What to do before listing your property?


    For many, selling property marks the end of an age. It's a physical representation of the changing dynamics within your family, your relationship, or your career. A change of this magnitude isn't easy. Leaving memories behind can be incredibly difficult. Take photographs, host a moving party, but before you put that For Sale sign in your yard, make sure you and your home have said your goodbyes.

    It may sound harsh, but once it goes on the market, you are open for business and the customer thinks he's always right. If you're still emotionally attached to your home, it's much harder to hear a stranger's criticism and respond objectively. Aside from getting your head, heart and nerves in order, it's crucial to get your home in order before opening it to the world.

    Chances are, if there are more than a couple red flags, it won't sell. And, if your house isn't selling, you're wasting time. Wasting time can drag the price of your property to its grave. The longer it sits on the market, the more unappealing it becomes in the mind of the shopper. No one wants a home that everyone else passes over. There must be something wrong with it (they, perhaps even subconsciously, determine).

    Therefore, do whatever repairs you can afford before listing your home. Typically, the buyer orders and pays for a home inspection after the seller accepts their offer. The seller ends up with a laundry list of repair demands, that must be met or the deal won't close. Often, the deal doesn't close. If the home inspection exposes any large structural issues, the prospective buyer may choose to opt-out and walk away from the contract.

    In my experience, it is much safer and more efficient to have the seller order a home inspection before putting their property up for sale. The cost of an inspection is minimal-from roughly $150 to $300-but the benefits are priceless: peace of mind for you and the buyer, foresight into the condition of your home, and time in which to practically and inexpensively make repairs. If rushed, you may find yourself making a lot of costly, impulsive decisions in order to keep the deal afloat.

    Some sellers find it beneficial to go beyond making the necessary repairs, to actually making upgrades to their property. For example, by replacing an old front door, property owners are able to realize a whopping average national return on investment of 128.9 percent, according to the 2009 Cost vs. Value Report by the National Association of Realtors. Six of the top-10 projects with the biggest return are siding and window replacement using a variety of materials and involve home maintenance that costs less than $14,000. The other upgrades that make the most economic sense are adding an attic bedroom or a wood deck and mid-range kitchen and bath remodels.

    After making repairs and upgrades, it's time to add the finishing touches, or, should I say, take them away. This step is the true test of commitment to your move. It's time to deconstruct your home's personality and make each room look like a page in a magazine. This is necessary for both marketing and showing purposes. By removing the clutter, the family photos, the pink-flamingo lawn ornaments, not only do you create the illusion of space, you also reveal the bare bones of the property, which is what prospective buyers need to see. If the view of the walls, the floors, the landscaping, etc. is obstructed, a frustrated buyer may walk away. "Don't gild the lily," my great-grandfather used to say.

    Now that you're home is ready to be shown, there is one last thing to consider: your flexibility with showings. Many sellers turn buyers away if they aren't able to provide a 24-hour notice. While this type of notice would be ideal, many buyers pop in from out of town and want to be shown homes that day. Before you sign that listing agreement, you must be sure that you can keep your home in showcase condition and be ready for an impromptu showing at all times. Also, be sure you have somewhere (a friend's house, a restaurant, a movie, errands to run, etc.) you can go for about an hour while the showing takes place.

    The success of the sale depends upon all these factors. If, after applying this advice, you get a great agent who correctly prices and markets your home, expect a quick, smooth sale.





  Wise Words, Real Knowledge Across North Carolina: Volume I


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