Sotheby’s International Realty

What Every Reluctant Home Seller Should Know

Sean Erenstoft on Selling Real Estate

Do you want to sell your home but have a list of excuses why you’re not ready?

I’ve heard it all. I meet a lot of people as a realtor with Sotheby’s. It’s part of the job. Here’s what I have to tell the reluctant seller.

Holding an open house is my method of meeting people who are interested in buying or selling a property. Yeah, even the people who drop in to see what’s new and exciting are privately thinking about their next move or investment. What I have learned is that potential sellers are reluctant to put their place on the market because they “want to fix the place up” before they sell. They usually cite a 1 year to eighteen month timeline and seem to never get around to meeting that goal.

But when the market is hot for sellers, few understand that their private concerns about “not being ready yet” is based on false assumptions about what “being ready” really entails.


Here’s what you should know about home sale contingencies. Most people considering the purchase of a new home need to sell their existing home to afford the new one. A home sale contingency provides buyers the time they need to sell their own home before committing to the new one.
The home sale contingency is a commonly-used contract term that you and your agent can make part of a buying transaction. This allows the buyer to close the sale of his own home before being committed to buying the new property. Notably, this type of contingency allows the seller to continue to market his/her home to other potential buyers, with the stipulation that the buyer will be given the opportunity to remove the sale contingency if the seller receives another offer. The home sale contingency also provides for the return of any “earnest money” deposit made by the buyer.


If you are thinking about selling you home but need to sell your own home first, consider shopping for a property that has been on the market a while. The seller may be more willing to accept a home sale contingency since, for one reason or another, their property has lingered on the market unsold. I explain to my clients that their buying strategy should include a reasonable offer below the current asking price but not so low as to insult the seller. In that way, seller can keep continue to market her property looking for a better deal but maintain a “bird in the hand.”

I want to move the market by educating reluctant sellers and dispel their sense that they have to sell their home before shopping for another. Indeed, you can shop for a new property and even enter into a contract to buy a property BEFORE you’ve sold you own home. And the good news is you can do this without risk.  Ask me to explain how the home sale contingency can benefit you and your desires.

Next is the question on how to sell your property while you still live in it. That’s a topic I will take up later. Otherwise, you can call me to discuss this and any other real estate sales quandary.

Sean Erenstoft has both a law degree and a business degree and works with Sotheby’s International Realty helping property investors and home owners.  Call Sean to discuss your real estate goals or to have him give you a personal assessment about what your property is worth.