So, you have decided to sell your house. There are a lot of steps in getting ready to put your house on the market, as well as steps that will lead up to handing it off to the new owners. Here we will explore some typical steps. Omitted from my intended coverage are topics that are the responsibility of your real estate agent, such as listing in the MLS, setting a listing price, and more.
First, make sure the place is cleaned up. For the interior minimize clutter and consider staging especially if empty. For the outside you need to maximize curb appeal. Clean up the yards, front, back and side yards. This will go a long way in making a lasting first impression. Lastly, take care of the garage. Avoid turning it into a storage facility.
Next, have your house inspected. A lot of agents disagree with this concept, waiting instead until you have an offer. The practice of waiting is counterproductive. Why do you want to get an offer, take your property off the market for escrow and then find out there is a problem that the buyer wants addressed, or worse, buyer wants price lowered or to back out of the deal? Get the inspections done and make them available first. That way the buyer is fully informed up front and has no excuse to want to re-negotiate.
So what inspections should you do? As a minimum, pest and home. You should also have the roof and septic system inspected (if not part of the home inspection). Others to consider will be dictated by the home’s age, features and/or topography (i.e. foundation, soil, pool, situated on slope or cliff, etc.). All of these inspections are doubly important if you do not live in the home. For instance, if it is a rental or an estate sale.
Once the inspections are complete, discuss with your agent what deficiencies that are called out that should be addressed.
Many buyers will want to know about utilities. Making a list of the names of the providers of gas, electricity, water, sewer, cable or satellite, and internet providers is very useful. Also you should note if you have solar, and if it is owned or leased. Get a copy of the solar contract and options for transfer, as each company has different requirements for taking over the system or buy out options. As a side note, giving out what your average utility bills run is not advised. Everyone uses their home differently and there is no way to judge how a buyer may use the home once they move in.
Now it’s time to get the home on the market. Your agent should get electronic copies of all inspections and utility information and make them available to any potential buyers.
Discuss with your agent marketing strategies.
If your home is governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA), alert your agent. Your agent will need to advise escrow to get electronic copies of the governing documents (CC&Rs, Bylaws, Rules & Procedures) as well as all the past year’s Board meeting minutes and HOA financial statements.
One complaint sellers sometimes voice is the number of people coming to walk through their home. You can minimize this by getting a videographer to do a walk through. Many videographers that do this also have software that can create floor plans as they shoot the video. This is becoming a very useful tool for both sellers and buyers, especially if the software can also document room dimensions. If minimizing the number of people walking through your home is an issue, you should require that every buyer is pre-approved for a loan with a letter from the lending institution.
While on the market and preparing for that offer there are some other things to do. Consider having these available:
· Current services you use (gardner, house cleaning, pest, pool service, etc.)
· Product manuals (HVAC, water heater, built in appliances, etc.)
· Warranties that may still be in place
While this list in not all inclusive, as every sale is different, it should give you a good starting point. Your agent may also have some additions to this list based on their experience and local expectations.