Selling Your Home Before You Buy?

Here Is Where to Begin

First Impressions

Remember what first attracted you to your house when you bought it? What excited you about its most appealing features? Now that you’re selling your home, you’ll need to look at it as if you were buying it all over again.

A spruced up house makes a great first impression on potential buyers. An attractive property grabs their attention and makes them excited about finding a house that looks and feels wellcared for. Because buyers know they’ll encounter fewer problems if they buy it, your house becomes more appealing and stands out from the competition. So if you prepare your home correctly, you’ll save time selling it when it’s on the market.

A good first impression makes an impact on a number of levels. It’s not just the way your house looks to potential buyers, but how it feels and smells to them, how their friends and family will react, how they imagine it would be to live there.

With simple improvements throughout your house, you can grab the attention of potential buyers and help them see why your house is right for them.

Plan Ahead

Create a plan to enhance your property. Keep a notebook for your selling project, and as you stroll through your yard, make a list of what needs to be done. Consider what your property looks like to people driving by or walking through your door. What will they like or dislike? What needs fixing, painting, cleaning? What can you improve? Whether you paint your house or fix up the yard, your efforts don’t need to be costly; even inexpensive improvements and minor repairs go far toward attracting serious buyers. But remember, those seemingly insignificant problems you’ve learned to live with can actually discourage potential buyers. Here are ideas for increasing your home’s appeal in order to sell it quickly at the best price.

Interior

Clean Everything

Buyers expect a spotless house, inside and out. So clean everything, especially your windows and window sills. Scrub walls and floors, tile and ceilings, cupboards and drawers, kitchen and bathrooms. Wash scuff marks from doors and entryways, clean light fixtures and the fireplace. Don’t forget the laundry room. And put away your clothes.

Cut the Clutter

People are turned off by rooms that look and feel cluttered. Remember, potential buyers are buying your house, not your furniture, so help them picture themselves and their possessions in your home by making your rooms feel large, light, and airy. As you clean, pack away your personal items, such as pictures, valuables, and collectibles, and store or get rid of surplus books, magazines, videotapes, extra furniture, rugs, blankets, etc. Consider renting a storage unit to eliminate clutter in your garage and attic.

It’s hard to get rid of possessions, but cleaning and clearing out the clutter can really pay off in the end. Packing away your clutter also gets you started packing for your next move. Make your garage and basement as tidy as the rest of your house. Simple little tasks such as storing your tools and neatly rolling up your garden hose suggest that you take good care of your house. Don’t let anything detract from making your best first impression.

Closets

They’re an important consideration to many buyers. By storing clothing you won’t use soon, you’ll make closets look spacious.

Paint

A new coat of paint cleans up your living space and makes it look bright and new. To make rooms look larger, choose light, neutral colors that appeal to the most people, such as beige or white.

Carpet

Check its condition. If it’s worn, consider replacing it. It’s an easy and affordable way to help sell your home faster. Again, light, neutral colors, such as beige, are best. If you don’t replace it, you can suggest to potential buyers that they could select new carpet and you’ll reduce your price; buyers like to hear they’re getting a deal. At the very least, have your carpet cleaned.

Repairs and Renovations

It’s best to avoid making major renovations just to sell the house since you’re unlikely to recoup those costs from your selling price. Make minor repairs to items such as leaky faucets, slow drains, torn screens, gutters, loose doorknobs, and broken windows. Make sure repairs are well done; buyers won’t take you seriously if your home-improvement efforts look messy, shoddy, or amateurish.

Leaks and Moisture

Water stains on ceilings or in the basement alert buyers to potential problems. Don’t try to
cosmetically cover up stains caused by leaks. If you’ve fixed the water problem, repair the damage and disclose in writing to the buyer what repairs were made.

Exterior

Curb Appeal

The “Wow” factor — that first visual, high-impact impression your home makes on potential buyers — can turn a looker into a buyer. To determine your property’s curb appeal, drive through your neighborhood and note other properties; then approach your own house as if you were a potential buyer. How does it look? Does it “wow” you? Will its curb appeal attract buyers? Note what needs improving, such as trimming trees, planting shrubs, or painting gutters. Little things convey that you’ve cared for your home, and this is your opportunity to sell that important message to buyers who are shopping from the street, simply cruising neighborhoods just looking for houses for sale. To get them through your door, do what you can to make your property look like someone’s dream home.

Paint/Stain

If it’s peeling or blistering and you can’t remember the last time you painted it, your house needs some attention. That also goes for stain that is significantly faded. A newly painted or stained exterior will help sell your house faster. And whether you do it yourself or hire someone, you’ll also increase your home’s value.

In the Yard

Grab people’s attention by enhancing your yard and landscaping. If your house looks inviting and well-maintained from the street, people will imagine that it’s attractive on the inside, too.

• Prune bushes and hedges; trim trees. • Keep your lawn looking healthy and green by mowing it often, fertilizing it, and keeping it edged and trimmed. • Clean up and dispose of pet mess. • Weed your gardens; add fertilizer and mulch; then plant colorful flowers. • In winter, keep your driveway and sidewalks shoveled, de-iced, and well-lit. • Stack firewood, clean out birdbaths, repair and paint fences.

The Front Door

An attractive entry catches a buyer’s eye and says, “Welcome,” so highlight this area of your house with decorative touches, such as a wreath on the door or new shrubs and flowers around the steps. For an even grander entry, clean and paint your front door, or replace it with a new one for a few hundred dollars. Don’t forget to fix and polish doorknobs, repair torn screens, and then put out that new welcome mat.

Keep yourself organized with the following checklist.

Clean and Maintain

• Windows, sills, and screens • Walls and floor • Tile • Ceilings • Cupboards and drawers • Kitchen • Bathrooms • Light fixtures • Ceiling fans • Carpet and rugs • Mirrors • Garage • Attic • Basement • Laundry room • Yard • Gutters • Replace furnace filter • Dust furniture, TV and computer screens • Closets • Remove clutter • Pack personal items

Repair

• Leaky faucets and plumbing • Torn screens • Slow drains • Gutters • Loose doorknobs • Deck boards • Broken windows • Electrical fixtures • Water stain damage • Broken appliances • Damaged walls and ceilings • Worn carpet and rugs • Damaged sidewalks and steps

Improvements

• Stain or paint deck • Store tools

• Roll up garden hose • Paint or stain exterior • Prune bushes and hedges • Trim trees • Mow lawn, fertilize, edge, and trim • Weed gardens, plant flowers • Shovel driveways, de-ice • Stack firewood • Clean out birdbaths • Caulk windows and doors • Repair and paint fences • Seal asphalt driveway • Make sure doors close properly • Enhance entryway • Replace welcome mat

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How To Get Top Dollar In Any Market

The best chance for selling your property is within the first seven weeks. Studies show that the longer a property stays on the market, the less the seller will net. Below are 5 main factors to accomplishing this goal.

PRICING FACTOR

It is very important to price your property at a competitive marketvalue right when you list it. The market is so competitive that evenover-pricing by a few thousand dollars could mean that your house will not sell. It’s interesting, but your first offer is usually your best offer. Here are reasons for pricing your property at the market value right from the start in order to net you the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time.

An overpriced home:

• Minimizes offers • Lowers showings • Lowers agent response • Limits financing • Limits qualified buyers • Nets less for the seller

80% of the marketing is done when we decide on what price to list your home. If you are unwilling to list at current market value, you would be better off not putting it on the market at this time.

CLEAN FACTOR

Most people are turned off by even the smallest amount of uncleanness or odor when buying a home. Sellers lose thousands of dollars because they do not adequately clean. If your house is squeaky clean, you will be able to sell your home faster and net hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more. If you are planning on moving, why not get rid of that old junk now so that your house will appear larger? Make more space.

Odors must be eliminated especially if you have dogs, cats, or young children in diapers or if you are a smoker. You may not notice the smell, but the buyers do! Most agents have a difficult time communicating to their sellers about odor. If you employ an agent to get the
most amount of money for you, please don’t take offense if he must confront you about odor problems.

ACCESS FACTOR

Top selling agents will not show your home if both the Key and access are not readily available. They do not have time to run around town all day picking up and dropping off keys. They want to sell homes! The greatest way to show a house is to have a key! When your home is being shown, please do the following:

• Keep all lights on • Keep all drapes and shutters open • Keep all doors unlocked • Leave soft music playing • Take a short walk with your children and pets • Let the buyer be at ease and let the agents do their job

PAINT & CARPET FACTOR

Paint is your best improvement investment for getting a greater return on your money. Paint makes the whole house smell clean and neat. If your house has chipped paint, exposed wood, or the paint looks faded, it is time to paint. If your carpet is worn, dirty, outdated, or an unusual color, you may need to seriously consider replacing it. Many houses do not sell because of this problem. Don’t think that buyers have more money than you have to replace carpet. They don’t. They simply buy elsewhere.

FRONT YARD FACTOR

Your front yard immediately reflects the inside condition of your house to the buyer. People enjoy their yards. Make certain that the trees are trimmed so the house can be seen from the street. Have the grass mowed, trimmed and edged. Walkways should be swept. Debris cleared away. Remove parked cars. This all adds to curb appeal. If a buyer doesn’t like the outside, they may not stop to see the inside.

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Common Selling Mistakes

MISTAKE #1 — PLACING THE WRONG PRICE ON YOUR PROPERTY

Every seller obviously wants to get the most money for his or her product. Ironically, the best way to do this is NOT to list your product at an excessively high price! A high listing price will cause some prospective buyers to lose interest before even seeing your property. Also, it may lead other buyers to expect more than what you have to offer. As a result, overpriced properties tend to take an unusually long time to sell, and they end up being sold at a lower price.

MISTAKE #2 — MISTAKING RE-FINANCE APPRAISALS FOR THE MARKET VALUE

Unfortunately, a re-finance appraisal may have been stated at an untruthfully high price. Often, lenders estimate the value of your property to be higher than it actually is in order to encourage re-financing. The market value of your home could actually be lower. Your best bet is to ask your realtor for the most recent information regarding property sales in your community. This will give you an up-to-date and factually accurate estimate of your property value.

MISTAKE #3 — FAILING TO “SHOWCASE”

In spite of how frequently this mistake is addressed and how simple it is to avoid, its prevalence is still widespread. When attempting to sell your home to prospective buyers, do not forget to make your home look as pleasant as possible. Make necessary repairs. Clean. Make sure everything functions and looks presentable. A poorly kept home in need of repairs will surely lower the selling price of your property and will even turn away some buyers.

MISTAKE #4 – TRYING TO “HARD SELL” WHILE SHOWING

Buying a house is always an emotional and difficult decision. As a result, you should try to allow prospective buyers to comfortably examine your property. Don’t try haggling or forcefully selling. Instead, be friendly and hospitable. A good idea would be to point out any subtle amenities and be receptive to questions.

MISTAKE #5 – TRYING TO SELL TO LOOKERS

A prospective buyer who shows interest because of a “for sale” sign he saw may not really be interested in your property. Often buyers who do not come through a realtor are a good 6-9 months away from buying, and they are more interested in seeing what is out there than in actually making a purchase. They may still have to sell their house, or may not be able to afford a house yet. They may still even be unsure as to whether or not they want to relocate. Your realtor should be able to distinguish realistic potential buyers from mere lookers. Realtors should usually find out a prospective buyer’s savings, credit rating, and purchasing power in general. If your realtor fails to find out this pertinent information, you should do some investigating and questioning on your own. This will help you avoid wasting valuable time marketing towards the wrong people. If you have to do this work yourself, consider finding a new realtor.

MISTAKE #6 — BEING IGNORANT OF YOUR RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES

It is extremely important that you are well-informed of the details in your real estate contract. Real estate contracts are legally binding documents, and they can often be complex and confusing. Not being aware of the terms in your contract could cost you thousands for repairs and inspections. Know what your are responsible for before signing the contract. Can the property be sold “as is”? How will deed restrictions and local zoning laws affect your transaction? Not knowing the answers to these kind of questions could end up costing you a considerable amount of money.

MISTAKE #7 – SIGNING A CONTRACT WITH NO ESCAPE

Hopefully you will have taken the time to choose the best realtor for you. But sometimes, as we all know, circumstances change. Perhaps you misjudged your realtor, or perhaps the realtor has other priorities on his or her mind. In any case, you should have the right to fire your agent. Also, you should have the right to select another agent of your choosing. Many real estate companies will simply replace an agent with another one, without consulting you. Be sure to have control over your situation before signing a real estate contract.

MISTAKE #8 – LIMITING THE MARKETING AND ADVERTISING OF THE PROPERTY

There are two obvious marketing tools that nearly every seller uses: open houses and classified ads. Unfortunately, these two tools are rather ineffective. Less than 1% of homes are sold at open houses, and less than 3% are sold because of classified ads. In fact, realtors often use open houses to attract future prospects, not to sell the house. Your realtor should employ a wide variety of marketing techniques. Your realtor should also be committed to selling your property; he or she should be available for every phone call from a prospective buyer. Most calls are received, and open houses are scheduled, during business hours, so make sure that your realtor is working on selling your home during these hours. Chances are that you have a job, too, so you may not be able to get in touch will many potential buyers.

MISTAKE #9 – CHOOSING THE WRONG REALTOR®

Selling your home could be the most important financial transaction in your lifetime. As a result, it is extremely important that you select the realtor that is best for you. Experienced real estate agents often cost as much as brand new agents. Chances are that the experienced agent will be able to bring you a higher price in less time and with fewer hassles. Take your time when selecting a real estate agent. Interview several agents; ask them key questions. If you want to make your selling experience the best it can be, it is crucial that you select the best agent for you.

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14 Questions to ask a Listing Agent

  1. What is your guarantee?
  2. Do you personally answer all phone calls on the property?
  3. Can we cancel the listing if we’re not happy?
  4. Do you have a personal assistant?
  5. If you don’t call me back within 24 hours will you take $50 off the escrow?
  6. May I see your personal Internet web site? What systems do you have in place that will keep you in constant contact with me during the listing and the transaction?
  7. Are you fully automated with your own personal computer, FAX machine, copier, pager, voice mail, etc.?
  8. What is your average market time vs. other agents’ average market time?
  9. What professional designations do you have?
  10. I want to give my home the advantage of the latest marketing strategies.
  11. How much time & money do you invest each month in professional training?
  12. Can you give me a list of your clients who have closed escrow and can I call them?
  13. Why are you personally motivated to sell my house?
  14. Why should I list with you rather than any other agent who is calling?
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9 Deadly Mistakes Homesellers Make

Some of our clients have to sell before they buy, here are 9 great tips to selling your home.

MISTAKE #1. USING A REAL ESTATE AGENT INSTEAD OF A REALTOR

When you’re looking for help buying or selling property, it’s important to remember that the terms “real estate agent” and “Realtor” are not synonymous. Realtors can provide an extra level of service and to be a Realtor you must be a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The equivalent organization in Canada is the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Both are non-profit trade organizations that promote real estate information, education and professional standards. The National Association of Realtors also has earned a strong reputation for actively championing private property rights and working to make home ownership affordable and accessible.

The NAR and CREA members adhere to a strict code of ethics founded on the principle of providing fair and honest service to all consumers. Realtor business practices are monitored at local board levels.

Arbitration and disciplinary systems are in place to address complaints from the public or board members. This local oversight keeps Realtors directly accountable to the individual consumers they serve and therefore the consumer is more likely to find better service and accountability by using a Realtor.

MISTAKE #2. COMPLACENT MARKETING WHEN SELLING A HOME

When selling your home there are no guarantees that the ultimate buyer of your home will have simply walked through the front door. In many cases you may have to bring your home to the buyer. Effective marketing will help ensure that your property receives maximum exposure to attract a ready, willing and able buyer in the shortest period of time.

Ask your Realtor to list for you all of the ways he/she intends to market your home and on what time-line. Also, be sure to ask about the home being advertised on the Internet.

MISTAKE #3. TAKING FOR GRANTED THE “CURB APPEAL” OF YOUR HOME

When you’re preparing your house for sale, remember the importance of first impressions. A buyer’s first impression can make or break whether they even want to go inside for a look. It is estimated that more than half of all houses are sold before the buyers even get out of their cars.

With that in mind, be sure to stand outside of your home and take a realistic “fresh look” and then ask yourself what can be done to make the “curb appeal” improve. Also ask your Realtor’s opinion as to how to improve the curb appeal. It could make a huge difference in your final sales price.

MISTAKE #4. FORGETTING ABOUT HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES

Be upfront and disclose to your Realtor any problems with the property. The problems are going to be discovered anyway. A decade ago, health and safety issues were rarely a part of the typical real estate transaction. Today, however, it’s common for inspections relating to health, safety, and even environmental concerns to be a part of most sales contracts.

Moreover, in many states, the seller must disclosure to the buyer any knowledge of existing property problems. In many cases, these issues have been or can be factored into the home’s listing price.

MISTAKE #5. FORGETTING WHAT YOU WOULD WANT TO SEE IF YOU WERE THE BUYER OF YOUR HOME

Remember that although people can be different in personality, they tend to be the same when it comes to expectations at someone else’s expense. In other words, a prospective buyer would probably like to see a perfect home from top to bottom, inside and out, when it comes to your home. Try to do as many of the following items as possible to improve the likelihood of your home sale in an expedient way.

On the outside 1) Sweep front walkway. 2) Remove newspapers, bikes and toys. 3) Park extra cars away from the property. 4) Trim back the shrubs. 5) Apply fresh, clean paint throughout. 6) Clean windows and window coverings throughout.
7) Keep plumbing and all appliances in working order. 8) Maintain all sealant (window, tub, shower, sink, etc.) in good condition. 9) Make sure roof and gutters are clean and in good condition. 10) Mow the lawn frequently and plant flowers. 11) Keep pet areas clean.

On the inside 1) The kitchen and bathroom should shine. 2) Quick once-over with the vacuum; carpets should be clean. 3) Place fresh flowers in the main rooms. 4) Put dishes away, unless setting a formal display for decoration. 5) Make all beds and put all clothes away. 6) Open the drapes and turn on lights for a brighter feel. 7) Straighten closets. 8) Put toys away. 9) Turn off television. 10) Play soft music on the radio/stereo. 11) Keep pets out of the way and pet areas clean and odor-free. 12) Secure jewelry, cash, prescription medication and other valuables. 13) Enhance the spaciousness of each room.

MISTAKE #6. THINKING YOU NEED TO BE IN THE HOME TO EXPLAIN THINGS TO A PROSPECTIVE BUYER

You will be better served if you allow your Realtor to do their job without you there. Most potential buyers usually feel more comfortable if they can speak freely to the real estate professional without the owners being present.

If people unaccompanied by an agent request to see your property, you should refer them to your real estate professional for an appointment.

MISTAKE #7. NOT KNOWING HOW TO PRICE YOUR HOME TO SELL

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of selling a home is listing it at the correct price. It’s one of several areas where the assistance of a skilled real estate agent can more than pay for itself. Listing the home too high can be as bad as too low. If the listing price is too high, you’ll miss out on a percentage of buyers looking in the price range where your home should be.

This is the flaw in thinking that you’ll always have the opportunity to accept a lower offer. Chances are the offers won’t even come in, because the buyers who would be most interested in your home have been scared off by the price and aren’t even taking the time to look.

By the time the price is corrected, you’ve already lost exposure to a large group of potential buyers. The listing price becomes even trickier to set when prices are quickly rising or falling. It’s critical to be aware of where and how fast the market is moving – both when setting the price and when negotiating an offer. Again, an experienced, well-trained agent is always in touch with market trends – often even to a greater extent than appraisers, who typically focus on what a property is worth if sold as-is, right now.

MISTAKE #8. NOT PLANNING YOUR MOVE EARLIER ENOUGH

Many sellers simply don’t plan their move early enough and then feel totally overwhelmed at the time of moving out of the house. If you are able to move at any time of the year, don’t wait until summer, the peak-moving season.

Consider also that the first and last few days of the month are extra busy. If you plan to sell your house, get it on the market as soon as possible. Keep a record of all expenses related to the move, some of which may be tax deductible.

Fill out the Personal Household Inventory for each room. This is important for establishing the amount of declared valuation for the shipment and as a permanent inventory for insurance purposes. List, as nearly as possible, the year of purchase and original cost of each item. Attach any invoices or records of purchase to the completed inventory.

Prepare a separate high-value inventory if the shipment will contain articles of “extraordinary” value. The following list includes items that might fall into this category:

* Antiques * Art Collections * Cameras * China Collections * Computer Equipment * Crystal * Figurines * Firearms * Jewelry * Manuscripts * Oriental Rugs * Silver * Stones Or Gems * Tapestries * TVs Or Stereos

Also, unless you have been given a binding moving estimate where a firm cost is established in advance, the exact cost of a move cannot be determined until after the shipment has been loaded on the van and weighed.

The weight on which charges are based is calculated by weighing the van before and after loading. The total cost of the move will include transportation charges, any charges for declared valuation, plus charges for any extra services performed at your request.

All of these charges are based on tariff rate schedules.

MISTAKE #9. USING A “CONVENIENT” REALTOR RATHER THAN USING AN EXPERIENCED REALTOR

When working with a real estate agent, it’s critical that you have full confidence in that agent’s experience and education. A skilled, knowledgeable agent should be able to explain to you exactly why your home needs to be priced at a certain level – compared to recent listings and sales of homes similar to yours.

Experienced agents also know exactly what the current pool of buyers are looking for in relation to particular styles and price ranges of properties. A skilled agent can recommend changes that will enhance the salability of your home, thus increasing the price – and/or decreasing the length of time before a sale.

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