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Seller’s Guide

A real estate agent is licensed by the state to represent a homebuyer or a seller in a real estate transaction in exchange for a commission. Most agents work for a real estate broker, who also is licensed by the state to represent homebuyers and sellers in a real estate transaction. However, the broker usually must have more education and experience than agents and must adhere to stricter business licensing codes. The broker runs the office and is responsible for all of the listings and other financial details and processes involved with the real estate transaction. Real estate agents and brokers follow agency rules that dictate their fiduciary duties to clients. Agency laws and regulations vary from state to state, but they tend to share some basic principles: Agents are obligated to act in the best interest of the client, adhere to certain confidentiality clauses, and reveal all known material facts relevant to the transaction. Agency can be further broken out into three basic categories: seller’s agency, buyer’s agency and dual agency. The seller’s agent works only for the seller and has no fiduciary duty to the buyer. The seller’s agent works on behalf of the client to obtain the highest sale price and best sale terms possible. The buyer’s agent works only for the buyer and has no fiduciary duty to the seller, even if the agent is compensated with a percentage of the commission paid by the seller. The buyer’s agent works on behalf of the client to obtain the lowest sale price and the best purchase terms possible. With dual agency, the agent represents both the buyer and the seller so long as both parties consent to this arrangement. In this case, the buyer and seller must sign a dual agency disclosure statement that documents their consent. The dual agent may not disclose any confidential information, advocate or negotiate on behalf of either of the two parties.

At some point during or shortly after the sale of your home you may become paralyzed by a gripping fear that you’ve sold or are about to sell your house for less than it’s worth. This is a case of seller’s remorse and it can come in a variety of shades. Perhaps you’re upset about leaving the neighborhood or selling the home in which you raised your family. Experiencing seller’s remorse is not uncommon, after all, the home sale transaction is one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make and it’s one that’s wrought with emotion. Your best defense against a paralyzing case of seller’s remorse is to have a thorough understanding of why you decided to sell in the first place and to know that you initially arrived at an equitable and profitable sale price. Here are some additional tips that can help you battle seller’s remorse: An established set of motives listing why you decided to sell can come in handy should you find yourself in a panic over a fast or imminent sale. The list can be a simple garden-variety list of selling pros and cons. If your decision to sell was initially well thought out and well planned, your list of pros will outweigh the cons. Review the list (often if need be) and you’ll likely lose the feeling of doom. Diligently select your Realtor and be sure to fully participate in negotiations. Trusting your representative and knowing that you negotiated to the best of your ability may help stave off a bad case of seller’s remorse, particularly if you’re prone to obsessing on the final sale price. Just because your home sold within a few days of listing doesn’t mean the home was under priced—it may simply mean that the home was properly priced and your Realtor did an excellent job marketing the home to prospective homebuyers. Reviewing for-sale home ads and visiting open houses may also help you come to terms with your final sale price. You’ll likely learn that there really aren’t home sellers out there who are getting more money for a lesser house. If you go down this road, keep in mind that asking prices are just that and it’s the final sale price that matters. Talk to friends and neighbors who’ve sold homes and learn about how they dealt with seller’s remorse. It may help just knowing that the remorse is a common byproduct of this emotional transaction and that your feelings of dread or regret will fade with time.

Should you buy or sell first? The answer to this question depends on a number of variables specific to your situation. Whether you can afford to buy first and can financially manage two concurrent mortgage payments will most likely answer this question for you. Real estate market conditions also may factor into your decision. Your Realtor is an invaluable source who can tell you approximately how long it may take to sell your current home and provide you with information about homebuyers’ market conditions, the inventory of for-sale homes and estimate how long it may take for you to find and close on your next home. Professional help is particularly useful if you are selling and buying in two different markets. Your Realtor will be able explain and help you with the differing market conditions that could affect the transactions. Generally, selling first is considered optimal because it frees up your equity and more precisely helps determine how much you can afford to spend on your next home. This tactic also helps relieve some of the stresses associated with the dual transaction. Many home seller/buyers need the equity that’s tied up in their current home for the purchase of their next home. Once that home is sold, you’ll likely become a powerful homebuyer because the sale may leave you with a substantial down payment and plenty of cash for closing costs. Being in this financial position typically will afford you the most favorable financing terms and a stronger buying position – home sellers prefer serious homebuyers who have proven that they have the funds necessary to close on the home purchase transaction. Another way to capitalize on your current home’s equity is to take a bridge loan, a short- term loan that bridges the gap between the sale of your current home and the purchase of your new home. The process is straightforward: the mortgage loan you use to purchase a new home will use your old home as collateral. In order to qualify for a bridge loan, you must have an income that can cover the cost of the two simultaneous mortgages. A bridge loan can be a useful tool for buyers who plan on selling but who need financial flexibility in a hot housing market. Looking at things from a seller’s perspective, it’s simply less stressful to sell before buying. Finding the perfect next home and the perfect homebuyer to purchase your current home and timing concurrent closings is possible and it does happen. But for some home sellers, it’s simply too stressful to coordinate the optimal timelines, as the pressure to do so could creep into either or both transactions and result in some rushed decisions. Selling first does have its drawbacks. If your current home sells before you find or close on your next home, you may have to rent in the interim and this means moving at least twice. While this isn’t an optimal situation, it may be better than making rushed and poorly thought out decisions regarding the purchase of your next home. Some home sellers can circumvent interim living issues by negotiating a sale-leaseback deal. In this case, the homebuyer allows you to remain in the house for a specific amount of time for a specific fee. The terms of these deals are negotiable. Your Realtor will know whether it’s reasonable, given market conditions and other relevant factors, to include a sale-leaseback contingency in your sale contract.

An escrow account/officer serves as a neutral intermediary that holds all of the documents and funds related to the home sale/purchase transaction. The account will be opened on the first business day after the buyer and seller have entered into contract. Depending on region or local real estate customs, an escrow account may be managed by an attorney, escrow firm or title company. At this stage in the transaction, there are fees that must be paid (e.g., an earnest deposit) and terms and conditions that must be met in order to satisfy any contingencies (such as a satisfactory home inspection.) The escrow officer will oversee the paperwork and funds related to the transaction while the buyer and seller negotiate and work out the final details of the sale/purchase. Once all of the terms of the transaction have been met, the escrow officer will distribute the funds, typically at settlement. Escrow fees usually are based on the home’s sale price, and whether the buyer or seller is responsible for the fees is negotiable and sometimes dictated by local custom. For example, in a strong seller’s market, the buyer may pad his offer by offering to pay escrow fees even though it is customary to split the fees between buyer and seller.

Disclosing all known defects about your home, no matter how trivial, is your best defense against any potential legal problems down the road. In some cases what you must disclose is outlined by the state, in other cases disclosure requirements are specified as those defects to your property that a buyer can reasonably expect you to be aware of, particularly if you live in the house. Seller disclosure obligations vary from state to state, so it’s best to work with a Realtor who can guide you through the disclosure process. While it’s critically important that to make your best effort to fully disclose everything you know about the property, just because you’re selling your house doesn’t make you and all of your personal information an open book. Check with your Realtor to learn about the type of information that isn’t considered to be a material fact. Generally most state-mandated disclosure laws require that you provide to the best of your knowledge written disclosure of all known material facts that may affect a homebuyer’s decision to buy the property, including those facts that may affect the price they are willing to pay for the property . A material fact can include a fact about the house, its condition and or any related legal issues that could negatively impact the property’s value. Common problems and defects include information about the general condition of the home, physical defects (a basement that’s prone to flooding or a leaky roof), legal problems (whether the new bathroom is up to code and permitted), pest or fungus damage, and relevant environmental or seismic hazards. Items you’re likely to find on the required disclosure form include: Structural issues, including code violations or a cracked foundation. Geological issues, including whether the home is situated in an area prone to flooding, landslides or earthquakes, or if the home is built on expansive or shifting soil. Environmental issues, including whether the home is situated near an airport, landfill, or some other undesirable facility; any mold or mildew problems. Operating condition of any built-in appliances or other appliances included in the sale. The overall conditions of the property’s plumbing and electrical systems, age of roof and its components, and any other major systems including sewer and septic Information about homeowners insurance claims that have been filed within the past five years. Leave nothing out and mitigate the potential for post-closing issues that could blow-up into an expensive lawsuit. Being completely honest about any potential or current problems may motivate the homebuyer to ask for a price reduction, an allowance for repairs or that the actual repairs are completed prior to settlement. While no home seller wants to deal with these issues, it’s unlikely that any seller can avoid providing some negative disclosure information because no house is perfect or without problems. Consider obtaining a pre-sale home inspection. The extra set of eyes will provide you with more information about your property’s condition, and presenting the homebuyer with an inspection report in addition to your disclosure forms will strengthen your position as an informed and cooperative home seller who’s made the best effort possible to fulfill disclosure requirements.

Homebuyers, especially first-time homebuyers, have a lot on their minds; not the least of which are nagging worries about potential repair costs on a newly bought property. Consider including in the sale a comprehensive home warranty protection plan, it may make your home a more attractive investment and help alleviate some of the homebuyer’s anxieties. A typical home warranty is a one-year service contract that, for a fee, covers the costs of the repair or replacement of major home systems e.g., plumbing, heating and cooling units, or other appliances that may break down due to normal wear and tear. The basic warranty typically ranges in price from $300 to $500 and can be extended to include coverage for amenities like a pool, major structures or systems such as the roof, private wells or septic systems. Typical service-call fees for repair range in price from $35 to $50. Including a home warranty protection plan in the sale also can benefit the home seller by helping to minimize conflict or haggling over the condition of older appliances or systems. Should a covered appliance or system suffer a post-sale breakdown, the home seller may be less likely to hear about it. The protection plans also can provide the home seller with some limited coverage during the listing period. Check with your Realtor to learn more about home warranty programs and whether including a warranty in your home sale is right for you.

You already know that enhancing your property’s curb appeal, keeping the house sparking clean and uncluttered are essentials for the home showing. If you’re thinking of going the extra mile and enhancing your home’s amenities or appearance in an effort to garner a higher sales price or close on a quick sale, keep in mind that going overboard can be a waste of time or even a costly mistake. Just about any real estate veteran will tell you that as a general rule of thumb, a home seller who sinks $10,000 into pre-sale home improvements likely won’t regain that full amount in the home’s sale. It’s best to keep the improvements simple and low cost. Applying a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint to the property’s interior walls is the number one improvement that can make your home shine, result in a faster sale and in most cases provide a decent return on your investment. If you can afford it, consider a professional exterior paint job, which can return up to 75 percent on your initial investment. Your home’s kitchen and bathrooms are the rooms homebuyers will scrutinize the most. Upgrading their appearance by refinishing dingy cabinetry and replacing the hardware, throwing down some new flooring and slapping on some fresh paint can work wonders. Keep in mind that you want prospective homebuyers to be able to easily imagine living in your home and this means keeping colors neutral and fixtures simple. Other simple enhancements include brightening the home’s interior with some new light fixtures and new electrical cover plates; professionally cleaning the carpeting or if necessary, replacement. Try planting a few strategically placed shrubs or flowerbeds; and brightening up doors with shiny new hardware and doorknobs. Your Realtor is an invaluable source who can tell you more about what is selling in your neighborhood. He or she knows which upgrades sell and which amenities homebuyers in your market are looking for; and most importantly, where your home stacks up against the competition. If most of the for-sale homes in your neighborhood feature freshly swept chimneys and new HVAC units, you may want to consider offering the same. Keep in mind that not all home improvement projects are equal when it comes to enhancing a property’s salability. Home repairs or maintenance, for example, shouldn’t be confused with home improvements. Homebuyers expect the home’s plumbing and electrical systems to work properly and safely, and they won’t want to buy a house with a roof that leaks. It’s worth the effort and cost to get these systems in order but don’t expect to recover the cost associated with these repairs. However, making sure the property’s systems are in ship- shape will improve its overall marketability. Homebuyers like homes that are in move-in condition and that means one with a working furnace and hot water heater. Definitely avoid costly luxury upgrades like a swimming pool or hot tub or an elaborately landscaped yard. While these types of amenities may make your home more appealing to homebuyers and ultimately could tip the scales in your favor, it’s unlikely that you will recoup the cost of such upgrades.

When it comes to the home sale transaction, negotiating the best sale price and terms depends on a number of factors including market conditions and your negotiation skills. Are you selling in a buyer’s or seller’s market and can you remain calm and objective? Enlisting the help of skilled professional is one way to strengthen your bargaining power simply because by doing so you will have an experienced expert at your side who will help you navigate this oftentimes dicey and heated territory. While market conditions will weigh heavily into your negotiation power, there are a number of rules that apply to home sale negotiations regardless of market conditions: Keep a cool head and don’t take criticisms personally. Homebuyers will list flaws and other qualities they find undesirable about your property in an effort to pressure the sale price. It’s important that you remain calm and objective – after all, not everyone likes wall-to-wall purple shag carpeting. Don’t get bogged down by the little details. If the homebuyer wants the front door replaced or some cracked windows repaired, give the request serious consideration if it’s all that stands between you and the closing table. No matter what the homebuyer throws your way, don’t digress and offer up a counteroffer that’s based purely on anger or some other negative response. Getting upset and throwing about snarky counteroffers only will delay the transaction. If you and the buyer can’t agree on a final sale price, consider a “split-the- difference” counteroffer in which you offer a price that is halfway between your asking price and the homebuyer’s offer. Know in advance which concessions you’re willing to make and which compromises you won’t even consider. Negotiations can get heated so it’s a good idea to have an anchor that can help you stay focused and on track.

The first impression your home makes on a potential homebuyer likely will be a lasting one. Preparing your home for showing doesn’t mean spending a lot of money or making any major changes or improvements, but it does mean cleaning up your curb appeal and your home’s interior. Your home’s exterior is your first priority. If a drive-by home shopper likes what he sees on the outside, he’s more likely to have a look at the inside. Once the potential homebuyer is inside, make it easy for him to envision living in the house by depersonalizing your home’s interior and keeping it clutter-free and squeaky-clean. TIPS TO ENHANCE CURB APPEAL Keep the lawn watered, trimmed and neatly landscaped. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed. Get rid of yard clutter by storing toys, garbage cans, barbeques, wheelbarrows, Store unused cars and RVs elsewhere. Consider applying a fresh coat of paint to the trim and the front door, and if warranted, the entire front of the house. Keep all of the windows sparkling clean. Make sure all exterior lighting works and in the evenings give your home a warm and inviting feeling by leaving the lights on. KEEP THE INTERIOR CLEAN AND CLUTTER-FREE Get rid of the clutter. This means getting rid of or storing unused or excess items and furniture. Nothing turns a potential homebuyer off more than a home that is packed with furniture and clutter. Rearrange your furniture to compliment the room, making it look bigger and enhancing flow from room to room. Gut your kitchen and bathroom cabinets and under-the-sink areas. Make sure the essentials you keep, cleaning supplies, cookware, dishes, flatware, toiletries and linens, are kept neatly organized. Keep the kitchen and bathroom countertops clean and clutter-free, leaving out only the essentials and make sure those are neatly organized. Set up your bathrooms with new towels, keep fresh soap in the shower and sink areas. Repair any leaking faucets, running toilets or other systems the homebuyer likely will check. Minimize personal items like family photographs, trophies and other decorations that could distract a homebuyer. Maximize closet space by minimizing their contents. Again, get rid of unneeded items or put them in storage. Inspect the walls for cracks and smudges and repair or clean as needed. Consider applying a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint. Have carpets and drapes professionally cleaned. If you must replace carpeting or linoleum, pick a neutral color. Stage rooms for their intended purpose. For example, if your home office is crammed into a corner of your dining room or kitchen, move it into a more appropriate space, such as the family room. Minimize odors and stuffiness by keeping windows open and fresh air circulating throughout the house whenever possible. If you have pets, keep them elsewhere during the showing. Have your home professionally cleaned every two weeks so that it remains in sparkling clean condition.

How you live in your home and how you market your home are likely two different scenarios. You may use the corner of the kitchen as a home office, but cramming your office equipment into a nook alongside a microwave and kitchen table isn’t the most appealing use of space from a home marketing point of view. Hiring a professional home stager in either a consulting capacity or to actually stage your home can help maximize its showing potential. Your Realtor will know whether your home is a good candidate for the design service and whether market conditions are such that staging your home would be beneficial. While design specialists can be costly, hiring a professional home staging consultant doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of cash. Many consultants charge a flat fee of a few hundred dollars and in return will provide you with advice that can help you maximize your home’s showing potential. Their advice can include a detailed breakdown of your home’s positive qualities and trouble spots – from curb appeal to a room-by-room evaluation – and provide advice about how to minimize clutter, get organized, accentuate complimentary lighting, and where to hang some strategically placed mirrors. The consultant also may point out any repairs or problems that should be remedied before the house goes on the market. The professional home stager takes marketing your home to higher level and will cover the same territory as the consultant but also detail for you which furnishings and other items must be removed and how to best display the furnishings and items that remain. It’s the stager’s job to make small rooms look larger and dim rooms look brighter, and you can leave it to professionals to rearrange your belongings so that they best compliment your home’s positive features and minimize its poorer qualities. Some home stagers will provide furnishings and others may use only what’s already in the house. Here are some guidelines to help you determine whether you would benefit from a consultation or full-blown staging: Determine whether you simply need help organizing and reducing clutter or if you’d benefit from all that home stagers have to offer. A vacant home can be a good candidate for home staging because a furnished home simply shows better than one that is unoccupied. Empty homes tend to look smaller than those that are furnished. A small home or property that has an unconventional floor plan can benefit from a professional interior design specialist who can maximize the property’s unique features. Market conditions can also dictate whether staging is the right choice for you. If the market is hot and houses are selling quickly, it’s likely that you wouldn’t need the assistance of a professional home stager. In a buyer’s market, however, it may be in your best interest to pull out all the stops and beautify your property to the best of your abilities. Your property’s overall condition also is important. If you’re selling a fixer-upper that needs a lot of structural repairs or other significant repairs, maximizing the home’s flow from room to room and strategically positioning its furnishings is probably a waste of effort and money.

Whether you’re selling your current home so that you can move into a larger property or downsizing into a smaller one, there are some things you should keep in mind so that when it’s moving day you’ll be well prepared for the change. TRADING UP Most of the challenges come with trade-ups. In this case you’ll likely have a larger mortgage payment, higher utility bills, higher annual maintenance costs, larger tax payments, and higher homeowner’s insurance costs. Determine how much more home you can afford by scrutinizing your expenses as closely as you did when you were a first-time homebuyer. If affordability hinges on the amount of equity you pull from the sale of your current home, keep in mind that you probably won’t know the total amount until after you’ve completed settlement. Check with your homeowner’s insurance agent to learn about how much more it may cost to insure your larger home. Calculating an increase in utility expenses isn’t cut-and-dried. If your new home is 40 percent larger than your current home, you can estimate that your new utility bills will be commensurate with the increase in square footage. However, if your new home is substantially more energy efficient, there may be little or no increase in the utility bills. Property taxes are assessed based on the property’s value and after you purchase your trade-up abode, the tax assessor likely will reevaluate taxes upward based on updated property value data. Check with your county tax assessor’s office before you close to learn more about your potential tax expenses. Maintenance costs will likely increase. Here you can apply a standard rule of thumb to budget your annual maintenance costs: multiply the purchase price of the home by 1 percent if the home is newer or in excellent condition and by 1.25 percent if the home is older. The result is the annual cost you can expect to pay for maintenance. DOWNSIZING Dealing with years of accumulated belongings and figuring out whether you should rent or buy are the biggest issues associated with downsizing. If you’re going into retirement and plan on traveling a lot or don’t want to be rooted to a particular place, renting is obviously your best choice. However, if you’ve decided to buy you’ll have to carefully evaluate which type of property best suits your needs. Are you looking for another but smaller single-family home? Or is a residential community best for you? Downsizers looking to minimize home maintenance chores and costs may fare well in some sort of residential community living where association fees cover the bulk of the property’s exterior maintenance. In this case you’ll have to decide whether you’re looking for a town home, condominium, loft or some other type of community dwelling. It may be helpful to make a list of your most important features. Are you looking for a city residence that is close to shopping and transportation? Or are you more interested in the amenities – like pools and tennis courts – offered by the residential communities? Pets are another consideration. Some residential community living arrangements place strict limits on the number of pets you may keep and or the pet’s size or type. For example, in some communities tenants may own no more than two dogs, each weighing no more than 15 pounds. If you’re looking for another single-family home, it would be helpful to create an itemized a list of what you consider to be the most important features. Will you need space for guests or are you looking for a cozy cottage? Consider taking a detailed inventory of your current living space and how frequently you use certain rooms and other amenities. Do you really need that third bedroom or formal dining room? Whether you’re moving into a smaller single-family home or some type of residential community, figuring out which belongings and furnishings to keep can be a difficult and emotional task. If the job appears insurmountable, consider hiring an expert who can help you get organized and make the best use of your new space.

It can be difficult to figure out which fixtures or other items should be included in the home sale and which items to take with you when you move. As a rule, any objects that are attached to the house or property itself, whether they are nailed, screwed, planted or otherwise affixed, stay with the house and are included in the sale. In some cases the attached items are obvious – light fixtures, built-in appliances or a mailbox that is firmly planted into the ground. However, sometimes what stays and what goes isn’t completely cut-and-dried – a buyer may incorrectly assume the chandelier in the dining room stays, perhaps that mailbox is a family treasure you intend to keep. It’s best to outline in the sale contract all of the items in the house that you plan to remove, as this can help you avoid any last minute negotiations. If you’re worried that a chandelier or other pricey light fixture, window treatment or some other item may become a negotiation point you’d rather avoid, consider removing the items and replacing them with fixtures or treatments you’re willing to include in the sale. Spend some time with your Realtor going from room to room and itemizing the properties you plan to take with you and those that you will include in the sale. Your Realtor has probably seen some fierce negotiations crop up over some seemingly mundane items and likely can help you circumvent some of these issues by pointing out items that buyers typically like to see included in the sale.

Determining a listing price or the fair market value of your home is one of the most difficult decisions home sellers face. If you price too high, you’ll scare off potential homebuyers; if you price too low, you risk losing some of your hard-earned equity. Two tools are typically used to calculate a competitive and accurate market price: the comparative market analysis (CMA) and a certified appraisal report. The CMA compares the list price and final sale price of like properties in the neighborhood and based on that information offers an informal estimate of your home’s value. A Realtor can provide you with a CMA, help you analyze the data and factor in any other features or improvements specific to your home that will affect the list price, including its amenities, proximity to parks, transportation, shopping, and school quality. Your Realtor will also be able to inform you of the typical amount of time that listings stay on the market. A certified appraiser’s evaluation of your home is a formal estimate of the property’s value. Lenders require that homebuyers obtain a satisfactory certified appraisal as part of the lending process. A certified appraiser will base the estimate on a number of factors similar to those factored into the CMA, including comparable sales data, location, condition, and any amenities, such as a pool or view, that may enhance the value of your home. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to hire a professional Realtor. Only an expert can help you wade through and analyze the litany of variables that will factor into the best and most competitive list price for your home.

Your home likely is the largest financial asset in which you’ve ever invested and now it’s time to make that investment pay. Hiring a professional Realtor to help you with this significant transaction is the best way to ensure that you’ll get top-dollar for the house and the widest marketing exposure possible. Additionally your Realtor is a professional who will organize and coordinate a vast array of administrative work, and help minimize your vulnerability to certain liabilities. A Realtor has a fiduciary duty to work as an advocate on your behalf, representing your best interests in the real estate sale transaction. This means helping you negotiate the best terms and price for your home sale, and making sure the property disclosure requirements applicable to your real estate transaction have been met. Pricing: A professional Realtor can help you avoid the pitfalls associated with either under pricing or overpricing your home, it’s his or her job to stay abreast of changing market conditions and the constantly shifting supply and demand factors that can affect your sale price. Realtors also can provide you with a professional comprehensive market analysis (CMA), which compares the list price and final sale price of like properties in the neighborhood. Marketing: Your home won’t sell itself. The complex and time consuming job entails much more than simply planting a for-sale sign in the yard and hosting the occasional open house. Hiring a professional Realtor can provide you with the best and broadest marketing effort available. A primary tool employed by Realtors is a cooperative arrangement known as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which combines and markets virtually all of the for-sale home listings in a given area or region. Typically access to the MLS is restricted to licensed real estate professionals. A listing agreement likely would include a number of additional marketing services provided by your Realtor including the yard sign and flyers, newspaper advertisement, Internet exposure, outreach to the brokerage community and various showings. Professional services: The Realtor manages the entire the transaction from beginning to end by helping you set the best asking price, and prescreening prospective homebuyers by weeding out the hopefuls and reeling in the serious homebuyers who are financially capable of closing on the transaction. Additionally your Realtor will collect and evaluate purchase offers, handle negotiations and close the deal. A Realtor also can help you navigate the complex state-mandated disclosure laws that require home sellers to disclose certain types of information about their home that could impact the property’s appeal and a homebuyer’s decision to buy it.

You can count on the savvy homebuyer making his or her offer to purchase your home contingent upon a satisfactory professional home inspection report. As a home seller, worrying about what that inspection may reveal can be a nerve-wracking experience. You can minimize your anxiety and the last-minute appearance of any potential deal-killing surprises by obtaining your own pre-sale home inspection. The home inspector will visually examine your home’s physical structure and systems from top to bottom including: the heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical systems, roof, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement and attic, and other visible structures. The inspector won’t give your house a passing or failing grade, but will evaluate its physical condition and report on what you may need to repair or replace. Taking this extra step has several benefits. Most importantly, it will provide you with an objective look at your home and call attention to any problems. It’s in your best interest to have a good understanding of your home’s condition and to address any small issues. The home sale/purchase transaction is a heady deal that is fraught with emotion and relatively small problems like an air conditioning unit that needs service or a fireplace that needs minor repair potentially can turn into deal-killing issues. A pre-sale inspection report also can be used as a marketing tool that may highlight some of the home’s positive attributes, which may help alleviate some of the homebuyer’s anxieties about the property and the thoroughness of your disclosures. While no home seller wants to learn of major problems, you’re much better off knowing about such issues early on. Being informed will help you more accurately calculate your asking price, which can circumvent stressful defect-related price reduction negotiations later on. It also will give you an opportunity to calmly decide whether you’ll choose to remedy the problems. If you decide to sell the house “as is,” full disclosure of the problems will weed out the potential homebuyers who wouldn’t consider buying a home that needed repairs. Copies of the pre-sale home inspection report and receipts for any subsequent repairs must be provided to the homebuyer.

So you’ve decided to sell your home – now what? Knowing what to expect and having a solid game plan will help keep you and your objectives on track. Here is an overview of the selling process and how to best prepare for this transaction: Make sure that you have a thorough understanding of why you’re selling your home. Create a list that outlines each of your reasons, you may need it later if you get cold feet. If you’re trading up or down, make sure you have a thorough understanding of how the change will impact your lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to determine whether it’s best for you to buy first or sell first. Hire a Realtor! Selling a house is likely one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make, it would be foolish to go it alone. A Realtor can help you determine a fair and profitable list price, market your home to the widest audience, pre-screen homebuyers, navigate the dicey territory associated with property disclosure law and negotiations, and provide you with invaluable advice and guidance related to your specific transaction. Get your house in showing shape. This means cleaning up the interior and exterior and enhancing your curb appeal. Now also is a good time to make any cosmetic fixes that may enhance your property’s salability, contemplate whether staging is right for your home sale and to make sure your all its systems are in good working order. Consider obtaining a pre-sale home inspection. The report will help quell your anxieties about the unknown issues the homebuyer’s inspector may find and also could bring to your attention issues that need to be remedied before you market the property. Prepare for negotiations by outlining the concessions you’re willing to make and those that you won’t even consider. The list will come in handy when you’re in the throws of price negotiations. Consider purchasing a home warranty, the policies can help alleviate some of the homebuyer’s reservations about home maintenance costs.

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