Recently, I was contacted by a homeowner who is currently living in the Midwest, but she owns a home in the Washington, DC/Maryland area. She and her family had moved out of the area for job relocation and because things happened so fast, the family ended up trying to sell their DC-area home from the Midwest. As I can attest through my own personal experience, it is hard to maintain a house from another location, much less sell it. Here are a few pearls of wisdom for those who find themselves forced to sell from another state.
Build a Team
When you are not in the location of the home you are selling, you must get yourself a good team. Let’s face it – a house needs continual upkeep, repairs and care. Do not leave this type of activity to friends or relatives — those situations almost always end badly. Find true professionals in your area because this is a business arrangement, not something to do for fun, or on the side. You want to be sure that everyone on your “sales” team treats this as a business transaction, not a “nice-thing-to-do.”
Most Important Person
The first most important person on the team is your real estate agent. Not any agent, but a solid, well-connected one. Typically, 20 percent of the real estate agents in an area successfully sell 80 percent of the business. Since you are not in the same state, make sure they are technically and virtually savvy and can connect via email, voice mail, and texting, if need be. Ease of communication is very important. As the home seller, you will have to do your part in responding quickly and timely to requests — it is a two-way street!
The next person should be a reliable and dependable handyman or contractor. Preferably, this is the person who may have already done work on your home while you lived there, so you already know their work ethic. Of course, your agent can recommend people, you can ask for referrals from friends or neighbors or use referral websites like Urban Referrals (in the DC area). Keep in mind, this handyman needs to be accessible! Ideally you want someone who you can email or consistently reach over the phone at a defined time daily, and can accept checks or credit card payments, since sending cash may not be an option.
To round out the team, hire a local home stager, especially if you are looking to sell an empty house or condo. Homes sell faster staged, as over 85 percent of people can’t visualize furniture in empty rooms. A home stager who specializes in vacant homes would be a great asset on your team. Like the handyman, the home stager should be easily accessible and able to accept payments virtually. He/she can provide, or advise, on the presentation of your property, especially important when you are not in town. Home stagers can make it look as if the homeowners are still in town and ready to sell! Home stagers can help you utilize current furniture or else secure furniture and accents to warm up an otherwise empty house. Also, the stager can act as an impartial party to review the work of the handyman/contractor, help be your eyes and ears on site. In some cases, home stagers may also have handyman/contractors they work with or even on their team. Your real estate agent can help you identify a home stager to help you sell your property.
Hope the advice was helpful. Best of luck with a long-distance sell – they aren’t easy! But they can be successful – with the right team!
Roslyn Ashford, MBA, is a former corporate recruiter turned home stager, and native Washingtonian (as in DC). She hosts a bi-weekly tweet chat for home stagers and loves to stage small and vacant homes. Learn more about her growing company here or follow her on Twitter to keep up with the daily hilarity!
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.