If this is the first time you’ve sold a home, friends and relatives might offer plenty of advice. A friend may give you a blueberry muffin-scented candle so potential buyers may be swayed by its homey smell. You will probably hear many opinions regarding the best times of year to sell, and you’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know about “curb appeal.” You might hear a few things about real estate commissions and then wonder if you would come out ahead by selling it yourself.
Home Selling Advice 1: STOP
All well-meaning advice about selling your house is about as useful as all well-meaning advice about parenting your child. Each house is different, and there is no “one size fits all” formula for a successful sale. The best advice reported recently was from a son to his single mother. He advised her to call a realtor he had worked with on three home sales and told her to “do everything Rick tells you to.” Rick advised $6,000 worth of painting, minor repairs, and a yard clean up. He sold her house for $30,000 more than what it was worth before the work was done. His fee was $11,000. Add the $6,000 in home improvements, and she was $13,000 ahead, plus the house sold in two days for the asking price with no effort on her part.
Home Selling Advice 2: Hire a good realtor
Hiring a realtor almost always results in a faster sale for a higher price. The realtor’s job is to price the home based on a comprehensive market analysis so that your asking price is not so high it turns off potential buyers and not so low that you are leaving money on the table. If you have a home improvement budget, your realtor will tell you which items will most increase the value of your home. A good realtor will communicate more than offers. She will update you after every showing to inform you what the prospective buyers like and dislike about your property. She may suggest some adjustments such as “fix that squeaky door.”
A good realtor qualifies potential buyers so you do not begin negotiations with people who cannot afford your property and do not qualify for a mortgage. She will advocate for the best possible terms for your house sale. If the buyer will pay $10,000 more for your home if you install a new $5,000 appliance, this is information you need to have. Everything in real estate contracts is negotiable.
After a sale price is agreed upon, your realtor will represent you at the home inspection, attend the home appraisal, and finalize loose ends for the closing. Loose ends can include things you did not think of such as leaving the home with a functioning fire and smoke detector, final utility meter readings, and other items that may be in the fine print of the contract or in a little-known local law. During the closing, she will be at your side to be sure your interests are protected and to answer last minute questions and concerns.
Home Selling Advice 3: Make your home attractive to buyers
Time.com advises that the most important route to a fast sale is the right asking price. Then, make your home sparkle and shine. Make sure the front yard is tidy and attractive. A few large, potted plants can go a long way. Powerwash the sidewalks, driveway, and exterior. Clean the gutters.
Inside, make sure everything is thoroughly clean and there is no clutter, not even in the closets. This brings the greatest returns. Eliminate pet and smoking odors. If you repaint any walls or carpeting, use neutral colors. Replace dated fixtures and make sure indoor lighting is good. Remove window screens so the prospective buyer can have a clear view of the outdoors, but make sure the shopper knows screens for every window are neatly stacked in the basement or garage. Do not forget to make the hidden furnace and hot water heater shine. Buyers look at these, and a dirty, rusty appliance may suggest other hidden places are equally ill-kept. Change the furnace filter and write a recent date on it.
Home Selling Advice 4: Curb appeal matters
Much has been written and televised about curb appeal, and it is important. If the outside is messy, potential buyers will assume the inside is not worth investigating. Better Homes and Gardens suggests one-day projects that will enhance curb appeal without breaking the bank or your back:
- The front door is your “welcome home” symbol. If it needs repainting, paint it or hang a new one;
- Replace old hardware such as locks, house numbers, mailbox, and overhead lights. Brushed nickel is a good choice for contemporary homes while oiled-bronze is a better selection for traditional homes;
- Install low-voltage outdoor lighting to light trees, a house feature, or illuminate a walking path. Solar fixtures do not require wiring;
- Buy or create a container garden with flowers in bloom. Garden centers sell ready-made containers or you can create your own.
If you are buying another home, begin research at any time, but do not select your dream home until you have sold your house. Avoid the disappointment of seeing your perfect home sold before you are in a position to make an offer. One of life’s greatest thrills is to sell your house for a good price and move into your new one.
Which inexpensive “fix” will make your home more marketable?