So you’ve prepped your home cosmetically for sale in every imaginable way – fresh paint, a deep cleaning, new landscaping, decluttered closets and even organized the garage! Your house looks better then it ever has and you are ready to hit the market! Before you proceed with the “For Sale” sign in the ground, there are several key pieces of information that you should consider gathering that today’s savvy buyers are going to want to know.
Do you have a copy of a current survey on your home? Have this document available and provide to your listing agent so they can include in the information about your home. Buyers want to know about property lines, easements, conservation buffers, if there is room for a pool, if the property line extends to the water behind your home, etc. Having a survey to provide upfront will help to eliminate these types of concerns vs. waiting until a property is under contract.
If you’ve made any changes that would affect your property such as adding a pool or fence since you took ownership and are not shown on your current survey, it’s important to advise the buyer. A new survey will usually need to be ordered prior to closing in this scenario. If you don’t have one from when you purchased the home, try contacting the title company or attorney’s office that handled the closing of the property. Depending on how long ago that was, they may be able to retrieve from their archives.
2. Floorplan or Appraisal Sketch
Buyers often need to know room dimensions as it helps with determining furniture placement and to ensure how what they have will fit (or have to be reconfigured) in the new space. As any real estate agent can attest, many hours have been spent measuring spaces while looking at a home and comparing that against the existing buyer’s furniture dimensions. I’ve encountered entire home searches that revolved around a great room accommodating an entertainment center and the garage size so a motorcycle could fit in addition to the cars!
An appraisal is helpful as it can confirm the exact square footage of a home vs. relying on tax records which may not be accurate. We’ve all heard stories where the appraisal showed the actual square footage that was smaller than what was initially represented in a listing sheet. Having an appraisal will help to ensure that does not happen. You should have received a copy of the appraisal if you obtained a mortgage loan from your lender or if you refinanced. If you don’t have either, consider having a floorplan drawn up or home measured by an appraiser when prepping your home for sale. Your agent can assist with resources to this effect.
3. Utility Bills
Buyers want to get an idea of what they can expect the heating and cooling bills to be in a home. Review your bills over the last one to two years to get an average in the various seasons, or call your local utility provider as they can often provide you with information on the high, average and low costs. This information can be very beneficial when a buyer sits down to number crunch their total costs of owning a home. If you had an unusually high or low bill, provide some explanation to accompany the numbers.
4. Termite Bond
In many markets where termites are alive and well, it is common place for homes to have some sort of protection plan in place which is also known as a bond. In Florida, where I live and work, this is a primary concern and often one of the first questions buyers and their agents want to know. Prior to listing your home, obtain a copy of your termite bond policy from the provider, know exactly what type of bond you have – repair or treatment bond and up to what dollar amount of coverage is it good for. Also know how long the bond is in effect, when it is up for renewal and what the renewal fee is, if there is a transfer fee and what does it provide protection for – not all bonds provide protection against all different types of termites.
5. Pest Control
If you maintain any type of pest control on your property, compile information as to who the provider is, what you have done, how much you pay and how often does the company come out to treat the property. A copy of your service agreement is helpful in this instance.
Buyers especially want to know who a seller uses for their homeowners insurance and how much they pay. This is particularly the case in higher risk areas (where there are hurricanes, floods, fires, etc.) With homeowners insurance potentially more difficult to obtain in some areas, going through the existing seller’s insurance company can help streamline the process, particularly on an older home.
7. Product Manuals and Warranty Documents
Now is the time to gather the various product manuals for all items that will be staying in the home such as appliances, water heater, heating and cooling system, ceiling fans, pool equipment, etc. If your home came with any warranties, be sure to include these for the new owner as well. Putting all of these in one large envelope makes it easy for everything to be readily accessible in one place for the new buyer.
8. Service Providers
Compile a list of all service providers/vendors and their contact information who you have used on your home – lawn service, pool service, A/C company, etc. While a new buyer may or may not choose to use these services, they will certainly appreciate having resources available to them and may elect to initially use them as they make the transition to living in your home.
9. Covenants and Restrictions, Neighborhood Rules and Information
This is key critical information for a new owner to have on hand. A contract may likely hinge on the buyer’s review of this information, so easiest to have it available ahead of time. If you don’t have these, contact your neighborhood’s association president or management company for assistance in obtaining a copy. Many of these documents are matters of public record and are available by going online to the appropriate municipality’s website.
Work with your agent to create an informational package or binder that you can provide to prospective purchasers that come through the home with the information mentioned above. Gathering this information before you put your home on the market will save time and make the process that more efficient once you find a buyer. It may even help your home to sell faster as all of this information is available upfront, eliminating the need for guesswork and waiting on answers while another property could possibly come on the market to grab the buyer’s attention. You want to help keep the buyer focused on your home, so make it easy for them to buy by giving them what they want. Happy selling! You can read more home seller tips here.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog
Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals weigh in on what you need to know when navigating the real estate process.
If you plan on selling your home next year and want to get the highest price possible, you should put it on the market at the beginning of the spring selling season. There tends to be less competition at that time, so homes listed in early spring will typically sell faster and closer to their list price than those listed later in the year.
You’re probably thinking that spring is many months away, and you have plenty of time to get your house ready to sell. But spring comes early in real estate and home sales start heating up in February, right after the Super Bowl.
So, really, you have only about three and a half months to get ready.
Most people drastically underestimate the amount of work involved in preparing a home for sale. Don’t be one of them.
Home Sale Prep List
Here’s a list of things you can do NOW, to make sure your home puts its best foot forward when the spring market rolls around.
- If the leaves are still on the trees, take photos of the exterior of your house now. Your house will look so much better than it will in January or February when the photographer shows up to take listing photos. One caveat: make sure there are no Halloween or other seasonal decorations in your photos.
- Make a schedule. Set February 1 as your go-to-market date and work backwards from there, listing all of the things that will need to be done to get your home ready for sale. Then put them on your calendar and start knocking them out.
- Have a pre-listing inspection done on your house. This is the same kind of inspection that your buyers will have done once their offer is accepted. It will cost you between $400 and $600 but it is well worth it. It will identify everything that needs fixing, and then you can take the time to get multiple bids and schedule the work.You will be shocked at how long the inspector’s list of needed repairs is, but it’s better to find out about them in advance and get them taken care of than to have your buyers hold your home sale hostage over the inspection credits they want.
- Have your real estate agent or home stager walk through the house with you and point out low cost updates or changes that you can make to maximize your home’s appeal. This could include rearranging or editing the furniture, applying a fresh coat of paint, removing wall-to-wall carpeting, or updating cabinet hardware or light fixtures.
- Get rid of the clutter! Undoubtedly you will have lots of stuff that needs to be packed away, donated, or disposed of, and dealing with it can be very time-consuming. Plan to tackle one room (and its closet) each weekend. Sort everything into four piles: give away, throw away, sell, and keep. Be ruthless. If you have trouble letting go of things or you find it all too overwhelming, line up an organizer to help you.
If you have been keeping china, glassware, or furniture to pass on to your adult children, ask them if they even want it. Chances are they don’t, so now is the time to sell it or donate it.
Selling your home is a big undertaking. Doing these five things now will get you well on your way to a successful home sale and help you maintain your sanity in the process.
You listed your home for sale, but the home isn’t selling! Learn the simple things you can do to sell your home faster with Coldwell Banker real estate agents.
You listed your home for sale with high hopes. You love your property and you felt certain that it would sell in a reasonable amount of time. But it’s been several months since you listed your home.
You’ve had some interests and several showings. You’ve received a few lowball offers. Maybe you’ve even experienced the emotional turmoil of watching a contract fall apart. Regardless of the details, one fact is clear: your property is very much still for sale.
What went wrong? What can you do? Here are 8 effective tips to facilitate a faster sale.
If your house has been on the market for six weeks or more without so much as a nibble of interest, it’s time to take a hard look at what might be putting buyers off.
If buyers can’t imagine themselves living in a home, they’ll be reluctant to make an offer.
To make your home appealing, pack away all of your family pictures, child artwork, and mementos. Paint your walls a neutral color like beige, cream or white. Pack away any polarizing or controversial pieces of artwork or decor. Depersonalize and try to make your home look like a model home.
Buyers like to see clean, wide-open living spaces. If you have physical or visual clutter in the room, you’re sending a message to the buyer that you don’t have enough storage space.
Don’t send that message. Instead, get those moving boxes and start packing. You may not have a contract yet, but if you minimize your possessions and declutter the space, you’ll make the rooms look larger and create the impression of having tons of storage space.
Remove Evidence of Pets
We love our four-legged friends, but their food and water dishes, crates, and even just hair on the carpet can be a big turn-off to buyers who don’t like animals.
If you know that someone is coming to look at your home, put the food dishes away, store the crate in the garage or outside, and make sure to remove all signs of pet fur and dander.
Freshen Up the Space
Don’t let buyers turn up their nose at your home. Smell is the first thing potential buyers notice when they walk into a house.
Clean your home to get rid of any dusty or musty smells. If the weather is nice, open the windows to let your home air out. Install all-natural room fresheners or light scented candles in discreet places like the bathroom closet, laundry room, and garage. Choose a neutral and natural scent, like vanilla, rather than a pungent floral scent.
You could also consider investing an essential oil diffuser to leave running during home showings. Sage, lemon, lavender, and cinnamon are all subtle, relaxing, and inviting scents that help brighten your living space.
Work on Curb Appeal
Some buyers won’t even step into your home if they don’t think the property has curb appeal. Clean the windows and make sure that there are no visible cobwebs. Mow your yard and trim the edges, prune the bushes, plant fresh flowers, and spruce up your shutters by giving them a fresh coat of paint. You may even want to install a new mailbox and outdoor light fixtures.
Consider an Affordable Mini-Renovation
Not everyone likes a fixer-upper. Stained carpets and less than appealing paint colors may look like dollars needed for (and the hassle of) renovation in the buyer’s eyes.
Small renovations may lead to big payoff. Consider painting the walls a neutral color, installing a smart thermostat, replacing hardware and fixtures and other fairly inexpensive changes that will take away the label of a fixer-upper.
Stage Like an Expert
You’ve depersonalized, decluttered, renovated, and worked on curb appeal. Now it’s time to stage your home like a pro.
Place brand new, neatly folded towels and candles in the bathroom. Place a decorative bowl filled with bright red or green apples, lemons, or limes in the kitchen. Fill a clear glass cookie jar with fresh cookies on the kitchen counter.
Ask Your Agent About Pricing
If your home isn’t selling after you’ve done everything above, it’s time to talk to your real estate agent about adjusting the price.
This is where your agent’s knowledge of your market and the amenities of your home come into play. If your home is priced competitively, buyers will feel like they’re getting a great deal. A $5,000-$10,000 reduction may be all it takes to motivate the right buyer.
Make Your Home More Accessible
Make your home available for showings. If you limit your home to pre-scheduled viewings, you’re definitely not going to be able to sell as quickly. If you’re flexible with when you allow buyers to come see your property, you’ll have a better chance of getting more foot traffic and more potential buyers into your home.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Mattter Blog
Right now we are in a Seller’s Market here in Solano County. Oftentimes that means multiple offers over list price. It can be a frustrating and exhausting process. Read on for strategic tips!
It’s possible to win a bidding war without paying a cent more than you budgeted for.
Know what you can really afford
As far as emotional purchases go, buying a home ranks right up there with choosing a wedding dress — only the financial stakes are much higher. Unless you know ahead of time exactly how much house you can afford, you could easily be sucked into spending too much. Your lender or financial adviser can help you determine that number. Then it’s time to play ball.
“Submit your best and final offer early,” says Skyler Irvine, senior partner at Myriad Real Estate Group in Phoenix, AZ. “If $1,000 keeps you from pulling into the driveway of your dream home just because you wanted to play hardball, then you might regret this more than you can imagine.” But the flip side is also true. “If you get outbid because someone offered more than you were comfortable with spending, then you didn’t lose anything and made a smart financial decision.”
Here’s a real-life strategy from a client of Naples, FL, agent Gordon Campbell on how to submit the best offer in a “best and final” situation without going too high: “They simply added a clause stating that they would pay $1,000 more than the next ‘best and final’ capped at the original price as seen in the MLS.” The outcome? “They got the property for slightly more than the other bidder.”
Talk with the listing agent
You can put in an offer, but unless your agent makes the effort to speak with the listing agent, your offer, in a multiple offer scenario, will probably not stand out. Gary Hughes, a Virginia real estate agent, recently received 13 offers for a property he listed. “Twelve were just emailed, and the buyers’ agents did not speak to me,” he says. But one agent called and had the lender follow up. “The lender and the buyer’s agent were able to address a concern in a way that assured me it would get to settlement. It wasn’t the highest offer, but it was close. Those conversations made all the difference.”
Propose a shorter closing
It’s always beneficial to find the seller’s motivation for selling (if you can). Let’s say they just accepted a new job in another part of the country. This seller is probably highly motivated to sell quickly. “If you can close the deal in two or three weeks, you may win over the higher offer that comes with a six-week closing period,” says Eric Bowlin, a real estate investor.
But just how do you go about closing faster? Here’s one way: “Tighten up your inspection time frame so sellers know that they can get through to a closing date quicker,” says William Golightly, a Florida agent.
Buyers can also be preapproved, or even better, get a conditional approval, from their lender. Going through the mortgage process first allows you to close just as fast as all-cash buyers do.
Rent the house back to the sellers
Some sellers aren’t interested in a short closing at all. In fact, the opposite could be true. Sellers who don’t have to sell quickly but who are just making a change, such as downsizing or upsizing, might want a long closing or some sort of flexible deal to give them time to find their new home. “Being able to rent back the property to the seller for a few months while they solidify their next purchase can go a long way into not needing to overbid on the property,” says Aaron Norris, a California real estate investor with The Norris Group.
Submit an as is offer
The fewer conditions you put on negotiating the house price, the more attractive you look to sellers. Consider offering to buy the house as-is. Miami Beach, FL, agent Jill Hertzberg says, “You can opt out of conducting inspections.” But since this is an extremely risky proposition, Hertzberg suggests instead of waiving the inspection altogether, decrease the inspection period to two days maximum. Lilia Biberman, a Boca Raton, FL, agent says to only waive the inspection “if you have a firm grasp of all the possible defects a property may possess and the costs associated with remedying those defects.” Also, if you’ll be paying in cash, you don’t need a financing contingency, which protects buyers who don’t secure financing in time.
Source: Trulia Blog