Selling Your Home
If you change jobs, or if your family or financial circumstances change, you may want to sell your home. Selling a home can be an emotional experience, especially if there are other life changes going on as well. If you've decided to sell your home, try to focus on the practical matters that need attention - it will help the whole process go more smoothly.
Curb Appeal Counts
A home that's visually appealing and in good condition will attract potential buyers. Use the following suggestions to help ensure your property will be appealing to people shopping for a home or just driving through the neighborhood.
Curb appeal can get potential buyers through the door. It's up to you to make sure they like what they see once inside. There are relatively easy, inexpensive interior improvements you can make to enhance your home's overall attractiveness and accent the best features.
Anything that says, "This home has been carefully maintained" makes a difference. Cleanliness is number one. Windows, floors, and bathroom tiles should sparkle (e.g., no moldy caulk around the tub). Shampoo dirty carpets; repair dripping faucets; oil squeaky doors, and wash finger marks off of the walls. Small investments can have a big bottom-line payoff. Keep your home clean and tidy at all times while it's on the market.
Remove as much clutter as possible. Cluttered spaces tend to look smaller. Clean the basement, garage, and attic and get rid of as much "stuff" as you can. Remember, if you don't get rid of it, you'll have to move it! Clean all of the closets in the house and organize contents. If you have liners on your shelves, make sure they're fresh and clean.
If you have a lot of furniture in any rooms, consider putting some into storage. Your rooms will look larger if they're not crowded. If any rooms are particularly drab or have worn-looking paint, repaint them if you can - preferably in a soft, neutral white. It's a good idea to remove most of your personal knick-knacks. The photos of your nieces and nephews and your daughter's little league trophy make it harder for buyers to "place" themselves in the space.
When your home is being shown to potential buyers, make it as attractive as possible. Put fresh flowers in strategic places (e.g., in the foyer where they'll help make a good first impression) and fresh guest towels in the bathroom. If possible, on the day you're expecting a potential buyer, pop a batch of quick-bake cookies into the oven for a welcoming aroma. If you don't have time to bake, put a teaspoon of vanilla extract on a plate in a "warm" oven for ten or fifteen minutes - it will smell like you baked cookies. But be careful, don't assault potential buyers with strong smells; avoid air fresheners and scented candles.
Cosmetic changes do not have to be expensive, especially if you're willing to do the work yourself. And costly home improvements may or may not be a good investment when you're preparing to sell. Keep the value of other homes in the area in mind whenever you consider improvements. Remember that potential buyers may not share your tastes and may not want to pay for the upgrades you've invested in. If your home's value is more than 20 percent above the average, it may make it more difficult to sell. If you do make major changes or improvements, keep them simple and neutral.
Hire an Agent-Or Go It Alone?
Some homeowners decide to sell their homes themselves in order to save the commission charged by a real estate agent. The commission rate may vary depending on the asking price of the house, but it is generally five or six percent of a home's selling price.
If you choose to handle your own sale, you'll need to write and place ads, answer calls, perhaps have a sign made, show your home to strangers, and deal with the paperwork yourself. Sometimes buyers who know you are not paying a real estate commission will offer less for your home. Also, it will be difficult for you to know whether buyers are qualified - that is, whether or not they are really in a financial position to buy your house.
Licensed real estate professionals can offer valuable services, including:
decide to use an agent, ask friends and neighbors for
recommendations. Talk to several agents before choosing the one you
want to work with. Walk through your home with an agent to get a
feel for how that person will handle prospective buyers. Ask
prospective agents how they plan to market your home, and ask them
how they would price it. Don't sign with an agent just because he or
she suggests the highest asking price. Negotiate the broker's
commission prior to listing your home, and sign for the shortest
period of time possible - usually three to six months. And, of
course, make sure the agent you choose has a personality you feel
comfortable working with.