Inspections & Reports
Avoid surprises. It is always best to know what is wrong with the home and have the opportunity to make repairs long before you put your home on the market. Order as many inspections and reports as you can. Most common are a general inspection, roof inspection, and termite inspection. Your goal is to look for any "red flag" items that might scare away potential buyers.
The general inspection will highlight any issues that could potentially scare away a buyer. They may also make a recommendation to have a specific professional like an electrician, or chimney expert, or furnace technician come out to look into the details of anything they find.
The roof inspection will give the general age of the roof and in most cases offer a 1 year "leak free" warranty so you can offer the new buyer some peace of mind.
The termite inspection is required. An inspector will go through the entire home, including the crawl space under the home if you have one, looking for "wood destroying organisms" — termites, fungus, etc. Their report will come in 2 sections of importance. Section I includes active termites that need to be killed and where damage needs to be repaired. Section II is where future damage may occur if some preventative care is not taken.
Preparation & Repairs
It is now time to take the above reports made by the professional inspectors and make necessary repairs. If you make the corrections they mention, potential buyers won't be able to find any issues with your home and use them as a negotiating point against your asking price. Maybe you need to have a new roof installed; maybe you need to replace your bathroom tiles; or maybe you need to replace your carpets.
After all repairs are made you can begin preparing your home for sale. You can do a lot to increase the appeal of your property over others in the market and to create a lasting impact on potential buyers. When taken together, each of these suggestions may make your home sell faster or for higher money or both.
Curb Appeal — Keep your landscape pristine, and add creative touches to your yard, such as colorful flowers. Make your home feel inviting to everyone before they have even stepped out of their car. Paint your front door, add a neutral welcome mat, and remove any unnecessary items such as show closets, umbrella stands, etc which could make the opening look cramped.
Cleaning and Painting — Polishing the doorknobs, updating a fresh coat of paint to neutralize and brighten up each room, and cleaning every inch of your home makes new buyers believe they can just move right in.
Staging — Even if you decide that staging is not for you, the theory behind staging will always apply to your home. We usually suggest our clients to move out of the home before we go on the market. This allows buyers and agents to access the home without disturbing anyone and to have a "blank canvas" from which to arrange a furniture lifestyle. Start by de-cluttering, depersonalizing, and neutralizing your home. Keep in mind that less is more. Remove personal pictures, CD, DVDs, etc and re-paint any rooms that have bold colors that may not appeal to most people.
Pricing to Sell
Your home is not worth what you say it should be worth, or what your agent says its worth, or even what your neighbor thinks it should be worth.
Your home is what a qualified buyer will offer with a lender who agrees to loan them money based on what an appraiser feels is fair market value. That's it.
In today's market, if you want to get the most for your home, it MUST be priced correctly right from the start. Buyers have a lot of choices. They are looking for value. When they see your home, it will be compared to everything else they and their agent have seen. It may not feel natural, but it may be best to price your home a "little bit" under the market value so you get the most buyers showing interest and the greatest chance for obtaining competitive offers.
Accepting an Offer
Do not let yourself be fooled by the misconception: "The higher the price, the better the offer." Price is not always the determining factor when accepting an offer for several important reasons: the initial offer is usually not final, and there are a number of other terms and conditions that are equally important.
Some important considerations:
- Time duration for Buyer Contingencies — this is their time to inspect and back out
- Escrow duration — maybe you need more time to find a new place to live, maybe you want a fast close to save one more mortgage payment
- Strength of financing — the strongest offer may have a higher down-payment and pre-approval letter.
Pack and Move
As mentioned above, we usually recommend our clients to move out of the home before we go on the market. If you have done this, then your Pack and Move section is made easy.
If you have not moved out already, we recommend you wait until the contingencies are removed before packing. Now is a good time to purge most of the items you won't need in your next home (yard sales, donations, etc).
Close of Escrow
The "Closing" is just a term used for the time when all paperwork has been completed by both the Buyer and Seller, the escrow company has received all funds from the buyer and the lender, and the new owners are recorded with the county.
The final buyer and agent will make a final walk-through inspection to verify that all is in working order and in the same condition as when the offer was made (like making sure the movers didn't damage the walls or something).
You will need to transfer or cancel the utilities and services cable, trash, etc so we will provide a list of useful phone numbers.
Finally, you need to arrange to have all property keys, garage door remotes, and any other important information delivered to the Buyer when the escrow officer calls to confirm the new title is recorded with county.