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The Real Deal / Lessons learned: An agent's insights from selling her own home

Selling my own house in 2012 made me better at my job as a listing agent.

The process helped me understand, on a visceral level, what you go through as a seller. It was a humbling experience.

I learned that no one, not even a seasoned professional such as myself, can be objective about the value of their own home. There is simply too much emotion involved. Too much at stake.

That's why I, unlike in 99 percent of Realtor-owned property transactions, did not list my own house. I entrusted this instead to a colleague who could be objective where I could not.

Despite this, I remember trying to cajole her into a higher list price than the comps justified. Just like so many sellers do. And I recall swallowing hard when she proved me wrong, and we went with her price.

I remember coming home after a day out of town, during which my agent worked on my home with a house stager, to find 30 percent of my decor tagged for removal. I bit my lip, but I knew they were right. And I had to laugh, having delivered this message so many times myself. I reminded myself not to take this personally.

I remember stuffing half the contents of my master bedroom closet into the trunk of my car five minutes before the agents arrived for my broker open house. This gave me first-hand experience with the stress that sellers go through in complying with our unspoken orders to "make your house look like no one lives here." Anyone who has ever sold a house knows that closets must look perfect, and be no more than half full.

I remember being surly during negotiations, and my agent telling me it was a good thing I was not representing myself, since I would surely alienate the buyer.

I remember sitting on pins and needles wondering what the building inspection would reveal and how much it would cost me. And I remember striking a deal only to start obsessing about where I would live in 45 days.

Selling a house can be stressful. I used to tell sellers that all the time. I still do. The difference is, now I know what I'm talking about.

Evi Coghlan's "The Real Deal" appears every other Friday. She is a licensed real estate agent with the Riverside Avenue office of Coldwell Banker and a former marketing consultant to Fortune 100 companies. She may be reached at 203-247-6691, by emailing her at evi@evicoghlan.com or visiting www.evicoghlan.com.

Evi Coghlan

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