Q. I’ve decided to sell my property in the near future. What are the first steps to take?
A. The first step is to contact one or two experienced REALTORS to obtain a comprehensive market analysis (CMA) of your property. Make appointments so they can preview the home, and then return with a written report to review with you and your spouse. This report will include information on comparable properties in the area that have recently sold, and will also include properties that are still on the market or under contract; that will give you an idea of what your home is worth. In addition, a good REALTOR® will be able to educate you about local market conditions that may affect your home’s value, and will give you information on sellers’ closing costs so you know how much equity to expect once the home closes title after you accept an offer.
Q. How do I know what I should do to prepare my home to go on the market?
A. Your REALTOR® will be able to give you a specific list of suggestions of what you can do to improve your property’s value, as well as counsel you on what you don’t need to be concerned with. For instance, repainting, pulling up old carpeting and refinishing hardwood floors, restaging rooms are all simple steps that can really help improve your home’s first impression for buyers and their agents. Take a hard look at its curb appeal and exterior landscaping, get the siding power-washed, perhaps repaint outside trim around doors, and plant colorful flowers out front. In the backyard, keeping the lawn mowed and hedges trimmed regularly as well as getting rid of broken lawn furniture and old toys that distract the eye from your home’s appeal will also help boost its appeal.
If your home needs some repairs, such as an older roof, a Federal electric panel, broken garage door opener or sidewalk replacement where tree roots have pushed up and cracked some sections, discuss with your REALTOR whether it is best to spend the money to take care of these things ahead of time to encourage higher offers, or simply get estimates so you are prepared to offer a credit during inspection discussions. Remember, buyers are impressed when a home appears well maintained and will make a better offer in a shorter time frame. A property needing a large number of repairs or upgrades (such as old windows, bathrooms, waterproofing a basement) will generally sit on the market longer and attract lower offers from discerning buyers unless the property is priced aggressively to overcome some of those concerns.
Q. What should I look for in picking a REALTOR to represent me?
A. This is an excellent question, as your REALTOR will be the “go-between” in dealing with prospective buyers, other REALTORS, lawyers, inspectors, appraisers, mortgage lenders, etc. as you move forward into marketing your home, as well as monitoring the deal from contract to closing. Ask the REALTORS you are interviewing for their resumes, perhaps a short list of references from recent transactions, discuss current market conditions and see what they bring to the table. Are they experienced? What ideas do they have for showcasing your property? What kind of buyers do they expect your home will appeal to? How will they market and advertise your home? How do they propose managing negotiations once you are presented with an offer? It will be clear as you interview them who you feel most comfortable working with as your real estate representative.
Barbara Ostroth is a residential real estate professional at Coldwell Banker, 15 Vervalen Street in Closter. She can be reached at (201)767-0550.
By Barbara Ostroth