Home Buyers Guide

Discover essential insights and expert tips in our home buyer's guide,
your comprehensive resource for a successful buying experience

Additional buyer Information

Sellers Tips

Pricing a home

If you are planning on selling a house, you will need to decide what price to ask for your home. This is one of the most important and difficult decisions you will make. Buyers select by comparison shopping, so your home must be fair market priced. I can help you determine the fair market value of your home. The first five sections of this help guide will take you through a quick overview of the selling process.

Remember, your home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. By working with a qualified real estate professional, you can ensure that your property will receive the needed exposure to attract interested parties who are willing to make an offer.

The first step in determining the market value of your home is to prepare a comparative market analysis reflecting the prices of other sold houses in the your market area. There is usually no charge to have a CMA prepared for you. If you would like a free CMA prepared on your property, please contact a real estate professional.

You may think you can always lower the price, but overpriced listings aren't shown and houses that are on the market a long time become "shop worn" and do not sell for top dollar.

Make Your Home Look Its Best

When you are selling your home you want to present the very best product. Buyers carefully inspect property. Keep the exterior neat by painting the trim, clipping the hedges, mowing, edging, and weeding the lawn and you may wish to plant a few flowers.

Inside lighten up the dark corners, perhaps add some fresh paint and put the clutter away to give the rooms an open feeling. Make sure there are no "stale" odors in the home. This can be especially important for remote areas such as a basement or attic. On the second showings, you may want to consider baking some cookies or bring in some fragrant fresh flowers. This will add a cheery and pleasant scent to your home. These little things may help you sell your home more quickly. 

Marketing Your Home

It is not likely that the right buyer will simply walk through your door. Properties must be presented to the buyers. A successful marketing campaign can insure a number of qualified buyers. Select an agent who uses agent to agent marketing, and one who uses state-of-the-art techniques such as an interactive voice-response system, a front end MLS system and the internet. Make sure your agent is trained not only in the financial aspect of a real estate transaction, but the marketing aspect as well.

An Offer!

Assuming you price your home correctly, a prospective buyer will "make an offer." As the seller, you have three options: you can accept the offer, reject the offer or make a counter offer. A counter offer usually will encourage a buyer to continue their negotiations. You may also receive multiple offers. You may prefer to take slightly less for your property from someone who is willing to pay cash, versus someone who needs to sell their current home. Contingencies, move-in dates, and financing are all things to consider when weighing an offer.

The Closing

After you accept an offer on your property there are a number of details to be completed. There will probably be an inspection of your home by a professional who will determine the condition and integrity of your property for the buyer. The buyer's mortgage company may choose to send out an appraiser who will assure the lender of your property's worth. The title company will warranty that there are no liens or existing encumbrances which would inhibit a transfer of title to the buyer. Either you or the buyer may chose to be represented by an attorney. First time sellers and buyers often feel more comfortable to have the paper work reviewed prior to signing.

Preparing Your Home to Show

First impressions are lasting. The view from the street has an impact on the buyer's reaction to the entire house. The addition of seasonal flowers works wonders. Keep the lawn trimmed and edged. Be sure snow and ice are removed. Remember the importance of exterior paint and the front door appearance.

Jazz it up inside. Faded walls and worn or soiled carpeting reduces appeal. Most buyers are attracted to homes offering "move-in" condition and neutral colors and they often over estimate the cost of decorating changes.

Can you see the light? Keep your home looking cheerful. Dark rooms feel dreary so keep the draperies open to let the sun shine in through sparkling windows. Provide a feeling of glowing warmth by turning on all the lights (closets, too) for an evening showing.

Fix that faucet! Dripping water discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing. Also, attend to loose knobs or hand rails, sticking doors or warped drawers which can detract from your home's value.

Make closets look bigger. Neat, well-ordered closets suggest room to spare. Can you move extra items to another location?

From top to bottom. Display the full size of your basement, garage and storage areas by removing all unnecessary articles. Brighten dull, dark basements by painting the walls.

Bathrooms need to sparkle. Repair caulking in bathtubs and showers.
if it is cold outside. Logs crackling in the fireplace can be a hit for second showings.

The icing on the cake. Setting the dining room table as though it's time for a dinner party helps buyers imagine themselves living there.

During the Showing

Three is a crowd. Avoid having too many people present during inspections. The potential buyer will feel like an intruder and will hurry through the home.

Man's best friend. Keep pets out of the way- preferably out of the home. Even the friendliest pet can become anxious when strangers appear.

Can You Sell Your House Yourself?

According to the National Association of Realtors between three and nine percent of American homeowners handle their own sales. In order to join the ranks of the successful ones, you need to realistically assess exactly what's involved. The routine parts of the job involve pricing your house accurately, determining whether or not a buyer is qualified, creating and paying for your own advertising, familiarizing yourself with enough basic real estate regulations to understand (and possibly even prepare) a real estate contract, and coordinating the details of a closing. The greatest downsides are the demand on your time, and the possibility that a mistake may cost you the money you are trying to save.

The best reason for working with real estate brokers is the enormous amount of information they have at their disposal. Professionals know about market trends, houses in your neighborhood, and the people most likely to buy there. They also know how to reach the largest number of people who may be interested in your house, and are trained in areas like screening potential buyers and negotiating with them. Finally, Realtors are always "on-call," and willing to do the things most of us hate: working on the weekends, answering the phone at all hours, and always being polite.

Set a Realistic Price.

Today's residential real estate market is no place to look for easy profit. The fact is, prices have generally leveled off from their peak during the 1980's. That is not to say you cannot get what your house is worth. You just have to be realistic about its value, and price it accordingly. A good place to start is by determining the fair market value.

How to Determine Your Asking Price.

Real estate sales agents suggest asking prices based on a variety of information you may not have, 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? What would you pay for the house if you were the buyer?

Someone else -- a neighbor, friend or relative -- may point out advantages or disadvantages about your house that you had not thought about. Third-party views will help you start thinking of your house as a commodity, with positive and negative selling points. Then you should decide on a price that you feel is competitive and consistent with what other houses in your area have sold for.

Fix Your House Up Before it Goes on the Market.

Unless your house is nearly new, chances are you want to do some work to get it ready to market. The type and amount of work depends largely on the price you ask, the time you have to sell, and of course, the present condition of the house. If you are in a hurry to sell, do the "little things" that make your house look better from the outside and show better inside.

Create "Curb Appeal."

"Curb appeal" is a common real estate term for everything prospective buyers can see from the street that might make them want to see the inside of the property. Improving curb appeal is critical to generating traffic. While it does take time, it need not be difficult or expensive, provided you keep two key words in mind: neat and neutral.

Neatness sells. New paint, an immaculate lawn, picture-perfect shrubbery, a newly sealed driveway, potted plants at the front door -- put them all together, and drive-by shoppers will probably want to see the rest of the house. Hand-in-hand with neatness is neutrality. If you're going to repaint, stick to light, neutral colors. Keep the yard free of gardening tools and the kids' toys. Remember, when a family looks at a house, they are trying to paint a picture of what it would be like as their home.

Make Sure Your House Shows its Best.

First, make your house look as clean and spacious as possible. Remember, people may look behind your doors -- closet and crawlspace doors as well as those to the bedrooms and bathrooms. So get rid of all the clutter; have that garage sale and haul away the leftovers. After you've cleaned, try to correct any cosmetic flaws you've noticed. Paint rooms that need it, grout tile walls and floors, remove or replace any worn-out carpets. Replace dated faucets, light fixtures, and the handles and knobs on your kitchen drawers and cabinets. Finally, as with the outside of your house, try to make it easy for prospective buyers to imagine your house as their home. Clear as much from your walls, shelves, and countertops as you can. Give your prospects plenty of room to dream.

Moving Day

Moving does not always mean a traumatic experience. Comprehensive pre-planning, organization, and family meetings to establish each person's responsibilities will go a long way in maintaining harmony and efficiency. For the children: If you are moving out-of-town, provide the children with photographs of their new home and school. Once they know what to expect and begin to visualize themselves in their new surroundings, they grow much happier and more cooperative.

Give each child his or her own "packing labels" for marking personal possessions.

Provide them with floor plans of their new bedrooms so they can participate in furniture placement. Give children small address books for noting names and addresses of friends they leave behind. They can look forward to filling the remainder of the book with names of the new friends they make after moving.

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