TOP 10 TASKS BEFORE
Selling Your Home
Selling your home? Before you list, consider these top 10 tasks before selling a home to sell it faster and at top dollar. When you sell your home, you’ll likely get an earful of advice about finding the right agent. You’re less likely to hear what you should do before your first meeting with that agent.
Top 10 Tasks Before Selling A Home
Check The Mortgage.
You have a rough idea of what you owe on the mortgage. Before meeting a listing agent, pull your loan documents and turn that estimate into a precise figure.
Knowing your loan amount upfront will help a Realtor know what strategy to take with your home. If the amount you owe is more than the market value, then you’re underwater. Selling a short sale is much different than an equity sale.
Even if your home is in the black, it’s important to work with precise dollar amounts to help get a better estimate of what you stand to make from the sale. Depending on what the agent thinks you can get in the current market, that information might also make the difference between listing and waiting it out.
Identify liens and disputes.
The easiest property to sell is the unencumbered property. But that’s not always possible and the more a seller can tell their Realtor in advance about any liens and other issues that could hold up a sale, the better. Agents want to know about any issues like liens or property disputes so they can deal with them before the house hits the markets.
Think about any tax issues, disputes you have had with contractors or other problems that could have allowed a creditor to put a lien on the house. Likewise, be upfront about disputes with neighbors, especially if they regard property lines, because it’s easier to settle those matters before listing the property. And if you’re selling a property that belonged to a deceased relative, make sure the house has a clean title before contacting an agent.
Clean up the place.
It should go without saying that you want an agent to walk into a clean home. Believe it or not, some sellers have missed the message, according to Chantay Bridges, a senior real estate specialist with Clear Choice Realty & Associates in Los Angeles.
“Think of it as making a great first impression,” she says. “If the Realtor believes your home is fantastic, they will be persuaded to market it at a higher value. If they are convinced it’s a dump, they may be more likely to express feelings that make you feel they want you to give your home away.”
Detail the Landscaping.
Cut the grass, trim trees & bushes, remove dead branches from trees, pull weeds, paint fences and fix driveway cracks to keep your home from giving the impression that it’s gone native.
Hold off on making improvements.
While it’s tempting to add value to your home ahead of listing, it’s better to hold off on improvements, at least until you’ve hired your agent. What you think is going to net you a return on investment may not be what’s trending in the market. Your Realtor will know what the buyers in your area are asking for, and more importantly, what they will pay a premium to get.
Working with an agent to determine what upgrades to make also has the benefit of objectivity. Sellers are always tempted to go overboard, but they shouldn’t because they’re moving. If you run those decisions by an agent, they’ll help you stick to what’s necessary and keep you from making choices that are specific to your tastes, which might not appeal to local buyers.
A good rule of thumb is to get rid of (or hide) 30 percent of your stuff in preparation for showing your home. That means stashing away extra chairs, storage boxes, plants, magazines, CDs, clothes,exercise equipment, small appliances and books.
Your house to ought be so benign and neutral that anyone could imagine living there — without you.
Take stock of your upgrades.
While sellers shouldn’t make improvements in advance of hiring an agent, they should have the details on any upgrades they’ve made.
“It is very helpful as a listing agent to be provided with a list of upgrades or improvements that have been made to the home during the course of ownership,” says Clair Lee, an agent with Amanda Howard Real Estate in Huntsville, Ala. “These improvements can range from major expenditures such as additions, to smaller investments such as new carpet or flooring. But knowing about these updates can help us price your home correctly and market it effectively to buyers.”
But while Lee says listing agents want to know about the improvements, they don’t need to know what you spent.
“The price of updates is not as important as the fact that they have been made,” she says. “Real estate professionals will know what value is added to the home with the upgrades, and in most instances it’s more than the initial investment.”
Locate all the important papers you’ll need to entice a potential buyer. The operating manuals for your appliances and HVAC system, notes about the paint colors you used on your walls and any applicable warranties are important to have on hand. They’ll show the listing agent that you have things under control, even if you don’t.
Check your schedule.
Sellers should give some advance thought to their schedules, according to Ziad Najm of Cedar Real Estate in South Orange County, Calif.
“Sellers should consider their daily schedules because that will help maximize the potential time that their property could be shown to prospective buyers,” Najm says. “Your agent should make recommendations for ideal showing times given market conditions, but the key is to be ready for the potential change in routine, if needed.”
In many cases, sellers may have to make some small adjustments to their lives during the listing process. Work schedules may need to be changed slightly to accommodate showings. And if a pet lives in the house, the seller should be prepared to put up the animal with a friend or neighbor for the day, especially for open houses.
“It comes down to scheduling and planning, but an agent needs to know your level of flexibility in order to make the listing work,” Najm says.