You have evaluated your situation, finances, lifestyle, family, work and have decided to sell your home. Whatever your reason is, it’s time to move on. With the advent of the pandemic, working from home has become the norm and companies are realizing the cost savings of eliminating or downsizing their offices. You now have the opportunity to expand your horizons and move just about anywhere you what to go. The home buying season is expected to start earlier this year due to the low interest rates. We all know nothing lasts forever. So I have listed below some points of interest to help you out with the home buying process.
1) Hire a home inspector
Years ago when I first started my home inspection business, my clients (buyers) wanted to know the condition of the house they were buying. They wanted to be educated as to what to expect. But that has changed. Not only do they want to know the condition of the house, they now want to negotiate for credits (money) due to the deficiencies the home inspection found. But by you (seller) hiring a home inspector to do a pre-inspection of your home, you will find yourself in a better advantage before entering into negotiations.
You will be able to fix the issues found by the home inspector. Repaired by a contractor of your choice using the materials you pick, and most of all at a price that fits your budget. When issues are presented at the time of negotiations, you’re placed in the position of stress and anxiety. You only have an allotted amount of time to do repairs which can cost you thousands more or lose the deal completely.
2) Make as many repairs to your house
Your home inspector should give you a two part report. A summary report and a detail report. The summary report should have all the issues found and the detail report will provide a detailed list of everything inspected (walls, ceiling, floors, doors, windows etc.) in the house. Now you can start doing repairs yourself or hire someone.
Over the years I have met thousands of realtors and buyers. If you have a high end house most buyers are looking for walk in condition. Meaning they don’t want to put any work into the house. But then there are those who want to completely renovate everything. They even bring their own architect with them. But on the other hand, the average home buyer I have worked for will take the house as it is. And then there are those who tell me don’t bother inspecting the kitchen or bathroom. We’re going to rip them out anyway.
You can take the advice of others. Upgrade the kitchen, bathroom, designate a room as an office. But this is 2021, a seller’s market. There are more home buyers than inventory on the market due to the low interest rates. By all means I am not saying do nothing. The problem doing nothing is you may not get as much money as you can. But to make money you have to spend money. Is it worst it for you in this market.
Curb appeal has always been a good selling point. Curb appeal is exactly what it means. When you pull up in front of the house what do you see. Nice mowed lawn, trimmed trees and new flowers. Clean up all debris around the house. This is the first impression the buyer will get of your home.
Brighten up your house. Clean and paint the inside. Dirt turns people off. Replace any burnt out bulbs. Clean window hardware so the windows open easily. A good home inspector will put these little issues in their report which will make the summary (error) report bigger.
3) Declutter the house
Decluttering your home is something I believe in. A home inspector struggling to open a window or test an electrical outlet always catches the buyer’s attention. Take as much as you can, box it up and store it in the attic. Buyers should never be allowed to enter an attic with a home inspector (liability). Storage units are another option. Remove as much as you can. Give it a Spartan look (simple). This will allow the buyer to image the house with their belongings in it. You have now started your moving process.
4) Find a real estate agent
I have met thousands of realtors and finding a good realtor, putting your interests first, will be a challenge. Here are some questions to consider asking any potential candidate:
· Have you ever had a complaint filed against you?
· How much do you charge?
· Take care when offered services beyond negotiations and escrow? If you need other services find them yourself. Oil tank co., water testing, septic, electrical, contractor, roofer, home inspector, etc. The problem here, these services may be pleasing the realtor for more referral work, leaving your interests second.
You and your agent should be on the same page at all times and a plan of action will help ensure that. You should have a plan of action for how to sell your house including a timeline, pricing the house according to the area and similar houses. Getting it listed on MLS to open house showings.
5) What’s your house worth
Your realtor should be able to accommodate you here. They should know what same homes in the same area around the same time went for. You yourself can always use online tools like Zillow.com and compare this with what your realtor has. Also a home appraiser can be used. They will look at the exterior, interior, upgrades, size of rooms, property size etc. then calculate your homes worth based on the local current market. Remember this is a sellers’ market but market conditions change all the time and so does the buyers behavior.
6) Make your home ready to sell
All this you can do yourself. But if you feel for whatever reason you can’t, you can always hire a professional home stager. In person or virtually. Below is a list of things to consider making the buyer feel welcome;
- Clean up the clutter on countertops and tables. Everyone’s, yours and the children.
- Clean the house. Kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms etc. anything glass. Windows, shower doors and the trim.
- White is always a turn on for accents such as flowers or towels.
- Limit the number of furniture pieces in any one room. Then re-arrange them so as to invite the into entering the room
- Bring that light in. Remember it’s all about making the house welcome to the buyer. Pull up the blinds and open those curtains. Remember if the home inspector is having a hard time accessing the windows, the buyer is watching.
- When the buyer enters the house for the first time, the first thing that is observed are the floors. This is because they are entering an unknown and by looking down will familiarize them to the new environment. It you have wood floors make them pop. If you have rugs have them cleaned as if they were new.
- Tidy things up. Closets, kitchen cabinets and drawers. This way they can imagine there belongs occupying these areas. Especially clean up the sink cabinet. Again you don’t want the home inspector digging through stuff. Some inspectors will not dig. They will state in report could not inspect.
- And clean those hard to get at areas like ceiling fans, baseboards, appliances, etc.
7) Advertise your house with professional photos
These days the internet is used for just about everything. This is especially true for buying and selling a house. A perfect example of this is Zillow.com. The first picture you see is the front of the house (curb appeal). First impressions are important. Then you tour the individual rooms, bathrooms, kitchens etc.
A 3D walkthrough where you point and click through a home from your computer are very popular. Buyers who don’t have easy access or may be from out of town may even make an offer.
Aerial photography (drone’s) that shows a bird’s eye view of the house and its surrounding area is increasingly popular with buyers looking online.
8) Price the house to sell
Don’t let your emotions get involved here. You put a new roof on the house ten years ago. You installed a new furnace at the same time. This does not mean you have a new roof or furnace. Your realtor will list the house on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), so it will show up on real estate websites. Market your house yourself. Tell your family and friends. I sold my last house to my neighbor’s daughter. Use social media. For a minimal amount of money you can sell your house with an Ad which will be displayed in the surrounding areas. How many buyers love the area they live in and don’t want to upheave their children into new schools, just need more room?
9) The house doesn’t sell as fast as you expect
This is a situation no one likes. Your real-estate agent has gone through their bag of tricks and nothing. I hate to say it but the obvious has come. Lowing the price of your home or have more open house.
Many factors are at play and depending on the condition of the housing market for your area
10) Negotiation time, it’s all about money
At this time you and the buyer are both doing the same thing. The buyer wants the absolute best price, while you’re doing exactly the same. There will be multiple factors to consider, as each home sold and purchased is different. For example, if it’s a sellers’ market, that means the seller. Don’t get greedy here. A buyer may be maxed out with their finances or waiting too long for counter offers, can give the buyer additional time to locate another.
This is where your agent should be able to assist. They will help you navigate the negotiation process, and will give you their advice on how to proceed when offers are being made.
11) Sign and close
It’s just about done the price has been agreed upon. All inspections and appraisals of your home have been completed, and you are now ready to sign the papers. At this writing, Covid-19 is still with us. Some states are now allowing completely electronic closings, called eClosings.