"The key to a successful home sale is having all the facts,
getting organized, and being prepared to sell when the time comes.
This website is designed to help you to do this."
"Preparing to Sell Your Home"
By David F. Kelley
It All Begins At The Curb.
A home need not be a ravishing beauty to attract - to sell. It need not shout, it should invite, a look, a pause, a let's go see. We've all seen homes with good "curb appeal." Everything looks right, the grass, the bushes, the trees, all cared for. The trim, the siding, the roof, well maintained. No clutter, nothing out of place, making a great first impression. If the outside looks this good, then so should the inside.
Unrealistic? Maybe a little, but really, you're trying to sell a home and want to invite home hunters inside. Potential buyers are guests and you want them to feel comfortable. You want them to look at your home from top to bottom, inside and out, and you want them to say "wow, this may be the place for me," and seriously consider making an offer. But in order to do get this far, it begins at the curb. Do prospective buyers want to come in, or more on to the next house? It's up to you.
The Perfect Home.
The ideal time to prepare your home to sell begins the day you move in. As a new homeowner, you are eager and excited and want to turn your new home into a comfortable showplace. If you make upgrades, repairs, decorate tastefully, and perform regular maintenance, when the time comes, your home should sell at the high end of those homes that are comparable with it.
Considering that many home values on the Upper Cape have more than doubled in the past five or six years, maintenance and upgrade expenditures were good investments. Much care should be taken, though, when planning home projects. Spend wisely: don't make a home too pricy for the neighborhood it's in. Decorate imaginatively with good taste: don't go wild. Remember that less is more: less clutter, less knick-knacks, less displays of personal items, and less mess will be more inviting to more potential buyers.
The Imperfect Home.
Suppose ne doesn't begin to prepare your home to sell the day you move in. Well, that's another story ranging from fairly typical to extreme.
At the extreme end are homes where no maintenance or upgrades has ever been done, inside or out. There is a need for just about everything: new kitchen, new baths, painting, roof, septic system, etc. This is what's known as a "fixer-upper" or in some cases a "teardown." If a home like this were it good condition, and comparable sales made it worth $350,000, it's present condition may only give it a sales value of $269,000, if that. There are plenty of buyers for homes like this who earn a living restoring "fixer-uppers" and selling them for a profit. Our recommendation to owners of "fixer-uppers" is to sell the house "as is" since any money spent would be wasted.
It's unfortunate that with a little effort made on a regular basis would have prevented the loss of so much money .
The More Typical Home.
On the other hand, most homes or at least half, are very busy places in neighborhoods where families are raised. When my 4 kids were young, there were always about 10 or 12 kids romping through the house and the washer/dryer were always running. It's hard to maintain a showcase with dents, spots, messes, and scratches, constantly occuring. Regular maintenance must be done, but it's hard keeping up with time in short supply between jobs, school, homework, and various activities.
At some point, the home will be turned over due to upsizing, downsizing, divorce, transfer, or any number of reasons. How then should one prepare the "more typical, over-worked" home for the market? It really comes down to "time, budget, need, and inclination." What is there time to do, what can be afforded, what are the best things to do, and what do you want to do? Should I call a decorator, a contractor, a painter? What's the best thing I can do? These can be tough questions if you have little or no exerience selling homes.
Let's Get to Work.
Grab your clipboard, put on your "objective thinking hat" and start looking at your home from top to bottom, inside and out. Make notes of how it looks, what must be done, what could be done if time and money allowed. Begin with the no or lo-cost things like removing clutter, knick-knacks, personal displays, and cleaning out the basement, closets, garage, toys, and tools around the yard. These things will have to be done it anyway, so make them first on your list.
Next list the "low cost" items like minor repairs, touching up trim, painting the front door, fixing the railings, and replacing anything rusty, worn or grungy like door mats, shower curtains, light switch plates, door knobs, and lampshades. Clean the windows. Look for peeling paint, torn or broken screens, storm windows and doors. Could you use a landscaper? How.s the roof? Are there any other more expensive things to repair, or replace. Visit "Open Houses" and "kitchen and bath" stores to see what's new and to get a feel for what today's buyers are seeing. But before doing anything else, get more information.
Who Should I Call First?
The biggest fear many people have in dealing with salespeople is being talked into something they may not want. That perhaps is why the internet has become such a tool for homebuyers whenever they want to study a particular market without ever talking with anyone. Only when comfortable and informed will they make contact with a real estate professional. Home sellers should do the same thing. Go online and learn about preparing a home to sell and what's involved in the whole process including many of the dangers involved. Visit all kinds of websites: real estate, decorators, builders & contractors. Learn what's out there. Becoming informed will develop your confidence and provide benefits.
Should I Call a Realtor?
Someone knowledgeable at your side during the whole process would be a real asset. Realtors work for the seller and have the job of marketing your home and getting the highest and best price for it, plus they only get paid when your home sells.
Since they know how to sell and prepare a home for the market, their advice carries a lot of weight. Interviewing and selecting a reputable realtor would be wise. It will ensure there's a professional to guide you through the many decisions you'll have to make during preparation, after it's listed, and through the closing. Remember though, when seeking a Realtor, the largest office in not necesarily the best one. Small, independent offices provide excellent personal service as well.
What's Your Home Worth?
The realtor you select should prepare an "Opinion of Value" which is the price range in which your home will probably sell. This is based on it's condition, comparable sales, and the current market trend.
Getting the opinion of an appraisor would also be a smart investment as would hiring a home inspector to report on the homes real condition. Knowing values and actual condition strengthens both your marketing and negotiating positions.
What Do Other Homes Cost?
If thinking of buying another home, get info about the cost and availability of homes that interest you. Visit real estate websites, attend open houses, and have your Realtor show you selected homes. What you learn may influence your decision to sell in a couple ways: it may excite you to get into a newer home or discourage you all together. Some people discover that they are better off adding on or remodelling and get many exciting ideas when seeing other homes.
Making Preparations. Okay, now you're ready to get to work. You know what you're home is worth, it's condition, it's cost to prepare, and what a new home will cost. You also have a realtor to guide you, and a clear plan of what has to be done and where you are going. For more info to help you to understand the whole home selling process from beginning to end, and for more tips on preparing your home, please click on a Step-By-Step Guide for selling your home.
Whether your thoughts of selling are in the near or distant future, please feel free to contact me for guidance, information, and a complementary "Opinion of Value." And when you are ready, I'll be happy to list and market your home. You can reach me at 508 540-9922 ext. # 13 and by email at email@example.com.
Preparing to Sell Your Home by David F. Kelley first appeared in the Falmouth Enterprise, Spring Home & Garden Edition, March 25, 2005. Copyright ©2005 by David F. Kelley, All Rights Reserved.
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