SELLER'S CHECKPOINT LIST: You've decided to sell your home...NOW WHAT?
SELLER'S CHECKPOINT LIST:
An old quote states that a "Man's Home is His Castle". We all view our homes as a part of us. Our homes are where we greet friends and family. Everyone remembers the thrill of buying that first home. It doesn't matter whether you are selling your first or your tenth home there are always decisions to make.CHOOSING AN AGENT: Choose an agent wisely. You are entrusting one of your major assets to the agent you decide will represent you in the sale of your home. You will be spending a lot of time with your agent. It is important you pick someone you are comfortable with and can trust. Your cousin Sam/Sally may have a license but perhaps not be the right choice as your agent. There is more to selling a home then passing a real etate test.
The following is a short list of some of the items you will need to consider now that you have decided to place your home on the market. Some things will be obvious others may be new. I hope this list helps make your home selling experience a pleasant and profitable one.
You should interview agents. Ask for references from people you know who have worked with an agent recently. Go to open houses and talk with the agents. Look at ads and web sites to see how they advertise. Call or e-mail a few and see how quickly they respond.
Once you have found agents to interview be sure that each one gives you a written Market Analysis covering the value of your home. They should all be close in price range. If one is too high or low they may not be your best choice. (Occasionally there are markets that are difficult to pinpoint the price. If your housing market is very hot or very cold you will see variations in price). The properties used should have sold within the last three months, be within 200+/- square feet of your home, in comparable condition and room configuration. The agents should have a written market plan stating the things they will do to sell your home.
All commissions are negotiable by law in California. Picking an agent by his fee may not be your wisest choice. The temptation in a hot market is to go for a lesser fee. Sadly, you often get what you pay for which can be very costly. A professional agent brings many years of experience and knowledge to each transaction. Marketing your home is about more then putting up a sign or an ad in the newspaper. If a difficulty arises you want someone who can resolve the situation quickly and efficiently. In California the Receipt for Deposit has undergone many changes which can affect your transaction. Your agent should be up to date on all changes in the law. A good agent will earn their fee by saving you a lot of headaches.
THE HOUSE(EXTERIOR): Walk across the street and look at your home(townhome). What do you see? If you were driving down the street would you point it out to a companion? How does it measure up to other homes in the area? "Curb Appeal" is very important. Most buyers make up their mind about a property before they even view the inside. I've had buyers who wouldn't get out of the car if the exterior didn't show well. So what can you do?
Consult with your agent. There are many things you can do to spruce up your home that will be very cost effective. A new coat of paint can do wonders. Sometimes only the trim will need to be painted. Color is important. Purple may be a favorite but not the best choice to paint your house.
Trim those trees and bushes. Clear out the weeds, mow the lawn and plant flowers. I suggest that my sellers plant lots of colorful flowers. If you don't have flowerbeds buy some large pots and fill them with plants. Think about the homes that draw your attention. I'd be willing to bet they have wonderful gardens with lots of color or feature unique plants that draw the eye.
Some easy tricks to update your home. Replace the old mailbox, put a new doorlock on the front door, throw away that old screen door, buy a new welcome mat are just a few inexpensive things that will refresh your home.
THE HOUSE(INTERIOR): Go outside and walk in the door. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, open you eyes and look around. What do you see? Collecting antique chairs may be your passion but are they taking up too much space? Has your collection of old magazines taken over? When was the last time you painted the walls? Do you really think the carpet can be cleaned? If you were a buyer what is the first thing you would do to the house? These are some of the questions you need to address.
First you need to clear the clutter. If you are planning a move you will need to pack anyway, so get a head start. Pack most of your valuable collectibles and move them to the garage or a storage unit. If you have too much furniture in a room move some of it out. If you have items that you won't be taking with you have a garage sale. You'll make some extra money and get rid of things you don't use. If you weed out things you don't need or use now you will save money on your moving costs.
New paint is very cost effective. Painting makes a home feel clean and fresh. Choose a neutral color scheme. It doesn't have to be white but it should be soothing. New carpet is a consideration. Many people worry that they will spend money and a new buyer will not like their choice. You have some options. If you have hardwood you might want to consider refinishing the floors. Sometimes removing the carpet and cleaning the floor will be enough if you are strapped for cash. If that is not an option you might want to consider replacing the carpet with a medium grade in a neutral color. Another option is to offer the buyer a credit at the close of escrow.
There are many small things you can do to get the most "bang for the bucks" spent. Replace all the doorknobs especially if they have years of paint on them. Put new faucets in the baths and kitchen. Replace the switch covers after you paint. Put new light fixtures in the bathrooms. If you have washable curtains wash, starch and iron them. Vacuum heavy drapes and valences that are difficult to remove. Clean all the blinds. Hire a crew to do heavy cleaning as the windows, baseboards, hard to reach corners, ceiling fixtures, window and shower tracts and other items that require a lot of labor.
Mom was right; if you make the beds, keep the counters clear, put dirty dishes in dishwasher, clear off the dining table, and hang up towels (or throw in the dryer) after you shower, the house will look organized.
If you have small children invest in some large baskets or storage boxes. Put them in every room so your children can put their toys, books etc. away quickly. Baskets and magazine racks are great places to keep the newspapers, books or magazines you are currently reading out of the way.
If you have a pet who sheds you will need to vacuum each day otherwise every few days will be enough. Remember this is still your home. People don't expect spotless but they do appreciate "uncluttered".
If you have pets invite someone who doesn't to visit. Ask them to be honest can they "smell" your pet. If you smoke indoors you will need to do the same thing. If the answer is yes about odors then you need to try and eliminate them. Most good pet stores carry products that can take care of pet odors. New paint and carpet will help as will cleaning drapes and curtains. It may be necessary to purchase an air filter/cleaning product. If you have a cat be sure to clean the litter box every day. You may have the most beautiful home on the block but if it doesn't smell fresh it will be on the market a long time.
Pull out that list of "Honey do" items. If you know the switch in the den needs to be adjusted have it done. If the sink is stopped up have it cleared. Have you been meaning to replace the baseboard in the family room since you put in the new floor? All homeowners have a list of small things to do when they have time. Now is the time! A home in excellent condition will get top dollar every time.
If you are moving and the house will be vacant make arrangements to have it cleaned every three weeks. Buyers are very disappointed when they look at a vacant house that has dust on the counters, rings in the toilet and bugs on the floor. Be sure to keep the outside up also. Big weeds and an overgrown lawn make a home look neglected.
Consult with your agent about what you need to do to accomplish the goal of SOLD. Your agent will have many tips to give. Some may be unique to the community where you live. Your agent will be happy to make suggestions that will increase your home's market value.
DISCLOSURES: When you sell property(1-4 units)in the state of California you are required by law to give a number of disclosures about the property to a prospective buyer. You must give these disclosures within a specified period of time. Prior to recent changes in the contract the time frames often fell throughout the escrow period. These time frames have been tightened up and most documents must be given to the buyer at the beginning of the escrow period.
If you have purchased or sold a property in the last ten years you will be familiar with most of the required disclosure reports. A new report has been added to the list of disclosures. It is called a C.L.U.E report(Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) and is issued by your insurance company.It covers all claims against your home over the last five years. These reports/disclosures must be given to the buyer within the first 5-7 days(depending on time frame in the contract) after acceptance of the offer.
This is a list of Required Reports/Disclosures:Lead-Based Paint and Hazards Disclosure(required on all property built prior to 1978)Seller Transfer Disclosure Statement(Seller disclosure concerning all known conditions/defects that may affect the condition of the property)Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement(covers earthquake, fire and known flood zones)Earthquake Strapping of Water Heater StatementSmoke Detector StatementMello-Roos Disclosure Statement(usually only applies to new subdivisions)Industrial Use or Military Ordinance Location(if known to seller)Data Base Disclosure(Megan's Law included in contract of sale)Building ReportCommon Interest Disclosure(only required if property is part of a condominum/townhome/planned community)Preliminary Title ReportPest Control Report(termite report)Property Insurance Claims Report(CLUE report covering last 5 years of claims against the property)
It will be necessary to order most of the reports at the begining of the listing period. All disclosures should be completed at the time the listing is taken.
INSPECTIONS: You will need to order a Pest Inspection soon after listing the home. You may want to consider other inspections if you are not sure of conditions that may affect the sale of the home. Some of the inspections you may want to consider are the following:Home Inspection. If you have the property inspected you may discover items that might need repair or correction. If the items are significant (plumbing or electrical) repairing in advance may be an advantage as it may eliminate a source of "negotiation" between you and the buyer. There may be other items you are not aware of which an inspection will turn up that can be repaired with a minimum of cost and will bring you a better price at the time of sale. Roof Inspection. Most buyers view a questionable roof as a major liability. If your roof is over ten years old have it inspected and make any repairs recommended. It may save you a lot of money downline by making a few repairs today. Asbestos Inspection. Many older homes have asbestos throughout the property. Most owners are completely unaware of the problem. A home inspection may point out areas of concern ie.. cottage cheese ceilings, insulation around plumbing and heating ducts, room insulation, even taping on old drywall. If you have any concern a simple test can be done to determine whether or not asbestos is in your home. Generally asbestos is not a problem if it is not "friable" (cracked, chipped or peeling). However if there is a problem it should be repaired by a licensed removal expert. This is a major issue and once discovered by you or a buyer during his inspection will need to be addressed as it is a hazard disclosure item.
I know this list seems endless and perhaps overwhelming but it can be managed easily with the help of your agent. Depending on your market there may be items to be added or subtracted from the list. Each local community has it's own requirements and customs about things that need to be completed on the way to "SOLD".
As always my goal is to make your real estate experience a pleasant and profitable one. Please contact me without obligation if you have any questions. You can fill out the form below or e-mail me at...Kaye