Home-Selling Checklist: 12 Things to Do Before Selling Your House

Getting ready to sell your house? Then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work! Selling a home, after all, entails a whole lot more than just planting a “For Sale” sign on your front lawn or uploading a few random photos of your place—especially if you’re angling for the most cash. (And, honestly, who isn’t?)

So before you put your house on the market, peruse this checklist of things you must do in preparation. Some of these tips are surprisingly easy, while others might require a bit more elbow grease. But they’re bound to pay off once buyers start oohing and ahhing over your place—and hopefully ponying up a great offer.

1. Find a great real estate agent

Think you can sell your home yourself, and pocket the cash you would otherwise pay a real estate agent?

It can be tempting, especially in a hot market, but resist the urge, says Jon Sterling, a real estate consultant with Keller Williams Realty in San Francisco. He’s found that a “for sale by owner” transaction is almost always a disaster, leading you to sacrifice both money and time.

That said, don’t just blindly hire the real estate agent who most recently sent you a flyer or the one your uncle’s friend’s co-worker’s cousin used. Do some research to find a real estate agent who is knowledgeable about your specific market, and then interview her to make sure she’s a good fit.

Your real estate agent should be someone you feel comfortable working with, whom you trust to sell your house for top dollar. Don’t be afraid to talk to a few real estate agents before picking one.

2. Consider your curb appeal

Yes, for better or worse, buyers do tend to judge a book by its cover. You want to make sure potential buyers’ first impression of your home is a good one—and inspires them to stop by the open house or schedule a tour—so they can see more.

By investing some effort in relatively easy fixes, like planting colorful flowers and repainting your front door, the outside of your house can beckon prospective buyers to come on in.

If you’re not sure how to improve your home’s curb appeal, ask your real estate agent for advice on how others in your area have improved the exterior before selling their houses.

3. Declutter living areas

Less is definitely more when it comes to getting your house ready to show, notes Boris Sharapan Fabrikant, a real estate broker with Triplemint.

Do a clean sweep of counters, windowsills, tables, and all other visible areas, and then tackle behind closed doors: closets, drawers, and cupboards—since virtually nothing is off-limits for curious buyers.

If the house is overflowing with stuff, buyers might worry that the house won’t have ample space for their own belongings. They won’t sign up to pay a mortgage if they think they’ll also have to rent a storage space.

Take your excess stuff and donate it, or pack it up to be stored off-site. Not only will clearing clutter help your house look more appealing to buyers, it will also help you once you’ve accepted an offer and it’s time to move into a new home. Moving out will be easier if some of your stuff is already be packed.

4. Depersonalize your space

The next step on your declutter list? Sellers should remove any distractions so the buyers can visualize themselves and their family living in the property, says Kipton Cronkite, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in New York.

He says sellers should remove personal items and family photos, as well as bold artwork and furniture that might make the home less appealing to the general public. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which buyers can project their own visions of living there, and loving it.

5. Repaint walls to neutral tones

You might love that orange accent wall, but if it’s your potential buyer’s least favorite color, that could be a turnoff, warns Sharapan Fabrikant.

“You’re pretty safe with a neutral color because it’s rare that someone hates it, but the other benefit is that a light color allows [buyers] to envision what the walls would look like with the color of their choice,” he points out.

It’s the seller’s job to help buyers picture themselves in the house. If they don’t feel at home, they’ll probably look at other real estate options.

6. Touch up any scuff marks

Even if you’re not doing a full-on repainting project, pay special attention to scrubbing and then touching up baseboards, walls, and doors to make the house sparkle and look cared-for.

Selling almost any home can be tricky, but selling a home with lots of little problems and small repair needs can be downright difficult. When buyers walk into an open house, or go on a home tour, they want to fall in love with the house, not add a bunch of small repairs to their to-do list.

In order to impress buyers (and sell your house quickly), fix up your house before putting it on the market.

With a home that is fixed up and move-in ready, you will probably see more interest, and may even see multiple offers.

7. Fix any loose handles

It’s a small thing, sure, but you’d be surprised by the negative effect a loose handle or missing lightbulb can have on a buyer, notes Sharapan Fabrikant.

“It can make them stop and think ‘What else is broken here?’” he explains.

For a buyer, submitting an offer, and later committing to a mortgage, is a big deal. When you’re selling your home, you don’t want to give any buyers doubt that your house will make a great home.

8. Add some plants

When staging your house, remember that green is good: Plants create a bright and more welcoming environment. You might also want to consider a bouquet of flowers or bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or dining table.

Some plants and natural elements will impress buyers by bringing some extra color and life to your decor.

9. Conduct a smell test

Foul odors, even slight ones, can be a deal breaker, and the problem is that you might not even notice them, says Sharapan Fabrikant.

He recommends inviting an unbiased third party in to try to detect any pet smells or lingering odors from your kitchen.

If the smells are pervasive, prepare to do some deep cleaning as many buyers are on to seller’s “masking techniques” such as candles or plug-in room deodorizers. Plus, covering up odors with a stronger scent might backfire if the buyer doesn’t like the smell of lavender or artificial citrus.

10. Clean, clean, clean

Once you’re done cleaning your house, clean some more. Even if you’re not worried about what buyers will think of your home’s scent, you want your property to look spotless.

Think of it this way: You’ll probably have professional photos taken of your house when it looks its best. Naturally, you’ll want your house to always look like it does in those pictures.

When selling your home, it’s important to keep everything tidy for buyers, and you never know when a buyer is going to want to schedule a last-minute tour. Remember to take special care with the bathroom, making sure the tile, counters, shower, and floors shine.

11. Hide valuables

From art to jewelry, keep your treasures are out of sight, either locked up or stored off-site, recommends Kronkite.

You can’t trust everyone who comes into your house, even when you’re trying to sell it. Sometimes things disappear during an open house, and there’s little the seller can do to get those things back. Take care to hide your valuables or move them to a safe space away from your home.

12. Consider staging

Does your house scream 1985? Nothing invigorates a house like some new furnishings or a perfectly chosen mirror. The key is getting your home staged by a professional.

Home stagers will evaluate the current condition and belongings in your house and determine what elements might raise the bar. They might recommend you buy or rent some items, or they might just reorganize your knickknacks and bookshelves in a whole new (that is, better) way.

Stagers know the real estate market, and what sells, so it’s important to take their advice and not take offense when they make big changes. Their job is to help drum up interest from potential buyers, which is always good news to the seller.

Cathie Ericson is a journalist who writes about real estate, finance, and health. She lives in Portland, OR.

10 Secrets No One Tells You That’ll Help Your House Fetch Top Dollar

Maybe you’ve bought and sold a home before, or maybe this is the first time. Regardless, now you need to get top dollar for it. Yes, you can tidy up, bake some cookies so the house smells nice, and place fresh flowers (research says roses, lavender, and fuchsia most sway buyers) around the house. But these are the typical techniques most sellers deploy. Really want to get the best price possible—or even spark a bidding war?

Here are 10 tips that are seldom mentioned in listing houses that just might put your property over the edge.

1. Make sure your mailbox looks amazing

First impressions matter, which is why you should check out your curb appeal. Is the driveway cracked? Is the mailbox old and leaning? The best sales rest on keeping these details in mind.

“Replace the mailbox—literally the first thing people see,” says Teris Pantazes, CEO and co-founder of SettleRite, a pre-sale home improvement company in Baltimore.

2. Make the right use of your rooms

If you use the dining room for a kid’s playroom, or if the loft is empty because you don’t have a use for it, restage your rooms so they reflect their original purpose. Buyers want to see the space used in a traditional way—with a dining table in the dining room, a desk and chair in the office—to envision themselves living there.

3. Reglaze the bathroom

“The best tip I use to get top dollar for some of our houses is to reglaze an old bathroom that has a terrible color of tile—like pink or green,” says Michael Pinter, a house flipper in Long Island, NY, with LMPK Properties. “We reglaze the bathroom white for a few hundred dollars, and a dated bathroom will look 30 years younger.”

Bathrooms and kitchens sell houses, and any small improvement that makes those rooms more modern makes a huge difference.

4. Get buyers to fall in love

Russell Volk, a real estate agent with Re/Max Elite serving Bucks County, PA, worked with a home-selling couple who decided to hand-write a one-page letter about their life in the house.

“Their story of how they raised their family and what kind of experiences they had in the home was very personal and emotional,” says Volk. The letter was framed on the kitchen counter for potential buyers to read. One buyer who liked the home absolutely loved the sellers’ story—and paid full asking price.

“If sellers can connect with buyers on an emotional level, chances of buyers paying top dollar for the house drastically increase,” says Volk.

5. List under value

“Data shows that if you list a home 10% under market value, you will attract 75% of the buyer pool, versus only 30% if you were to list 10% over market value,” says Melissa Colabella, at Sotheby’s International Realty. “Yet sellers fear that not leaving room to negotiate leaves money on the table, which is not true.”

In fact, buyers are often motivated to bid by seeing other bids on a property, a dynamic that typically pushes bids above market value.

6. Provide insider information

Make sure to include tidbits in the listing that buyers will appreciate and that they can only get from you: the mention of a popular neighborhood coffee shop, the best Mexican restaurant nearby, or the free library box around the corner. No one knows these details better than you, the homeowner.

7. Describe the neighborhood culture

Think of everything interesting you can about your neighborhood—its proximity to a community pool, street basketball games in the cul-de-sac, the number of dog walkers who gather to chat—and mention them in your listing. The smallest detail can attract a buyer with a teenager, a dog, and kids with swimsuits.

8. Don’t forget to list the house extras

The motion-sensitive outdoor lighting, an automatic garage door timer that closes the door before dark, a phone-activated security system, or camera door bell… These bells and whistles may seem banal to you, but they can make sellers feel that everything’s been taken care of for them—and inspire a top-dollar offer.

9. Create a video tour

Most people get great photos and fantastic descriptions. But filming a video tour of the property is inexpensive, can be done by an amateur, and is a novelty that will draw in buyers, says Bryan Stoddard, owner of Homewares Insider, a site exploring all things related to the home.

“If the video is well made, it will showcase exactly the same things that an open house would,” he says.

10. Get a home pre-inspection

Yes, the buyers will want their own home inspection, but getting a pre-inspection so that prospective buyers have a general idea of the property’s condition before making an offer is a win/win, says Antonio Picillo III, a broker at Exceptional Home Team in Fort Wayne, IN.

Home buyers will be impressed you took the time and effort to get your home pre-inspected to make sure everything is tip-top. It shows a level of integrity and commitment that can be hard to find.

5 Reasons To Sell Your House This Spring!

5 Reasons To Sell Your House This Spring! | MyKCM

Here are five compelling reasons listing your home for sale this spring makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other for the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in most of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in his or her home was six, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. Many homeowners have a pent-up desire to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners are granted the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their home over the last couple of years for fear that they would not find a home to move in to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you to decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. Buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 47 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has created a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, it will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 4.6% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

5 Reasons to Sell This Winter!

5 Reasons to Sell This Winter! | MyKCM

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this winter makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 46 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

4 Reasons to Buy A Home This Winter!

4 Reasons to Buy A Home This Winter! | MyKCM

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insight report revealed that home prices have appreciated by 5.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.7% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase 

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have hovered around 4.8%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase in 2019.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person building that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

The #1 Reason to Not Wait Until Spring to Sell Your House

The #1 Reason to Not Wait Until Spring to Sell Your House | MyKCM

Many sellers believe that spring is the best time to place their homes on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year, but what they don’t realize is that if every homeowner believes the same thing, then that is when they will have the most competition!

The #1 Reason to List Your Home in the Winter Months is Less Competition!

Housing supply traditionally shrinks at this time of year, so the choices buyers have will be limited. The chart below was created using the months’ supply of listings from the National Association of Realtors.

The #1 Reason to Not Wait Until Spring to Sell Your House | MyKCM

 

As you can see, the ‘sweet spot’ to list your home for the most exposure naturally occurs in the late fall and winter months (November – February). 

Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings!

The #1 Reason to Not Wait Until Spring to Sell Your House | MyKCM

In 2017, listings increased by nearly half a million houses from December to June. Don’t wait for these listings to come to market before you decide to list your house.

Added Bonus: Only Serious Buyers Are Out in the Winter

At this time of year, only those purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere ‘lookers.’ The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

Bottom Line

If you have been debating whether or not to sell your home and are curious about market conditions in your area, let’s get together to help you decide the best time to list your house for sale.

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The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

Buying a Home Can Be Scary; Until You Know the Facts [INFOGRAPHIC]

Should I Buy Now? Or Wait Until Next Year?

The #1 Reason to Put Your House on The Market TODAY!

The #1 Reason to Put Your House on The Market TODAY! | MyKCM

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of their latest Existing Home Sales Report which revealed that home sales declined 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million in June from 5.41 million in May, and are 2.2% below a year ago. Some may look at these numbers and think that now is a bad time to sell their house, but in fact, the opposite is true.

The national slowdown in sales is directly tied to a lack of inventory available for the buyers who are out in the market looking for their dream homes! In fact, the inventory of homes for sale had fallen year-over-year for 36 consecutive months before posting a modest 0.5% gain last month and has had an upward impact on home prices.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say,

“It’s important to note that despite the modest year-over-year rise in inventory, the current level is far from what’s needed to satisfy demand levels. Furthermore, it remains to be seen if this modest increase will stick, given the fact that the robust economy is bringing more interested buyers into the market, and new home construction is failing to keep up.”

The few houses that are on the market are selling fast! According to NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index, properties were typically on the market for 26 days.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is debating listing your house for sale this year, the time is now! Let’s get together to discuss the specifics of our market!

Selling Your Home? Here’s 2 Ways to Get the Best Price!

Selling Your Home? Here’s 2 Ways to Get the Best Price! | MyKCM

Every homeowner wants to make sure that they maximize their financial reward when selling their home, but how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house?

Here are two ways to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a Little Low

This may seem counterintuitive, but let’s take a look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation when, in actuality, it just dramatically lessens the demand for their houses (see chart below).

Selling Your Home? Here’s 2 Ways to Get the Best Price! | MyKCM

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive as the seller may think that he or she will make more money by avoiding a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by real estate professionals.

study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs, when compared to MLS sales of similar properties, is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average sales price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.