Here are some helpful pointers to keep in mind when you are selling your home.
Click to view our Seller Process Diagram
Click on the numbered link to expand to view the answer.
Click on the numbered link again when you are finished viewing the answer.
1. Why should you hire a REALTOR® to sell your home?
All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR "®" logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics
and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.
Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®.
But if you're still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are a dozen
more reasons to use one:
- Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power
Your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a
REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings,
income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best
qualified to help you. Most lenders, banks and mortgage companies,
offer limited choices.
- Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home
search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not
actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation
by your agent to find all available properties.
- Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are
REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities,
zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you'll want to know. First,
will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
- Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of
possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you
to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
- Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank
and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR® can assist you in
finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property.
Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.
- Your REALTOR® can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.
- Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.
- When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.
- Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents
and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the
public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales
are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to
utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their
- Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise
your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate.
The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82%
of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
- Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer's proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is
only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing --
a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write
a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through
- Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the
initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise.
For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud
in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).
2. Preparing your home for showings
You do not get a second chance to make a first impression. This is especially true when selling a house. Buyers typically make up their minds within 10 seconds of entering the front door, then spend the rest of their visit reaffirming their decision.
An attractive yard is the first step to drawing buyers to a property.
- Keep the lawn cut and trees/shrubbery trimmed.
- Weed flower beds and remove any dead plants/shrubs.
- Add colorful potted flowers or plants to the front porch and/or deck.
- Be sure plants to do not block windows.
- Keep driveways, walkways and porches free of leaves and debris.
- Add a fresh coat of paint, stain or varnish to the front door and door frame.
- Clean gutters so they are free of debris.
- Caulk around windows, if needed.
- Minimize the amount of furniture on your patio, deck and other outdoor areas.
- Put away lawn mowers, rakes, shovels, and other landscaping tools.
- Buy a new doormat and hang a colorful wreath to welcome buyers.
When selling your house, less is definitely more! De-personalizing and
de-cluttering your home will enable potential buyers to visually move in;
it will also make your house appear more spacious.
Sparkle & Shine
- Get rid of unwanted items before you move! Give them away, donate them,
or have a yard sale.
- Clear surfaces of all but the bare essentials; minimize accessories, and reduce the number of books on shelves.
- Remove personal photographs to depersonalize and keep buyers focused
- Clean out closets/pantries, making sure the floors are clear so the storage
space appears roomier.
- Pack out-of-season clothes and holiday items.
- Put away collections and other valuables to avoid breakage; store prescription medications out of sight to avoid theft.
- Store political and religious mementos so your home appeals to as many
buyers as possible.
- Items containing personal information should be kept in a safe place out of
sight (ex: mail, bills, etc.) to avoid identify theft.
- Remove area rugs and oversized furniture so rooms appear larger.
To make your home stand out from others on the market, be sure it sparkles!
Clean the house from top to bottom, including corners where cobwebs hide.
Be sure windows and mirrors shine. Pay special attention to vent covers, switch plates, light fixtures, and baseboards.
Parents of Small Children
- Make sure your kitchen is spotless. Give all appliances a thorough cleaning, inside and out. Take magnets and other items off the refrigerator.
- Clean inside and around the fireplace. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, dispose of ashes and partially-burned pieces of wood.
- Clean windows inside and out so light is able to enter and illuminate your home.
If you live in a wooded area, remove screens.
- Keep floors swept. Vacuum and steam clean carpets to give them a new look.
- Remove stains from the garage floor. Stack boxes vertically along garage
walls to highlight its storage capacity.
- Make sure your bathrooms are spotless. Wipe off the counter and floor;
clean the sink, toilet, shower/bathtub, and mirrors.
- Wipe down walls, doors and door knobs.
- Keep plastic bins handy to store toys at a moment’s notice.
- Reduce the number of toys in main areas of the home and in the yard.
- Be sure all toilets are flushed and potty training seats are out of sight.
- Store pet toys, beds, food and food dishes out of sight.
- Keep litter boxes scooped and out of sight. Be sure the yard is free of waste.
- Open windows to air out the house.
- Use neutralizing air fresheners.
- Open windows to air out the house.
- If you smoked indoors prior to listing your house, steam clean carpets
and drapes; wash bedding & linens.
- Then, smoke outside while the house is listed. If you currently smoke
outdoors, be sure cigarette butts are properly disposed of.
3. Should I list my house for sale during a certain season?
Choose Your Selling Season
Because many buyers prefer to move in the spring or summer, the market starts
to heat up as early as February. Families with children are eager to buy so they
can move during summer vacation, before the new school year begins.
The market slows down in late summer before picking up again briefly in the fall. November and December are traditionally been slow months, although some
astute buyers look for bargains during this period.
Despite these trends, there are often more important considerations.
Ask yourself questions like these:
- How quickly do I need to move? If you need to relocate quickly for a
new job or family emergency, you'll need to sell as quickly as possible.
If your moving dates are more flexible, you may be able to get a higher
sale price in the spring or summer.
Pinpoint Your Home's Seasonal Perks
Once you've chosen your selling season, play up its perks!
Winter Selling Tips
- What season will your home be most desirable? If you're selling a
lake or beach home, for sale homes will be most in-demand in the early
spring and summer months. A ski chalet in Aspen would make more
buyers bite during wintertime.
Fall Selling Tips
- Clear snow and ice away from walkways and stairs. If you live in an
area with lots of snow and ice, keep walking areas salted and shoveled.
Buyers and agents want to see that your home is well maintained, and,
of course, you're not likely to wow a house hunter if they fall on the way
in and break a leg.
- Stage it outside. Even if the grass is brown and the patio is
covered, you can still do some outdoor staging. Tasteful winter
and garlands can make your home seem welcoming. Just like
the house, pick decorations that will appeal to a wide variety of buyers.
Blow-up snow globes and giant plastic Santa’s are probably no-no’s.
- Make it cozy. When it's cold outside, a toasty, warm interior is
to appeal to buyers. If you have a wood or gas stove or fireplace,
a showing or open house is the perfect time to light it up and show
Burn some scented candles and place warm, fuzzy throws on the
to make your house seem even homier.
- Clean up your windows. In the winter, dull, dusty windows can go
unnoticed. Making them sparkling clean will let much-needed light in.
You can have a gorgeous room, but if the windows are dirty, it won't look
as beautiful or as bright. Pull back dark window treatments and adding a
shade or valance for a touch of color. Or, you can also replace window
treatments with ecru or white sheers for an elegant look.
Spring Staging Tips
- Keep your lawn in shape. Just because summer is over doesn't mean
you should abandon your lawn. Patch up any brown spots in the grass,
and keep falling leaves at bay with frequent raking.
- Get a fall garden. As your summer plants start to fade, replace them
with vibrant mums or other colorful plants. Tasteful fall decorations,
pumpkins or tri-colored corn, can also add to your home's curb appeal.
- Get indoor fall decorations, too. Without breaking the bank, get a
fall-colored decorations, like inexpensive window treatments or
seasonal dinnerware. Fresh decor will make your space seem current
- Repair outside lights. As the days get shorter, you may end up
showing your home in the dark. Make sure your outdoor lights are
if they're dirty or broken, buyers will get a bad
feeling before they even come inside.
- Keep exterior photos of your home up-to-date. If you listed your
home in the summer, update your online photos with brand new fall
shots. Pictures from the previous season make your listing seem dated.
Summer Staging Tips
- Whip your yard into shape. When you're selling in the spring, you
to get your yard in shape as quickly as possible. Clear winter
and get frost-resistant plants that won't be affected if a late
cold spell hits.
Or, invest in silk flowers for a touch of color that you don't
have to worry
- Do some spring cleaning. It's natural to want to spruce up your
in the spring, so scrub away! A sparkling home will impress
and make your home seem even more appealing.
- Box up your winter wardrobe. Bulky winter clothes take up lots of
so move them out as you de-clutter your closets.
with all that space.
- Spruce up the entryway. If your welcome mat is covered with winter
dirt, pick up a new one. A clean, pretty doorway will help set the tone
for the entire showing.
- Bring spring aromas indoors. Spring is not only a colorful season,
fragrant one, too. Bring the aroma indoors. Scents have a profound
on mood, so infusing scent into your decor with diffusers, candles,
cut plants/flowers, or incense can change the overall feeling of a space.
- Bring out the bright colors. Tuck away the heavy, winter flannel
and pull out crisp linens with coverlets for color. Bring in the
floral-designed spreads or colorful solids. Don't forget accent
added style and comfort.
- Highlight your patio. Clean or paint your decking if necessary, and
make any necessary outdoor repairs. No deck? Arrange chairs or
outdoor furniture in your yard to create the illusion of an outdoor room.
- Play up the pool. A pool is a huge selling point during the
of summer. Keep yours clean and debris-free, and create a seating area
near the pool where buyers can imagine themselves floating
- Provide refreshments. Even though you likely won't be home for a
greet buyers like you would party guests. During the dog days of summer,
set out a cool pitcher of lemonade for buyers. Anything you can
do to make
them linger a little longer can only help you sell.
4. Should I upgrade or remodel before selling?
Despite home price drops in many cities, remodeling projects are holding their
own as a way for owners to add value.
Many people are wondering where their money will be safest during these
uncertain economic times. When home owners turn to you for your expert advice, counsel them that some things never change: Investing in their home still pays off.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® statistics show that home prices
have fallen by an average of 7 percent nationally in the past year. But the value
of home owners’ investment in remodeling projects has declined only 3.86 percent
on average between 2007 and 2008, according to Remodeling’s 2008–2009
Cost vs. Value Report.
Top 10 Project Paybacks
Once again, exterior remodeling projects lead the way for recovery on dollars
spent in this year’s Cost vs. Value survey. When you compare the national
averages, replacement projects that boost curb appeal—siding, windows, and
decks—give you the greatest chance of recouping your money.
kitchen remodels can compare, at least on a national level.
- Upscale fiber cement siding (86.7%)
- Midrange wood deck (81.8%)
- Midrange vinyl siding (80.7%)
- Upscale foam-backed vinyl (80.4%)
- Midrange minor kitchen remodel (79.5%)
- Upscale vinyl window replacement (79.2%)
- Midrange wood window replacement (77.7%)
- Midrange vinyl window replacement (77.2%)
- Upscale wood window replacement (76.5%)
- Midrange major kitchen remodel (76.0%)
5. How do I determine my home's fair market value and
a competitive sale's price?
Simply put, the fair market value of a house is the highest price an informed
buyer will pay, assuming there is no unusual pressure to complete the purchase.
It is usually not the asking price. To get an estimate of fair market value, ask me
for a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) of your house. This service is free of
any charge, without obligation. The analysis will give you a realistic figure based
on the most salient points of the local real estate market. It should provide information about recent sales of similar houses, including how much they
sold for and how long it took.
Generally speaking, the owner's asking price, the advertised price of a house
when it goes on the market, is set slightly higher than fair market value. You
can assume that some negotiation will be necessary to reach an agreement
with a buyer. The agent who presents you with the results of your CMA will
help you establish a competitive pricing strategy.
Real estate sales agents suggest asking prices based on a wide array of
information you may not have at your disposal, 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?
6. Moving and packing tips
If you are like most people, you probably view moving as an unpleasant, stressful and time-consuming experience which often results in broken dishes and sore muscles. With a little care and planning, you and your belongings will both arrive at your new home in mint condition. The checklist below will help you prepare for your move.
Tax-Deductible Moving Expenses
- Purchase/Gather Packing Supplies. If you are a do-it-yourself mover, you
will need to gather packing materials including boxes, tape, scissors, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, newspapers and blankets. The produce department
at your local grocery store is a good source for large, sturdy boxes for your
non-fragile items. Your local beer store is also a good source for small boxes.
The boxes that wine bottles come in are great for packing glasses and stemware since they come with cardboard dividers. Suitcases and gym bags are also good options for packing clothes, shoes and other items.
- Discard, Sell or Donate Unwanted Items.
Go through each room of your
house and sort through your belongings. Place all of the unused items into
one of three piles - (1) Discard, (2) Sell, or (3) Donate. This will force you to
do the cleaning you’ve probably been putting off and will result in fewer items
to pack. Throw out the items in the “discard” pile. Hold a yard sale to get rid
of the items you want to sell. Another option is to post unwanted items on www.craigslist.com to sell. After the yard sale is over or a designated time
has passed when items do not sell online, gather the items that did not sell,
add it to the pile of items to “donate” and give it all to charity. Most donations
- Begin Packing.
Many people wait until the last minute to start packing.
You can make packing easier by doing it a little at a time. Get a head start
by boxing items that are not frequently used such as books, linen, and
seasonal clothing. Pack one room at a time and try not to mix items from
different rooms in one box. Pack heavy items such as books in small boxes.
Pack clothes in wardrobe boxes to save ironing time later. Clearly label each
box, including the Room it goes in and a brief description of the contents.
- Change Your Address.
Contact the post office with your new address and
the date it becomes effective. Address changes can be done online simply
by going to the U.S. Postal Service website. Remember to contact your employer,
creditors, banks, insurance carriers, newspapers, magazines, physicians, and
schools with your address change. Do not forget to change your address with
the Motor Vehicle Administration.
- Notify Family and Friends.
Inform your family and friends of your new
address (and phone number, if applicable).
- Clean Your Old Residence.
Leave your old residence as you would like
to find it. Vacuum the carpet, sweep & mop
the floor, wipe off counters and
stoves, clean sinks, tubs and toilets, and wipe out
the refrigerator. Be sure
to double-check cabinets, drawers, closets, storage rooms,
the washer and
dryer, and the refrigerator to make sure nothing is left behind before
the house for the last time.
- Prepare Moving Day Kits.
Since the majority of your property will be in boxes,
it is important to remember
to set aside the items you will need on the day of
the move. This should include
a change of clothes, a towel, prescription drugs, toothbrush and toothpaste,
toilet paper, and your toiletries. You should also set aside moving-related
items such as tools, scissors/utility knife, tape, trash bags, paper towels,
a flashlight, a first aid kit, and aspirin. Other items to have handy
day include paper plates, plastic utensils and cups, snacks and beverages.
If your move is job related, many of the expenses connected with
may be tax deductible*. Some of these include:
- The cost of moving your household goods.
- Expenses incurred while house-hunting.
- Travel expenses during the move for you and your family.
- The cost of moving your household goods.
- The cost of meals and temporary lodging for up to 30 days after
you get the new job.
- The expenses, of selling your house and buying a new one.
To substantiate your claim, keep an accurate, detailed account of your
moving expenses, including all receipts.
* It is recommended that you consult with your own tax advisor or attorney
to determine what is currently allowable under IRS codes specific to your