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MJ Roney
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Decker Bullock Sotheby's International Realty

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Listing Your Home

So you've decided it's time to sell your home. You may think that it's just a matter of listing the property with a Realtor and your job is done.  Not so, I'm afraid. Selling your home can be an exhausting job. But knowing what to expect and preparing for any unforeseen will result in a smooth transition and will save you time and money. 

How much should I list the home for?  Pricing is critical in successfully marketing your property.  Most of the buyer activity will happen within the first few weeks that the home is on the market. Price is the main factor that buyers use to determine which homes they want to see.  They have seen the competition, and are waiting for new listings. Overpricing will cause buyers to lose interest in your home before even seeing it.  After years of being at the mercy of a "sellers market", today's buyer has no patience for a demanding  seller and will boycott an overpriced home,  in what I refer to as "buyers" revenge". An overpriced home will take a long time to sell, and will end up being sold at a lower price than what  the seller would normally have received. 

Some agents will "buy the listing" by setting a "high" list price to win over the seller and obtain the listing, knowing that they will be forced to lower the price in order to sell the home. What a seller may fail to realize is that the listing agent is not the usual source of the buyer, but other agents are. If you and your agent have overpriced your home, fewer agents will preview it and show it to their buyers.  After all, their time is better spent selling homes that are priced realistically. If you start out with a excessive list price and drop it later, your home is "yesterday's news",  and you will never be able to recapture the initial frenzy of activity that you could have had pricing it correctly.

And then there's the appraisal - so you get that overpriced offer that you've been hoping for, only to have the appraisal come in below the sale price. The buyer can't get financing  and the home falls out of escrow and is back on the market. It's harder to sell it now and will take more time. Buyers become suspicious that there's "something wrong" with the property, while the opportunists start making low offers, assuming that the seller is desperate which, in many instances, becomes the case.
Homes that sell quickly, sell closer to, or sometimes over list price. Realistic list-pricing will result in a quicker sale, increased agent response and buyer interest,  and prevent the listing from becoming a "black hole".

Once you've made the decision to sell your home, it's important that you detach your emotions from the property and view it as an investment only. Go from room to room and remove photos and other memorabilia that identify you as the owner. Excess furniture can make a room appear small, and keeping furnishings at a minimum allows perspective buyers to mentally place their belongings, while creating a spacious feel. Time to get into the closets and cabinets and discard unwanted items. Store everything you don't need until after the sale.

Thoroughly check the structure for deferred maintenance and make repairs. It will save you money and potential problems, and may just covert a "prospect" into a "buyer". Keep in mind that a home inspection is standard procedure with a sale. Defects and needed repairs will be disclosed, and your buyer will expect you to pay for them or credit them at close of escrow.  Clean the carpets, paint where needed, and make sure appliances and mechanicals are in working order. A buyer's first impression is from the street. Spruce up the front entry, add plants and decorative pots, and keep the yard free of debris and neatly manicured.

Be proactive. Consider having a preliminary pest report and contractor inspection before putting the house on the market. Not only will they identify unknown defects or conditions that will need to be rectified prior to close of escrow but, by taking this initiative, buyers will feel more confident about making a "good" offer and may not hesitate in accepting your price.

It is also a good idea to include a one year Home Warranty with the sale of your home. It's relatively inexpensive and will protect you from lawsuits, should any major component break down during the first year after the close of escrow.  It's worth it for your peace of mind!

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