What to Consider Before You Take the Leap
Are you thinking about selling your home? Real estate prices have started to level out in most areas. Should you sell now, grab your profits, and rent a shack by the beach somewhere? Think twice before letting go of your personal residence even if you would make a windfall. Even if you plan to move to Peoria, smart selling requires careful planning.
You may be surprised of the cost of renting a suitable house or condo, as rentals are in short supply and at inflated rates, too. But if you really need to move, here's how to get started.
Don't even think of selling until you check with your tax or financial advisor first. Timing is crucial to benefit from legal loopholes and avoid paying taxes on any profit you may have. There are huge tax advantages of home ownership for most people. If you have not lived in your home for at least two years, you need to know for sure where you stand on capital gains.
Analyze your motivatrions for selling. If your personal circumstances make selling necessary, don’t even consider doing so until you prepare to make the most of the current market conditions. This means making your home shine like a jewel prior to letting a buyer get near it. As the market changes, you need to make your home look better than the others in its neighborhood and price range.Your efforts and expense at this stage will give you a good return on your investment. Intelligent preparation will also make the selling process go smoothly if you follow some of the following tips:
“Don’t Sell Before” List
1) Clean It Up A fresh, clean look will add dollars to your sale price and encourage a quick, painless sale. If your woodwork is scuffed or it’s been a few years since you have painted & carpeted, consider some minor redecoration. These simple steps will add value to your property far above the cost. Buyers would rather see how great your home really looks than hear how great it could look, "with a little work." They will overestimate the cost of redecorating and repairing a fixer-upper, and deduct that from their offer price. Go neutral in your decorating for the broadest appeal.
2) Add Curb Appeal First impressions are crucial! Drive by your home as if you have never seen it before. Hard to do, but that’s just one reason why you need the advice of an experienced Realtor. Trim the hedges, prune trees and shrubs if needed, rake the leaves and mow the lawn. Put away all the slippers and shoes from the doorways. Even in a condo you can place a few bright pots of flowers near the entry. Old faded paint will cost you thousands in your sale price. Make sure you don’t have unsightly clutter in your carport, and if you have a garage, keep the door closed.
3. Fix the Plumbing Dripping water rattles the nerves, discolors sinks and suggests faulty or worn-out plumbing. Drains that don’t will plug up a sale. Running toilets will chase buyers away. Have new fixtures installed if yours are unattractive and troublesome. Fix these little problems so they won’t detract from what's right about your home. It’s best to use a licensed plumber as always. Amateur plumbing and electrical work stand out like a sore thumb when the buyer’s home inspector comes to check your home.
4. Open Doors and Windows If cabinets or closet doors don’t work, get them fixed. Lubricate jalousies, and vacuum gunk out of sliding door and window runners. Doors, locks, and windows should be easy to operate. A little effort on your part can smooth the way toward a closing. All these details can either keep a sale going forward or kill it after the home inspection. The choice is yours.
5. Eliminate Booby-Traps Homeowners learn to live with all kinds of quirks: roller skates on the stairs, hanging extension cords, flickering lights, missing bulbs, loose handrails, dragging rain gutters, slippery throw rugs, and noisy pipes. Remove these hazards before you let buyers in. While you are at it, be sure you have operating smoke detectors and that you have not obstructed doors, stairs, or walkways with furniture or clutter. Make your residence as non-perilous as possible for visitors so they can see the benefits of paying a top price. Visitors to your home can be injured so avoid the liability.
6. Unleash Your Storage Remember, potential buyers are looking for more than just comfortable living space. They're looking for storage space, too. Make sure your garage, attic and crawl space under the house are clear of junk and debris. Have that garage sale before you market your home, and consider renting a storage unit to clear away things you won’t need until after the move. Donate whatever you don’t sell BEFORE you let a buyer see it. Expect them to look inside every closet. The better organized a closet, the larger it appears. Fresh paint and good lighting inside closets helps, too.
7. Bright and Fresh Bathrooms Bathrooms sell homes, so let them shine. Scrub all the tile, tubs, and counters. Replace moldy or unsightly caulking in the tubs and showers. Clear off counters of your personal items such as medicines, make-up and toiletries. Denture cleaner and hemorrhoid remedies will not enhance the sale! No one needs twelve different kinds of shampoo and conditioner. Limit it to 2 or 3. Gentlemen, please keep the toilet seat and lid down! Display your best towels mats and shower curtains – or buy fresh new ones - and add one or two coordinating decorative items such as flowers, baskets, or pictures. Yes, it’s a hassle but it’s worth it to make the best sale.
8. Create Dreamy Bedrooms Wake up prospects to the cozy comfort of your bedrooms. Any clothes that don’t fit into the closets need to be folded up and put away. Tasteful bedspreads and fresh curtains are a must. Be sure there is plenty of light and fresh air. While you are at it, put all jewelry, cash, and valuables out of sight. Important personal papers should be put away as well. Reward the kids for keeping their rooms clean, too. You wouldn’t believe some of the very personal items I have viewed in people’s homes, left out during Open House.
9. Let It Shine! Make sure you have enough light from natural sources or light fixtures. Have any missing bulbs replaced, and repair broken light fixtures or outlets. Open the blinds and drapes so prospects can see your bright and cheery home. Turn on the excitement by turning on all your lights - both inside and outside - when showing your home in the evening. Lights add color and warmth, and make prospects feel welcome. If furniture is placed over doors and windows, consider rearranging or removing several pieces to create the spacious image you need to well.
10. Now Get Lost! Nobody knows your home as well as you do, but you should keep a low profile when buyers come to view your home. Your Realtor should know how to show your home to its best advantage. Potential buyers often feel like intruders when they enter a home while the owner is home. Rather than giving your house the attention it deserves, they're likely to hurry through. Step outside or run an errand when the buyers arrive, or take the dog for walk.
If you need to be home, "put a sock in it". Resist the urge to give a running commentary on all of the features of your home and why you are selling. When prospects want to talk price, terms, or other real estate matters, let them speak to an expert - your Realtor. This preserves your privacy as well as your negotiating strength.
11. Pets are Family Dogs and cats are great companions, but not when you're showing your home. Pets have a talent for getting underfoot, so do everybody a favor: Keep them outside in a kennel, or at least out of the way. Some people are afraid of dogs and/or cats, or allergic. Pet toys and dishes can become tripping hazards. And pet odors are a “no-no” so be sure beds and litter boxes are fresh and clean.
12. Elvis has Left the Building When it's time to show your home, turn down the stereo. Rock and Roll will never die, but it could kill your home sale. Soft classical music or smooth jazz is more likely to add the atmosphere that whispers “buy me today”. And always keep the television off during showings.
13. Bless Our Mess No matter how humble your abode, never apologize for its shortcomings. If you overhear a buyer making negative comments about your home try not to take it personally. They may be very interested and just feeling out your negotiating position. Let your experienced Realtor handle the situation.
14. Be Flexible Keep your home in showing condition at all times, and try to accommodate prospective buyers when they want to see your home. Once you prepare your home for selling, try maintain that look so you can be ready on short notice. Your life will be far easier if showings are scheduled through your Real Estate professional as your point of contact.Keeping your home looking its best to sell is a lot of work. Buyers can only fall in love with what the can see. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do the things that need to be done, hire someone. Yes, you can sell"as-is" and that’s OK. Just don’t expect to get the top price for a home that looks like a “fixer-upper”. You have lived with your home's quirks and shortcomings for years and are probably don’t see them alike a buyer would. After 20 years in the business, I am still amazed at how much smart sellers can add to their sale price by preparing their home to look its best.