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More Helpful Tips

Sellers Tips

The smallest things do make a difference when you are preparing to sell your home.

We recently took a buyer to see several townhomes in a far north neighborhood. At the first one, clutter was all the buyer saw. The beds were unmade and piles of newspapers were lying around. (We had an appointment, by the way). Needless to say the buyer was completely turned off. The second townhome could have used a little sprucing up. The painted walls were dirty. Rugs were stained. By this time, the buyer was pretty discouraged. You may say that the buyer has to look past the little flaws and see the bigger picture. But, believe me, when it comes to home buying.

First Impressions Count

The buyer walks in the door and tries to imagine living in your home or condo! The more that person can "see" himself or herself there, the closer you have come to turning a casual prospect into a seriously interested buyer!

Your goal as a seller is to sell your home as quickly as you can, at the best possible price. Help your agent to help you reach that goal! It won't take weeks of redecorating or major renovation. It's the little things that count.

Your first step: Take a visual inventory. Look carefully outside and inside your home. What will the buyer see? Enlist some more objective observers to help.

Ask your agent, a good friend, neighbor or even an in-law to assist you in making a list of easy fixes and clean-ups. A small investment of time and money upfront can really pay off for you at the time of sale.

Seller Prepare

  1. Make your home accessible and inviting as the buyer approaches. The lawn/garden should be groomed and the sidewalks clear. Depending on the time of year that means: mow the lawn, rake the leaves, prune bushes, shovel the walks and driveways and pick up any stray toys and equipment. Maybe the exterior could use repainting, or at least a touchup. Make sure windows and doors are clean and in good repair (no torn screens or cracked windowsills).
  2. Clean as if you were having a party. Sparkling sinks and bathrooms, clean windows, walls and baseboards all add house appeal. Stash the clutter or purchase some nice-looking baskets or storage boxes. (Don't load up the closets or the basement. Prospective buyers are sure to look there!) Hire a cleaning service, a home organizer or a painter to help.
  3. Create a nice atmosphere. Fresh flowers in a couple of the rooms, a few scented candles, soft instrumental music in the background or a bright cloth on the hall table can add to a cozy, home-like feeling. In the evenings, turn on the lights inside and out. During the day, open curtains, shutters and blinds to let the sunshine in.
  4. Fix those little "flaws" you've gotten used to. This is where a fresh pair of eyes may come in handy. Identify and fix the leaks and drips, the missing tile and sticking drawers before a potential buyer finds them for you. And don't forget those little hazards you have been living with - the light that hangs too low, loose carpeting on the stairs, a tangle of extension cords across a doorway. Make sure the prospective buyers who visit will be safe at (your) home!

Choosing your REALTOR®

Schedule appointments with each one to see your home. You will want to ask general questions and specific questions that will tell you how they will market your home:

Make your choice. Sign the contract, and start the selling process.


Home Showing Do's and Don'ts

Eliminate distractions
Your home is the star. Help the prospective buyer concentrate on the property by keeping pets and kids out of the way. This is also not the time to be entertaining or hosting a club meeting. Buyers will feel more comfortable looking around if they don't have to wade through rooms full of strangers.

Less is more
If you are planning to be there during showings, stay in the background and give the buyer some breathing room. Your agent will find you if the prospect has a question only you can answer. If you have selected a real estate professional you trust, let him or her do most of the talking and all of the negotiating. Above all don't apologize for flaws or things your home doesn't offer. Your agent can handle any negatives professionally and objectively.

Let Your Agent Schedule Showings
Help your sales associate do the best job for you. Make sure all the showings are scheduled through the agent so he or she can coordinate the traffic flow.

Accentuate the Positive

Be ready to provide serious prospects with information about your house that can help seal the deal

Be Sure Your Buyer CAN Buy

Most probably, the people interested in buying your home will need a home mortgage loan to make the purchase. If a prospect is beginning to be seriously interested in your home, find out if he or she is pre-approved for a loan, or at the very least, pre-qualified before you go any further.

A buyer who is pre-approved is assured the loan and can move forward with purchase plans. If your buyer is only pre-qualified , it may take a little longer to get loan approval.

If the buyer is not even pre-qualified for the amount, you could be in for a big let down when the prospect is turned down.


As the seller of a home, you need to disclose any defects or problems with the property that you know about. The exact nature of the disclosure varies by state.

You should ask your agent about the disclosures required by your state.

Generally, you must disclose any problem that is "material" or key to the

buyer's decision. These would include

* Defects in the plumbing or electrical system

* Potential hazards on the property such as an abandoned well or asbestos

* Any remodeling or renovations made to the property without a building permit

In some areas, you need to tell prospective buyers if a violent crime took place on the property, or you may need to let buyers know about the availability of a list of registered sex offenders. In earthquake prone areas, you may need to show seismic activity reports or provide information about the home's earthquake readiness.

Ask your Realtor® to provide you with a disclosure form so you give the buyer everything in writing.

FSBO (For Sale By Owner)

We will tell you honestly, even in a strong seller's market, going the FSBO route is generally not the best strategy. On the surface, it may seem like a sound idea to save on commission, but there a lot of complexities to a home sale. The right agent can save you time, hassles and money, by pricing your home right and being there to handle all the details.

Consider these pitfalls of selling it yourself:

If you don't have a sure buyer for your home, our advice is to talk with a few real estate agents and find out why working with a Realtor® could be a better alternative for you.

It's Not Over Til It's Over

Once your buyer has signed a contract, you're on your way to closing.

But you are not done yet. As the seller, there are a number of things you need to do before closing day.