Selling is an Emotional Experience

I am planning on selling my home soon.  My sister told me she thinks I should replace the maroon carpet before I sell. I think the buyers will want to pick their own carpet, so I would rather sell my home for less and let them do it after it’s theirs.  What do you think?

Practically speaking, you are right.  If the carpet needs to be replaced it makes sense to either price the home lower or offer money to the buyers to pick their own.  Who wants to spend money on carpet that may be ripped out as soon as the home is sold because the new owners want something different?

BUT, selling is an emotional experience.  When buyers look at your home, they need to love it before they decide to purchase it.  Worn out or outdated carpet is not lovable. You do not want your home to be remembered as “the home with the maroon carpet.”  I recommend picking a neutral color to replace what you have – not necessarily the most expensive but a type and shade that will appeal to most buyers.

If there are other items that need updating or if your walls need a fresh coat of paint, your thinking should be the same. I have found that homes which are project-free and move-in-ready will sell for more and quicker.  Buyers want to believe that life will be better for them if they buy your home.  Your updates, including new carpet, will help convince them of that.

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For Sale Sign

 I recently met with a real estate agent in order to sell my home.  She highly recommended putting a “for sale” sign in my front yard.  I prefer not to as I am a private person and I don’t want my nosy neighbors to know I’m selling.  Is a sign in the front yard helpful in selling my home?

Before computers were common place, interested buyers found properties by driving around looking for signs, then writing down contact information and returning home to make calls.  That was then. Now instead, buyers are searching online for properties. So, why do we still see real estate signs in front yards?

A “for sale” sign in front of your house helps to get the word out.  Although it is not the primary method in finding a home today, it is one way of advertising that you are selling.  Your nosy neighbors, in this case, are helpful as they are usually the ones to talk about whatever’s happening. In this case, what’s happening is that you are selling. And you want that to be the talk of the town.

Also, from a realtor’s perspective, a sign in front of a property is good publicity for the agent as her name and contact information is on the sign, of course.  She wants everyone to know she is the one listing in case others in the neighborhood are thinking of selling.

If you feel strongly about NOT having a sign in your yard, your agent should respect your request and refrain from putting one there.  If she insists, I recommend finding another agent who will listen to your concerns and work for you, not against you.

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Look Before Selling?

We need a larger home and have just begun thinking through selling and purchasing. Should we begin looking for what we may want to buy before we sell ours?

The first step in searching for a home is finding out what you can afford. Meeting with a mortgage representative who will help you understand what it costs to sell and buy is crucial.    Looking at properties that are outside of your financial reach is a waste of everyone’s time.

The next step is to compile a list of items important to you in a home and prioritize them. This includes desired acreage, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, garage and/or size of it – anything you feel is important for your next home.

Finally, finding a good real estate agent to help you begin looking is crucial. If you know the area you want to live in, find an agent who is familiar with that area.  She will not only be acquainted with the ins and outs of the region, she will also understand the value of one property over another.  Her expertise in finding homes on the market that fit your description will help you get the most for your dollar.  As a buyer, this service is most often paid for by the sellers.

Even if you’re not in a position to purchase yet because your home is not sold, looking at properties in advance gives you an opportunity to do your homework. Usually, the more you see, the more you come to realize what you like, what is available at your price range and where you want to live.  Then, when your home is sold, you’re ready to write up a contract on another.

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Hard Work Pays Off

We are working on getting our home ready to sell.   We really wanted to have a for sale sign up this spring but have found that our “to do” list is not complete.  Should we put it up for sale anyway, hoping it won’t matter?

If you’re serious about selling (and you sound like you are), it is very important to have your home “show ready” on day 1. Before your agent puts the sign up, gets photos taken and posts your home online, everything on your list should be checked off.  Inside that means, painting walls and trim where needed, cleaning and/or replacing floors, emptying closets, removing items from surfaces and counters and possibly removing and/or moving furniture.  All, including windows, should be clean and sparkling. Outside, flower beds should be weeded and mulched, shrubs trimmed, sidewalks and siding pressure washed and your deck cleaned and stained.

It is the simple truth that folks cannot see past clutter and dirt. Telling them that the carpet will be replaced next week or the pink room painted will not help you sell your home.  It is worth the wait to have it ALL done and move in ready before you put your home on the market, even if you miss the spring months.

Selling a home is not for the faint of heart. But like most things in life, hard work pays off.  When your list is complete and your home is on the market, buyers will be impressed.  Before you know it, you will be packing and moving on, buying someone else’s home and appreciating their hard work.

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For Sale By Owner

We want to sell our home. My sister suggested that we should try to sell it ourselves which would save us thousands of dollars. This sounds like a good idea. I am surprised more people don’t do it.  Why don’t they?

More people use real estate agents to sell instead of trying to sell themselves because they understand that selling a home is complicated and so best left to a professional. You may be thinking, “Of course she’s going to say that. She is a real estate agent and so needs to justify her profession.”   Yes I do.  Hear me out.

Selling a home is much more than deciding on a price, putting a sign in the yard and finding a buyer. In this tech savvy world, you can figure out how to prepare your home to sell, hopefully price it right and get it online. But what happens when you find a buyer? The 13 page agreement of sale is only the beginning.  Contingencies usually abound.  There is much more to negotiate than the price of your home.  Are your buyers qualified to pay what they said they would?  Have they supplied a mortgage preapproval?  How much deposit money are they putting down and what will you do with it?  What inspections are they requesting and what is their time frame for them?  Who will negotiate the ins and outs of the inspection report and corrective proposal?  Who will meet with the appraiser and respond to that value if it’s low?  What if the mortgage commitment has requirements the buyer can’t make by the deadline? These are only a few of the many items which could come up, putting you back to square one – looking for another buyer.

In the same way that you don’t do surgery on yourself, write your own insurance policy or overhaul your own car engine, you are better served using a professional to sell your home. And if saving money is your motivation (which is understandable), it is important to know that, according to the National Associations of Realtors, homes sold by real estate agents sold for 20% more than those sold by owners.

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Neutralizing Your Home

We have been in our home for 20 years and, in that time, have made it our own. We’ve painted bedrooms colors to please our kids and enjoyed decorating according to our tastes.  My husband is relocating so we have to sell.  Is it important to get rid of the colors which we love?

The colors that you love, that are specific to your taste and lifestyle, will not necessarily be the colors that others appreciate. Your job in selling is to make your property appeal to as many buyers as possible and neutralizing your home will do that.

This includes not only repainting walls and woodwork with an off white color. It also involves removing family photos, collections and trophies, replacing old and bright area rugs with more toned down ones and scraping off colorful or busy wall paper and borders.  Your purpose is to create a clean, simplified background – a home that buyers can visualize themselves in.

You may feel like offering an allowance to potential buyers to pick their own carpeting and paint makes more sense. But, purchasing a home is an emotional decision.  Buyers need to love your home when there.  Too much color and personal items can get in the way of them appreciating the beautiful home you’re selling.

I suggest that you contact a real estate agent who will help you make decisions about what colors to use and what to remove. She is in the business of helping sellers make their homes as appealing as possible to the most buyers.  In doing so, she will guide you through the repainting/removing/decluttering process step by step.  And then, before you know it, you will be packing and moving on.

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Seller’s Property Disclosure

We just met with a real estate agent to talk about selling our home.  She gave us a 9 page document to complete called the Seller’s Property Disclosure.  Answering the questions will take a lot of time and I don’t know how to answer some of them.  How important is this form? 

The Seller’s Property Disclosure is a thorough questionnaire of every imaginable aspect of your home and property.  It is very important.  By completing it, you as the seller, are able to provide information about your home that will help the buyer determine the condition before purchasing it.

For example, if your home is older, a buyer will want to know if the roof is the original.  Your answer to the question, “When was the roof installed?” will help the buyer know if he will need to replace it in the next few years.  There are questions about water leaks, plumbing lines, HVAC systems, septic tanks, home alterations and hazardous substances – lots of questions which need to be answered to the best of your knowledge.  If you honestly don’t know the answer, you can mark the unknown box.

In the state of Pennsylvania, this document must be completed by sellers and available for buyers when they sign a contract on your home.  Although time consuming to complete (yes, dig out old invoices to verify your answers), it is important to disclose any and all information on every aspect and to give an accurate and complete picture of the condition of your home.  Completing it thoroughly and honestly goes a long way toward giving buyers peace of mind.  And buyers that feel confident about the condition of your home will be more prone to purchase it.

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