Selling a house can truly be one of life’s more crazy experiences. It is probably the biggest transaction that you will ever make in one sitting, where the money is going totally to you. There are several things to consider before you put your home up on the market, and once you put it up for sale there are many things to do to make sure it sells quickly and at the price you want.
First of all, you will need to determine what your needs are when it comes to selling your house.
Where are you moving to? If you have received a promotion or other type of transfer for your job, or if you are starting an entirely new career somewhere else, you will want to have your house sold before you have to leave. There is nothing worse than having a home on the market in one city while living in another; in fact, this can take a substantial amount of money out of the profit on the sale of your home. Time is of the essence in this case, so have a well-laid plan about your sales strategy.
Sell yourself or use an agent? A lot of people will try to sell their homes on their own, in order to avoid the commission charged by an agent. What many do not realize is that selling on your own might actually cost more money than the commission would have in the end. A realtor knows the tricks of the trade as well as having the contacts that can help to reduce both time and fees paid in deed transfer and other legal costs. They will also have a lot of contacts among people who are looking to find houses for either themselves or for their clients.
Setting the price. Setting the price is probably the most difficult task when you are selling your home. Again, your realtor should be able to give you a very good estimate on what you can expect to sell your house for. This is usually based on what other homes in the vicinity are selling for as well as the general condition of your house. Most property tax assessments are now available over the Internet, so you can get a good idea of what the municipality thinks your property is worth by consulting their website.
Fix, fix, fix. Don’t expect that those little repairs that need doing in your house will go unnoticed by a buyer or by their agent. Take the time to look carefully at your house and determine what improvements should be made. The interior and exterior need to be free of aesthetic marks that will detract from the impression of the property, such as leaky faucets, peeling paint, holes, and damaged fences.
Once your house is on the market, it is a matter of waiting and of preparation. Home owners are usually informed of when buyers are coming to look at their houses, and you can be pro-active in the sale of your home by making sure that you are prepared.
Make sure that all of the cleaning and maintenance on your house is done, inside and out. Lawns should be mowed, and all trees, hedges, and bushes neatly pruned. Even if you have never bothered to prune before, you will want to make sure that this is done before viewers come to your door. Not only will it make the house look better, it will give a general impression of good upkeep that will translate to the rest of the property in the mind of the potential buyer.
Inside, vacuum and wash your house until it shines. Again, appearances mean a lot, and if you take care of the surface of your home the chances are good that you took good care of the inner workings. You should also start moving out before your house is viewed; having some furniture in the house will work well as it gives potential buyers a visual idea of what the house will look like furnished. However, any large pieces of furniture or other items should be taken out before the house is viewed as it may give the impression of crowding. You should also be sure to empty any storage spaces to show buyers that there is ample room in your house for their own storage.
Any time a house is sold, there is bound to be some wrangling over the price. This is generally true, but as demonstrated recently in the 2005 housing boom it is not always the case. Sometimes, house prices are actually negotiated upwards!
Most of the time, though, you can expect to have some back-and-forth with potential buyers about the actual price of your home. Most of the time, you will have some leeway to come down in your price, as generally it will be set a few thousand dollars above what you really want to sell it for. Be prepared to be fair in your negotiations, but do not let buyers take advantage of you.
Remember that just because you sell your house does not mean that you are free of responsibility. Legally, you are required to make full disclosure on any hazards that may be in your house. Perhaps the most emphatic illustration of this is the situation with lead paint; owners of houses with lead paint must ensure that the buyer is aware of the situation. Once informer, the buyer assumes the responsibility and risk. This can be as simple as providing a piece of paper to be signed acknowledging the exchange of information. It can seem like the move will be detrimental, but it is a lot worse to get sued for more years down the road!
Once the sale is complete, make sure that you keep all relative documents in a safe place. You will also want to be sure to apply right away for the capital gains exemption on your income tax; there is a limited amount of time to receive this exemption.