Tips for Sellers
Getting Your Home Ready to Sell:
Inside your Home
Inside your Home
- De-personalize your home. Store away some of your family photos, collectibles and knick-knacks. Rent a storage space if needed. Don't move items to the garage, attic or basement. The object is to remove clutter and create a more open and spacious feeling for potential buyers.
- Clean out the kitchen. Remove extra appliances, pots and pans, utensils, coffee cups, etc. The new home owner is going to want to feel that his or her new kitchen will accommodate their stuff too. Clean out the "junk-drawer
- Clean out the closets. Go through your closets and either donate or store those items that you don't intend to ever use again.
- Clear out your living areas. Put that extra table or that old chair that you were supposed to get rid of when you got married into storage. Your goal is to create the feeling of openness!
- Clean out the garage, attic, basement and out buildings. Get rid of that old wood and paint you've been storing "just in case you need it".
- Plumbing fixtures should be in clean and in good working order. A potential buyer may see a leaky faucet as a sign that the home has not been well cared for. Pipes should not leak. The soil drains should also work properly and appear clean.
- Ceiling and walls always look better with a fresh coat of paint. If you have had some discoloring on your ceiling, paint it. A buyers' thoughts will soon turn from a spot on the ceiling to "it needs a new roof". If you do decide to paint, choose a wall color that will most likely be pleasing to the eyes of potential buyers, think neutral.
- Carpets and floors should appear well maintained with no excessive wear. Loose or broken tiles should be replaced. Carpets should be replaced, if needed. Again, choose a neutral color. Hardwood floors should be clean and appear well maintained.
- Windows and doors should operate properly and have all required hardware. If it sticks, un-stick it! If it is in need of paint, paint it! Agents are going to have to gain access to your home with a key, or a copy of a key, provided by you. If they can't get in, they can't show it, and their clients probably won't be making an offer on your home. Replace any broken glass. Clean the windows, if needed, and open the blinds. Let the light in!
- Odors can turn off a potential buyer. Even the cleanest home and the most pampered pooches still have an odor. A cat's box can also be an assault on the senses. Clean the carpets, if needed, move the cat's box or change the litter often, and bathe "Rex" as much as needed.
- Don't spent too much money! Don't remodel the kitchen! Don't add a bedroom! Don't finish the basement!
- Think curb appeal! Your landscaping should look healthy. The lawn should be green during the growing season and with as few weeds as possible. Shrubs should not be overgrown, especially around walkways. Water the lawn if needed. Mow the lawn before it really needs it! Re-sod or seed areas where grass may be lacking.
- Clean, pressure wash or paint the exterior of your home, if needed. Spider webs are not an "added feature".
- Repair any roof leaks and replace missing shingles.
- Clean out your gutters. Pine trees growing out of your gutters may indicate less than optimum water flow. If the water can't get through the downspout it may decide to go into the basement instead. Storm water runoff is an important issue in Georgia!
- Keep pools and spas clean and operating properly.
- Make sure your front door and entry way are clean and open. Pressure wash the sidewalk, if needed. A garden sprayer with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water with a bit of dish soap is a less effective alternative to pressure washing but may be adequate.
- When you interview Realtors your main interest will undoubtedly be in what each agent thinks he or she can get you for the sale of your home. Each agent will probably have access to the same market data but each may arrive at a different price. How is this possible? It depends on the intentions of the agent, there use of the data, and the market. Like most people, you'd probably choose the agent that comes up with the highest price. Is this the right decision? It depends! Often, when agents know they are competing for a listing they will state a list price higher than what he or she believes the home will actually sell for knowing that once they have the property listed they can then pressure the seller to lower the price to a more realistic amount. In the meantime he or she has cut the other agents out of the picture and precious time has passed.
- Whichever the case, if you start out with too high a price on your home, you may have just added to your stress level and selling a home is stressful enough. There will be a lot of "behind the scenes" action taking place that you don't know about.
- Contrary to popular opinion, the listing agent does not usually attempt to sell your home to a homebuyer. That isn't very efficient. Listing agents market and promote your home to hordes of other local agents who do work with homebuyers, dramatically increasing your personal sales force. During the first couple of weeks your home should be a flurry of activity with buyer's agents coming to preview your home so they can sell it to their clients if the price is right. If you and your agent have overpriced, fewer agents will preview your home. After all, they are Realtors, and it is their job to know local market conditions and home values. If your house is dramatically above market, why waste time? Their time is better spent previewing homes that are priced realistically.
- Later, when you drop your price, your house is "old news". You will never be able to recapture that flurry of initial activity you would have had with a realistic price. Your house could take longer to sell.
- Even if you do successfully sell at an above market price, your buyer will need a mortgage. The mortgage lender requires an appraisal. If comparable sales for the last six months and current market conditions do not support your sales price, the house won't appraise. Your deal falls apart. Of course, you can always attempt to renegotiate the price, but only if the buyer is willing to listen. Your house could go "back on the market." Once your home has sat on the market awhile, it is harder to get a good offer. Potential buyers will think you might be getting desperate, so they will make lower offers. By overpricing your home in the beginning, you could actually end up settling for a lower price than you would have normally received.
- An "Open Listing" is usually used when homeowners selling their own homes who are also willing to work with agents and pay a commission if they bring their clients, the clients submit an offer and purchase the home.
- A "One-Time Show" listing is similar to an Open Listing contract however, the client is identified in the agreement.
- An "Exclusive Right to Sell" listing designates your agent as the "listing" agent and an agreement to pay a commission to your agent and to another agent, usually representing the buyer.
- The price you set may make the difference in whether your home sells or not. Too high and it may just sit on the market. Too low and you may not get out all the equity you deserve. You'll also need to decide what items will remain with the home when sold. These items or "real property" may include, gas logs, outdoor lighting, ceiling fans, light fixtures, window treatments, pool or spa equipment, etc.
- A lockbox is a means for agents to access your home. Only persons with an electronic key may gain access to the lockbox and retrieve a key contained inside. A lockbox allows agents to show your home when they want. Courtesy calls to the agent or seller usually are made in advance. Without a lockbox your home may not get shown. An "Appointment Only" restriction usually means there is NO lockbox and that the home will be shown less often.
- Commissions are negotiable and may reflect a certain percentage of the sales price or, some companies charge a set fee for services. The agreed upon amount will be indicated in the listing agreement.
- It is in your best interest to have your home listed in the multiple listing service because it increases the number of agents that will be working to sell your home. If other agents don't see it, they probably won't think to show it to their clients!
- The listing contract will specify that your agent is acting as a "seller's agent". This means that, in the sale of your house, they are working for you and only you. However, there may be times when your listing agent has a client who wants to buy your home. For that reason, there is a little "wiggle room" in the listing contract. If your agent also represents the buyer, the listing contract should specify that they provide an additional disclosure that details their duties as a dual agent.
- The contract also provides permission for your listing agent to act as an agent for others on other transactions. They can continue to list other properties, and represent buyers looking at other homes.
- The resolution of disputes with your agent may be addressed in one of two ways, through binding arbitration or the court system. The listing agreement may specify the method to settle disputes. Consult an attorney for advise on legal matters.
- The internet has created a medium for many agents to offer "Flat-Fee" listing commissions. Usually, these types of listings are accompanied by lower levels of service. Keep in mind that in many cases, these agents get their fees or commissions up front and have little or no stake in promoting or selling your home. Be sure you are getting the level of service you need!
- Your agent's job is to bring an offer from a "ready, willing and able" buyer. If you and the buyer reach an agreement, then your agent has done their job and earned the commission. Once the sale is closed, the broker gets paid from the proceeds of the sale. If you and the buyer are unable to come to an agreement or they are unable, then your home is placed back on the market and your agent will start earning the commission all over again. However, if the seller does not proceed to closing when an offer has been presented and accepted, then your listing agent may expect a commission even if you did not actually sell your home as they have produced a "ready, willing and able" buyer. Therefore, it is very important that you consider every detail in your listing contract and when accepting an offer to buy your home.