2009 Real Estate Guide
A small modern looking home with a rooftop with foliage and trees on top of a set of house plans
real estate
14 questions to ask before auctioning home

10. Do I understand the entire contract? Another mistake some sellers make is not understanding the contract they sign with the auction company, says Kravets. The contract contains everything that will govern your sale, so you want to understand every word. If you don't understand any part, confer with a lawyer, he says.

11. Have I honestly disclosed all the property's flaws? At most auctions, the buyers accept the property "as is," which means they can't come after the seller for any defects they find later. One exception: if the seller knew about the problems and didn't disclose them.

When it comes to disclosure about the property and its condition, a reputable auction company "will be as tough on you" as any buyer, Kravets says. They will order a home inspection and present the report with the marketing materials it distributes on the house, he says.

12. What happens if I want to sell before the auction? A buyer occasionally will make an offer on a house before auction day. A licensed auctioneer/broker has an obligation to present any offers to the seller, says Kravets.

At the same time, some auction houses frown on pre-auction offers and will advise clients to turn them down. So discuss the matter with your auctioneer before you hire. "A professional auction company has a strategy and knows how to handle pre-auction offers," he says.

13. How will the company be showcasing my home? Ask how the auction company will show the house before the auction, says Bill Carey. There should be a series of open houses with some heavy staging. "People don't buy features. They buy benefits," he says. You want an auction house that will demonstrate -- through sights, sounds and smells -- how great your home really is.

You also want the same treatment on auction day, complete with music and light snacks. The message: This isn't a foreclosure or distressed sale, but a first-class property that some lucky individual can purchase for the right price.

14. Am I considering an auction to get more than what the property is really worth? Consign those visions of a bidding war to your fantasies.

"There is no magic to it," says Kravets, adding that sellers need to face reality. In a readjusting market, that reality might be that the house will not bring the price of your dreams.

An auction, says the Realtor association's Sheridan, "is an opportunity to sell your house for the current cash value."

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