If you are planning on selling your home it's probably because of a job relocation or other change of lifestyle. That means that in addition to selling your current home you are also looking to buy your next home. With two transactions looming in your future you want to do everything you can to minimize delays and headaches in selling your current home. Below are some sellers tips to help you along.
Interview a Real Estate Professional - Questions You Should Ask:
• How long have they been in the real estate business?
• How long have they worked in your area?
• How many homes have they sold in the past year?
• What is their commission?
• How will they market your house?
• Will you be working directly with them or an assistant?
• Can they give you references?
• Can they get you a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis)? This will tell you what comparable homes in your area are selling for.
• Watch out for a too optimistic selling price for your home. It's not common but some agents will tell you what you want to hear just to get you to hire them. Over-pricing your home will seriously hurt its marketability, it'll take longer to sell and after wasting time waiting for it to sell you'll probably end up dropping the price to the level (if not lower) of the other estimates.
• You will be signing a listing contract with the real estate professional you choose, find out what the length of the contract is and the terms before you sign.
Pricing Your Home
• Start with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to find out what similar homes in your area are selling for.
• Appliances and fixtures that stay with the home and those that you plan to take with you.
• The economic conditions in your area.
• The supply and demand conditions in the real estate market in your area.
• Note amenities your home has that others in your area don't.
• Evaluate the impact of your homes amenities. These could be negative, positive or neutral, a pool may be nice to have but there are maintenance and insurance issues that may concern potential buyers.
• Note amenities of your neighborhood and association fees to pay for these amenities.
• Area school rankings.
• Proximity to power lines or other utilities that may concern potential buyers.
• Any easements or right-of-ways on your property.
• The overall condition of your home and any repair or replacement issues.
Getting Your Home Ready To Sell
• Remove clutter and personal items from around the house. You want as much open space as possible, potential buyers will be making mental notes on where they'd put their belongings and if your home feels "claustrophobic" then they may feel it's too small for their needs. You remove personal items (photos, trophies, mementos, etc.) because as a potential buyer is thinking where their belongings would go you don't want them to feel as if they are displacing yours. Make your home neutral ground so that a visitor feels like they are viewing their future home and not trespassing on someone else's.
• Don't put clutter or personal belongings in drawers or closets, in fact clean out those areas as much as possible and put your stuff in storage. Visitors will be opening these areas and if they don't think there's enough room for your belongings then they won't think there's enough for theirs.
• Spend money on needed repairs but not on expensive remodeling. You won't recoup your investment and you don't want large purchases showing up on your credit cards when you go to apply for a loan on your next home.
• Does the carpeting need replacing or just professional cleaning? If it needs replacing then have inexpensive carpeting of a neutral color installed.
• Is the paint on your home (inside as well as outside) in good shape? If it's faded, peeling or an outdated color then you should put on a fresh coat of paint that blends in with other homes in your neighborhood.
• Are there pet or cigarette odors in your home? If so then have then the carpeting and furniture cleaned or use carpet and furniture powders designed to control these odors. Be careful of strong scents such as potpourris since some people are allergic and it may appear too obvious that you're trying to cover up odors.
• Make sure everything is clean, shiny and in good working order. Visitors will poke into everything; dirty wall switches, squeaky doors and stuck cabinet drawers will detract from your home's appeal.
• Keep your lawns mowed and trimmed. Lawn mowers and yard tools should be neatly stored in your garage or storage shed.
Tips When Showing Your Home
• Try to be ready for a viewing at all times, you are usually given advance notice when a buyer will be shown your house but an agent may happen to have a buyer looking at other houses in your area and drop by unexpectedly.
• When you know a buyer is coming, do a quick look around the house and make sure everything is clean and tidy.
• Take out the trash, spray air freshener, and restrain your pets so they don't frighten or interrupt your visitors.
• A vase or two of fresh flowers or a couple of nice house plants help brighten up your home but keep them of moderate size and don't have too many.
• Send children outside to play or visit a friend in the neighborhood, again you want to minimize potential distractions.
• Turn on all the lights in the house, if it's and evening visit turn on all the out side lights. By eliminating shadows you make your home warm and inviting.
• If possible, don't be home when a buyer is shown your home. You want the buyer to be comfortable when viewing your home, if you are there they buyer may feel that they are imposing on you and may rush through the visit and never get a chance to really appreciate your house.
• If you are home when an agent is showing a buyer your home, try to stay out of the way. Again, you don't want to make a buyer feel that you're looking over their shoulder as they look at your house.
• Do not volunteer information, only answer questions posed by the real estate agent. A buyer may be probing you for information that will help them find reasons to offer a lower price than you're seeking.
• Don't forget the emotion impact of your answers, if they know you're moving to a larger house because your family is growing they may feel that your home is too small for their needs as well. Don't undermine your real estate professional's negotiating position, let them do the talking.
• Most of the time you won't see your real estate professional showing your house, a big part of your agent's job is to advertise your property to as many other agents as possible so that they can bring in buyers. Talk to your agent on what you should or shouldn't say to other agents when they bring a buyer to your house.
Tax Considerations When Selling Your Home
• Do you qualify for exclusion on gains from selling your house? Generally you can exclude the first $250,000 (if single, $500,000 if married and you file tax returns jointly) of gains if you've lived in the house for more than two years.
• If you haven't lived in the house for more than two years you may qualify for a reduced exclusion if the reason you're selling is a change in your job location, health reasons or other unforeseen circumstance.
• To determine the taxable profit on the sale of your home you'll need to factor in several things.