Posted by: Bill & Gayle McCord | March 1, 2010

Top 10 Tips to Sell Your House

Always keep in mind that your goal above all else is to SELL.

It’s the first of March- one of the busiest times of year for real estate- especially with the Home Buyers Tax CreditWe’ve talked about all the perks before, but in case you’ve forgotten, this extended and expanded tax credit includes sellers, too.  So, if you are moving, you know what not to do before you buy your new home.  However, what should you do to sell your house? We know it’s not always an easy decision to sell, but the goal in selling a house is to sell it.  So, here a few tips to help you sell sooner rather than later.

  • Paint neutral colors.  This is a twofold tip- first, paint.  Whether you’ve had kids marking up the walls or just patches that need reinforcement, fresh paint is an easy and inexpensive make-over.  But, just because you love red doesn’t mean your potential buyers will.  On the other hand, most people feel that bright white walls are stark and reminiscent of hospitals.  So, choose neutral shades (pale sage green, creamy butter, or light khaki, for example).
  • Take down the majority of your photographs.  As cute as your kids are, you don’t want your potential buyers to fixate on them instead of the floor plan.
  • De-clutter.  Take extra appliances and junk off all counters- pull them out when you need them.  Organize your clutter in baskets under the counters or in closets.  Store bulky pieces of furniture in your attic, basement, or garage if they overwhelm a room.  You want prospective buyers to be able to picture their own things in the home.
  • Clean!  I know you don’t want to hear it, but few buyers are excited about a dirty house.  If you have pets, steam-clean the carpet.  If you smoke (quit because it’s bad for you!), do it outside.  Do one good clean (or hire someone to do it for you), then stay on top of it every few days and it will be no big deal.  Showings can happen last-minute- you don’t want to lose a buyer because you ran out of time.
  • Fix small repairs– change out bulbs and easy to do on your own items, so that they don’t stand out or make it seem like you let things slide.
  • You can hold off on major remodels or major repairs (such as new roof or carpeting) because you can always just save that money and ask for less on the house.  OR you can choose neutral, nice upgrades that add value to the house you can get back.  In general, many women look at kitchens and bathrooms and make choices based on those 2 rooms.  A pedestal sink, for example,can  run for about $200-$300 and often gives the guest bathroom a nice, clean feel without a lot of expense.  Look here for what you can expect to get out of remodels.
  • Clean out your closets and cabinets.  Buyers WILL look inside, no question.  You’re going to have to clean it out when you move anyway, so do it ahead of time and maybe get a buyer even sooner!
  • Get a new mindset- this is no longer your house.  You are trying to sell it.  It doesn’t matter if the buyers love it as-is or want to tear it down.  You’re selling it.  There is no purpose in getting emotional or sentimental about it, because whether it’s an easy of difficult move, you have decided to sell and you need to do everything you can to sell expediently so you can buy your next home.
  • Be reasonable about your listing price.  No one is going to pay over market value for your house, even if it is darling.  They can’t afford to, and it’s their lenders job to make sure they don’t (just like your lender will ensure you don’t overpay on your purchase).  This is where a realtor can help with a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis).
  • Negotiate.  We reiterate that when selling your home, you should try to remove your feelings from the transaction (we know this is hard).  There is always room to negotiate- so if someone low-balls you, instead of being offended and ignoring their offer, send back a counter-offer and see what they do.  (You can’t blame them for trying- you’ll probably do the same thing on your next house.)  Regardless, you’d be surprised how many agreements are met in negotiations.  Hate to sound like a broken record, but the cost of a real estate agent can often be made up just in negotiations- we know how to negotiate (where to give and where to ask) to get you the most for your home.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of everything you should (or should not) do to sell your home.  It’s just some pointers, most of which lean towards 2 things: 1) remove yourself from the emotional side of the home and 2) keep it clean and de-cluttered so your buyers can put themselves emotionally into the home.

As always, we would love to help you buy or sell your home.  We know it can be stressful to think about buying and selling houses, but now is definitely the time to take advantage of the Home Buyers (and Sellers) Tax Credit.  Let us know if we can help you in your  next step.

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