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The Kathy O'Neal Team

Real Estate in Chantilly Blog


I’d like to offer a perspective to help sellers in the current housing market. If you are planning to sell your home, this one’s for you.

I am working “in the real estate trenches” every day, and as such I see what is working for sellers and what is not working. In “The Straight Scoop” we want to help buyers and sellers by sharing reality-based views. In that spirit, here is something we hope will help potential sellers.

There are challenges for sellers in the current market: dealing with the current price corrections, supply of available properties, and the various complications that can arise in this climate. On the other hand, challenges are often times of opportunity. The picture is not one-dimensional. If you are selling and buying, your challenge on the sell side is also an opportunity on the buy side.

As an informed real estate consumer on the seller side, what should you be paying attention to, when it comes to pricing your home? What can you do to navigate through the current choppy sea, and end up knowing that you made the best of a challenging situation? I don’t have a “one size fits all” answer. Each situation has its own requirements, and each person has their own circumstances to work within.

That said, let me offer three ways of thinking..three mind-sets that will help you as a seller to “triangulate” your sell strategy to achieve the best you can achieve in the current market. To do so, you have to symbolically try on two hats, then put on a robe! Please go with me on this. It will help you if you need to sell.

The first one is your Analyst hat. Superb analysts can get very “computer-like” – in the best sense of the term – because they have to apply rigorous logic that cuts through to the heart of the matter. When you are wearing this hat, emotion – as important as it is – plays a backseat to hardcore logic and reality. With this hat on, you are seeing the current reality AS IT IS – not as we might wish it to be. It can be uncomfortable, or worse, but ultimately it is not nearly as uncomfortable as seeing things as we might wish they are, but not as they actually are.

Being closely involved in the pain of price downdrafts by virtue of working in the industry, I don’t make this suggestion lightly. It takes courage to stare down the facts and see them as they are. But home sellers who do this are, in my opinion, far better off than those who do not. Misreading the current reality is hazardous on several levels.

Remember too that a good analyst does not go overboard one way or the other. They do accurate and truthful analysis. With this hat, you don’t over-price or under-price the house. You look carefully, logically, and most of all objectively at the data on comparable “Sold” and “For sale” properties. In addition, you assess the mood and direction of price sentiment among the buying public.

The second one is your “Buyer” hat. To get what is best for you, you have to temporarily engage in a paradox, and think like the buyer. With this hat on, you take your best shot at not seeing the property you may love, but seeing what the prospective buyer will see…and feel. The buyers will be judging your property based on their preferences and emotions. This is obvious enough intellectually, but it is harder to grab emotionally. So this hat may feel quite uncomfortable, but if you can manage to wear this hat, you’ll have an advantage over other sellers who are unwilling to even try it on. With this hat on you ask questions about what buyers might like and dislike about your “Value Proposition”…the price, location, condition, features, agent, brokerage, incentives, and other features of the whole system that will determine how attracted any particular buyer may be to your property. And don’t forget, all of these are weighted against the other choices (comparable properties) available to the buyer.

OK..next put on that robe. Not your robe, the Judge’s robe. You know…the black robe worn by judges in a court of law. Good Judges make wise decisions, based on the facts of the case, the established law, and what their wisdom determines is the right thing to do.

With your Judge’s robe, you can go back to being the seller. You have analyzed the situation as it is, and you have looked at your property from the Buyer’s perspective. Now and only now, go back to being the Seller. With your best interests in mind, but fully informed by the actual reality of the current market, render your judgments with the wisdom of a seasoned Judge. Remember the “judicial temperament” that separates really great Judges from those who are so-so: wise, objective, in possession of the facts, and having a “sixth sense” about the right thing to do in each case.

And by the way, your agent is a vital part of the mix as you make these important decisions. If you have not already made that decision, may I suggest you check out the video we created to give you objective criteria in your agent selection (see “How to Select a Great Agent” in our Video Center).

Two hats and a robe…. remember them when you need to sell. We also invite you to take advantage of the resources in our Seller Center. And of course, if you live in the Northern Virginia area or plan on moving here, my team and I are always here for you. Contact me with comments or questions anytime!

[This post by Kathy O’Neal. You can contact Kathy at kathy@kathyoneal.com]