Selling a Home
Selling your home—it’s all in the planning
Whether you’re moving on up (to the East Side) or moving out, you’re finally
ready to sell that home you and your family have enjoyed all these years.
Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home you need to plan carefully
to maximize your results.
Step 1: Creating a Marketing Plan
Create a marketing plan for your home that will help attract buyers to your
property. This may include advertising in the newspaper, posting your
listing on the Internet, holding an open house and more. Your goal is to
sell your home at the best price possible in the shortest amount of time
with the least amount of hassle.
Step 2: Setting the Price
A key part of the marketing plan is setting the list price. If your home is
priced too low, it may cost you money. If your home is priced too high,
potential buyers may be scared away. To determine the best asking price
review the cost of recently sold homes, evaluate the competition and study
marketplace trends. It is also helpful to discuss other terms and
conditions, such as timing and items that can be included with the sale of
the home. Both of these can make your home more attractive to potential
Step 3: Showtime
Now it's time to get your home ready for the spotlight. Start with a good
cleaning, then eliminate any clutter, add a fresh coat of paint and tidy up
the yard. Talk to your real estate professional about other tips that can
help boost a home's curb appeal and impress potential buyers once they're in
the door. One way to make a home more attractive is to purchase a Home
Protection Plan. This insurance protects you, the seller, from paying repair
or replacement costs of major items during the listing period. It also
protects the buyer during their first year of homeownership.
In addition, make sure you are aware of all the federal, state, and local
disclosure laws. This information can be obtained by the specific local and
federal government agencies or from your local real estate agent.
Step 4: Protecting Yourself
In some cases, a home sale can also be an invitation for danger. Here are
some things you can do to make the process safer.
• Ask for identification
• Ask for pre-approval letters
• Remember “For Sale” signs bring in buyers. Do not allow your children to
open doors to strangers.
• If you have pets, make sure they are controlled.
• Remove any dangerous items.
Step 5: Making the Deal
A buyer has made an offer - now it is time to negotiate. Rely on your real
estate professional to guide you through this process. He or she will help
you arrive at an acceptable price, terms and conditions. Once you have
accepted an offer, help keep the deal together by meeting deadlines and
criteria, including home inspections, appropriate buyer visits, scheduled
deposits and other steps.
In fact, during this period there may be a renegotiation of the accepted
offer price depending on the outcomes of these visits. As the closing nears,
you may also need to perform repairs or do additional work to the house as
agreed upon in your contract. In addition, you will need to have the house
"broom clean" prior to the closing so that the buyer can complete a final
When you finally arrive at the closing table, come prepared with the
appropriate certificates and approvals as required by your town, county and
state. Ask the appropriate agency or get a list of what you need from your
real estate agent. Once the money has exchanged hands and all the papers
signed it's time to hand over the keys and concentrate on your next big
project - getting YOUR new home in order.
Getting the House Ready to Sell
Costs of Repairs
Do not do anything expensive, such as remodeling. If possible, use savings
to pay for any repairs and improvements – do not go charging up credit cards
or obtaining new loans. Remember that part of selling a house is also
preparing to buy your next home. You do not want to do anything that will
affect your credit scores or hurt your ability to qualify for your next
Plumbing and Fixtures
When looking at a house, prospective home buyers often do not really know
what to do. So they play with things. They flick light switches. They open
everything with a handle. They turn on all the faucets and flush all the
toilets. Having nice shiny fixtures makes an impression.
All your sink fixtures should look shiny and new. If this cannot be
accomplished by cleaning, buy new ones. If you don’t buy something fancy,
this can be accomplished inexpensively. Make sure all the hot and cold water
knobs are easy to turn and that the faucets do not leak. If they do,
Check to make sure you have good water pressure and that there are no stains
on any of the porcelain.
Ceilings, Walls and Painting
Check all the ceilings for water stains, whether the leak is caused by
plumbing or a faulty roof. Find the leak and repair it and make sure a
proper job is done. Nothing irritates a buyer more than finding out - after
the fact - about plumbing or roofing leaks. They will be talking about
calling a lawyer faster than your car engine starts when you turn the
If a water stain is left after something you have already repaired, do the
cosmetic work necessary to improve the desirability of your home. That means
You may have to paint anyway, especially if dirt has accumulated in spots or
you have an outdated color scheme. Painting makes a home look fresh and new
on the inside and never fails to impress.
Painting can be your best investment when selling your home. Usually, it is
not a very expensive operation and often you can do it yourself. Do not
choose colors based on your own preferences, but based on what would appeal
to the widest possible number of buyers. You should almost always choose an
off-white color because white helps your rooms appear bright and spacious.
Carpet and Flooring
Unless your carpet appears old and worn, or it is definitely an outdated
style or color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good carpet
cleaner. If you do choose to replace it, do so with something inexpensive in
a fairly neutral color.
Repair or replace broken floor tiles, but do not spend a lot of money on
anything. Remember, you are not fixing up the place for yourself. You want
to move. Your goal is simply to have few negative impressions upon those who
may want to purchase your property.
Windows and Doors
Check all of your windows to make sure they open and close easily. If not, a
spray of WD40 often helps. Make sure there are no cracked or broken
windowpanes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home.
Do the same things with the doors – make sure they open and close properly,
without creaking. If they do, a shot of WD40 on the hinges usually makes the
creak go away. Be sure the doorknobs turn easily, and that they are cleaned
and polished to look sharp. As buyers go from room to room, someone opens
each door and you want to do everything necessary to create a positive
For those who smoke, you might want to minimize smoking indoors while trying
to sell your home. Actually, it is best to move smoking outside.
For pet owners, remember, pets come with odors. You may have become used to
them, but they are immediately noticeable to those who are new to the area.
For those with cats, be sure to empty kitty litter boxes daily and use
plenty of baking soda. For dog owners, keep the dog outdoors as much as
possible, even those adorable lovable little dogs. You might also try
sprinkling carpet freshener on the carpet on a periodic basis.
Showing the House
Once your house is on the market, it should always be available for show,
even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you. Let your listing
agent put a lock box in a convenient place to make it easy for other agents
to show your home to homebuyers. Otherwise, agents will have to schedule
appointments, which is an inconvenience. Most will just skip your home to
show the house of someone else who is more cooperative and available.
Most agents will call and give you at least a couple of hours notice before
showing your property. If you refuse to let them show it at that time, they
will just skip your house. Even if they come back another time, it will
probably be with different buyers and you may have just lost a chance to
sell your home.
Try Not to be Home
Homebuyers will feel like intruders if you are home when they visit, and
they might not be as receptive toward viewing your home. Run some errands,
take the kids to the local park or visit your local mall for some window
shopping. If you absolutely cannot leave, try to remain in an out of they
way area of the house and do not move from room to room. Do not volunteer
any information, but answer any questions the agent may ask.
When you know someone is coming by to tour your home, turn on all the indoor
and outdoor lights – even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a
"homey" impression when viewed from the street. During the daytime, turning
on the lights prevents harsh shadows from sunlight and it brightens up any
dim areas. Your house looks more homey and cheerful with the lights on.
Do not use scented sprays to prepare for visitors. It is too obvious and
many people find the smells of those sprays offensive, not to mention that
some may be allergic. If you want to have a pleasant aroma in your house,
have a potpourri pot or something natural. Or turn on a stove burner (or the
oven) for a moment and put a drop of vanilla extract on it. It will smell
like you have been cooking.
If you have pets, make sure your listing agent puts a notice with your
listing in the multiple listing service. The last thing you want is to have
your pet running out the front door and getting lost. If you know someone is
coming, it would be best to try to take the pets with you while the
potential buyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, it is best to keep
dogs in a penned area in the back yard. Try to keep indoor cats in a
specific room when you expect visitors, and put a sign on the door. Most of
the time, an indoor cat will hide when buyers come to view your property,
but they may panic and try to escape.
The Kitchen Trash
Especially if your kitchen trash can does not have a lid, make sure you
empty it every time someone comes to look at your home – even if your trash
can is kept under the kitchen sink. Remember that you want to send a
positive image about every aspect of your home. Kitchen trash does not send
a positive message. You may go through more plastic bags than usual, but it
will be worth it.
Keep the House Tidy
Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a home it is
recommended that you develop the habit. Pick up papers, do not leave empty
glasses in the family room, keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Try
your best to have it look like a model home – a home with furniture but
nobody really lives there.