Nobody makes a decision to sell their home overnight. Getting your best price, with the least amount of stress, takes time and some effort. Here are five steps to follow as you decide to put your home on the market.
1. LEARN YOUR HOME’S MARKET VALUE: Most homeowners have a good idea of their home’s value. They get fliers left on their doors, look at nearby homes for sale online, or even go to open houses. Maybe they recently refinanced and saw the appraisal. But when it actually comes time to sell, you need a firm idea of your home’s “market” value. Market value is what a buyer is willing to pay to purchase your home. Having a local agent look at your home is the first step toward getting a good idea as to your home’s value. Your local agent will put together what is called a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). After meeting with you and touring your home, the agent will get back to you with information about the market, recent comparable sales and an educated opinion of your home’s value.
2. ASSESS YOUR HOME’S PHYSICAL CONDITION: When you look to sell, you should start thinking like a seller. You want to see your home as a ‘product’ and its potential for sale on the open market. If you look at it this way, you will understand that the deep orange living room paint or the cluttered office (which doubles as a guest room), may not entice potential buyers. Most homes have some work to do to be able to be sold. A good agent, along with a CMA, will give you ideas for home improvements to consider. This could be as easy as moving things into storage or as major as a full paint job or kitchen and bathroom renovations.
Additionally, you need to know your home’s overall condition. A property inspection could be an excellent investment. If you discover you need a new roof or that the furnace is about to expire, you’ll have time to address it before a buyer catches it. Ultimately, this can save you time and money. Knowing what your home needs will help you move towards a successful sale.
3. START WATCHING THE COMPS: Armed with the knowledge about your home’s market value and what you would need to make it “market ready,” you should start watching the comps, going to open houses and fully engaging with the local real estate market. The more homes you see, either in person or via your agent (who should be keeping you in the loop), the better you’ll understand what it will take to get your home sold. Pay attention to how homes that go before yours fare on the market. Get a sense for what the highest and best price would be for your home in your neighborhood.
4. DO YOUR HOMEWORK – WORK WITH YOUR AGENT: After speaking to a local agent, you may have any number of things to do before you can list your home. Start speaking to painters, general ‘fix-it’ contractors, landscapers, and stagers. Ask your agent for referrals. Get bids for what would need to be done. Start understanding how much work you’re willing to do, what needs to be fixed and how much you want to spend. Working with your agent, prioritize the work and get things lined up.
Sellers need to stay one step ahead of buyers. Google your address, check your home’s records with the building department, check your title report and find out as much as a buyer would if they were about to make an offer on your home. Things come up, and it’s better to find and fix them now — before you get into contract with the buyer.
5. SET A DEADLINE AND GET TO WORK: You and your agent should pick a date to get the property officially “listed” and then work back from there to plan the work. Your home should be “open house ready” for the photo shoot. Listing photos are people’s first impression of your home. While curb appeal still matters, photos are the single most important part. Plan to get all your work done before the photo shoot. Once the home is on the market, the home is out there, and it should put its best foot forward for all the buyers to see.
No two homeowners or sellers are alike. The process is filled with bumps along the way, and red flags can appear out of nowhere. Engaging with a good local real estate agent early on in the process is the best first step to becoming a successful home seller. Taking your time and doing your due diligence will soften the bumps. The more you plan, the better off you’ll be and the quicker your home will sell for top dollar.
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