Being flexible is super important when you’re trying to sell your home. There are certain details of the sale that you should be prepared to be more flexible with, and that will free you up to be tough with others that are more important to you. The closing date is an excellent example. Being flexible with the closing date could make or break your sale, and it would be truly unfortunate if you were to lose the sale over this issue.
Selling Your Home Is Largely About Being Accommodating With Your Buyers
The sale of your home isn’t a single transaction – it’s actually a series of sub-negotiations to work out a host of details that produce the final sale. Generally speaking, the more flexible that you are with the details of the transaction, the more likely the sale will be to reach the closing table. This is particularly true once you agree upon a certain sale price. If you get your price, everything else should merely be details that need to be worked out.
This will be especially important if you plan to sell your home yourself (FSBO). The job of the real estate agent is to act as a mediator between buyer and seller and to work out such details. But if you’re prepared to be flexible on the details of the sale, you really don’t even need an agent, and that will put more cash in your pocket.
Selling your home is mostly a matter of staying focused on what’s really important – like the sale price – and being ready to negotiate virtually everything else. You can learn more about this through my program, Selling Your Home Made Simple. You can do everything that a real estate agent does, but without having to pay the 6% real estate commission.
The Closing Date Is Mostly a Bargaining Chip
Ask anyone who has sold a home – one or two years after the fact – what was the most important detail of the transaction? It’s almost certain that the answer will be the final sale price.
I make this point because when you’re negotiating over the sale of your home, emotions can get in the way. You can get into conflicts over relatively minor details that could sabotage the whole transaction. If you’re selling your home, project yourself into the future – one or two years from now – and ask yourself what was the most important detail of the transaction? The answer will likely be the final sale price for you as well.
Keep that in mind throughout all of the negotiations. You are often giving up certain bargaining chips an effort to protect what’s most important. The closing date is just such a bargaining chip, because it’s unlikely to matter one or two years from now.
Being Flexible With the Closing Date Could Allow You to Play Hardball on Other Issues
A buyer who is hard-pressed to find a home may consider the closing date to be a critical issue. This can be especially true of buyers who are transferring into town with their employers. Finding a place to live and settle their families quickly could even be a “gut issue”.
That can only work in your favor. If you are prepared to be flexible on the closing date, you may be able to exchange that flexibility for other issues that are more important to you.
Those issues are likely to be the type that will affect the bottom line. That’s not just the sale price either, but can also include negotiations on seller paid closing costs for the buyer, performing certain repairs in advance of closing, or providing repair allowances.
As a rule, you want to be as flexible as possible on non-monetary issues. That will put you in a stronger position to play hardball on the issues that have a dollar sign attached to them. And those are the ones that count most, because they will affect how much cash you walk away from the closing table with.
Making Other Arrangements
Okay, I recommend that you be flexible with your closing date, but how do you make that happen? Here are a few suggestions:
Set up an early rental on your new home. If the buyers of your property want to move in before you close on your new home, arrange to move into the new home prior to closing by setting up a rental agreement with the sellers. This certainly won’t be possible in every situation, but it is well worth investigating if the property is already vacant. This is often the case when the sellers have either transferred out of town, or have already moved into their new home.
Rent-back space for storage in your old home. Sometimes the buyers of your home don’t necessarily need to move in right away, but they need a place to move their furniture and belongings to. You may be able to help accommodate them by allowing them to move their belongings into your basement, garage, or unused rooms in your home. You can (and probably should) charge a per diem rental on the space.
Rent space for storage in your new home. If the buyers of your home want to close before you’re ready to move, request the ability to move your belongings into the new home early. It’s the same situation as above, where you can request to move your belongings into any unused space in the new home. It’s just a matter of providing shelter for your stuff a few days or a couple of weeks, and you might be able to stay at a low-priced hotel while your furniture is already moved into the new home. You’ll avoid the need for a moving truck twice.
Sell your current home before closing on the new one. If you do, you may be able to stay in your old home for a few days or weeks until you’re able to close on your new one. You’ll almost certainly have to pay an agreed-upon rental amount for doing so, but this is not an entirely uncommon arrangement. It also helps to avoid trying to engineer a back-to-back closing. That’s where you try to close on both homes on the same day. On paper, that’s the perfect arrangement; but in reality, it can be a complete nightmare if everything doesn’t go precisely right with both closings. By selling your home before closing on the new one, you eliminate both uncertainty and unpleasant surprises.
You won’t necessarily be able to make any of these happen, but it gives you an idea of what you can do if the closing date ever becomes a problem. You never want something as minor as a closing date to cause you to lose an otherwise solid sale of your home.