i-dreamed-my-whole-house-was-clean1Number one, as Joanna has learned from her mother, better make sure your house is clean! (Mother is always right!) And if you plan to sell your home in 2014, get ready to have a house that is cleaner than you could have ever imagined.

house-cleaning-on-a-regular-basisYou know Dallas is a hot market, and while you will be required to keep this home cleaner than a white tornado all through the selling process, relax: it won’t last past 4 months. If it does, something is wrong. Latest MLS stats for December show 67 days on market is the current average.

There are, of course, tasks involved in pricing, preparing, marketing and selling your home. It is really quite a project. Some successful, surefire agents tell their clients to basically do these things, or find another Realtor.6002 Kettering The beautiful Preston Trails home of Lanny Wadkins recently sold at auction, without reserve, for less than $1.8 million. He had tried to sell the home for years north of $2 million. When I saw the home, I was surprised it had hit the auction circuit — this was a very, very well-built, lovely home. But it was also incredibly personalized with furnishings, photos and do-dahs that clearly belonged to the owners.Lanny Wadkins golf room 1

Would that home have sold sooner, and for more money, had the owner – 1 – let his famous name be used and -2 – de-personalized and staged the home for a more neutral taste?

We shall never know, but we can learn:

1. Do your due diligence. Selling your is exhausting. Plan for it, make time for it, don’t attempt it while starting a new job, a new company, or having a baby. Consider the time suckers:

  • Hours interviewing agents, check out our agents first from CandysDirt.com

  • Pouring over neighborhood sales and comps and try to figure out where your home should be priced

  • Critiquing your home seriously

  • Figuring out what to fix and what not to. Some agents even require an inspection to ward off “surprises”.

  • Hiring and riding herd on contractors

  • Downsizing your closets to make them look spacious

  • Staging and interior decor projects, in and out

  • Cleaning your home every single day, and keeping it so pristine a photo shoot could take place with a moments’ notice.

  • De-personalizing: removing photos, child’s artwork, all the cutesy stuff that personalizes your home and handicaps a buyer from projecting themselves and their family into it.

It’s a daunting list. And you cannot take shortcuts. Read all the disclosure forms.  Clean up before showings and develop a thick skin about your house. Remember, it’s not your child — well, almost!

2. Resolve to keep your eye on the goal of moving forward – and the priorities. This is the hard part. Many people do not know this, but when I sold my last home, I changed my mind after I had signed all the contracts. I asked my agent, a wonderful human being (he put up with ME!) to “get me out of the contract.” This after three years of marketing and a file bigger than three New York City phonebooks! I wanted out — why? Because it was daunting! I had 4,800 square feet of stuff jam-packed into closets!

What got me through that — the fear of a lawsuit? Oh hell no, I didn’t care. I wanted to crawl under one of those giant pup tents that was clogging the gameroom closets. My agent told me to think about the next step and how wonderful it would be — we wanted to build a home. It was going to take a year to get there (part of that was depressing me, too) but he helped me focus on the end result, the goal, the mission. I have actually used that technique when developing this blog!

Why ARE you moving? What is your vision? A larger home, a smaller home, more efficient living, freedom to travel without the encumberment of a huge house and all the upkeep, more or less luxury. Remember, luxury is wonderful but it has a price. As a friend with three houses told me the other day: it’s a constant systems management, and no matter where you are, the homes require management and upkeep.

Get clear on the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of your vision for this life change, and resolve to stay that way until escrow has closed. Focusing on your vision will force you to focus on your priorities. It becomes much easier to plod through setbacks and annoyances when you realize that you are really just marching ahead to your goal, moving on to the next exciting stage of your life.

3. Think things through from the other side of the table. I am involved in a lawsuit. One of the very best techniques one of my lawyers has used is to help me visualize why the plaintiff has sued me –try to understand it from his perspective like one big Kumbaya! As a seller, chances are you have been a buyer before. It helps to reach back to those feelings and fears, to understand what motivates your buyers. The perspective shift will help you detach momentarily.

When did you buy your first home? Remember how overwhelming it all seemed? The mortgage paperwork, the loan balance, the feeling of being in debt. Remember, too, frustrations as a buyer who could not get into the property you wanted to see, at a convenient time. Do they really want to sell, you asked? Do you? Don’t let your home be the listing that causes these frustrations for your target buyers. Instead, when you get an offer, look at comps; when you get repair requests, take a look, ask an expert’s opinion. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes before you freak out.

4. Come to Jesus: keep your head out of the reality sand. Sand is bad for your sinuses, anyway. Let’s say your house has not moved, the offers are coming in below what you really want, and buyers are hitting you up with a list of repairs. Of course, if you had the house inspected first, these lists could have been way shorter. But at some point you will have to accept that there is a rotted window on the back — you never knew about it, it has not harmed your lifestyle, but the buyer wants it replaced.

Or…are you asking more than the comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for?

Face the truth, then you’re in the power position, with the knowledge about what to do to “magically” sell your home and get it ahead of the competition.

And if you made a real estate boo boo, like borrowing so much against your home that you won’t be netting as much cash on the sale, let it go… but take the lesson. You have the power to make better decisions on your next home, and to avoid over-leveraging it.

Fortunately, the way our Dallas market steamed ahead in 2013, these tips might be moot unless you are selling a property over $3 to $4 million. In December, Dallas buyers snagged 94.3% of their asking price!

When selling your house in Dallas, make it your resolution to keep your eyes and ears open and face the truth throughout the course of your home’s sale. And of course, keep your eye on the ball — the end result goal of this whole crazy process!

And at least you will have super clean closets!