If you’ve owned your home for more than a few years, you have reason to rejoice – home values tanked with the economy and the time we’ve been waiting for is here: recovery. I’ve seen a lot of listing activity recently with the return of increased home values and buyer demand. Unfortunately, the anticipation doesn’t always translate into seller preparedness. Often times when I meet with investor clients or homeowners about listing a property, they haven’t yet covered their basics. When you sell your home you want the property to show well so that you can get top dollar. Here are the 5 thing to do before you list your home:
5. Repairs – the last thing you want is a mile long list of repairs from the inspector. Most of the time, buyers are going to ask for everything (big and small) to be fixed, or they’ll ask for a concession in the form of a price break. Now – before you list – is the time to take care of all the little nagging issues you know exist in and around your home. Take care of leaky faucets, replace burnt out bulbs (an inspector won’t change the bulb to demonstrate that it functions properly, that’s the homeowner’s responsibility) and consider an AC tune up if you haven’t had one in a while (buyers love a clean bill of health on AC units in sunny AZ). You get bonus points for cleaning windows and screens – inspectors may report that the seals are bad on dual pane windows if they look hazy, avoid this concern by cleaning your windows and screens.
4. Curb appeal – This isn’t necessarily the time to go Better Home & Gardens on your front yard, but you want the front yard to be appealing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be showing homes to buyers and they’ll pass up seeing the interior of a home because the yard looks awful. Make sure trees are professionally trimmed (especially during monsoon season, this could mean avoiding the headache of downed branches and trimmed trees look nicer), shape shrubs, pull weeds and regularly pick up leaves, blooms and other debris that accumulates in your yard. Sweep your front walk way, consider replacing your welcome mat and clean out dust, dirt and spider webs around your front door and front light. Attention to these details will provide a welcoming first impression for buyers.
3. Prepare the interior – Prior to listing your home, start thinning out your tchotchkes and furniture (consider getting a short term storage unit if necessary). If you have a lot of art or photographs on the walls take some down (especially if they are photos featuring your children, I recommend taking down family photos for the sake of privacy and safety). Clean marks off of walls, touch up chipped or discolored paint, wash floor and bath mats, and give your home a good cleaning. Dust, sweep, mop and vaccuum. Clear clutter from counter tops and if you’ve started packing, choose one area in which to neatly stack moving boxes. If carpets are stained or heavily worn in high-traffic areas get them professionally shampooed.
2. Get a CMA – I’ve been talking a lot about CMAs lately in my blog posts, newsletters and conversations with clients. With an active market many owners and investors want to understand for how much they may potentially list a home. A great way to determine the listing price is to request a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) from your Realtor. While some online services charge for a CMA, most Realtors offer this service at no charge. A CMA is going to take into account the age and shape of your home, nearby community amenities and points of interest, and what similar homes in the area have recently sold for. Know what your home should list for, even if you aren’t immediately planning to list your home. It’s a great idea to get a CMA at least annually in case you have an unexpected need to sell your home, like if you are asked to relocate for work for example, or if you are considering remodeling your home (you’ll see what updates and features are popular in your area and if you might be able to take out a Home Equity Line of Credit to pay for those updates).
Pro tip – ask your Realtor for a net sheet. A net sheet will demonstrate approximately how much cash you stand to walk away with in different scenarios. Your agent will look at how much you owe on the house, the approximate costs of closing fees and commissions and other expenses versus if you sold your home for the full listing amount. He or she may also be able to figure out the lowest price you could sell your home for to break even.
1. Know your plans – Sounds funny since most people sell their homes for a reason (relocating, up- or down-sizing or liquidating an investment). But, once in a while life takes us by surprise in the form of a family illness or death, or a quick sale. Talk to your agent about your plans once the home is sold. If it sells before your next home is ready, where will you stay? If it takes longer than you have, who will take care of the property if you aren’t local? If you’ll be renting for a while after you sell your property be sure to line up an agent that specializes in rental properties well in advance of the listing. Give him or her your criteria and as soon as you accept an offer get out and start looking at rentals.
These are just a few of the recommendations I make to clients who are interested in listing their homes. Are you considering selling a property? Contact me today for your complimentary CMA and walk through – I’ll let you know what you might be able to list your home for, provide you with a net sheet so that you understand what you’re likely to make on the sale of your home and give you custom recommendations on how to get your home ready to sell for the best price possible. By Joseph Maggiore, Designated Broker, Owner