property too expensive to keep?
Or, do you feel that you "should" sell either to cash in on higher real estate prices or because "at this age" that's what is expected of you, or…? These and other "shoulds" can be more difficult contexts to handle alone. The former requires expert input to arrive at an accurate market value determination. The latter is an out-dated ageist viewpoint that should be ignored in favor of considering whether this real estate really suits your present and future needs. Real estate professionals can offer practical suggestions and alternatives. Weigh expert input in view of your priorities to resolve issues and identify ideal alternatives. Add to this analysis a brutally-honest assessment of what you love about your current real estate and, yet, how it may limit your life - physically, financially, workload-wise, location-wise…

#2. What's next?

Where will you move to? Do you have the next step - smaller residence, larger home, cross-town shift, cross-state move, cross-country leap, switch to condominium lifestyle, cash out and move to a rental property…—clearly set out in your mind or are you juggling a few vague ideas? Are you aiming for a mortgage-free lifestyle?
Who is directly involved in the move? Decisions should be made by those who will use the property and shoulder costs. For instance, parents may decide to sell the family home and downsize when their grown children leave home, but this is no longer an automatic step for everyone. In another example, "aging in place," or staying in one's home instead of moving into an institution, is the new trend for mature property owners, but parents can be pressured into selling by adult children driven by their own selfish reasons. In both cases, the parents themselves must make the decisions involved since they have to live with the consequences. For example, grown children may go off to college intending to return home. Parents who hold on to over-sized real estate for that reason can be disappointed when the "kids" make other plans or lean on parents for financial support they can ill afford.

#3. Who will be the ideal buyer?

Is this the ideal market for buyers most attracted to real estate like yours? Ideally, real estate owners benefit from a sellers' market where they'll receive top dollar quickly with little hassle. Would your "best price" come from first-time buyers, parents buying a move-up home for their growing family, down-sizing mature couples, investors intent on rental income, developers in renovation mode...? For instance, your ideal buyers may be first-time buyers. If rising mortgage interest rates limit the buying power of these buyers, selling in that market may not net the best return.
Identifying the best potential buyers helps place many decisions in context. For instance, would a major renovation be a good investment or would cosmetic retouching be more cost effective? Would staging be a worth the investment or would simply decluttering every room be enough? The answer lies not in what you would prefer to do, but in what ideal buyers would most favorably respond to.

#4. What would a "successful sale" include?

How much do you need to net from the sale of your real estate? Owners tend to have inflated views of the value of their home that are tied to pride of ownership. If you are planning to purchase real estate with the proceeds of this sale, do you know how much you'll need to sell for to buy that next property? Will you need to sell your current property first to be sure exactly how much you have for the next step? Or, can you accept the risk of temporarily owning two properties or needing outside funding to purchase the next property before you sell the current one?
What do you need to achieve through the sale of your real estate? Beyond financial concerns, what other factors will make this a successful sale? For instance, is there a particular moving date that holds value for you, or other moving times that would represent additional expense? Which light fixtures and other items would you like to take with you? Do you want to sell all furniture and appliances or take them with you? Do you expect to take special garden plants with you or harvest a crop from the land before you move? Are you prepared to hold a first or second mortgage for the buyer to facilitate the sale at a price you find attractive?

#5. Who will help you achieve this success?

How will you locate the ideal real estate professional?  How will you verify they have the expert knowledge and skills necessary to successfully list your property, attract ideal buyers, complete the transaction in your favor, and finalize the sale as quickly as possible and with little or no hassle? What do they need to know to help you achieve your specific goals?Real estate professionals are trained to provide real market data that will put your expectations in the context of current market conditions and buyer alternatives. The more effective you are at identifying the ideal set of real estate skills and experience necessary for your success, the more successful you will be.
Aren't you (or both members of a couple) the greatest asset you have because you know your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else? You also have the most to gain and to lose, so improving your real estate savvy is well worth the effort.

RealtyTimes.com and this writer provide ideas and suggestions for deciding when to sell and for every other aspect of the selling process. Below are selected "savvy seller" articles from my Five Key Seller's Questions listed above:

6 Home Seller Procrastinations: What Are You Waiting For?
3 Tips for Seller's 'Stay Or Go?' Dilemma
Home Buyers, Sellers & Borrowers: Do You Do Too Much Work?
Quiz: Are You A Hot Seller?

Please let me know what you'd like to hear more about: pjwade@thecatalyst.com



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Kyle Graybeal was the listing agent for our Missoula residential property last year. He was exceptional to work with and had our interests at heart through every step of the process. Kyle’s long experience with Missoula real estate and property management made this a very positive process. Kyle was able to accurately predict the correct listing price and timing for our property, and offered his list of reliable sub-contractors to help us do necessary repairs and upgrades prior to listing. He kept us promptly informed throughout the showings and offerings and was present at closing. He exhibited patience, dispassionate selling advice and technical knowledge about the process. I would recommend him without hesitation, and will utilize his experience and skills again.

- 2015 Client, Seller