Guest Blog: Tips for First-Time Home Sellers

by Brenda Cuoco

A lot of focus in the real estate industry has been placed on first-time homebuyers. But what about first-time home sellers? There never seems to be enough education on this topic. Selling a home is very different from buying one. Whereas buying a home generally involves emotions and feelings, selling typically centers on the home seller maximizing profit. It is best that homeowners do not allow themselves to get emotionally attached to the home they are selling as they most likely will not get what their home is worth.

Here are a few tips to help home sellers achieve their goal:

1. Choosing an Agent

Choose an agent who has the experience and expertise to get your home seen and sold. Don’t choose your cousin’s sister-in-law, for example, who dabbles in real estate. You’ll fare much better if you select an experienced real estate agent who has a strong level of local expertise. It is always good to interview at least two agents. Some good questions to ask are: how many homes have they sold in the last year? how much volume have they sold? and what is their list to sale ratio? A great agent will be able to answer all of these questions. You can also verify some of the information provided by the agent directly on the agent’s online profile.

2. Pricing and Marketing your Home

Your agent will analyze comparable sales and prepare an estimate of value often called a CMA, for comparative market analysis. Your listing agent should have the experience and education to provide you with a more accurate opinion of value. The marketing of your home is incredibly important, you should know exactly what your agent is doing to get you the maximum exposure for your home. The agent should be sharing their comprehensive home marketing plan with you, which explains in detail what they will do for you. Of course, if you have hired a top-notch listing agent, your agent should provide professional photos. Remember, how your property appears online is what will drive the consumer through the door.

3. Home Staging Boosts Selling Power and Appeal

Your agent should help you stage your home for photos and for sale. Yes, that’s right. There is a difference in those two statements. Staging for photos is what gets everyone through the door but staging to sell allows you to put some of your comfort items back into your home for showings. Most homes show better with about half of the furniture removed. If a buyer walks in the door and wonders if anybody lives in the house, you’ve done your job correctly. Consider home staging to boost your selling power and appeal. Painting is the single most effective improvement you can make, that gets your more money in your pocket. Don’t let dings in the woodwork or scraps on the walls make your home reflect deferred maintenance. Present your home as if it is a crisp clean $100 bill hot off the press. If you do this, a “SOLD” sign will likely be hanging on the sign out in your front yard soon!

4. Be Flexible with Home Showings

If home showings are too much of an imposition, consider going away the first weekend your home is on the market. Yes, it can feel a bit intrusive to allow strangers to trek through your home and check out your soft-closing drawers in the kitchen. The best way to sell your home is to let a buyer inside with his/her buyer’s agent to tour in peace and quiet. Leave the house when buyer’s agents show up. Anything you say can and will be used against you, plus, buyer’s agents prefer to show without interference. Be sure to ask your agent to provide feedback on all showings. This is imperative to understanding how your home will perform in the marketplace. Some agents have a feedback form that the buyer’s agent will fill out that goes directly to the home seller. This is a critical element to the home-selling process.

5. Review Your Listing Online

Agents do their best to ensure accuracy, but since it is your home, you know the details better than anyone. If you spot a feature that is missing, contact your agent immediately and ask for them to correct any inaccuracies.

6. Respond Promptly to a Purchase Offer

Many offers contain a date by which the offer expires. Notwithstanding, it can drive buyers crazy if they are forced to wait for a seller to decide whether to accept their offer or to issue a counteroffer. Remember, if you are selling because you need to buy a new home, you are no different than when you are a homebuyer yourself. Your agent should walk through the offer with you and guide you in the right direction of all the terms, possible counter offers and educate you on the closing process.

Following these tips should bring home sellers closer to their ultimate goal – selling their homes for what they’re truly worth.

Brenda Cuoco is a broker associate for Real Living Realty Professionals and has been working in the real estate industry since 2004, successfully climbing the ranks each year. Her many years working in the corporate world, along with the impressive network of clients she has cultivated both locally and abroad, has enabled her to easily bring buyers and sellers of properties together with 103 homes sold and revenue of $26.4 million in 2018.

Allan Dalton on Image vs. Value

Image vs. Value

Our industry is prodigiously photoshopped, resplendently dressed and we essentially (along with Hollywood) invented personal promotion.

Moreover, we have been writing self-glowing reviews for decades, and the highways and byways throughout our local communities are brimming with BMWs and a litany of other luxury automobiles.

We are universally polite, the world’s leader in thank-you notes (thank you Brian Buffini) and we are keeping the calendar and refrigerator magnet sectors in business!

No, we do not have an image problem. Our challenge is that we do not do a similarly outstanding job in promulgating our value. Regrettably, many consumers from where I sit still perceive a real estate transaction as a fee-inflated event that they must subsidize to promulgate an inefficiently-run industry.

Or, if you prefer, consumers believe they are paying too much for our services.

If consumers think all they are receiving are our services – as remarkable as “we” believe them to be – then to them, they are paying too much.

How do we begin to change the perception of many consumers that they are paying too much for real estate services?

1. Stress our skills of negotiating, marketing, merchandising and networking far more than the value of our service.

Service must be the frosting on the cake and not the cake.

Our greater value, like other professionals we romantically refer to as our contemporaries – doctors and lawyers – should be a reflection of our outstanding skills rather than our exceptional service.

Consumers believe we are charging surgeon-like fees while we are myopically celebrating our outstanding service. Bringing the bedpan, as indispensable as it may be, does not enjoy the same value as performing surgery or prescribing the proper medical course of action.

I know this first-hand, as many of you also do, as last year I donated my kidney to my wife and the word “service” never came up. Instead, we were seeking, and very content in paying, commensurate skills.

2. Begin referring to listing presentations as “marketing proposals.”

A listing presentation is about you, your company and what you have done in the past. A marketing proposal is about their home, your marketing and what you will be doing now.

3. Change your thinking from “homes do not sell because of price” to “ineffective marketing.”

Why? Because price is just one part of marketing. Remember the 4 Ps of marketing: Price, Product, Placement and Promotion. If all four Ps do not enter into success or failure when marketing a home, we are inadvertently undermining our own value. Additionally, you are charging a ‘marketing fee’ or a ‘pricing fee?”

4. Begin to refer to the individual who represents the seller as the marketing agent vs. the listing agent.

When consumers hear us ask “who is the listing agent?” it reduces the value of the entire industry. Language like the listing agent suggests one’s job is complete with the securing of the listing agent. You do infinitely more than merely list the home and it’s time you get more credit and higher value.

5. Stop “servicing the listing.”

Just as Elsa in Frozen sang, “let it go, let it go, let it go!” How about letting go of this all-time value killer? Rather, you serve and service (in most cases, represent) your clients, you do not service your listing. Without this more accurate language, you underserve your higher value.

Similarly, an open house should not represent how you are servicing your listing. Rather, it is merely one element in the marketing of the property while in the act of representing your home seller (if that is the agency relationship you are in).

Another example of greater value positioning is when you are introducing your property to the world of buyers through Again, your decision to differentiate your property on the site is one that reflects upon your overall marketing strategy to represent and service your clients and not the listing.

If you think such advice represents a distinction without a difference or is a matter of mere semantics, then please consider the words of Confucius: “All wisdom begins by properly naming things.”

6. Shift from celebrating how you “sell more homes” to how you “market your homes for more.”

This is why I am forever proud to have spent several years with® because you do not need the site to merely sell a home but rather to market your property for more by leveraging the laws of supply and demand.

Allan Dalton is the CEO of Real Living Real Estate. This article was originally published on April 18, 2019 on