Sell Your Home

As a homeowner, you can play an important part in the timely sale of your property. When you take the following steps, you'll help your agent sell your house faster, at the best possible price. The easiest and most reliable way to improve a home's appeal is to enlist an expert who can help you get everything in order so you can stay focused on more important things.

Select a topic from the list:

Pricing a home

If you are planning on selling a house, you will need to decide what price to ask for your home. This is one of the most important and difficult decisions you will make. Buyers shop by comparison. Your home must be fair market priced. We can help you determine the market value of your home so you may obtain top-dollar for your property. The first five sections of this help guide will take you through a quick overview of the selling process. We will then take a more in depth look at Selling Your Home.

Some of the things to consider when choosing your home price are:

  • What is the age & condition of your home?
  • Does it need updating?
  • What have similar homes in your area sold for?
  • Are homes in your area increasing or decreasing in value?
  • How many homes are for sale in your area?

Remember, your home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. By working with a qualified real estate professional, you can ensure that your property will receive the needed exposure to attract interested parties who are willing to make an offer.

Here are a few critical points to keep in mind about pricing:

  • Realistic pricing will result in the fastest sale and subsequently bring a higher selling price.
  • Your cost or profit desire is usually irrelevant: the market always dictates the price.
  • The cost of improvements made is almost always more than the added value.
  • Remember that cost, price and value are three different things.

The first step in determining the market value of your home is to prepare a comparative market analysis reflecting the prices of other sold houses in the your market area. You may think you can always lower the price, but overpriced listings aren't shown and houses that are on the market a long time become "shop worn" and do not sell for top dollar.

When you are selling your home you want to present the very best product. Buyers carefully inspect property. Keep the exterior neat by painting the trim, clipping the hedges, mowing, edging, and weeding the lawn and you may wish to plant a few flowers.

Inside lighten up the dark corners, perhaps add some fresh paint and put the clutter away to give the rooms an open feeling. Make sure there are no "stale" odors in the home. This can be especially important for remote areas such as a basement or attic. On the second showings, you may want to consider baking some cookies or bring in some fragrant fresh flowers. This will add a cheery and pleasant scent to your home. These little things may help you sell your home more quickly.

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Marketing Your Home

It is not likely that the right buyer will simply walk through your door. Properties must be presented to the buyers.  A successful marketing campaign can insure a number of qualified buyers. Select an agent who uses agent to agent marketing, and one who uses state-of-the-art techniques such as an interactive voice-response system, a front end MLS system and the internet. Make sure your agent is trained not only in the financial aspect of a real estate transaction, but the marketing aspect as well.

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An Offer!

Assuming you price your home correctly, a prospective buyer will "make an offer." As the seller, you have three options: you can accept the offer, reject the offer or make a counter offer. A counter offer usually will encourage a buyer to continue their negotiations. You may also receive multiple offers. You may prefer to take slightly less for your property from someone who is willing to pay cash, versus someone who needs to sell their current home. Contingencies, move-in dates, and financing are all things to consider when weighing an offer.

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The Closing

After you accept an offer on your property there are a number of details to be completed. There will probably be an inspection of your home by a professional who will determine the condition and integrity of your property for the buyer. The buyer's mortgage company may choose to send out an appraiser who will assure the lender of your property's worth. The title company will warranty that there are no liens or existing encumbrances which would inhibit a transfer of title to the buyer. Either you or the buyer may chose to be represented by an attorney. First time sellers and buyers often feel more comfortable to have the paper work reviewed prior to signing.

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Preparing Your Home to Show
  • First impressions are lasting. The view from the street has an impact on the buyer's reaction to the entire house. The addition of seasonal flowers works wonders. Keep the lawn trimmed and edged. Be sure snow and ice are removed. Remember the importance of exterior paint and the front door appearance.
  • Jazz it up inside. Faded walls and worn or soiled carpeting reduces appeal. Most buyers are attracted to homes offering "move-in" condition and neutral colors and they often over estimate the cost of   decorating changes.
  • Can you see the light? Keep your home looking cheerful. Dark rooms feel dreary so keep the draperies open to let the sun shine in through sparkling windows. Provide a feeling of glowing warmth by turning on all the lights (closets, too) for an evening showing.
  • Fix that faucet! Dripping water discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing. Also, attend to loose knobs or hand rails, sticking doors or warped drawers which can detract from your home's value.
  • Make closets look bigger. Neat, well-ordered closets suggest room to spare. Can you move extra items to another location?
  • From top to bottom. Display the full size of your basement, garage and storage areas by removing all unnecessary articles. Brighten dull, dark basements by painting the walls.
  • Bathrooms need to sparkle. Repair caulking in bathtubs and showers.
  • if it is cold outside. Logs crackling in the fireplace can be a hit for second showings.
  • The icing on the cake. Setting the dining room table as though it's time for a dinner party helps buyers imagine themselves living there.
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During the Showing

Three's a crowd. Avoid having too many people present during inspections. The potential buyer will feel like an intruder and will hurry through the home.

Man's best friend. Keep pets out of the way- preferably out of the home. Even the friendliest pet can become anxious when strangers appear.

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Can You Sell Your House Yourself?

According to the National Association of Realtors between three and nine percent of American homeowners handle their own sales. In order to join the ranks of the successful ones, you need to realistically assess exactly what's involved. The routine parts of the job involve pricing your house accurately, determining whether or not a buyer is qualified, creating and paying for your own advertising, familiarizing yourself with enough basic real estate regulations to understand (and possibly even prepare) a real estate contract, and coordinating the details of a closing. The greatest downsides are the demand on your time, and the possibility that a mistake may cost you the money you are trying to save.

The best reason for working with real estate brokers is the enormous amount of information they have at their disposal. Professionals know about market trends, houses in your neighborhood, and the people most likely to buy there. They also know how to reach the largest number of people who may be interested in your house, and are trained in areas like screening potential buyers and negotiating with them. Finally, Realtors are always "on-call," and willing to do the things most of us hate: working on the weekends, answering the phone at all hours, and always being polite.

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Set a Realistic Price

Today's residential real estate market is no place to look for easy profit. The fact is, prices have generally leveled off from their peak during the 1980's. That is not to say you cannot get what your house is worth. You just have to be realistic about its value, and price it accordingly. A good place to start is by determining the fair market value.

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How to Determine Your Asking Price

Real estate sales agents suggest asking prices based on a variety of information you may not have, including recent listing and selling prices of houses in your neighborhood. If you're not completely confident in their suggestions, you may want to order an appraisal. Next, establish clear priorities. If you had to choose, are you more concerned with selling quickly, or getting the most money possible? What would you pay for the house if you were the buyer?

Someone else -- a neighbor, friend or relative -- may point out advantages or disadvantages about your house that you had not thought about. Third-party views will help you start thinking of your house as a commodity, with positive and negative selling points. Then you should decide on a price that you feel is competitive and consistent with what other houses in your area have sold for.

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Fix Your House Up Before it Goes on the Market

Unless your house is nearly new, chances are you want to do some work to get it ready to market. The type and amount of work depends largely on the price you ask, the time you have to sell, and of course, the present condition of the house. If you are in a hurry to sell, do the "little things" that make your house look better from the outside and show better inside.

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Create "Curb Appeal"

"Curb appeal" is a common real estate term for everything prospective buyers can see from the street that might make them want to see the inside of the property. Improving curb appeal is critical to generating traffic. While it does take time, it need not be difficult or expensive, provided you keep two key words in mind: neat and neutral.

Neatness sells.   New paint, an immaculate lawn, picture-perfect shrubbery, a newly sealed driveway, potted plants at the front door -- put them all together, and drive-by shoppers will probably want to see the rest of the house.  Hand-in-hand with neatness is neutrality. If you're going to repaint, stick to light, neutral colors. Keep the yard free of gardening tools and the kids' toys. Remember, when a family looks at a house, they are trying to paint a picture of what it would be like as their home.

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Make Sure Your House Shows its Best

First, make your house look as clean and spacious as possible. Remember, people may look behind your doors -- closet and crawlspace doors as well as those to the bedrooms and bathrooms. So get rid of all the clutter; have that garage sale and haul away the leftovers. After you've cleaned, try to correct any cosmetic flaws you've noticed. Paint rooms that need it, grout tile walls and floors, remove or replace any worn-out carpets. Replace dated faucets, light fixtures, and the handles and knobs on your kitchen drawers and cabinets. Finally, as with the outside of your house, try to make it easy for prospective buyers to imagine your house as their home. Clear as much from your walls, shelves, and countertops as you can. Give your prospects plenty of room to dream.

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When You Find The Buyer

Here are some questions to answer before you can be sure a closing is in your future...

Is this person truly a buyer? As a security precaution, don't disclose too much information about yourself or your finances to strangers.

Is the buyer financially qualified? Do they have written proof of loan approval from a lending institution, or do they merely think they are qualified?

Do you have a professional to handle the contracts and oversee the escrow?

Have you researched the laws which apply to your transaction? Find out about the Fair Housing Act with 1988 amendments, contract laws, material disclosure requirements, and Truth and Lending, Regulation Z regarding your advertising requirements.

Is every detail in writing? You need more protection than merely the buyer's memory on various terms, and oral contracts on real estate contracts are generally not enforceable.

Secure an adequate earnest deposit. You'll need an escrow agent to hold the funds.

Is the buyer asking for contingencies? Perhaps you should wait for a better buyer.

Is the buyer having the property professionally inspected? What items will you be required to repair and is there a dollar limit?

Do you understand all of the contract provisions - are they standard or stated in the favor of the buyer?

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Moving Day

Moving does not always mean a traumatic experience. Comprehensive pre-planning, organization, and family meetings to establish each person's responsibilities will go a long way in maintaining harmony and efficiency. For the children: If you are moving out-of-town, provide the children with photographs of their new home and school. Once they know what to expect and begin to visualize themselves in their new surroundings, they grow much happier and more cooperative.

Give each child his or her own "packing labels" for marking personal possessions.

Provide them with floor plans of their new bedrooms so they can participate in furniture placement. Give children small address books for noting names and addresses of friends they leave behind. They can look forward to filling the remainder of the book with names of the new friends they make after moving.

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Planning Is the Key

Send change of address to:
Post Office with forwarding address.
Charge accounts, credit cards.
Friends and relatives.

Bank-Transfer funds, arrange check-cashing in new city Carry Travelers Checks for ready cash.
Insurance -Notify new location for coverage.
Utility companies/ Gas, light, water, telephone. Make arrangements in new town. If you are moving before the final closing on your new home is completed, you need to leave utilities on. During the cold season, winterize the plumbing. Delivery people-Cancel newspaper, milkman, laundry, etc.

Miscellaneous Checklist:
Automobile registrations- Remember to transfer car title, registration, driver's license, and auto club membership.
Medical records-Arrange for medical and dental records to be transferred. Ask your physician for a referral.
Employment Recommendations -Have teenagers obtain written recommendations from their current employers.
Empty freezer and defrost.
Have appliances serviced for moving.
Clean rugs or clothing for moving.
Make arrangements with cable television service.
Plan for special care needs of infants.
Carry currency, jewelry and documents yourself.
Double check all rooms, closets, drawers and shelves.
Leave old keys and garage door openers with your real estate agent.
Ask your hair stylist for information on preferred hair products and hair cutting instructions.
Obtain letters of introduction to new club chapters.

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Great American Realty - Paul Judd, Broker

85 N State Street, Preston, ID 83263
Cell 208-240-8296 | Fax 208-278-1700 |