The most enjoyable part of selling your home occurs when the proceeds from the sale are deposited into your account. Up until that point, the selling process can be tiresome, uncertain, frustrating and inconvenient.
There are ways to lighten the burden. It's a good idea to line up help to prepare your home for sale well in advance. At the least, most sellers need to declutter, which means removing knick-knacks, things you no longer want or need, and taking out excess furniture.
Many sellers like to sort through their personal property themselves. They get rid of what they don't want by hauling, recycling, donating or selling online. Sellers who haven't the time and can afford to hire help should ask their real estate agent for a recommendation of someone who specializes in assisting people with their move. Or, sellers can search online for home organizers. They usually will help people who are moving.
Sellers often wonder if they need to move out of their home while it's on the market, especially if they have their home professionally staged. Some sellers move completely out and have a stager bring in a house full of furniture. Others hire a stager to do a partial staging, combining some of their things with the stager's furniture and accessories. In either case, sellers can continue to live in their home while it's on the market.
The stager may require a deposit if you have pets. You'll be responsible for damage done to the stager's property. Some stagers use beds that are decorative only. You can't sit or sleep on them.
Living in a home that is on the market can be disruptive. Ideally, you, your children and pets should be out of the house when it's shown. Buyers feel inhibited by the sellers' presence. They won't say anything negative about the house while you're there.
The perfect house doesn't exist, so buyers always have to make compromises. It's important for buyers to have an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of a home while they are there with their agent. Otherwise, they are likely to leave if the house is not right for them.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Set up a showing procedure for your home that you can live with. You want your home to be shown to as many prospective buyers as possible. It's easiest for agents to show your home if it has a lock box secured in a safe place that contains the house key. However, you should require that agents call first before the home is shown. If you have small children, you could require several hours' notice before showing so that you can be sure the house looks good.
If your home is one that's likely to receive a lot of interest the first week it's on the market, you might want to take a vacation that week. For sellers who can't get away, you might consider eating out the first week your house is on the market. Then you won't have to stop mid-dinner or worry about smells.
Preparing for showings is easier if you have bins in the bathrooms for your personal effects, in the kitchen for things you use daily, and to store children's toys.
A couple in Oakland, Calif., who work part-time from home and have two active young boys are planning to move their belongings out of the house and into storage before their home goes on the market. The family will move to an executive housing rental until their home sells and they have the cash they need to buy a new home.
THE CLOSING: This eliminates the disruption of keeping the house in showing condition and having to leave each time it's shown.
Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years' experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide."