This is a series of posts in an FAQ format that I hope will help would be sellers better understand the real estate process that they are about to go through. There will be a follow-on series for real estate buyers.
FAQ - What do I need to do to get ready to sell my house?
So, you’ve decided to sell your house. Great! Before you even get into the real estate process itself, you need to do a few things to get ready for selling your house. These next two posts will be about things that you need to do in order to get ready. While the order of doing these things could be reversed, I believe that there is great value in doing them in the order in which I will present them.
Find a good Realtor® agent to work with.
This may initially seem self-serving, since I am a real estate agent; however, most people don’t truly GOOD real estate agent; one who will work with you, and for you, weeks, sometimes even months, before you are ready to list.
understand al of the things that a good agent can do on the front end of the process, before the house is even listed. The value of having an agent list your house has been well proven over time to bring a higher sale price in a shorter amount of time; but what is the value before it is even listed? That pre-listing value does vary by agent, which is why I said to find a
What does he/she do ahead of the listing?
A good real estate agent will be willing to walk through your home and, based upon their observations, give you a list of recommendations of things that you may need to do to get the house ready for the market. Realtors look at your property the way that a buyer might and they see the things that you’ve become “nose-dead” to in the house. Not only may they be able to give you a to-do list of things that need attention, but most good Realtors can also supply some leads to tradesmen in the area who might be able to do the work, if it is beyond your DIY capabilities. A good Realtor will
be completely (some might even feel that it is brutally) honest with you about what needs to be done to get your home ready to list. They will normally explain the updates and deferred maintenance items that they see need to be done and give you some idea what the impact will be on the potential sale price of you chose not do the work.
What are the 3-C’s of Real Estate?
I use what I call the “3-C’s” of Real Estate as a mechanism to provide the advice that I usually give would be sellers about the things that they are responsible for doing to get ready for the market. The 3-C’s are:
Condition – This “C” deals with the state of the house as it compares with a house in the market area that is in an excellent, market ready state. This category covers both the deferred maintenance items that I might see and the updates, or lack thereof, that buyers will be looking for in the house. I will point out to you the things that you’ve gotten used to living with that need to be repaired or painted or replaced – the missing plug covers, the rusted old front porch light, the shabby looking front door that you never use or the overgrown foliage that started out as cute little shrubs. I will alert you to the missing handrails and the need for GFCI circuits in kitchens and baths that may not have been required when the house was built.
I will also go over with you’re the updates that may be missing from your house that will impact the
market value. It is probably not the time to put in granite counter tops or a whole new kitchen, now that you’ve decided to list; however, it might be, if the negative market value impact of not doing that will be great enough. Other things like flooring updates, new windows and new roofing can also be discussed. Usually I do not recommend major updating expenditures at this point, since the seller will not recoup the cost; but, again we will assess the negative impact of those updates being needed. Would-be buyers will almost certainly make lists of those same things and come to their own conclusions about the possible hassle and costs of making those upgrades later. They almost always come to conclusions that are higher than it might have cost you to just do it and that take those costs off their offer price. We will discuss the impact of the disappointment that buyers might have, at the price point that you will be at in the market, if your house does not live up to the expectations that they will come in with. Those expectations are set by visits to other listed homes and by people watching too many MTV shows.
Clutter – The second “C” is clutter, which almost always the biggest issue that I face with sellers, especially those who have been in the home for 320-30-40 years or more. People just naturally accumulate stuff; and that stuff is usually everywhere in the house. Walls may be full of family pictures. Shelves are full of knick-knacks and vacation mementos. Rooms are full of furniture. Basements are full of everything that didn’t fit upstairs anymore, plus all of the stuff that the kids left years ago and some of the items that you got out of your mother’s house and all of the left over stuff from hobbies that were abandoned long ago.
My challenge is to get you to de-clutter. People need to be able to see themselves living in this house. They are not there to admire and share your family/vacation pictures. They need to be able to freely move through the rooms and imagine their stuff in them and not just see all of your stuff. They expect to be able .to open a closet door without being attacked by a cascade of your stuff tumbling out. They need to see the space in the garage for their cars, not how much stuff you were able to stuff in there. They need to be able to see how big the basement is and not just gaze at a wall of boxes of your stuff. They need to be able to SEE! So, I will be recommending that you de-clutter. Moving is a perfect time to get rid of stuff that you haven’t used in years. Don’t worry the kids will never come back for their old stuff – they’ve moved on and it is time that you did too.
Cleanliness – Even very meticulous housekeepers can probably use some advice and maybe some help with the deep cleaning that may be needed to get the house ready for selling. While would-be
buyers won’t be going through the house with white gloves on looking for dust; they will notice the corners that have been forgotten long enough to collect cobwebs or the dusty blinds or ceiling fans. When buyers see a house that is less clean they make a mental leap (right or wrong) that it is probably less well maintained too. This is an area that I can recommend that you do spend a little extra and hire a good cleaning company for a one-time deep clean prior to listing it. Hopefully the seller is still able to maintain the house clean during the listing; otherwise I might recommend a cleaning service at least once or twice a month until it sells.
In my next post I’ll go over the pre-listing market analysis work and the pricing decision that needs to be made before you list. Nothing is more important for a successful outcome that being properly positioned IN the market and not just ON the market. For now, there will