I have collected these tips throughout my 20+ years of selling homes. They have helped many people get the most money for their house. Is it easy? NO! Is it worth it? Absolutely. I used these tips when I sold my own home and got the highest price ever in my neighborhood! It can put extra money in your pocket to spend on your new - HOME!
Once you have made the decision to sell your home it is no longer your home!
A few years ago I had a seller tell me that he was not going to quit smoking in his house because it was still his home and he wasn't going to to let potential buyers run his life. What this gentleman failed to realize was that the minute he decided to list his home - it was no longer his home! It was now a house, an investment that he was trying to sell for the highest price possible.
Don't turn off any potential buyers who come through your home! Remember, there are people who are allergic (or just don't like) cigarette smoke or pet odors. Adjust your life accordingly and realize the sacrifices you have to make are just for a short period. You have made the decision to make your home somewhere else, this house is now for sale and you want to attract buyers. If you had money invested in the stock market and your broker assured you he could increase your investment if you smoked outside and put mulch in the flower beds - you wouldn't think twice.
I'm sure you have many happy memories of time spent with your family in this home. Great! Now pack those memories with the rest of your cherished belongings and take them with you to your new home.
Neutral - get used to hearing this word. Neutral colors throughout the home will help potential buyers envision the way they want to make your house their home. If you are considering painting or getting new carpeting, pick a neutral color!
Start by gathering information on your home. The first place to look will be with the paperwork from when you bought the home. Here are a few things to have ready to help your Realtor answer possible questions:
1. The Plat. This is a drawing of your lot with the boundary lines. You paid for this when you purchased the house.
2. Appliance Manuals. Not completely necessary, but a nice feature to have for potential buyers.
3. Service Records / New Features. Provide information on when the furnace, air conditioner, fireplace, hot water heater and other components of the house were last serviced. If they are relatively new, definitely provide that information - this is a great selling feature.
4. Septic/Well Data. If you have a house with a well or a septic please provide all relative information that you have available.
HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION / CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION
If your house is located in a neighborhood that has a mandatory Homeowners Association, the Maryland Homeowners Association Act requires that you provide the buyer with all of the contact information, regulations and fees.
CONTACT YOUR ASSOCIATION AND ORDER A "RESALE PACKET"
Cost of the packet will range from $125 - $200. It will provide the buyer with all of the required information and help you avoid surprises at the settlement table. The following paragraph is from the HOA Addendum that will accompany all offers on your home:
"If the buyer has not received all of the MHAA information FIVE calendar days or more before entering into the contract, they have 5 days to cancel the Contract after receiving all of the MHAA information. The buyer must cancel the contract in writing, but they do not have to state a reason."
The EXTERIOR CURB APPEAL
It happens all the time. Working with potential buyers they will ask their Realtor for an address of a home so they can "drive by and see if they like the outside"...before making an appointment to see the interior. If they don't like the exterior some buyers won't even want to see inside! The exterior appearance, or curb appeal, makes a good first impression and it is also the last impression a buyer will take with them when they leave your house.
10. The front entrance should be clean and in good repair. Clean outside light fixtures and replace bulbs. Clean front door and stain or paint if needed
1. Keep your lawn trimmed and edged.
2. Trim the trees and shrubs away from the house. Remove all dead plants, shrubs and trees. You can't sell a house if you can't see it.
3. Rake leaves, weed and cultivate flower gardens. Add fresh mulch to flower beds and around trees.
4. Neatly put away tools, toys, garbage cans, hoses and lawn equipment. Keep cars, bikes and other items from obstructing buyer's first view as they drive up.
5. Check for broken roof shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, broken windows or shutters. Refasten any loose siding.
6. Repair fences and gates. Paint as necessary and WD40 gate hinges.
7. Remove window screens and keep windows clean while selling your home. This will allow plenty of light to come in and brighten up your home.
8. Wash down driveways, sidewalks and curb. Check for cracking or crumbling.
9. Paint exterior or touch up pealing or discolored areas. Replace any rotted or cracked trim.
Getting Your Home Ready to Sell
1. Make the rooms look as large as possible. If possible, store some of your furniture and belongings. There are a number of inexpensive short term storage facilities in the area.
2. Walls should be clean and free of smudges, fingerprints and dents. TSP works really well in removing even the toughest wall marks. It comes in powdered form and is available in all hardware and paint stores.
3. Inspect the woodwork, walls and wallpaper for problem areas. Quick-dry spackle will fill all of those small dents and picture holes. Glue down any loose wallpaper corners.
4. Consider a fresh coat of paint, using a neutral color, in the busy areas such as the hallways and kitchen. Any water stains should be treated with a good primer ("Kilz" is the best stain blocker) and repainted. Source of stain should be 100% corrected!
5. Wash windows and sills. Remove the screens - this will let more light in and give the room a larger appearance! Curtains and drapes should be freshly laundered. Be careful with window treatments - no dark or heavy drapes.
6. Have the carpets professionally cleaned, especially in high traffic areas. Replace any worn or loud-colored carpeting with a neutral color.
7. Hardwood is good! Many buyers love hardwood floors, but they should be in good condition. "Wood Preen" will clean and protect your floors and is available at your local hardware store. If the floors are really worn, consider having them professionally refinished.
8. Repair/replace loose doorknobs, cabinet knobs and drawer handles. Fix sticking doors and windows. Tighten that loose stir banister.
9. Light fixtures should be in good repair. Replace discolored or cracked switch plates. Take old or dusty light bulbs out and replace with new, brighter bulbs - this is a quick, inexpensive way to make your home look brighter.
10. Fix leaky faucets and running toilets. Eliminate mildew and water discoloration in sinks, showers and bathtubs. I have found "X-14" to be the best shower cleaner for removing the worst stains. Caulk and grout problem areas.
11. Bedrooms should be neat with beds made and clothes put in their proper space.
12. The house must be appealing to the masses! Remove wild or provocative posters on teenager's walls. Mirrored ceilings, political affiliations and exotic pets may also turn off potential buyers.
13. Clean and organize the basement. Potential buyers WILL look at your furnace and hot water heater! Change the air filters and use windex or a damp rage to wipe off the furnace and water heater.
14. Straighten and wash down garage. Eliminate clutter! Park your cars in the garage.
If you don't use it - lose it. Pack it, store it, sell it or give it away. An empty closet is a big closet. Seasonal items should be packed and stored (you're moving anyway - just pack it early). Closet space and storage areas are a nice feature in any home.
Dogs and cats are best if taken out of the house when it is being shown. When potential buyers are expected hide the litter box and water bowls. Use room air fresheners to eliminate any possible pet odors. Snakes, mice, reptiles....have a relative or friend take exotic pets while you have your house on the market. They may be the most docile animals - but they scare some people and they will leave your house.
THE FIRST IMPRESSION:
Make sure the entrance area and foyer are clean and uncluttered. Use a new doormat and potted flowers. Keep clear, wide pathways open from room-to-room. Potential buyers should not have to stepover or avoid any obstacles.
PREPARING Your KITCHEN
1. DON'T LEAVE KEYS OUT IN THE OPEN. Find a safe place to put your keys every time you enter the house.
2. Walls should be clean and free of smudges, fingerprints and dents. Consider a fresh coat of paint if a good washing doesn't do the trick. Inspect woodwork, wallpaper and tiles for problem areas.
3. Replace broken appliances. Repair squeaks, dripping faucets and "sticking" cabinet doors and drawers.
4. Clean all appliances inside , outside, top and bottom. DO NOT use the outside of your refrigerator as a bulletin board! Clear the front and sides of the refrigerator of calendars, pictures, notes, magnets and children's art work. REMEMBER...this is no longer your home.
5. Create counter space by storing all appliances that you don't use on a regular basis. Put all cleaners, sponges, rags and liquid soap in the proper place.
6. Clear all magazines, newspapers and excess mail from the kitchen area.
7. Wipe down countertops. The sink should be clear of dishes and clean. Keep the table free of miscellaneous item. Find a space for every item on your 'catch-all-counter'.
8. Clean the floors. Wax and polish if necessary.
9. Keep trash can empty and out of sight. If you have a pet, keep food and water bowls stored away when potential buyers are expected.
10. A floral centerpiece on a clean table is the perfect final touch!
1. Repair loose tiles and grout if necessary. Put new caulking in tubs and showers as needed. Remove old mildew stains.
2. Store all hair dryers, deodorants, toothpaste and other toiletries out of sight.
3. Keep bathroom free of newspapers, magazines and other reading material.
4. A new brightly colored shower curtain will liven up the bathroom!
5. Keep towels neatly folded and hung.
6. Floor should be vacuumed and mopped. Keep throw rugs and bath mats clean.
7. Vanity tops and back of toilet should be clear of miscellaneous items.
8. SCRUB DOWN! Sink, shower, toilet should be sparkling clean!
Clean out those closets! An empty closet is a big closet. Store what you don't use...you're moving anyway so pack it now! Use a basement storage area or select ONE closet in your house to store items, this will enhance the appearance of all of the other closets in your home. Be sure clothes are hung neatly and shoes and other objects tidily arranged.
GET READY FOR BUYERS!
Open the drapes and shades.
Turn on the lights to make your house look bright and cheerful.
Tidy up each room.
Pick up toys, shoes and other items that may be scattered about.
Keep dishes out of sight.
Be sure beds are made and clothes are put away in closets and drawers.
The kitchen and bathrooms should sparkle.
Keep pets out of the way.
Make sure that pet areas are clean and odor free.
Turn off your television!
Soft music can be appealing, but keep it low.
Secure jewelry, cash and other valuables.
Trust the Sales Associate to show your house to its best advantage!
Potential buyers may talk more freely and feel more at home if you are not there.
If people ask to see your home who are not represented by a broker
please refer them to me. I will pre-qualify prospective buyers and
screen all inquiries for you convenience and peace of mind.
Please notify me if you plan to leave town.
Leave a number where you can be reached in case an offer is presented.
IT IS TIME TO REALLY PAY ATTENTION AND READ THE FOLLOWING:
Professional, licensed Realtors will be showing your home to potential buyers. As Realtors we take every precaution to keep your home and your belongings safe while we are in your home with clients. Please be aware that potential buyers will be entering every room in your house, looking in closets, attics and basements.
1. Do not leave wallets, purses or car keys on countertops or hanging in a obvious places in your home.
2. Valuable jewelry should be placed in a safety deposit box or stored safely at a relatives home.
3. Bank receipts, bills and any document with your personal information should be filed away. NEVER leave this information on countertops or on your desk.
The Listing Realtor works for you. Most Realtors who show your home will be working on behalf of the buyer. Avoid sharing personal information with potentail buyers and their agents. If questions arise that you are uncomfortable with, refer them to your listing Realtor.
HOW TO AVOID SURPRISES AT SETTLEMENT
1. Call your present mortgage company and get an accurate balance on your loan. Ask if the loan is assumable and verify the interest rate you are paying.
2. If there are any other mortgages or liens against the property, also call for an accurate balance as all liens will have to be satisfied at settlement.
3. If your current loan is an FHA mortgage, send a brief certified letter to the lender. Just say that the property is listed for sale and to consider your letter as at least 30-days notice that the loan will be paid off. This is important. WITHOUT THE REQUIRED NOTICE, FHA COULD CHARGE YOU AN EXTRA MONTH OF INTEREST AT SETTLEMENT. (Suggested wording: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: We, the undersigned mortgagors of the above-referenced property, are currently marketing our house for sale. Please consider this letter as required minimum thirty (30) days notice that the existing mortgage is to be paid.)
4. If your property is part of a mandatory homeowner's association, immediately contact your association office to obtain the required disclosures that must by law, be given to a purchaser. There may be a charge for these disclosures, but DO NOT DELAY. There is a recision period that starts from the time these documents are actually given to a purchaser. To best protect your interests, your agent should have these on file as soon as possible.
WHILE YOU WAIT FOR THAT FIRST OFFER...
READ A COPY OF THE CONTRACT!