I help people move into their dream homes or sell their former dream homes every day. I see the stress. I do all I can to minimize the strain. I intellectually understand all the parts of purchasing and selling property. And this month, I dove in and re-experienced the stress of buying a new house, selling the old and, yes, the horror of moving. I now have a new appreciation for the emotional side of purchasing and selling property. So, I owe an apology to all of my clients that I have talked off the ledge, that I have shaken my head at when they didn’t follow my advice, to the clients I thought were mentally unbalanced but, in reality, were just moving. I get it. I am you. I am a bundle of nerves, and I am officially over it. We moved less than five miles within Bluffton, but the pain, stress and emotional shutdown all showed up. Did I mention we got a puppy too?
At the time of publication, I should be calmly holding all my possessions that bring me joy and placing them in their new, organized, clean, color-coordinated bins. Meanwhile, if you actually follow the tips I give professionally as listed below, you can avoid the heartache and wine bills I have incurred:
Find a lender you like. Don’t worry about rates and terms. If you like your lender and feel you can tell them what you want without judgment (e.g. I need to include the cost of building a pool to be my best self this summer), they will find you the best rate and terms. Sometimes, you don’t even know certain loan products exist unless your lender tells you. Thus, find one you like and who will come to your pool parties. You are paying them, and they want your business. Insider tip: Make sure you have a prequalification letter on letterhead prior to visiting those new houses—it strengthens your offer and helps you avoid disappointment.
Find a real estate agent you like and stick with them. If you are selling your house, select a Realtor at least a month prior to your anticipated “go live” date. An experienced real estate agent will tell you what to fix, what to declutter (they don’t care about the joy your possessions bring at this point—just the money!), and how to stage. This is priceless. Tiny little fixes pay big returns on the market (returns that can go toward that tiki bar at the end of your new pool). Typically, as a seller, you will be paying both Realtor commissions. Ask your Realtor how they are going to market, how they are going to differentiate your listing, and what a realistic timeline is. Your Realtor should be your truth speaker—even if it is sometimes brutal.
If you are a purchaser, a real estate agent is vital. You are not paying their commission, yet they will only represent your interest. Choose one and stick with them. A purchaser’s real estate agent will find listings you may have overlooked and help broker stronger deals.
Pick a strong team. Sense a trend here? The difference between a good and bad closing experience lies in the team you field. An insurance agent and an attorney who know the market and have to see you in Publix can save you money and heartache. Don’t skimp on services here. Do not assume that all attorneys or insurance companies are the same. Choosing the cheapest option can result in delays, frustration and inaccuracies. Your Realtor will have recommendations for both—ask them honestly who will be responsive and protect your deal.
Plan ahead. Where are you going to put your stuff the day of closing? Where are you going to sleep? Are you going to be in town to sign your paperwork? Figuring out the practical part will make the transactional part go smoothly.
Take deep breaths. Once you have a contract, there is still the stress of repairs, financing, and the actual logistics of moving. Remember that everyone wants the deal to close. Some may say it is because no one gets paid unless the deal closes, but that is just ugliness talking (did I mention I am looking at the high-end tile option for the pool?). As an attorney and a functioning member of society, I’m excited for my clients and want to protect them. They become part of my clan, and we are fiercely protective. I enjoy working with the team of lenders, Realtors, buyers, sellers, and various shaman to get the deal closed.