1: Consider a pre-sale home inspection.
An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.
2: Organize and clean.
Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and seasonal items. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.
3: Get replacement estimates.
Do you have big-ticket items that will need to be replaced soon? Find out how much it will cost to repair an older roof or replace worn carpeting, even if you don’t plan to do so. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and they’ll be handy when negotiations begin.
4: Locate warranties.
Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer/dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house. It may seem like this task can be left until closing, but you don’t want lost paperwork or last-minute scrambling to cause the deal to fall through.
5: Spruce up the curb appeal.
Walk out to the front of your home, close your eyes, and pretend you’re a prospective buyer seeing the property for the first time. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? What do you see framing the entrance, if anything? Is the walkway free of cracks and impediments?
REALTORS® aren’t just agents. They’re professional members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict code of ethics. This is the REALTOR® difference for home buyers:
1. Ethical treatment.
Every REALTOR® must adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a REALTOR®’s client, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. The first obligation is to you, the client.
2. An expert guide.
Buying a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes. Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved, so you want to work with a professional who can speak the language.
3. Objective information and opinions.
REALTORS® can provide local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They also have objective information about each property. REALTORs® can use that data to help you determine if the property has what you need. By understanding both your needs and search area, they can also point out neighborhoods you don’t know much about but that might suit your needs better than you’d thought.
4. Expanded search power.
Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A REALTOR® can help you find opportunities not listed on home search sites and can help you avoid out-of-date listings that might be showing up as available online but are no longer on the market.
5. Negotiation knowledge.
There are many factors up for discussion in a deal. A REALTOR® will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement that allows enough time for you to complete inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase.
6. Up-to-date experience.
Most people buy only a few homes in their lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS® handle hundreds of transactions over the course of their career.
7. Your rock during emotional moments.
A home is so much more than four walls and a roof. And for most people, property represents the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on the issues most important to you.
Once you are under contract, the buyer’s lender will send out an appraiser to make sure the purchase price is in line with the property’s value.
Appraisals help guide mortgage terms.
The appraised value of a home is an important factor in the loan underwriting process. Although lenders may use the sale price to determine the amount of the mortgage they will offer, they generally only do so when the property is sold for less than the appraisal amount. Also, the loan-to-value ratio is based on the appraised value and helps lenders figure out how much money may be borrowed to purchase the property and under what terms. If the LTV is high, the lender is more likely to require the borrower to purchase private mortgage insurance.
Appraised value is not a concrete number.
Appraisals provide a professional opinion of value, but they aren’t an exact science. Appraisals may differ quite a bit depending on when they’re done and who’s doing them. Changes in market conditions also can dramatically alter appraised value.
Appraised value doesn’t represent the whole picture of home prices.
There are special considerations that appraised value doesn’t take into account, such as the need to sell rapidly.
Appraisers use data from the recent past.
Appraisals are often considered somewhat backward looking, because they use sold data from comparable properties (often nicknamed “comps”) to help come up with a reasonable price.
There are uses for appraised value outside of the purchase process.
For selling purposes, appraisals are usually used to determine market value or factor into the pricing equation. But other appraisals are used to determine insurance value, replacement value, and assessed value for property tax purposes.
How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job?
Like most professions, experience is no guarantee of skill. But much of real estate is learned on the job.
How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year?
This will touch on how much experience they have, and how up-to-date they are on the local market.
What designations or certifications do you hold?
Real estate professionals have to take additional specialized training in order to obtain these distinctions. Designations and certifications help define the special skills that an agent can apply to your particular real estate needs. One designation sellers might for is the CRS®, or Certified Residential Specialist, but there are also specialists for military customers, seniors, and those who are considering a short sale, among others.
How many days does it take you to sell a home? How does that compare to others?
The REALTOR® you interview should have information about their performance on hand and be able to present market statistics from their local MLS to provide a comparison.
What’s the average variation between your initial listing and final sales price?
This is one indication of a REALTOR®’s pricing and negotiating skills.
What specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home?
Your agent should have an aggressive, innovative plan and understand how to market property online.
Will you represent me exclusively, or might you also choose to represent the buyer?
While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, your REALTOR® should be able to explain his or her philosophy on client obligations and agency relationships.
Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and so on?
Practitioners should be able to recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with any of the providers.
How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction?
The best answer here is a question. A real estate agent who pays attention to the way you prefer to communicate and responds accordingly will make for the smoothest transaction.
Could you please give me the contact information of your three most recent clients?
Ask their former customers if they would use the agent again in the future.