7-step approach to selling
Selling your house is a big
decision, and sets a number of activities into motion, from repairs and refreshing
your property to selecting an agent and signing a contract. Here are seven important
steps in the process:
Get your house in order. Make a critical assessment
of any needed maintenance or repairs. Hire a home inspector if you're not comfortable
making those assessments on your own. An inspection will probably cost you a few
hundred dollars, but it's money well spent to keep from being unpleasantly surprised
when a buyer has his own inspection done. No one wants to find out that their
roof is shot, but at this stage, you can decide if it's worth it to spend the
money and fix it or to sell the house as-is, disclose that it needs a new roof
and set your price accordingly.
2. Look through a buyer's eyes.
Stand across the street and look at your house as if you're a prospective
buyer seeing it for the first time, says Sid Davis, a Utah-based
real estate broker and author of "Survival
Guide to Selling a Home." If you can't be objective, ask
a friend to help you. You're looking at the condition of:
the exterior paint -- is it fading or peeling?
- the yard --
are there bare spots in the grass or overgrown shrubs? Is there trash or broken
toys? Are there diseased or damaged trees that need to be removed? Are there beds
that need to be weeded?
- the driveway -- is it cracked or
have holes in it?
- the garage door -- is it damaged?
windows -- do they need to be cleaned? Are they broken? Are the screens missing,
torn or broken?
- the gutters and downspouts -- are they clogged
- the front door -- is it dirty or damaged?
details -- does the mailbox door fall open? Are any house numbers missing? Are
there burnt-out bulbs on the porch lights? Is there fencing that needs to be repaired?
want to do this because you have one chance to make a good first impression. What
potential buyers see on that first drive-by can do one of three things (and two
of them are not good): make them fall in love, make them keep driving, or give
them a checklist of items they can use to try to knock down your price.
do the same thing inside the house, studying everything from how it smells to
how old the carpet is.
3. FSBO or listing agent?
Decide if you're going to sell the house yourself or hire
a real estate agent. If you're going on your own, you'll need
to line up an attorney or at the very least a title company to handle
the paperwork. You'll also need to handle marketing the property,
showing it, pre-qualifying buyers, negotiating offers, and working
with various real estate professionals, such as appraisers, title
agents and mortgage companies.
If you decide it's too much for you to handle, meet
with at least three prospective agents. You want an agent who is
active in your area. Ask them to bring printouts on their last 10
listings, Davis says. You want to see where the houses were, how
long they were on the market, and the listing price vs. the sales
price. Also ask about their marketing plan for your house. Will
they do a brochure? A Web site? Virtual tours? Open houses? Broker
caravans? They should know what works best in your market.