Selling Your Home: What You Can and Can’t Control


A few thoughts for those of you who are selling your home and feeling a bit out of control perhaps…. It’s true – there are many elements of the home selling process that are extremely frustrating and uncontrollable and that ultimately influence the experience you have either in a positive or negative way. Some of the main culprits are:

  • Competing inventory – How many and what types of homes are on the market in your town and in your price range? In other words, what is the inventory with which you are competing? This is also known as the supply, and you would prefer this to be low, but unfortunately it’s not something you have any say over….

  • Buyer demand – How many buyers are looking in your town and in your price range? This is also known as the demand. You would prefer that this be high, but like the competing inventory, it is out of your control….

  • State of the market and state of the economy – Is the real estate market in a decline or on the rise? Is it a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? Is consumer confidence high? Are we in the midst of a presidential election or a worldwide peace initiative? These types of considerations – and many more – have an effect on the real estate market from a micro and macro perspective. Moreover the state of the market and economy are subject to change at any time which can be a bit unsettling to say the least when selling your home.

  • Your home – Strangely your home is something you can’t control. It is what it is – in terms of its age, type (i.e., Colonial, Contemporary, etc.), living area and acreage, for example. What you can control about your home during the selling process is its condition and showability (more on that later).

  • Potential buyers – What is the profile(s) of the buyers who seem to be most interested in your house? What home features are most important to them? Are they putting in reasonable offers or are they putting in “lowball” offers? This is information you’ll likely want to know but not something you can necessarily do anything about or change.

  • The weather – The effects of the weather are certainly most impactful during the winter and early spring than any other time of the year. Yet as we know, human beings cannot prevail over Mother Nature. And if it’s a snowy, icy winter, buyers may opt to stay in rather than pound the pavement looking for a new home. That being said, yucky weather may not have a disastrous effect on buyer demand. In fact, the weather this winter didn’t seem to prevent buyers from being out in full force….

The bottom line with these uncontrollable elements is that you have to be willing to adjust your actions given the scenario that you face. For example, if there is a significant amount of inventory in the price range in which you are competing, price your home so that it outshines the competition and is the best thing on the market at that price.

Now let’s turn our thoughts to the more positive subject of elements in the home selling process that you can control. Believe it or not, there are several aspects that are controllable, including:

  • Maximizing the selling season – It’s important that you get your house on the market so that you maximize the selling season. Hand’s down, the best time to sell your property is in the Spring real estate market. Therefore when you decide it’s time to sell, make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare your home for sale so that you can get your home on the market when the prime selling season begins. This timeframe varies in every market, but in our town of Weston, MA, it’s late February/early March. So if it’s going to take at least three months to de-clutter, paint some rooms and fix your steam shower, for example, then start preparing your home in November so that you are ready to list it in February. This is crucial and completely in your control.

  • The condition of your home – As mentioned above, the condition of your home – and its showability – is something you control, but it will take time to get it into pristine selling condition. Give yourself enough lead time to prepare your home so that it sparkles when it hits the market.

  • Pricing your property – Prior to listing your home, you will have likely gotten several opinions of value relating to its price. But the ultimate decision about the price of your home is yours and yours alone.

  • Your listing agent – Of course, this is a subject on which I could elaborate profusely. 🙂 The bottom line – in my humble opinion – is to choose someone whom you trust, who will give you her/his full, undivided attention, who will provide you with timely feedback and essential market information, who will advocate and negotiate effectively on your behalf and with whom you enjoy working. This is another decision that only you control.

  • Negotiating offers – You can’t control who decides to put an offer in on your home, but you can control some aspects of the negotiating process. First is the timing of your responses when negotiating. You may have heard the saying, “Never keep a buyer waiting,” and it’s a reality. If you do, you run the risk of the buyer softening on your house and becoming less enamored with it. Or a more attractive, appealing option could come onto the market – a home the buyer prefers to yours. Both are obviously suboptimal scenarios. So it’s crucial to get back to the buyer in a timely manner. Otherwise, by the time you finally respond, the buyer could have disappeared – never to surface again. Furthermore, and on a related note, you can also control your behavior in the negotiation process…. My point here is to refrain from playing games. More times than not, playing games will end up backfiring on you. The bottom line is that the negotiation process is more successful and fruitful for all parties involved if you are reasonable, respectful and timely. Remember the “golden rule” – it’s true in the world of real estate negotiations too.

  • The ultimate decision – The power is ultimately in your hands. You decide to whom you sell your home, i.e. which offer to accept. And furthermore, you decide whether or not to accept an offer and ultimately sell your home. Some sellers will go through the home selling process and journey, and at the end of the day, decide not to sell. The caveat to this is that once you’ve signed the offer to purchase – a legally binding document – deciding not to sell becomes tricky. So keep in mind that your control over to whom you sell your home and whether or not you sell your home is really confined to the time before you sign the offer to purchase….

These are just a few of the elements of the home selling process that you can and can’t control; there are many others. What are your thoughts on this subject? When you were selling your home, did you experience similar situations or elements that were in your control – or out of it? Were there other aspects of the process over which you felt in or out of control? And how did you respond to these scenarios? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (, 781-267-2844 or, to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.