You say your goal is to sell your house in 2018? Your goal can be achieved, but you have to remember that it truly is a pricing war and a beauty contest out there. This means you need to be the “prettiest girl at the dance” when you hit the market. To put your best foot forward when you do hit the market, be sure to follow these steps:
1.) Clean out the house – donate, recycle, get a storage locker or storage pod.
Whatever you do, make sure the garage, basement and all of the closets are clean and organized. Even cleaning out the cabinets and refrigerator prior to listing. The secret to your success is to have a minimum amount of “stuff” in the house. The less “stuff” the larger the closets, cabinets, basement and garage will look.
2.) Have a Realtor and/or a stager come to the house and make recommendations. This should be done one to three months before you want to hit the market. They can tell you if you need to paint, and if so what color, if flooring should be replaced, and if you need to remove furniture and/or wall hangings. As close to a model home or Pottery Barn catalog photo that you can come, the better off you will be.
3.) Get your financials in order. Check with your lender to ensure you have no prepayment penalty on your mortgage, and obtain a payoff so you know what you really owe. Also, check with your accountant to see if there are any tax consequences to selling. Those who got the first home buyer tax credit need to repay if selling within a certain amount of time, certain loan programs have a penalty if the house is sold within the first 3-5 years, and those who have written down part of their home for business and/or as their home office will have that percentage of the home sale subject to capital gains. Lastly, get pre-approved right away if you are planning on buying another home. Underwriting has changed, so you want to make sure you can financially make the move you want.
4.) If you have owned your house for any length of time, have a pre-listing home inspection done. Do this about a month prior to listing. Correct any major defects – mechanical, structural, electrical, and plumbing issues will all come up again if not taken care of. It is hard enough to get an accepted offer in today’s market, so you definitely don’t want to lose the buyer due to the home inspection. If you live in a code compliant municipality, have the compliance inspector through and get your certificate before hitting the market.
5.) Have all of your energy bills and a list of updates out for all buyers to see. Buyers are always curious what the utility bills are, how old the roof is, how many layers it has, how old the major mechanicals are (furnace, air conditioning and water heater) and when that addition was added. The more information you can provide on the house, the better. Have the answers to all their questions right there at the house.
6.) Be prepared to be flexible. This last tip is crucial. When your house is on the market, you have to be willing to accommodate all kinds of strange requests. The buyer wants to see the house at 7 am on Tuesday, okay. The buyer wants to bring 10 family members and an inspector to check out the house for 3 hours this weekend, okay. The buyer wants you to include the kitchen table and chairs, the painting over the fireplace, and your snow blower. Okay.
The more flexible you are, the better off you will be. Sometimes making an offer is an impulsive decision. Certainly, it is an emotional one for most. Keep an open mind and be willing to be creative to put the deal together.