Sellers: When should you call a realtor to sell your home?
You are considering selling your home. The kids are now adults and are out of the house and there’s just too much room. Or your family is growing and you simply need more space. Maybe your neighborhood is getting too busy or noisy. Whatever the reason, you have made the decision to move on to the next phase of your life.
The question: When should you call a real estate professional regarding selling your home?
The answer: As early as possible.
The reason: There may be a lot to do!
When considering selling your home, the main decision factors may be how much can you get for your home, what do you have to do in order to prepare, and are all your documents in order?
How much can you get for your home?
Some sellers believe the amount they originally paid, plus any improvements they made, plus a little extra for profit equals the amount the house will sell for. Others believe their house should sell for the amount they need for their next home. Or that it should sell for the amount a neighbor’s house just sold for.
But you know better! You know that the market value for your home is based on what is going on in the market at the time you sell. What homes in your neighborhood have sold in the last three to six months? What kind of features did those homes have? Were they move-in ready or in need of repair? How recent were any updates in the kitchens or baths? Were the homes that sold foreclosures or short sales, arm length transactions or not? Did they have central air conditioning? Hardwood floors? A two-car garage? And do you?
So the first reason you should speak to a real estate professional as soon as possible is to find out whether the market value will be sufficient for your goals. Or to decide how to work around the amount if it’s not what you were hoping for. While the market could go up or down after your initial discussion, it’s a good idea to get a sense of the market as soon as you are ready.
What do you have to do in order to sell?
There is always something to do before you put your home on the market. Your real estate professional will come to the home with an objective set of eyes. And after a tour of your home, and some discussions about your home features and goals, your agent will let you know what you should do in order to get the most money for your home (if that’s your goal!). The suggestions could include:
Painting: Repainting your rooms is a relatively inexpensive way to make the home look move-in ready. Scuffs will be removed. Paint colors that are not buyer-friendly can be updated. Brightening up the home will definitely make it more attractive to buyers.
Kitchens/Bathrooms: Buyers love updated kitchens and baths. If you have thirty year old kitchen or bathroom cabinets and appliances, you may decide to update those rooms. If you can’t do so, then perhaps you will need to make smaller changes prior to selling. For example, in addition to new paint, rooms can look better by adding new fixtures, drawer pulls, curtains and lights. But the point is that today’s buyers, at least in my area, often make decisions on what the house looks like NOW, not what it could look like. And they do tend to want a home that has been updated.
Flooring: Another area that buyers hone in on are the floors. Do you have any damaged tiles or hardwood flooring? Are the carpets worn and stained? If yes, you will need time to repair and clean. Buyers will peek under area rugs, so throwing a rug over a damaged area won’t help. If you decide to actually replace flooring or carpeting, you will need some time to do so.
Decluttering: One of the suggestions you will receive from your real estate agent surrounds the need to declutter in preparation for showing your home. Unfortunately, selling a home is different (and harder) than living there. Buyers need to be able to envision their own life in the home, which is much easier when there are limited seller possessions on display. The process of going through all your possessions and deciding which to keep, pack away early, give away or discard can take a very long time. You may also wish to rent a storage unit for a temporary period to place items you wish to take with you but don’t need now.
What documents do you need?
In this case, documents don’t refer to listing agreements or real estate disclosures. When preparing to sell your home, you may need some time to get other documents in order. For example:
Certificate of Occupancy/Permits. Sometimes home owners will add a deck or shed without obtaining necessary town permits. Or perhaps they will add a wood stove or central air conditioning. Maybe they will add entire rooms, or replace the garage with a den. If there is any work that should have been done with a permit, resulting in an updated Certificate of Occupancy, the documentation must be taken care of before you sell the home. The lack of correct paperwork will be discovered during the title and municipal search period. You could lose a buyer and the entire deal if there are issues that should have been resolved prior to the purchase process.
Home ownership. Are the town records correct regarding ownership of the home? If not, now is the time to take care of any discrepancies. Did a divorce happen and one person is no longer a legal owner but the deed was never updated? Was a home transferred from elderly parents to a son or daughter? Has the spelling of an owner’s name always been incorrect? Those changes should not be difficult to make, but they may take a little time.
Mortgage/Home Equity Line of Credit/Liens. Do you know what you owe on your mortgage? Did you ever take out a Home Equity Line of Credit and if yes, do you still have a balance? Do you have any liens on your home? Are you current on your property taxes? Knowing exactly what you owe will help you decide whether now is a good time to move.
These are just a few of the reasons to contact a real estate professional as soon as possible when you are considering planning to sell your home. You could need to do quite a bit of preparing, so getting an early start would be helpful! If you are in Orange or Rockland County, NY and are thinking of selling your home, feel free to call me at 914-419-0270. I’d be happy to assist you!