The first step is to price your home correctly. Use comparative sales information from your agent, or pay for a professional appraiser (usually $200 to $300), to objectively evaluate your home's worth.
Second, go through the house and repair any obvious cosmetic defects that could deter a buyer. In a down market, you may have to consider lowering your price and/or making a major repair, such as replacing the roof, in order to lure a buyer.
Also, make sure that your home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and a listing on the local multiple listing service or online listings provider. If this isn't happening, take it up with your agent or agent's broker. If you are still not satisfied you are getting the service you need, you may have to switch agents.
Preparing to Sell Your House
WHAT: You've decided to sell your house. What is the first step you need to do to get your house ready for the market? First, you should look at your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer and determine what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired and tossed out. If you were buying this home what would you want to see? Your goal is to make your home look good, maximize space and attract as many buyers as possible.
WHEN: Contrary to what many people believe, home prices tend to rise or fall because of general demand patterns rather than the time of the year. The market tends to balance out between buyers and sellers year-round. For example, although the demand in the real estate market tends to be higher in the summer because parents want to enroll children in classes at the beginning of the school year, the number of houses available on the market is higher also.
HOW: Buyers usually seek the least expensive home in the best neighborhood they can afford, which means they want a home that fits in the neighborhood but is not over-improved. Improvements should be made so that the property looks good, but at the same time, is consistent with the neighborhood. The cost of these improvements also should not exceed what can be made up from the sale. A well-cared for property is more desirable to buyers because if what they can see is maintained, what they can't see has probably also been maintained. The following are some suggestions on how to improve the appearance of your house to potential buyers.
- Water, mow, weed, & edge lawn regularly.
- Trim hedges,prune trees, and tend to flowerbeds regularly.
- Mend cracks in walkways, driveway, walls, foundation, and patios.
- Patch up or repaint doors and windows with peeling paint.
- Clean and align gutters. - Inspect and clean the chimney.
- Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
- Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
- If applicable, keep sidewalks clear of snow and ice.
- Keep your garage door closed.
- Move RVs or old and beaten up cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.
- Be sure your front door area has a warm, "Welcome" feeling!
- Repaint walls or replace carpets with neutral colors.
- Fix all cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the basement or attic.
- Fix all cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.
- Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings, and other woodwork.
- Repair leaky faucets and showerheads.
- Clean and remove clutter to make your house appear bigger and brighter.
- Rent storage to keep the garage and attic should clear.
- Remove excess or very large furniture.
- Hire a professional cleaning service, once every few weeks while the house is on the market.
- Remove as many items from kitchen counters, closets, and attics to make your house seem more spacious.
- Make your kitchen and bathroom look as bright and fresh as possible.
- Use your nicer guest towels in the bathrooms.
- Hang up fresh curtains.
- Install new cabinet knobs.
- Make sure kitchen and bathroom are clean and odor free.
- Replace burned out light bulbs.
- Open drapes and blinds.
- Don't let pets wander around the house.
- Don't leave dirty dishes in the sink or laundry in the washer or dryer.
- Make the beds.
- Put on soothing music.
- Make a fire in the fireplace on cold days.
When is the best time to sell your house?
There is no "best" time to sell per se. Selling a house depends on supply, demand and other economic factors. But the time of year in which you choose to sell can make a difference both in the amount of time it takes to sell your home and in the ultimate selling price.
Weather conditions are less of a consideration in more temperate climates, but most of the time, the real estate market picks up as early as February, with the strongest selling season usually lasting through May and June.
With the onset of summer, the market slows. July is often the slowest month for real estate sales due to a strong spring market putting possible upward pressure on interest rates. Also, many prospective home buyers and their agents take vacations during mid-summer.
Following the summer slowdown, real estate sales activity tends to pick up for a second, although less vigorous, fall market, which usually lasts into November when the market slows again as buyers and sellers turn their attention to the holidays.
If this makes you wonder if you should take your home off the market for the holidays, consider the advice of veteran agents: You are always more likely to sell your house if it is available to show to prospective buyers continuously.
Listing at the wrong price When putting your home on the market, you want to sell it for the highest possible price to generate the most net proceeds. However, listing your home at an excessively high price is usually not the best way to proceed. Doing this can cause some prospective buyers to lose interest before even seeing your home, it can also create an expectation of your home that is too high. Overpriced properties tend to take an unusually long time to sell, and they end up being sold at a lower price.
Not understanding market value Market value is really the price a buyer is willing to pay for your home, and it needs to be substantiated by an appraisal. Have your Realtor prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA), reviewing recently sold comparable homes in your neighborhood, the length of time these homes were on the market, and any seller concessions. This will give you an accurate and factual estimate of your property value.
Being ignorant of your rights & responsibilities It is 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 understanding the terms in your contract could cost you thousands of dollars for repairs. Make sure that you know what you are responsible for prior to signing the contract.
Restricting 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 sold are sold at open houses, and less than 3% are sold because of classified ads. Your Realtor can offer you many unique and effective marketing tools such as, home publication advertising, call capture systems and on-line marketing.
Selecting the wrong Realtor Selling your home could be one of the largest and most important financial transactions you will ever complete. Take your time when selecting a real estate agent. Interview agents and ask them key questions. A knowledgeable and experienced agent will be able to bring you a higher price in less time and with fewer hassles.
Home Selling Checklist
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 well cared for. If you prepare your home correctly, you will save time and money selling it while it's on the market.
Clean and Remove Clutter Buyers expect a spotless house, inside and out. Clean everything, especially your windows and windowsills, scrub walls, floors, tile, ceilings, kitchen and bathrooms. Wash scuff marks from doors and entryways, clean light fixtures and the fireplace.
Help buyers to picture themselves and their possessions in your home by making your rooms feel large, airy and light. Clean out your closets, as they are an important consideration for many buyers, make them look spacious. Store and get rid of surplus items, consider renting a storage unit to eliminate clutter in the garage, basement and attic.
Clean and Maintain:
- Windows, sills and screens
- Walls and floors
- Tile Ceilings
- Cupboards and drawers
- Light fixtures
- Ceiling fans
- Carpet and rugs
- Laundry room
- Replace furnace filter
- Dust furniture, TV and computer screens
- Remove clutter
Repairs and Renovations Don't make major renovations just to sell your house since you are 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.
- Leaky faucets and plumbing
- Torn screens
- Slow drains
- Loose doorknobs
- Deck boards
- Broken windows
- Electrical fixtures
- Water stain damage
- Broken appliances
- Damaged walls and ceilings
- Worn carpet and rugs
- Damages to sidewalks and steps
- 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
- Stack firewood
- Clean out birdbaths
- Caulk windows and doors
- Repair and paint fences
- Seal asphalt driveway
- Make sure doors close properly
- Enhance front entryway
- Replace welcome mat