Rules to Follow When Selling

  1. Hire a good agent. A professional who knows your neighborhood and has a good track record in your community will go a long way in helping to find a buyer.
  2. Clean out the clutter. Open spaces look best. Clean and clean some more to make a good first impression.
  3. Spiff up the property. Make any improvements that will improve the show of your home. When possible, stick with the simpler (and less expensive) options to be sure the buying price covers your investment.
  4. Determine the worth. Know the market value of your home. Your REALTOR® can help you assess the cost. You may also want to have the home appraised.
  5. Price it right. A REALTOR® can help you objectively set the price so that it reflects the value of your home and the trends of the surround community.
  6. Come up with a plan. Are you set on your price, or eager to move? How low are you willing to go to settlement?
  7. Get pre-approved for your next move. If you’re looking to buy another house, make sure you know your financial situation.
  8. Figure out your selling costs. Commission, ad costs, attorney fees, taxes and prorated costs may all come into play. REALTORS® deal with transactions every day and can give you a very close estimate of seller closing costs.
  9. Set the stage. Clean the windows, open the curtains, turn on the lights, display fresh flowers. A bright house is a welcoming house.
  10. It’s show time. Be ready and willing to have your home shown any day, even with short notice. Making it difficult to see will also make it difficult to sell.

Five things to do before putting your home on the market

  1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.
  2. Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.
  3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn out or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.
  4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.
  5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?

Portions of this article reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online by permission of the National Association of REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Preparing Your Home For Sale

In today’s competitive real estate market, you want to present your property in the most appealing manner possible. Your REALTOR® can assist you in determining if repairs or cosmetic changes would enhance your home’s marketability. Your REALTOR® can provide referrals of repair companies if you require assistance.

While you do not want to undergo a major remodel, you do want to highlight your home’s assets. There are a number of considerations that require objectivity and a critical eye in evaluating your property.

Curb appeal.

A homebuyer’s first impression is based on the view of your home from the street as they drive by to take their first look. Walk across the street and look at your house, and those around yours. Drive up the street and see how your home looks in comparison to your neighbors’ homes. If you cannot get the potential buyers out of the car and into your home, you do not have a sale.

  • Invest in minor landscaping. Make sure the yard is neatly trimmed, the lawn mowed, edged, and watered. If you have an area for flowers, buy colorful blooming plants and add them for vibrancy.
  • Clean gutters and remove leaves or limbs on the roof, driveway or walkway.
  • Don’t forget the backyard. Remove items that make the yard appear cluttered or small, and be sure that dog “litter” is removed daily.

Exterior improvements

  • When viewing your house from the street, if it does not look fresh and well maintained, consider painting. Select a color that fits well into the neighborhood and allows your home to create a sense of welcoming.
  • If your roof leaks, repair it. If not repaired, you must disclose the leak. This could lead to the buyer wanting an entire new roof, when it may not be required. If you know the roof leaks and do not repair it and do not disclose it, you will be liable to legal action.
  • Make certain that your front door and entry are immaculate. If the door needs painting, do so, and polish the hardware until it shines. Remove any clutter or decorative items that make the area feel small. You want to neutralize the area, so that the buyers can visualize this as their home. Also, be sure that the locks are in perfect working condition. Trouble with locks does not create a good first impression.
  • Give all windows and doors a once-over to assure that they open and close easily. Replace any cracked windowpanes, and wash windows if needed.

Interior improvement

  • To give the impression of maximum square footage, you may be required to rethink your current décor, and you may want the advice of your REALTOR®. Remember, your goal is to neutralize your home so that your furnishings do not distract potential buyers, but have a canvas in which they can imagine their own furnishings.
  • Paint can be your smartest investment when selling a house. Not only does it give your home a fresh, clean feel with a small expenditure, by selecting neutral colors, you appeal to the widest possible number of buyers.
  • Unless your carpet is old and worn, or terribly out of date, simply hire a good carpet cleaner. If it needs to be replaced, choose an inexpensive carpet in a neutral color, but select a good grade of carpet pad. Replace or repair broken tiles, and clean and repair grout.
  • Sinks, tubs and fixtures should look shiny and new. If this cannot be accomplished by cleaning, buy new ones. For a small investment new fixtures give a huge impact. The same applies to counter tops.
  • Your home should appear spotless and immaculately maintained. If you do not have the time or equipment required to achieve this goal, you can hire a professional cleaning crew to go through and clean your home on a onetime basis. This investment can pay great dividends, as it will create a positive impression.
  • If you have rooms filled with oversized furniture or collections, rent a storage unit and remove unnecessary furniture, decorative items or large plants.
  • Analyze the lighting in each room and add lamps or up-lights with high wattage bulbs to eliminate dark areas.

Recruit your REALTOR®’s assistance in staging your home for sale. It is important that you depersonalize your home as much as possible, and that you neutralize the décor so that it is not a reflection of your tastes, as much as it is a setting in which the buyer can visualize living in your home.

Low Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home

These low-cost tips will help you boost your home’s appeal to potential buyers without breaking your budget.

  • Trim bushes so they do not block windows and or architectural details.
  • Mow your lawn and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before a showing to make the lawn sparkle.
  • Put a pot containing bright, blooming flowers on your porch. In the winter use an evergreen plant.
  • Install a new doorknob on your front door.
  • Repair any cracks in the driveway.
  • Edge the grass around walkways and trees.
  • Keep your garden tools and hoses out of sight.
  • Clear toys from the lawn.
  • Buy and install a new mailbox.
  • Upgrade your outside lighting.
  • Buy a new doormat for the outside of your front door.
  • Clean your windows inside and out.
  • Polish or replace your house numbers.
  • Place a seasonal wreath on your door.

Portions of this article reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online by permission of the National Association of REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Setting the price
Listing your house at the right price is critical

Listing agents market your home to other REALTORS® who work with homebuyers, dramatically increasing the number of people who are trying to sell your home. There will be a lot of activity immediately after your home is listed as other REALTORS® preview your home so they can show it to their clients – if the price is right.

If your house is overpriced, fewer REALTORS® will preview your home, and fewer potential buyers will tour it.

Working with a professional REALTOR®, you will receive a competitive market analysis that will reveal the selling price of comparable homes and other factors that are utilized in calculating the price at which your home should be priced. It is in your best interest that your house is listed at a price that is fair and at which it will receive maximum exposure, thus decreasing the time spent on the market.

Staging and Showing Your Home

When staging rooms in your home, your ultimate goals should be to create a rooms that are depersonalized allowing the potential buyer to more easily see himself or herself living in the home. You will also focus on clearing out high-traffic areas to maximize available space. Once the space is clear you can turn your attention to highlighting the key features of each room. Follow these recommended steps to keep you on track toward reaching your goals with home staging.

  1. See what customers see. Stand in the doorway to view the room as the customer would for the first time.
  2. Identify a focal point. In a family room, it might be the fireplace.
  3. Plan the room. Sketch out the room in a manner that emphasizes the focal point.
  4. Remove the clutter. Remove all accessories and other items that directly reflect the seller’s personality.
  5. Divide and conquer. Sort out what will stay and what items will be given away, thrown out or packed for the upcoming move.
  6. Downsize the furniture. Here less is more. Removing excess furniture and arrange remaining furniture to emphasize focal point.
  7. Bring back limited accessories. Use fewer accessories and those with a neutral, mainstream appeal.
  8. Fine tune your work. Step away from the project and return later for a fresh perspective. Make final adjustments where needed.

Showing your home

  • Your home should always be available for show, to maximize exposure to potential buyers. Your REALTOR® will give you advance notice whenever possible.
  • Leave home. You do not want potential homebuyers to feel like they are intruding or to feel rushed in touring your home, so you should leave home before the tour.
  • Lighting. When your home is being shown, turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights, even during the day. This prevents harsh shadows and brightens dark areas. In the evening, the glow creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, and makes a positive impression.
  • Fragrances. While subtle fragrances from a potpourri pot, freshly baked cookies, a drop of vanilla extract on a warm stove element or spice in a pot can create a warm welcome, heavy aerosol sprays can overwhelm. Remember, you do not want to offend visitors or trigger an allergic reaction!
  • Pets. Make certain that your listing agent lists information about pets that you own. If you can carry your pets with you when the house is being shown, that is the best option. If you cannot, put your pets in a penned area in the back yard, in pet cages or confine them to a room, with a note on the door.
  • Trash. Even if your kitchen trash has a lid or is under the kitchen sink, empty it and all other trash cans prior to a home tour. You want to create the impression that your home is neat, clean and odor free.
  • Keep the house tidy. Be sure that beds are made, everyday. Also, pick up stray papers, empty glasses or other clutter, and vacuum and dust regularly. Remember you are in competition for a homebuyer, and you want to create the best impression possible.

Before your house is shown the first time, ask your REALTOR® to walk through and give suggestions that you may have overlooked. You want to remove all the negatives or barriers to selling your home. This is a critically important part of the marketing effort.

Preparing For Moving Day

Advanced preparation is the key to a stress-free move. Below are tasks that you can begin long before moving day arrives to help make the transition to your new environment as smooth and worry-free as possible.

  • Weed-out items you will not be moving; hold a garage sale or donate them to charity.
  • Get estimates from moving companies.
  • Make a list of people and organizations – credit cards, magazines, associations – that need to be notified of the move.
  • Look at schools and day care facilities in the new area. Forward school records.
  • Complete change-of-address forms.
  • Contact doctors to ask for referrals if you are moving to a new city. Forward medical records.
  • Check homeowners’ policy to see if possessions are covered during the move.
  • Decide how you will move valuables.
  • Get information on driver’s license, insurance policy, license plates and auto stickers if you are moving to a new city.
  • Contact utility companies – gas, water and electric – in both cities.
  • Register with an Internet service provider.
  • Contact phone service – see if your long distance, cellular and/or pager carriers operate in the area.
  • Contact satellite and cable TV providers.
  • Empty and defrost refrigerator.
  • Discontinue newspaper delivery.
  • Map out driving route to new home.
  • Keep-out special stuffed animals or other items for your children so that they can have the comfort of something familiar during the move.

Pack like a pro

  1. Develop a master to do list so you will not forget something critical.
  2. Sort and get rid of things you no longer want or need. Have a garage sale, donate to a charity or recycle.
  3. Do not throw out everything. If your inclination is to just toss it, ask yourself how frequently you use an item and how you would feel if you no longer had it.
  4. Pack like items together. Put toys with toys, kitchen utensils with kitchen utensils.
  5. Decide what if anything you plan to move yourself. Precious items, like family photos, valuable breakables or must-haves during the move should stay with you.
  6. Use the correct box for the item. Loose items encourage breakage.
  7. Put heavy items in small boxes so they are easier to lift. Keep weight under 50 pounds, if possible.
  8. Do not over-pack boxes and increase the chances they will break.
  9. Wrap every fragile item separately and pad bottom and sides of boxes.
  10. Label every box on all sides. You never know how they will be stacked and you do not want to have to move other boxes aside to find out what is there.
  11. Use color-coded labels to indicate which room each item should go into. Color-code a floor plan for your new house to help movers.
  12. Keep your moving documents together, including phone numbers, driver’s name and van number. Also, keep your address book handy.
  13. Back up your computer files before moving your computer.
  14. Inspect each box and all furniture for damage as soon as it arrives.
  15. Remember, most movers will not take plants.

Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online by permission of the National Association of REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.