What People Prioritize When Selling Their Homes
TRENDS AND DATA
FEB 26, 2019
By the time the spring buying and selling season gears up in earnest, sellers will have already spent an average of seven months just thinking about parting with their home.
Many of those folks are ready to list, and they’re not feeling particularly sentimental about their homes. Rather, half of sellers are looking for the best financial return, and many have already come up with a list price.
Younger sellers are especially eager and are likely to be armed with market research even before contacting an agent. And since they’re primarily looking for a trusted partner to handle the nitty-gritty details of the sale, there’s a good chance they will have researched agents’ reputations, too, both online and in the community.
While each seller brings a unique set of circumstances to the table, data from the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018 describes how sellers think about their homes and the process of selling them. Here’s some of what we learned from people who sold a home in the past 12 months.
Timing and profit are everything
Half of sellers (50 percent) say maximizing profit is their most important goal, and 38 percent say the timing of the sale is a top concern. That’s probably because 61 percent of sellers also are trying to buy their next home. They may need the equity to buy a new one, and they may need to sell quickly because of changing life circumstances.
For instance, 79 percent of millennial sellers say they experienced a momentous life event in the past 12 months — graduation, marriage, a new child, retirement — compared with 68 percent of Gen Xers, 58 percent of baby boomers and 45 percent of silent generation sellers. Those life-changing events often trigger a move.
Complicated scenarios open the door for agents and brokers to form deep partnerships with young sellers who are eager to learn and take on some of the tasks involved in selling.
What sellers do before contacting an agent
Sellers like to get a jump on things. The top three activities they engage in before contacting an agent: 50 percent do some home improvements to prepare for a sale, 39 percent come up with a list price and 25 percent have an inspection done. Only 20 percent say they’ve done nothing before they start working with an agent.
The younger the seller, the more likely they are to get the ball rolling on their own: 58 percent of millennials say they like to take the lead versus 40 percent of Gen Xers, 29 percent of boomers and 24 percent of silent generation buyers. Millennial seller activities include having photos taken (32 percent), trying to find buyers (22 percent) and promoting their home online (38 percent).
The early work tends to pay off: 22 percent of sellers who make improvements prior to listing sell above list price, compared with 16 percent of sellers who don’t.
Trade-offs and pain points
Most home sellers — 83 percent — make trade-offs with buyers to seal a deal. They include throwing in appliances (32 percent), lowering the sales price or making minor repairs (29 percent each), and paying some or all of the closing costs (21 percent). Including appliances is a top concession for sellers of all ages.
Sellers can encounter pain points at critical times: 41 percent will have an offer fall through, and price changes are common. Sixty-one percent will make at least one change to their original list price, with 39 percent of those sellers changing the price once, 31 percent changing it twice and 29 percent making three or more changes before their home sells.
Let’s make a deal
Almost a third (31 percent) of sellers try to negotiate agent terms, and 57 percent are successful. Millennials are the generation most likely to negotiate — 39 percent versus 28 percent of Gen Xers, 30 percent of boomers and 26 percent of silent generation sellers.
In the end, the most valuable service agents provide is bringing buyers to the seller’s home; 89 percent rate this as a very or extremely valuable agent service. Beyond that, sellers want their agent to handle the nitty-gritty details of paperwork, photography and contract negotiations.