Important Steps To Selling Your Home

Marci Diehl 2015-10-24

You've called your house home for a long time, but now it's time to downsize. Where to begin? Do you hire a Realtor first? Do a pre-emptive professional home inspection? Tackle clutter before doing anything?

A large family home may be full of possessions accumulated over decades. Clearing out and scaling down can be freeing, but it usually feels overwhelming, too. Having a plan can make the process less stressful and help you look forward to your new, low-maintenance lifestyle.

Find a reputable realtor

You and your Realtor should do a walk-through of the interior and exterior of your home and property. The Realtor can give you ideas about staging your home for the sale, and point out any repairs or maintenance that can be or should be done before putting the house on the market.

Pay attention to what your Realtor says. He or she looks at your home from an objective, strategic point of view to get you the best price possible for your home. Some of this might be difficult to hear: You will have an emotional stake in the place you live. But it's not about "your" house anymore – it's about a house that will be seen with new eyes.

The agent will then research the market for a range of what the price should be for your home, based on what comparable homes are selling for in your area.

Should I pay for my home inspection?

According to HGTV, there can be benefits to paying for a professional home inspection before the house goes on the market. It may reassure buyers there are no surprises in store for them. And a pre-inspection gives you time to shop around for prices and options from contractors.

If you fix things ahead of time, you may avoid having to adjust the price if some hidden or unpredictable problem is found during the buyer's inspection, like mold remediation or structural work.

Or you might find out you don't have to pay for unnecessary repairs.

However, if you think those situations won't apply, you should reconsider. The average cost for a house inspection is $400-500. The buyers will want their own inspection done, so save your money and don't do a pre-inspection, recommends Andy Griffith, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Properties in Canandaigua.

"Do get deferred maintenance items fixed or updated – things you and the Realtor may have discussed during your initial walk-through," Griffith says. "For example, if you have a wood-burning stove or wood-burning fireplace, you'd want to have the chimney cleaned and inspected. Do the obvious things, like get the heating and cooling maintained, etc."

Clean the clutter before the house goes on the market.

Clearing out and paring down may be the things people dread most.

Should you tackle this before you meet with your Realtor? Not necessary, Griffith says. "Don't worry about what the Realtor sees – he or she is looking at the 'bricks and mortar' of the house, not your possessions." But do de-clutter before the house goes on the market. Do your cleaning and staging, too.

  • Remember you're moving into a smaller space. Be clear about what you can live without or won't need. That includes furniture. Think about your new lifestyle ahead.
  • Don't try to tackle it all at one time. Start early and start small. Do one small area at a time – a closet, a bookcase, cupboards, one room. Do something every day.
  • Be prepared. Have boxes and bins marked Donate, Throw Away, Keep. Have markers, boxing tape and a shredder handy.
  • Schedule a day every week to de-clutter. Schedule a pickup for donations, or take them yourself. Get ready for trash day. Put the "keepers" in storage bins. Then go reward yourself.
  • Have a sale. A yard sale, a moving sale, or sell things on eBay and Craigslist.
  • If it no longer means anything to you – get rid of it. This may be the toughest part. Living in a home for years, accumulating memories, inheriting family heirlooms — paring down can feel like dismantling your life. Look at things with an honest eye. What would you be willing to carry up three flights of stairs? Let things go, and keep only your most cherished possessions — things that still bring you happiness.

When should you put your house on the market?

The best time to sell is when you're ready to sell, Griffith tells clients. "The market's not as cyclical as it used to be. Buyers are out in the colder months, too." So put your home out on the market when it works for you.

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