How To Sell Your Home For Maximum Gain
The first principle is to prepare for the sale well in
advance. If your plan, for example, is to list your home
for sale in May or June, it's wise to lay the ground work for the
sale in January or February at the latest. You can use this
advance time to clear the property of junk, contract out some
home improvement work, do some of the project work yourself, pack
up extra belongings, have a garage sale, donate items, etc.
Consider asking a real estate agent for a professional
walkthrough several months in advance: you might be surprised at
the profitable advice he or she can offer.|
Here are some
important steps you should take before you put your house on the
- Get a loan approval for your next home first.
You don't want to sign a contract to sell your house before
knowing if you are qualified to buy another. You'll get a good
idea of what you can afford by getting a pre-approval before
selling your house. You can then decide whether it would be
reasonable to sell your house at this point in time, or perhaps
consider renting instead.
- Determine the Fair Market Value of your
house. You'll want to get the best price for your
property and in the quickest time possible. Over-pricing your
home will only limit your chances of selling fast, while
under-pricing may speed up the process but you lose out in the
bargain. An agent or an appraisal service should be able to
assist in determining the fair market value of your home. Zillow.com has a
home-valuation calculator that lets you estimate your home's
approximate value quickly.
- Estimate the cost of selling:
- Real estate commissions (3% on up to 7%.)
- Attorney, closing agent and other professional fees (several hundred dollars.)
- Capital gains tax (if applicable) and excise taxes (1% to 5%).
- Advertising costs, if you plan to sell home yourself.
- Home improvements. Are there improvements
that could be made to your home that would increase the value
cost-effectively and help it sell faster? Usually that's not the
case, but your home may have some "hidden value": an unfinished
area that could be turned into an additional bedroom or bathroom,
for example, could increase your property value by 10% or more
depending on the market. See our home
improvement section for advice in this area.
- Maximize "curb appeal". It's amazing
that sometimes just $500 in landscaping or a quick touch-up on
the outside paint can increase buyer traffic from 2 people a week
touring your home to 20 people a week. Be sure the approach to
your home is clean, tidy and well groomed. Make sure the grass is
cut, leaves raked, plant beds mulched and weeded, etc. Any brass
should be polished, paint on the door should be in good condition
and the door should be washed clean of fingerprints and paw
- Make necessary repairs. You don't want
to turn off a buyer because of minor repairs which you haven't
attended to. Don't ignore repairs for these reasons: (1)
the home could take a long time to sell, (2) you will probably
still end up paying the cost of the repair work for the buyer,
(3) you could get a lower sales price because the property was
"stigmatized" by not selling within the first few months, and (4)
you'll also have to keep paying the mortgage and maintenance
expenses while you wait for your home to sell.
- Get the house ready to show. This
includes clearing out junk, making repairs, cleaning,
landscaping, deodorizing if need be, and perhaps repainting. Get
a walkthrough by an experienced real estate agent early on to get
their value-building advice. You'll want your house to be
sparkling clean and well-ordered when a buyer comes to see your
place. A clutter-free environment is essential if you want the
house to appeal to the buyer.
- Make your home's visual appeal fairly
broad. If the decorating in your home is unusual,
you'll risk turning off prospective buyers. Pack up
distracting elements, try to use "neutral" colors (e.g. beige or
off-white), and move out excessive furniture to make your home
seem larger. You want buyers looking at the house, not your
To Find A Real Good Agent
When you're ready to choose a real estate professional, here's
what to look for:
- A local real estate agent should know your neighborhood well
so he or she can help you determine a fair market price. The
agent should also be able to recommend repairs or improvements.
- Ask family, friends and neighbors for referrals. You
could also search Google for "best real estate agent"
yourcity (include the quote marks for best results, and also
try pluralizing agent to agents.)
- Phone-interview several agents to find out how
professional or experienced they may be. Most will be happy to
supply a written outline of how they plan to market your property
and the services they will include.
- Evaluate the personal "chemistry". Do you feel
comfortable with the agent as a fair partner who will work with
you to give you advice and act as your representative? Does he or
she focus on the importance of meeting client needs and personal
expectations, or is he or she caught up in the "hard sell?"
- The firm that your agent is associated with is also
important. Find out the firm's commission rate. Some firms can
offer discounts on everything from painters to mortgages to
moving services. Other firms might try to channel business to
their high-paid buddies at your expense.
- There are also low-cost options such as selling your
home yourself or using a cut-rate agent that charges a flat fee
as low as $3,000. However, you run the risk of getting
little exposure for your property or somehow botching the sales
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Alliance, all rights reserved.