Looking to sell an existing home? Here is the Goldilocks Story of when it’s time to get a Realtor® involved!

Executive Summary

For homeowners who are looking to sell an existing home and purchase a new home that better suits their needs, it can be frustrating to know when to get a real estate agent involved. Many spend valuable time and resources getting their homes ready for the market through home projects & renovations, only to find out that they miscalculated the return on their investment. Is there a perfect moment to get a Real Estate agent involved? 

As with the popular Goldilocks story, there is a “just right” time to call a Realtor®. By doing so, they will be able to help youdetermine the best improvements to make to optimize your home sales proceeds – not too early, and not too late! The “just right” time tends to occur when you have made the decision to sell, created a basic timeline and plan, but have NOT physically started working on any of those home projects or plans. 


Many sellers heroically take a first swing at improvements they feel will provide a sound return on their investment of time and money, motivated by DIY and Real Estate television shows, blogs and websites, or friends and family members. These improvements range from painting to new lighting, addressing deferred maintenance and more substantial projects like bathroom and kitchen remodels. Whether they did the work themselves or hired contractors to complete the work, often, by the time we meet with these sellers, they have spent most of their time, energy and financial resources. Here’s the unfortunate plot twist – unless the homeowners have done substantial research, there’s a good chance they didn’t put their investments in the right improvements. 

Timing is everything – we value our clients’ time and financial resources, so we work with you to assess where you are at within the home-selling cycle. If you are in the:

  • Preliminary stages of getting your home ready to sell (roughly 6 to 18 months out), feel free to give us a call – we are happy to do a walk-through of your home and make suggestions and recommendations on things you might want to improve to guide your next steps. This would also include a basic market analysis to ensure the improvements are lining up with the home’s value. Accuracy of a market analysis will only hold true for 2 to 4 months, becoming less accurate over time. Because of this, it does not make sense to do a full market analysis until you are closer to listing your home. 
  • Active planning process for selling your home (roughly 2 to 6 months prior to listing), the earlier we can get involved as your partner and guide in this process, the better.  
  • Final stage of home improvements (within 30 days of listing), we can do our best to help assess any final improvements, but this could become more costly and will be less beneficial to you (the seller) if work has already been performed without recommendations from a Realtor®. 

Here’s an example of when we were involved too early in the process:

  • We heard from a client who had purchased with us 5 years prior, was thinking of selling and wanted our assistance! We walked the property, took notes and completed the first part of our market analysis. Unfortunately, the client then went silent for 12 months (prior to even receiving the analysis information), a cycle that was repeated on various levels over the course of anotherr 12 months. Recently, we did rewalk the property, update our analysis, and unfortunately once again the client has gone silent.
  • Bottom Line: It’s pretty clear this client has not made the decision to sell their home. It is important to determine this before you ever pick up the phone to call an agent. We will always offer our advice, expertise and experiences in any situation. However, knowing a client’s true intentions from the beginning helps everyone as we work through the process. Additionally, it is a good reminder to all of us that everyone’s time and efforts are valuable and should not be wasted.

Here’s an example of when we were involved too late in the process:

  • We are always thrilled and appreciative when past clients refer new clients to us – and in this case the new client was ready for action! We asked what kind of renovations had been done to their condo, and they happily provided a list of their efforts to improve the property prior to calling us. Unfortunately, the choices they made on paint color, carpet and fixtures were driven by their personal taste rather than appealing to the masses. Fortunately, they were receptive of our well-intentioned feedback and were willing to re-do much of the work. 
  • Bottom Line: These clients were doing their best to “be prepared” and made some investments that needed to be redone. There’s a certain point where the homeowner’s ever-present “to-do list” turns into “let’s-sell list” – we can help you the MOST when we get involved at this point! Clients however will often state, “but my home is too messy or not clean enough for you to walk through.” We can assure you that we are not there to judge and can easily look beyond any mess or clutter that may exist. Our goal is simply to provide you with the information necessary to maximize the potential value in your home. So, please do not wait until everything is “perfect” before you make that call! 

Lastly – here’s an example of when we got involved at the perfect time in the process:

  • We were recently contacted by a past client about helping another family member sell their home. We scheduled a walk-through for later that same week and walked the property, asking questions while taking various notes and photos. The following week, we scheduled a 2nd appointment to discuss the As-Is value & Post-Construction value of their family member’s home. This included a simple but very effective to-do list. We then set forth a timeframe to get the to-do list completed (approximately 40 days in this case). The client is able to do much of the work themselves in this instance, and we know that they will meet the timeline set forth. However, in many other situations we are also able to provide the proper list of contractors to our sellers to help with projects, timelines, etc.  
  • Bottom Line: Because the client contacted us at the right time, we were able to consult and provide a focused list of items that would help maximize the value of the home by setting the right tone and focusing on specific goals and timelines. We anticipate a very high return on their focused investments (using the rule of doubling) once they are ready to list their home with us. 

How Agent Benedict’s team provides a solution

Why get us involved in the early stages of the planning process? It’s pretty simple – we know what will help you sell your home quickly and achieve the highest sales price. As an experienced Realtor® in the Twin Cities area, we can help you make the best choices on the following:

  1. Remodels – From materials, finishes, appliances and more – we can help make sure that the investment in cost per square foot materializes into a better listing price.
  2. Redecorating – Sometimes clients make choices that reflect their own taste rather than the taste of the future homeowners. We can help you make choices that will accentuate the positives of your home and meet the trend needs of the current market. 
  3. Contractors – From roofers to painters, handypeople to remodelers, we have a rolodex full of reputable, trustworthy contractors that you can use. 
  4. Deferred Maintenance – Most homeowners put off projects until they need to make the repair or improvement. We can help prioritize the items on that list and help you find resources to get them done. 
  5. Financing – Each seller’s needs are different, and so are their financial situations. If you need additional capital to complete your improvements, we can help you find the right solutions and put you in touch with lending partners who have a proven track record in this area. 

Deferred Maintenance is a surprising example of where homeowners may make a less than optimal choice. One of our clients had assumed that their aging windows needed to be replaced prior to listing their home and spent $15,000, thinking they would get their investment back. Unfortunately, the truth is that they received only about $3,000 – 4,000 return on that investment. These kinds of improvements aren’t always valued highly when buyers walk through your home, and that extra investment could have stayed in the seller’s pocket, or been invested differently. Having over 20+ years of experience in different areas of construction truly helps us to guide our sellers on what kinds of deferred maintenance should be prioritized, and what kinds can be handled by the future buyer. 

Results, Return on Investment and Future Plans

Over the years, we’ve built a solid practice in advising homeowners on what kinds of improvements they should invest in, who they should partner with, and when the improvements should be made. When we partner with homeowners early on in the selling process, we have found that they can focus their improvement efforts and net a bigger return on that investment in the selling process. You can rest easy knowing that the energy and financial resources you are spending will have the most benefit and impact on the value/sale of your home.

Bottom line – contact us early in the process so that we can be partners throughout the entire process – and when it comes time to sell, we can list your home knowing that your efforts will pay off. 

Interested in working with us? Contact us via email: adam@agentbenedict.com or phone: 651-226-3928

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