The Mental State of the Real Estate Seller
We all know how it feels to buy something. It feels good; we are attaining something of significance in our lives, whether it is a house, automobile, appliance, or investment property. Do you then wonder why the feelings associated with selling are generally negative: stressful, desperate, confused, angry. Is it because we are experiencing feelings associated with losing something of significance, as if we have lost our keys or wallet? Or is it because we can't see the future and we are worried that everything isn't going to turn out all right? As real estate sellers, why not turn these around and make the whole experience positive? Have you heard the popular:
"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react?" Let's find out how we can make the experience of selling real estate an enjoyable one.
As with any major life experience, there is an emotional process through which a seller must go. We're not talking about a timeline of events. Instead, compare to the process of grieving: you begin with denial and work your way through the various emotions of anger and depression in order to finally arrive at acceptance. As a real estate seller, you will go through 3 major emotional stages: preparation, attraction, and separation. During the preparation stage, you are preparing yourself for the events that are about to take place: listing appointments, cleaning, and showings. When there's nothing left to do but wait for the right buyer, you move on to attraction. You must attract the person, couple, or entity which will buy your property into your life. At the same time, you must mentally separate yourself from your real property, even if it's your favorite place in the whole world. The seller who aims to make the entire process positive will tackle all three at the same time, resulting in a faster sale.
Let's pause a moment - how does a seller tackle all three emotions at once? There is no science to this; every seller is going to be different in his or her approach, but there are several strategies to try. It is up to you to design a plan of action that both meets your needs and gets the job done.
Start with a thorough understanding of the Law of Attraction. The concept of attracting something or someone into our lives is nothing new, but in case you need a refresher course (or if you have never heard of it before) watch the movie The Secret or read Napoleon Hill's Bestselling novel Think and Grow Rich. If you want something, you must attract it by focusing intense feelings toward whatever it is you want, imagine yourself already having it, and trust that it will happen. When selling real estate, you must attract the buyer, the contract, and the settlement into your life. Imagine yourself signing the offer to purchase, signing the deed and HUD-1 statement at closing, and giving your keys to the new owner of your house. Trust that it will happen and focus intense positive feelings toward these goals, and it will happen.
Once you understand the role of the Law of Attraction into the bigger picture of real estate selling, you are ready for the mental state of Preparation. Do not skip these important steps! Real estate agents like to talk about buyers being "ready, willing, and able" to buy, but sellers also have to be "ready, willing, and able" to sell real estate. Consider the word "ready." What does it mean to be "ready to sell?" It means your house is clean and staged. The pictures on the MLS are inviting. The descriptions on the MLS and internet advertising are clear, positive, and accurate. You have taken all reasonable efforts to make it easy for buyer's agents to show your property at short notice. Here are a few suggestions:
- Fill up 5 boxes with stuff you don't need: Books, do-dads, collectibles, pictures, etc.
- If you can box up more stuff, do it! It will already set you in motion for the right mental state.
- Remove all personal/family pictures, cards, albums, etc. and box them up.
- Take all fridge magnets off the refrigerator. No matter how much you like them, take them off. They attract the attention of buyers away from your house and onto your personal stuff.
- Box up anything you have that would be considered extraordinary. This could be musical instruments, antiques, artwork, or anything that attracts attention away from your house.
- Make sure there is adequate room to walk from room to room. If you find you have to walk around furniture to get to other rooms, rearrange or put the extra furniture into storage. It's amazing how much bigger your house will look.
- Put small kitchen appliances such as coffee makers, mixers, etc. into cabinets each day after you use them. Have all dishes either in cabinets or in the dishwasher. Many buyers consider the kitchen the most important room in the house; you want the kitchen to show as much counter space as possible.
- In office spaces, organize so that everything has its place. Reduce multiple piles of papers to one pile. If possible, place all papers behind cabinet doors. Remove any seldom-used appliances such as pencil sharpeners, paper shredders, etc. to storage.
- In bedrooms, you only need to see a bed, window, and closet. Pack up any unnecessary artwork, posters, items on shelving, etc. Make sure all clothes are either in closets or dressers.
- Place a houseplant in every room. If you have a hopeless brown thumb, get silk plants.
- On the outside, clean up any debris, trash, or other unnecessary items. If possible, plant some bright annuals here and there to make buyers feel good when they see your house for the first time.
There are amazing resources for ideas on cleaning and staging available online and in bookstores. By no means is this list comprehensive. If you are clueless, you can hire a professional stager to help you organize and stage your house. Research has shown that staged houses sell faster than non-staged ones. It's easy to see why: Buyers can't see past your stuff when they are in your home. Proper staging puts their attention on the house itself and allows them to picture their own stuff in your home.
When it comes to Attraction, you will likely find that this part is easier than it seems! First of all, you already have something in common with whoever ends up buying your property, so start there. What is it about your property that you love? Make a list of all those things and print it out with a catchy border or on nice stationery. Feature it somewhere that buyers are likely to see it when they are viewing your house. For everything that needs improvement on your property, have a suggestion that turns the negative into a positive (for example, if you have a drainage problem that results in basement water leakage, suggest to buyers that in the process of fixing/adding a new drainage system, they could install a stone patio for outdoor enjoyment.) This will plant ideas in buyers' heads that encourage their desire to buy, rather than focus on the negative aspects of your house. In consideration of the features of your property that are out of your control, highlight these in your advertising. While these features might turn some people away, they are more likely to attract the right buyers and save you lots of time in the process. Here's an example: a house for sale is located 1.5 miles up a one-lane gravel road. For most people, this is a turn-off. Suggest that the property is safer for outdoor pets and the degree of privacy due to the remoteness is worth the extra drive. You will attract buyers who want the extra privacy and safety for their pets instead of the ones who want to be closer to civilization.
Consider your strengths and weaknesses. Play toward your strengths. If you are detail oriented, make sure your property is portrayed that way. There is no such thing as overkill for a detail-oriented buyer. I suggest using virtual tours in internet advertising to portray the features of a property that is highly unique. A unique property will attract a unique buyer. For properties and sellers that consider themselves more low-key or commonplace, feature the property in a quick and efficient manner. For a property that would appeal to an investor, play to the bottom line. That's what is important to an investor. Do you see where I am going with this? By playing toward the strengths of your personality and your property, you are more likely to attract a matching buyer.
As a real estate seller, you must be committed to attracting the right buyer for your property. One way to put those positive feelings out every day is to print out a copy of the offer to purchase, fill it out with what you would like it to say (put fictitious names in for the buyers), sign it, and put it somewhere you will see it every day. Feel the excitement you will feel when you sign the real one every day. Some people will suggest burying a statue of St. Joseph in your yard. While the purpose of this article is not to suggest a religious institution, if it makes sense to try this and it helps you to get the mental state of attracting your buyer, then go for it.
The other essential part of the mental process of selling real estate is Separation. No matter how long you have lived in the house you are selling, it is no longer yours. It belongs to the buyer(s) who may or may not have seen it yet. Get a copy of your deed (in most places you can download and print a copy of your deed online. In others you would need to go to your county's courthouse and copy it from the deed book.) White-out the names of both Grantors (the people who sold you the property) and Grantees (you). Write your name under "Grantor" and write "NEW BUYER" under "Grantee." Place this next to your filled out Offer to Purchase/Contract and look at it every day, feeling as you will feel when you sign the new deed at the closing table!
Now you are both ready and willing. Being able is more challenging. What are the dominating factors of your market? Are you in a sellers' or buyers' market, and how strong is that market? If you can, get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) from your real estate agent to help you determine an appropriate asking price for your property. Remember that your property will sell if it is priced right. Most CMA's will show a range of suggested asking prices for your property. Based on the strength of the market, you may have to price your property low in order for it to sell. In our current market, many sellers are having to compete with short sales (a sale in which the property is worth less than the principal balance of the seller's mortgage - in this case the lender must approve the sale) and foreclosures, so keep this in mind if it applies to your market.
Absorption Rate is the rate at which the properties in a specific market are absorbed. In other words, it is the amount of time it would take for all the active listings in your market to sell. In a balanced market, the absorption rate is 6 months. The longer the rate, the stronger the buyers' market is and the lower you need to price your property in order for it to sell. For example, developers in western NC flooded the market with vacant lots and caused the absorption rate of lots to climb to over 13 years. Compare this rate to that of single-family residential homes priced $100,000 to $150,000 at 14 months. While they are both buyers' markets, the vacant lot market is much slower than the SFR market. How do you know if your property is priced to sell? Before listing, be sure to study market data such as CMA and Absorption rate to help you determine an appropriate asking price. After listing, look at how many showings you have had.
- If you have had fewer than 3 showings in a month, your price is too high, period. In a buyers' market, the chances of getting an emotional buyer (someone willing to pay more than market value) are slim to none. Even if you are consistent with your daily activities in attraction and separation, if your property is priced too high it will sit. People don't want to look at a property that is priced too high when they know they can get a better deal.
- If you have had between 3 and 10 showings in a month, your price is probably right but maybe your house doesn't show well. Perhaps some staging, de-cluttering, and more exercises in attraction are due. Perhaps you haven't mentally separated yourself from your house yet. Remember to turn any negative aspect of your property into a positive. One thing to try is playing soothing music (light jazz or classical) during showings. If you are sure you are ready and willing, then a price reduction may be in order.
- If you have more than 10 showings in a month but no offers, watch The Secret and brainstorm ways to attract an offer. Consult someone who is experienced in staging for ideas on how to make your property show better. Get estimates of how much it would cost to fix any problems your property has. Ask yourself every day, "Am I ready, willing, and able to sell this house?"
Troubleshooting. Be able to recognize feelings of denial, pride, self-absorption, anxiety, and stress. Ask yourself why you are allowing yourself to feel this way, and choose which emotion will replace the bad feeling. When the going gets tough, remember what the good times feel like. We wouldn't appreciate good days if we didn't have bad ones. Judith M. Knowlton said it best: "I do have choices and sometimes it's only a choice of attitude." When you need an attitude adjustment, what works for you? Here are some suggestions:
- Go for a walk/run/exercise
- Listen to music that makes you feel good
- Look through pictures or memorabilia that you cherish
- Watch a funny movie
Cell Phone ringtones: pick ones that have a positive message so that when anyone calls you, you are encouraged.
- Invest in earplugs (sometimes silence is the best medicine)
- If all else fails, for goodness sake, eat some chocolate!
Remember that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. If you prepare yourself mentally, selling real estate will be a breeze in any market. Get ready, willing, and able by preparing your property to sell, mentally separating yourself from ownership of your property, attracting the buyer who will make the offer you accept, and pricing your property to sell according to your market's conditions.
Content Source: www.savvyrec.com/id73.html
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About the Author - Hallie Sheaffer
Contact Hallie Sheaffer:
Savvy Real Estate Consultants, LLC