In spite of all the wonderful years you might have spent living in it, your home is simply another piece of property to a potential buyer. When you are selling your property, you want to get the best price with the fewest hassles, but you also need to learn to “see” your home as a buyer sees it – a very large investment that may require additional time and money to make it his or her home.
- Step back and look at your home without the rose-colored glasses. That gash in the wallpaper? That’s where little Johnny slipped and fell when he was learning to walk. Johnny is fine, but the wallpaper never recovered. To you it’s a memory. To a potential buyer, it’s a sign of indifference.
- Get an inspection. A qualified home inspector can point out the true mechanical condition of your home. Are the cracks in the basement floor cosmetic or structural? Will that boiler or furnace live another decade, or expire in three months when the first real cold of the year descends? For about $350, it’s money well spent.
- Get a home appraisal. This is different from a mechanical inspection, and focuses more on the financial value of your home. Taking into account items like location, number of bathrooms, amenities like decks, vinyl siding and a designated “mud room”, this document essentially establishes the value at which your property can be taxed, as well as the legitimate value at which it can be sold, and makes it easier for a potential buyer to get the loan he or she needs. At another $300, it’s worth it.
- Be realistic. Yes, you may be able to get $500,000 for your home, but how many buyers will you have to run through to achieve this? If time is money, waiting a year or more – and potentially losing out on another living space you had your eye on – doesn’t make a lot of sense. Instead of asking yourself how much you want, ask how much you need.
- Before you decide how much you need, however, add in another factor; the cost of selling your property. In addition to the commission – which is typically stated at about 6 percent but can often be negotiated almost half that in a depressed market – there are closing costs that the buyer may ask you to pick up, or share. This is especially true in a “bear” market (more sellers than buyers), and if you say no, you lose the sale.
- Get a lawyer. A real estate agent has been taught to “fill in the blanks”. A lawyer knows what those blanks mean in terms of future liability – whether tax liability or injury and loss liability. You don’t want to find out, a decade after the sale, that your failure to report a structural defect in your home leaves you liable for an enormous bodily injury lawsuit!
In short, use professionals to help you when selling your property. The cost is worth it in terms of overall sales satisfaction, profit, and future peace of mind.