Thursday, November 4, 2010

If Lovin' You Is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be Right

Can you love something too much?
Waiting for a buyer is a little like waiting for your soul mate. Only not. You can't be that fussy.

Do you have a picture of the perfect buyer in your mind?

If so, erase it.

Just as you staged your home, stage your mind. Keep it clear and open. An open mind will look thankfully at whoever crosses your threshold with an offer.  

What prompted this post is a short news article I read about a family who has a property to sell, one they've rehabbed themselves over the 40 years they've lived there. They've raised a family there. They've celebrated many milestones there. As a result, they've become emotionally attached to their precious property. Mistake!

I also remember seeing one of those-sell-your-home shows on HGTV about a young man who was selling the house he had grown up in and inherited. His sentimentality caused him to put a price on the property higher than the appraised value, and at the same time, he was resistant to making changes to the house because of all the memories it  held for him.

You just cannot do this and expect to sell your home for a good price. As Cher says to Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck, "Snap out of it!"

Not only will this kind of emotionalism prevent sellers from pricing a property correctly, they're more likely to be too choosy about buyers. In fact, in both these examples, the property owners admitted they are waiting for someone who will love their houses and take care of them the way they have. I call these people "not serious sellers."

If you are serious about selling, lose the preconceived notions of who the next owner will be.  Yes, it's gratifying to sell to someone who will always tend to your rose garden, appreciate your faux-finished vanities, and will use the home office you've lovingly built as an office, not as a family room or another bedroom, damn it!

Once upon a time, when I was 16, I dated a young man my age of whom my parents did not approve, which was probably part of his appeal, but never mind. He wasn't college-bound, and he wore his hair in the style of a "juvenile delinquent," a la John Travolta in Grease. My sister's theory is that my bald Dad was just jealous of all that hair. The point is that he was a gifted artist, and I felt that we were soul mates.

He approached my parents with a plan, that we would be allowed to see each other, but not leave the house. That meant dates were limited to playing ping pong and listening to records in the basement rec room. The basement had cement walls, and since we both enjoyed painting (some things never change) we spent months painting a mural on the walls of the basement.  You can only play so much ping pong.

When it came time to sell that house seven years later, my mother said her one regret was leaving that mural behind. I hope it didn't cloud her judgement about what was an acceptable offer for the house.

I tell that story because I believe each of us could tell a similar story. It's only natural to form heartfelt attachments to your home. I've found that decluttering can help you begin the process of putting aside your emotions. Once your favorite family photos, trophies, framed certificates and souvenirs are packed up, you'll be further along on the path to detachment. Painting, rearranging furniture, and other staging tactics will also help distance yourself from the home, preparing you mentally for your next one.

One last note about the pitfalls of waiting for your perfect buyer.

By being too selective, you could be breaking fair housing laws. I find it hard to believe in our slow housing market that anyone would screen buyers based on whether they will tear down the property or not, or whether they have too many children, or are not the "right color" for your neighborhood, but it happens. Don't let this be you.

A real estate agent is bound by standards of the industry to present any serious, written purchase offer. Work with your agent and your buyer, and stay within the law, no matter what your personal opinions are.

Be sure to download my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, if you want to learn both the basics and all the little secrets to getting a home sold!

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