Get Your Home Ready
Have your real estate agent take a close look at your home and let you know what needs to be done to get it ready to sell. I give my clients a video tape titled "Preparing for the Buyerís Eye" to help them get their home in top condition. The tape features Tony Randall, "Mr. Clean" of the old Odd Couple TV series. Properly preparing your home before putting it in the multiple listing will help get you a higher price and a quicker sale. In general, you want your home to look as clean and as new as possible. Everything should be in working order. Many things determine the value of your home. If you are selling a home in the late fall or winter, provide your Realtor with photos of your property that were taken in the spring or summer.
Carpeting and Painting
Painting walls and replacing carpet are the most frequent cost effective recommendations. Because of recent mold concerns, make sure that anyone installing new carpet agrees to replace all existing tack strips. This is especially important in the basement and anywhere the carpet may have gotten wet. Some companies leave many of the old tack strips in place and reuse them.
Home Owner & Condo Association Requirements
Also don't forget that if you live in a Fairfax or other Northern Virginia neighborhood with a Home Owner or Condo Association, then your property and your home's exterior will be inspected for rule violations by the association prior to the sale. The inspection results are part of the package of information you are required to give to the purchaser for a three day review. Your association will probably require that any violations be fixed prior to closing.
Sell or Donate Your Extra Stuff
Relocation is seldom fun, but there are ways to make it easier. Donít pass up the opportunity to sell or give away all of that stuff you have stored, but havenít used for a year or more. Getting rid of things may be hard to do, but it will also make your move to a new home easier. If you are relocating across country, it may even be cheaper to buy new furniture and appliances than to move them. Yard sales and donations to local charities are both great ways to reduce clutter and make your home more attractive to buyers. Many charities will pickup donations, but you may have to wait until their next scheduled trip into your neighborhood, so call ahead to find out their needs and schedule. The number for Value Village is 1-800-296-1122 and the number for AMVETs is 1-800-526-8387. VetsConnect can be reached at 1-888-872-4882. You can also drop off stuff at Salvation Army stores or call 1-800-958-7825 for a special pickup of heavy items.
Home Warranties Help Sell Your Home
When listing an older home for sale, I recommend that you get a Home Owners Warranty that covers the house while it is on the market and then continues coverage at no extra cost for the buyer after settlement. Most buyers are going to ask for home warranty anyway, so why not buy it while you can get some of the benefit as a home owner and use it as a marketing tool. there are several companies to choose from with prices ranging from about $400 to $550 because of slightly varying coverages and deductibles. You do not pay for the policy until settlement, but you get protection right away. Also it reduces the likelihood of post settlement lawsuits.
Use an Experienced Realtor with an ePRO Certification
Make sure that you use an experienced full time Realtor. You should be aware that not all real estate agents are Realtors. Find a Realtor with a lot of experience and training. Professionally recognized designations and certifications such as ePRO, GRI, ABR, CDPE, SRES, and CSP are an indication of an agent who has training above and beyond the basics needed to get a license. Most new agents drop out within the first two years, but do a few transactions during that time period. Don't let your home sale become someone's training course. Most home searches now start on the internet.
Find an agent who can create a virtual tour with multiple photos of your home on multiple internet sites.
Beware Referral Companies
Beware of internet companies offering to refer you to a good or experienced Realtor or agent. The primary requirement for an agent to be listed with many of these companies is simply to be willing to pay them a fee for referrals. Education and experience requirements are minimal if they exist at all. Many newer agents use these companies, because the agents lack the experience and referral client base to obtain enough leads on their own to stay in business. Discount real estate companies, and their agents who have to rely on volume, may not be able to provide the level of attention and service that you expect and deserve.
Leave the Keys, etc.
Don't forget to remove your garage door openers from your cars and leave the openers in the house or give them and all keys to the buyers at settlement. If you are selling a rental unit, be sure to get the mailbox key from the tenants before they vacate. It costs you time and money to get a new mailbox key from the post office. Don't forget to have the utilities turned off as soon as possible after settlement.
Choose Your Moving Company Carefully
Be wary of moving companies that give weight or time estimates over the phone. There have been national TV shows about moving companies that say your furniture weighs significantly more than their estimate and refuse to release your furniture until you pay the additional fees. I also know of two local hourly fee cases where the truck used was too small to hold all of the household goods. This meant that a second trip was necessary to complete the job. In both cases, mostly light stuff had been loaded first so that the remaining items were not things that the home owners could easily move on their own. To make matters worse, there was no time left to complete the jobs on the scheduled days and the following day was already fully booked.