One of my favorite sayings for real estate professionals, and a saying — and mindset — that eludes far too many sellers, is, "I'm contracted to sell your home, not list it."

While this may seem obvious, what it lacks in complexity it makes up in its lack of broad understanding. If you are serious about selling your home, there are a few details to keep at the forefront of your mind. Today, I'll peel back the curtain and talk about what the true professionals focus on when it comes to listing, and selling, a property.

One of the primary considerations to understand about sellers is motivation. Of course there are countless reasons for selling a home. Sometimes there is a new addition to the family. It could be a job or school change that prompts the sale. Or even a simple health reason could be the catalyst for the move. It is very important for the agent, and the seller, to be crystal clear on the impetus behind the sale.

Part of that is ensuring the seller is serious. We are all busy and it is no secret that real estate professionals work almost exclusively on commissions. If the seller is simply curious about what they might get for their home but has no real intention of selling, the agent should stop wasting their time immediately. There are plenty of websites that can give you an estimate, albeit wildly inaccurate, of your home's worth. And there's also a good chance that there are a number of inexperienced agents that would be happy to spend time with this sort of seller, forgetting to ask this one crucial question. 

The next important piece of information is the desired timeline. Knowing the timeline helps the agent better understand the motivation, and can zero in on some of the more important dates. Having the goal of a date in mind allows the sellers and the agent to track backwards from the actual closing table and more accurately set milestones along the way. With this information, the seller's team can ensure things are moving along as anticipated. It is important to note that this information would also be very useful to the prospective buyers. A real estate professional under contract with the sellers will certainly keep this information private. 

The listing price is the next item that needs to be nailed down. While sellers may have a number in mind — a number the real estate agent should know — the real number is going to be derived from objective research. As you can imagine, everyone, present company included, thinks their house is the best. We all tend to overestimate the value of our homes based on subjective data, such as how we stack up to neighbors, how nice the lawn is, and how new the paint is on the fence. In reality, it takes objective research to come up with an appropriate number that will get a home sold, not just listed. 

One of the primary factors in pricing a home for sale is the current local market. We have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: Listening to or reading information about the state of real estate not directly tied to your zip is a complete waste of time. The beauty of local, professional research is that it will be directly applicable to your home, the current state of the local market and the surrounding comparable homes in the neighborhood. This is truly the only way to accurately evaluate the market value of a home, and derive a suitable listing price, the price at which your home should sell in the given market.

"Some of the factors that go into establishing a listing price include the days on the market for comparable homes that sold, the number of similar homes for sale currently and the change between the listing price and the actual sale price of those homes that sold," said Badger Realty agent David Dyson. "It is also important to look at some of the intrinsic differences between those comparable homes and the home in question. Additions, remodel projects, general upkeep and upgrades all contribute to the final price," he continued.

My primary objective with this article is to encourage sellers to be more realistic and pragmatic when selling their home. Take time to understand your motivations and take even more time to do a little homework and objectively evaluate the value of your home, especially as it compares to others in the immediate area. This will make the selling process less stressful, and will help you better understand the agent's suggested listing price.

Happy selling!

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