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Getting Your Home Ready to Sell
Selling a home can be a confusing and stressful process, particularly given that most home sellers will only go through the process once in their lives. A little research, however, can simplify the process, and ensure that your home sells quickly and for top dollar. The first step in selling a home is to decide whether to hire a licensed real estate agent or not. The Internet has made it much easier in recent years for homeowners to sell without an agent, though well over 90 percent of US home sales are still done through an agent. Sellers working without an agent can save money on commissions, though in many cases those savings can be offset in other ways. Selling a home involves expenses such as print ad fees, a yard sign or other expenses that most agents take care of themselves.
Selling a home by yourself is very time consuming, so many sellers lose money they might have saved by having to take time off work to meet with contractors or show their homes. In addition, agents are familiar with the home selling process and the local market; and this expertise can often help avoid costly errors in pricing your home. Overpricing a home can often lead to a listing becoming "stale," a term used to describe a real estate listing that has been on the market for too long. Many prospective buyers will assume that there's something wrong with these listings, and not even consider them. Using an appraiser before putting your home up for sale can diminish this risk, but market conditions will determine value in the end, and agents familiar with the market are usually adept at pricing homes for quick sale. In the end, most sellers opt to use an agent because the money you can save by not using one are not guaranteed; but the added stress and workload it takes to sell your own home are.
Once the decision is reached on whether to use an agent, the next step for a prospective buyer is to stop looking at the property as a "home," and begin viewing it as a "house," or a marketable commodity ready to sell. Making a home attractive to potential buyers often involves undoing many of the things that made the home comfortable for the seller in the first place. Family photographs should be removed from the home, as should any other decorations or pictures that might not appeal to others. The goal for any seller is not to showcase their own home, highlighting their own individuality and tastes; but to make their house look like it could be a home for anybody, a blank canvas to which a buyer can apply their own tastes and aesthetic style.
Perhaps the most important step for a seller to take is to get rid of clutter. Most homes not on the market typically have magazines, toys, or any number of other personal effects strewn throughout. These items, while they can lend to ambiance when entertaining guests, make a home feel less roomy, making it more difficult for potential buyers to picture their own stuff in the home. Some sellers hold garage sales before putting their home on the market to get rid of excess belongings, or donate unwanted belongings to charity; while others rent storage space to keep it all until they move into a new home. Either way, the open space created by de-cluttering is invaluable to the appeal of a home to potential buyers.
Once excess clutter is removed from a home, the next step is to decorate and repair. Any broken appliances or worn-looking fixtures should be replaced, and carpet should be replaced unless it still looks new. A fresh coat of paint can be very valuable in making a home attractive for buyers. Most experts recommend neutral color. Wallpaper should be removed, and a fresh coat of paint laid down. That's because wallpaper styles are not universally appealing. A potential buyer may not have the same tastes, or may not like wallpaper at all. All of these fixes can increase the pre-sale cost for the seller, but most agents agree that those extra costs are recovered with a higher sales price. It can cost as much as $4,000 to replace carpet in a home, for example, but a savvy buyer might expect a discount in excess of $10,000 if the existing carpet is too worn.
Once clutter is removed, and necessary repairs are made, special attention should be paid to cleaning a home meant for sale. Spots on walls, stains on carpets or even smudges on chrome fixtures can literally blow a deal. Nobody wants to move into a dirty home, and a property's cleanliness goes a long way toward convincing a buyer that a home has been well maintained. Not only does this mean cleaning visible stains and messes, but odors should be addressed. Since we don't often even notice odors in our own environments, experts recommend that sellers invite a friend over for an opinion on odors in the home. The smell of cigarette smoke is usually unnoticeable to a smoker, but can be a deal breaker to a non-smoker. Likewise, a dog-lover might have no clue that his beloved best friend has left an aroma in the house, but a potential buyer who's not an animal lover might react to the odor and walk out without even looking.
A common mistake made by many home sellers is to forget about curb appeal. Potential buyers will always take note of the outside of the house, since it is the first thing they see. Careful attention should be paid to anything that might catch the eye of potential buyers. The lawn should be carefully mowed, all trash should be picked up, and flower pots and gardens should be neatly kept. Many Realtors suggest the planting of marigolds or other yellow flowers, as psychologists say the color evokes a buying emotion in people. Pay special attention to window trim, rain gutters and other exterior features, cleaning or re-painting as necessary. While the inside of a house may be immaculate, some buyers will focus on the negatives and decide not to put in an offer if the home's exterior is poorly maintained.
After taking all these steps to prepare your home, an effort must be made to keep the home in order for as long as it takes to sell the property, with a few extra steps taken whenever potential buyers come in to look. When an agent is bringing potential buyers to view the home, family pets should be taken out of the home. Potential buyers may not like pets, and seeing them in the home may give them cause for concern. Kids should also be kept out of the way, as they can often be quite distracting to somebody shopping for a new home. When prospective buyers are in the home, televisions and radios should be turned off, and no appliances should be on. If a potential buyers is distracted when viewing a home, his memory of the home is likely to be diminished, making it less likely he'll pick it.
While selling a home can be a trying process, preparation and a little effort can simplify it and ensure a quick sale for the highest price possible. To help you along in this process, we've put together a checklist for sellers to make sure you haven't forgotten any key steps. Click Here to print a copy.
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