Questions you should answer to help us sell your home:
What makes your home a special place to live? What would you tell a potential buyer?
Why did you decide to buy this home yourself...schools, amenities, views, convenience?
Why do you love living here? What are the things your family has enjoyed most? What could you tell buyers about the neighborhood?
Which features of your home would excite buyers? What "hidden features" of your home might a buyer overlook if they saw it quickly? How did they make your life easier?
Why will it be hard for you to leave your home?
How To Make The Most Money When You Sell
Review a list of all the homes which have sold within the past 3 months, along with the homes on the market (your competition), and homes now in escrow. Compare your home to the others, and be honest with yourself! If you're in a weak market, active and pending sales will be more important to you than closings, which reflect sales activity from 3-5 months back. Be careful you don't limit your research to homes sales in a limited price range. The only way to make an intelligent decision is to examine what all comparable homes in your market are selling for, not just a subset of the homes.
There are three main pricing strategies – pricing your home above, at, or below its market value:
1. Priced above market value
Sellers like to price their home high, thinking that someone just might pay it. That's unlikely – buyers shopping for a home know exactly what the market is like, and won't be fooled into paying more than it's worth.
2. Priced at market value
Always a good strategy - that's what your home is worth!
3. Priced below market value
This can be an excellent strategy as long as you give instructions that you won't review any offers until after the home has been on the market for at least a week. Buyers like, and recognize bargains. Pricing a home low can help set up an "auction" mentality where several buyers bid for your home, and frequently bid up the price.
Make Your Home Sparkle, Stage It!
Try to see your home through a buyer's eyes. Walk across the street and take a careful look at your house. Make a detailed list of the small things which make a big difference in your home's appearance. Remember, If you can't see it, you can't sell it so, trim the yard and shrubs, patch the concrete, reglaze the windows, and touch up the paint.First impressions are important... is the entrance to your home inviting? Adding large pots of flowers near the entrance and a wreath on the front door. How you live in a home, and how you prepare it for sale, are two different things. Eliminate all clutter – the more knick-knacks, family photos, and framed certificates you have around, the more they draw people's attention away from the home itself, and it makes your home look smaller. Store things in your attic or in the garage, out of sight in the home. If you have a lot of furniture in rooms, move some of it to the garage or consider putting it in storage. Rooms with a lot of furniture or exercise equipment look smaller than they actually are. Find ways to accentuate architectural details and focal points in each room, for example, place a few vases with fresh flowers on the mantel. If you have a large dining room table, remove the leaf from it to make the table smaller, which will make the room look larger, also set it beautifully before showings if possible. Bring some large plants into the house to place in corners, put fresh flowers here and there. If you have brightly painted rooms, consider repainting them with neutral colors, because some buyers will focus so much on bright paint that they'll have difficulties putting it out of their mind. Move kitchenware such as blenders and serving spoons out of sight. Store cosmetics in a basket under the sink in the bathroom. Have a yard sale to generate extra cash and make your move easier. Look through home magazines for ideas on decorating simply.
Clean the house regularly.
Fix leaky faucets and scrub away sink stains. Paint dingy rooms. Make the floors and windows sparkle. Replace worn window coverings with inexpensive mini blinds or drapes. Try to eliminate offensive pet or food odors. Keep your grass freshly cut. Thoroughly clean up all pet droppings.
Keep the entrances clear.
In fall and winter always remove leaves, snow and ice from sidewalks, porches and driveways. Don't forget entrances to garages and basements.
Anticipate what buyers need and give it to them – on your terms! Buyers want to know what shape the house is in – even when they purchase homes in their current condition (as-is). Obtain a complete set of reports from General Contractors, Roofers, and Pest Control Inspectors before you accept an offer. You'll know how much work your home needs, and have the time to bid the job for the best price and terms.
Choose the Inspector Yourself with Advice From Your Agent
Ask for referrals to Home Inspection Companies and Pest / Structural Control Inspectors. We like to work with companies which only do inspections, and not the repair work. They'll tell you about how much the work should cost – you then send the report to several licensed contractors for actual competitive bids.
Put together a home information book for buyers to examine. This book should include a property flyer, copies of all inspection reports, purchase loan programs (with different down payments and interest rates), a plot map, and other relevant facts.
Did you buy the home with seller financing? Ask the note holder for a discount if you pay them off early! The best time to negotiate such a discount is before your home is on the market. Once the FOR SALE sign is up, the note holder knows they'll probably be soon paid in full. You incur a late charge when the mortgage is late, so why not receive a discount for paying it early!
Find out if your loan is assumable
Read your loan documents yourself, rather than relying on what the lender tells you. The only thing that matters is what the note and deed of trust say. Is there a prepayment penalty on your loan? Is it a government loan and do you get part of your MIP back that you have paid over the years?
Make sure that you have the right to review and approve the cost of any repair work the buyer requests. Sellers frequently sign "blank checks" by agreeing to pay for all termite and roof repairs without first knowing what the costs will be.
Selling Your Home During The Holidays
Selling your home during the frenzy of the busy holiday season can be extremely stressful. Here are some simple tips to help:
When decorating your home for the holidays, consider that people of other faiths may be visiting your home.
Just like the rest of the year, remember less is more; keep it simple.
Huge trees and large decorations take up a lot of space which could cause rooms and landscapes to look smaller than they really are.
Wait until approximately two weeks before the holidays to decorate and be sure to take everything down within two weeks afterward.
Before scheduled showings turn off all holiday lights, it's more important for potential buyers to focus on your home rather than your decorations.
Ask agents to wait until your guests are out of the house for the day to schedule showings.
Put out some photos taken of your home, yard and garden in the spring, summer, and fall, so buyers can see how beautiful the home is in other seasons.
If closing on the sale of your home near a holiday... check with your agent, lender and title company two business days prior to closing to be sure everyone has all required documents. Also ensure all funds have been wired to avoid delays caused by holiday business closings.
Try to select a day in the middle of the week for your closing, preferably earlier in the day, to work around any last minute delaysthat may come by with a title or insurance company or a mortgage loan processor.
If you need to move during the holidays, remember moving companies will need more notice and may charge additional fees.
Questions To Ask When Interviewing A Realtor
Do you have buyer and seller references I can call?
I want extraordinary service. What do your clients say about your business and personal skills? Can you provide me with the names and phone numbers of buyers and sellers?
What Realtor networking and Internet marketing do you do?
I want an agent who knows how to find me a buyer, not one who simply puts my home in the Multiple Listing Service and passively waits for something to happen. Can you show me in writing the different marketing strategies that you'll use to sell my home? What personal networking and nationwide marketing systems do you use? What target marketing programs have you established? What is the address of your Web Site? What information is on your Web Site?
Can you guarantee that you'll personally answer all calls on my home?
Please confirm that you'll personally answer all calls about my home. I don't want an inexperienced and/or part-time agent, or a receptionist answering telephone calls from buyers.
Do you have an assistant?
If so, once I hire you do I talk to your assistant all the time? How difficult is it to talk with you directly?
How will you protect me?
I want to make sure I'm protected in my sale. Will there be thorough documentation of all transaction details? Will all communications be kept confidential? Do you have a cell phone that I can call you on or a voice mail pager in an emergency if I need you? Do you have an E-Mail address so I can communicate with you instantaneously?
The following is a checklist of items you will need to take care of when selling your home:
DOCUMENTS / ITEMS:
Evidence of Title (title policy, abstract, etc.)
Most recent property tax bill
Lender's name, address, phone, contact person, mortgage account number and present balance
If there are other loans/mortgages against the property, supply the same information as above
If the property is held in trust, provide name of trustee, trust account number and contact information
Your attorney's name, address and phone number
Your work number
Spouse work number
Neighbor phone number
Utility bills (electric, gas, water)
Brochures/information about your property
Attractive exterior photos of your home in other seasons
Your thoughts on special features of your home or community
Personal property which may be included in the sale – whatever you feel might have
Special marketing value to the average buyer
FOR A CONDOMINIUM, TOWNHOUSE, OR PRIVATE COMMUNITY:
Association Declaration and By-laws
Association Certificate of Insurance
Association current budget
Selecting The Right Moving Company:
Step One: Arranging the Interviews
Whether you are moving across town or across the country it is important that you allow plenty of time to go through the process of selecting the moving company that will best suit your needs.
Make your calls to interview movers as soon as you know when the actual move might take place. If it appears that the move will occur during a peak moving period, then it is even more urgent that you begin this process well in advance of your projected move date. Not only will a move during a peak period be more difficult to schedule; it is also apt to cost more due to the demand that the movers face. Peak periods may vary per mover and may be influenced by local economies. In general, peak periods include:
The beginning and the end of each month, since this is when most closings take place.
All holidays, but especially those where school vacations coincide.
Summer months, since the majority of families will try to orchestrate a move between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next.
Step Two: Conducting the Interviews
Moving companies will agree to visit your home in advance of your move to provide a written estimate of your move. Inquire as to whether the estimate is binding or non-binding, which tells you whether the estimate you are receiving during the visit will still be good in two months when you actually make your move. Also insist that the estimate be written with as much detail as possible so that when you review the estimates, you can assess the points of differentiation. If you will be moving within a local or regional area, the estimate will probably be based on an hourly rate. The company will project how many men they will need to complete the work and how much time it will take to pack (if you require this service), load, transport the goods, and unload at the final destination. The more moving companies you interview, the more likely you will get an accurate picture of just what your particular move will entail and how much it is likely to cost. If your move is out of state, the estimates will be based on the distance of your move and the projected weight of your shipment. The mover will need ample time to walk through your home and inspect each room for furniture and loose objects that will be transported. Make sure that all storage areas in the house are visited including the garage, basement, attic, and outbuildings. The mover will need to view everything that will be going to the new location in order to provide you with an accurate estimate.
. There are many factors that can influence the price of your move. Your ability to impact the eventual price of the move centers on the services that you will require. Once you have identified the services that you will require, make sure that each estimate addresses each service individually so that you will have a legitimate basis for comparison. Some of these optional services include:
Packing and unpacking: are you willing to do this yourself, or would you prefer to pay professionals to pack some or all of your loose materials?
Boxes: most movers will sell you new boxes, and the prices will vary per company. Ask about used boxes, since some movers will allow you to drive to their site and select previously used boxes that are remain with the company after moves are completed. If you will need a lot of boxes, the use of used boxes will represent significant cost savings.
Special handling: if you have unique pieces (ex. piano), heavy pieces (ex. woodworking machinery) or very delicate pieces (antiques), you might need a special quote that identifies special handling of the object.
Special Packaging: the movers may recommend that certain pieces be packed in wood crates. Check the cost versus the advantages of this decision.
Insurance: most movers have some level of liability insurance that covers their moves. However, additional insurance is worth investigating since it is not uncommon for objects to be damaged during the move.
Step Three: Making Your Selection
Your decision will be driven by several factors. First, there is the issue of price. You will find that price alone will probably not lead you to making your choice. The weight estimates will probably differ per mover, as will the prices on the individual services that you request.
Second, there is the issue of availability. In some cases, the mover you prefer to work with might not be able to work you into their schedule. If you move during a peak time, you may find yourself coordinating your move to the calendar of the mover, instead of having the mover design his schedule around your move.
Third, there is the issue surrounding reputation and references. The moving business is a service business. Past customers will have opinions about their moving company. Request references beyond the letters of recommendations that you should be offered in the interview. If you want to do a little more research, call the Better Business Bureau or the State Attorney General to see if there are complaints against the company.
Finally, take note of the person who is providing the estimate. These individuals often will act as the key contact for you up to and during the actual move. Are they experienced, confident, good communicators, and seemingly interested in satisfying your needs. In short, are they someone that you feel you can work well with during a stressful time?
HELPFUL LINKS FOR SELLERS:
Real Estate Glossary
Equity Investment Exchange (Tax-Free 1031 Exchanges)