How do I create curb appeal?
The difference between a totally forgettable property and a home with great curb appeal really just comes down to the small touches. A fresh coat of paint, color choices that make your front door pop, and exterior lighting all help to make a great first impression. Other small upgrades you can make to greatly enhance your curb appeal are new shutters and window boxes, adding potted plants, and short walkways. Replacing old hardware like railings, mailboxes, and house numbers and making sure that the entrance to your house is as symmetrical as possible are the finishing touches that will make your home stand out from the crowd.
What factors can influence the price of my home?
You've probably heard that the three biggest factors in real estate value are location, location, location! The level of crime in a neighborhood and its proximity to services like schools, hospitals, and shopping are all major factors that influence the value of a home. The quality of the view and traffic levels can also be an influence. Aside from the location of your home, the biggest factors are the size of your house and lot, and the general state of repair of the home. A house with all brand new amenities (appliances, air conditioning, fireplaces) will fetch a significantly higher price than an identical home with twenty year old appliances.
What is my role in the selling process?
Your role in the selling process is to maintain your property in the optimum state for viewings. This means keeping it in good repair and neat, making sure the entire property is easily accessible, and being easy to contact so viewings can be arranged easily.
What does a real estate agent do?
The job of a real estate agent is to match people who are interested in purchasing property with suitable properties that are for sale. Generally, both buyers and sellers will hire their own agents. It is the agents' job to be able to evaluate a home to determine its value, and to assist sellers in setting a price and help buyers determine an offer.
Should I be there while buyers view my home?
It is generally considered to be a best practice to not be at home while buyers are viewing your house. The buyers want to imagine themselves living there, and if you are hovering around the house it will make them self-conscious and uncomfortable. It is the job of the real estate agent to make sure potential buyers are respectful of your belongings, so trust them to take care of your home.
Should I prepare my house differently for open houses?
If you are selling your home, you should have already made sure it's in great condition. The only difference for your open house is that you should do your best to make it look like you don't live there anymore. Remove and pack away personal effects and photographs, and make an effort to make everything look new. Visitors to your open house will have a much easier time imagining themselves living there if they aren't distracted by your history of living in your home.
How should I appraise my property?
While you can pay a professional appraiser to determine an accurate value for your home, you can get a reasonably good estimate of your home's value for free simply by comparing your home to other similar homes in your area that have sold recently. This is the basic method that professional appraisers use (they just modify this figure with a few other formulas) so this will give you a good sense of the market value of your home.
What will happen at closing?
The closing is a meeting where home ownership is officially transferred from you to your buyer. Both parties and their agents will go over all the paperwork a final time to make sure everything is in order, and then the buyer will give you money and you will give the seller the signed deed. This is also when you will pay off your mortgage, if you have one, and pay closing fees to your real estate agent.
Should I fix any of my property's problems before selling?
The answer to this question depends on what the problems with your property actually are. You need to evaluate the cost of the repairs compared to how much the repairs will improve your selling price. Your real estate agent can help you decide which repairs are worth making beforehand, and which to leave as negotiating chips with your buyer.
Should I hire a lawyer to make sure selling my property goes smoothly?
In some states, attorneys must be involved in the closing. But even in states where it is not a requirement, it is a good idea. Real estate transactions are generally the largest and most complex transactions most people make in their lives, and so it makes a lot of sense to have an expert at least look over the documents and make sure that they are in order.
What is a 48 hour clause?
A 48 hour clause is just a simple way to protect the interests of both the buyer and seller of a piece of real estate. A buyer may ask for a 48 hour clause if they want to make an offer on a house with the condition that they sell their own home first before they can purchase the new one. If the seller accepts this condition, a 48 hour clause may be inserted into the contract that says if the seller gets a better offer while waiting for the original buyer to sell their home, they can give the original buyer 48 hours' notice that they will be accepting the new offer if the original buyer does not follow through on the purchase. This clause basically means that a buyer can make an offer on a house they can't yet afford, and if the seller agrees to wait for the buyer, they can get out of the contract with 48 hours' notice when a better offer comes along.
The notice period is not always 48 hours. 24 hour and 72 hour notices are also common.
Is there a best time to sell my house?
Many people believe that you should always wait until the spring to put a house on the market. The theory is that potential buyers aren't busy with Christmas holidays or away for the summer, the exterior of your house will look its best with everything blooming outside, and that people who are viewing your home will be the most optimistic and forgiving of small imperfections in the spring. Early fall is usually considered the second best time to list a house, for similar reasons.
However, it is important to take your situation into account. Depending on the type of property you are trying to sell and how urgently you need to sell, it can make sense to list houses at different times of the year. For example, condos and small townhouses are often purchased by young professionals without families, and they are as likely to buy in the middle of winter as they are in the spring. Your agent will be able to give you advice about whether to list your property now or wait for a different season.
What are my obligations to disclose?
You must disclose any major physical faults with the property that could potentially affect the value. If you are uncertain about whether or not you should disclose something, it is generally better to err on the side of disclosure. It will protect you from liability in the future, and it will make your buyer feel that you are being forthright and honest. If you want to avoid disclosing something, speak to your agent about it so they can advise you.
What do I do if my house isn't getting activity?
Price and condition are always the two most important factors in selling a home. If you are not attracting offers, it likely means that your asking price is too high for the market. Your options are to lower your asking price, perform repairs and cosmetic upgrades on your property, or simply remove your house from the listing and wait for the overall housing market to improve. You should also make sure that your home is getting the proper amount of exposure through advertising and open houses.