Whether you are planning to sell your home in the next few months or just studying up for that eventuality, there’s no time like now to prepare. If buying a house seems complicated, selling involves even more responsibilities and expenses.
Here are some common steps to selling your home:
1. Prepare Your Home for Sale
Well before you are ready to plant that For Sale sign in your front yard, there is work to be done to prepare your home for sale.
Remember how keen your eye was to every small detail and defect in the houses you saw as a buyer? Now that door to your bedroom that never quite closed properly or that leaky faucet that you never got around to fixing will be seen by a potential buyer with that same keen eye.
Start making the obvious repairs today even if you don’t plan to sell until a year from now. These repairs can cost money and take time. Plus fixing it now will allow you to enjoy the results before it’s time to move out.
If you plan on doing some improvements before the sale, the best place to start is where the buyers start: at your curb. Potential buyers base a large part of their decision on a property’s curb appeal, so make yours say something positive. That means a tidy front yard, a house with well-painted trim, a tidy driveway and a clear, welcoming entryway.
Inside, the biggest return on your investment continues to be improvements to the kitchen, followed closely by improvements to the master bedroom. If you are making these improvements shortly before selling the house, consider painting and decorating the rooms in neutral colors, the most appealing choice to the greatest number of potential buyers.
Inside and outside, start reducing the clutter. When it comes time to show your home, less will mean more. Potential buyers don’t want to see how your closets overflow with clothes, how every room feels cramped with furniture, or how the yard is difficult to maneuver with that rusty swing set in the way. So downsize now; it not only will make the preparation for showing your home easier, it also will make packing for your move faster.
2. Find a Real Estate Professional
If you have been through the home-buying process, you already know how complicated the real estate business can be. While you can opt to sell your home yourself, it can be time-consuming and often not worth the money saved on commissions.
However, if you do hire a real estate professional as your selling agent, do your homework. Ask friends and family for recommendations, interview several candidates, attend a few open houses and watch the professional in action. Do you think this person would present your house well to potential clients?
When interviewing me or another candidate, ask him or her to prepare a comparative marketing analysis for your house. This might include a demographic of the neighborhood, the quality of schools in the area and a suggested list price for the property.
If you’ve chosen me or another real estate professional to help sell your home, you will have to sign a contract stating that you will work solely with them for a designated number of months, often between one and six months. This means no other real estate professional will be allowed to sell your home on your behalf during this time.
So put some thought into the professional you choose and if you decide to choose me, I will help you sell your home to a qualified buyer for the highest market price in the quickest, most convenient timeline.
3. Get Your Paperwork Together
After you sign the Listing Agreement with me she will need a lot of documents from you to prepare your home for sale. Among the things she will want to see are:
- Pay-off Notice: A letter to the lender stating intention to payoff the mortgage.
- Assessments or Easements: If there is a tax assessment or easement on the property, documents stating such will have to be included in the purchase contract.
- Property Taxes: Proof of property taxes paid.
- Utilities: Provide a record of the past 12 months utility bills.
You will want to make it clear now which items in the home you want to take with you the heirloom chandelier in the dining room, the washer and dryer set you just bought last month and which can stay behind as part of the home sale. I can help show you which items you should put away or replace before your house goes on the market.
4. Price Your Home
There are a number of factors that will affect the success of your home sale. They include: location of the home, interest rates, economic conditions, time of year, condition of the home, marketing the home, terms of the sale and accessibility to the home.
Some of these are not within your or my control: location of the home, interest rates, economic conditions. The other factors are items you should discuss with me to determine what would benefit the sale of this property most.
For example, marketing your property in more innovative ways, such as on an Internet site like this one, may broaden the pool of potential buyers. If you can, waiting for a good time to sell your home spring or fall, the most popularly home buying times also may help it sell faster except in this Seller’s market, anytime is a good time. And pricing the home properly can make a huge difference in whether a house is snapped up within the first several weeks of listing or sits on the market for more than a year.
To price a home properly, you and I will have to study the local market, research comparable properties and consider current market conditions. This is where the comparative marketing analysis you requested when interviewing for a listing agent will come in handy as a place to start.
Now check around your neighborhood, your newspaper and Internet sites like this one for:
- Your competition: Are there many properties just like yours for sale in your area right now?
- Listing prices: What are other properties like yours listing for?
- Selling prices: What are other properties like yours selling for?
Based on these findings, I have the experience to help you price your property at the right price for a sale that benefits you.