At closing, you will most likely sit at a table with me, the broker for the buyer, probably the buyer, and a closing agent.
The closing agent will have a stack of papers for you and the buyer to sign. While he or she will give you a basic explanation of each paper, you may want to take the time to read each one and/or consult with me to make sure you know exactly what you are signing. After all, this is a large amount of money you are committing to pay for many years!
Don't hesitate to ask questions, I will be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.
First, get psychologically prepared. Detach yourself emotionally from your home and start viewing it as a commodity you want to sell. This is difficult for most sellers whose identities are often reflected in their homes. However, it's important to be completely candid with yourself about how your home should look when it goes on the market.
Property appearance and condition play a bigger role in the home sale process today than a decade ago. Today's home buyers are usually savvy, choosy and short of time. They'll pay a premium for homes they can move right into.
The probable selling price for your home will depend on various factors, including: how many buyers are looking for homes like yours, how many other homes like yours are currently on the market, and the condition of your home relative to your competition. You can't control the supply and demand factors affecting the market, but you can control how your home looks when it hits the market.
A home inspection is an examination of the structure and systems: heating and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical, roof, attic, insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, foundation, and basement. If the inspector finds problems, it doesn't mean you can't sell your house, but you can be certain a buyer's inspector will find them too. Finding problems before you list your property can avoid accusations of misrepresentation, low offers, and even lawsuits. A home inspection can also help sellers comply with new, tougher disclosure laws.
You may or may not want to make the repairs and you can always adjust the selling price or contract terms if the problems are major.
This information will also help you determine what type of financing will or will not be available for your home. You can find home inspectors in the Yellow Pages under "Home Inspection Service," or I, Doug Blackstock, can recommend several in your area.
After years of living in a home, it's easy to fall into a habit of overlooking home maintenance chores. If there's no urgency, many homeowners procrastinate. Often problems don't get fixed until a major disaster occurs, like a roof leak in the middle of a hurricane.
Deferred home maintenance can become a problem when you decide to sell. Most buyers want to buy homes they can move right into without having to make a lot of repairs. Sellers need to decide before they put their home on the market whether to fix deferred repairs or leave the work for a future buyer to do.
Usually sellers who have the time, money and inclination will do better on the sale of their home if they fix problems before they list their home for sale. A home that is in move-in condition is one that appeals to a broad audience of prospective homebuyers. First-time homebuyers, and buyers with busy lifestyles, often won't consider buying a home that needs a lot of work. They haven't the time or experience to deal with the problems.
"Curb appeal" is the common real estate term for everything prospective buyers can see from the street that might make them want to turn in and take a look. Improving curb appeal is critical to generating traffic. While it does take time, it needn't be expensive, provided you keep two key words in mind: neat and neutral.
Neatness sells. New paint, an immaculate lawn, picture-perfect shrubbery, a newly sealed driveway, potted plants at the front door - put them all together, and drive-by shoppers will probably want to see the rest of the house.
Hand in hand with neatness is neutrality. If you're going to repaint, stick to light, neutral colors. Keep the yard free of gardening tools and kids' toys. Remember, when a family looks at a house, they're trying to paint a picture of what it would be like as their home. You want to give them as clean a canvas as possible.
First, make your house look as clean and spacious as possible. Remember that people may look behind your doors - closet and crawlspace doors as well as those to the bedrooms and bathrooms. So get rid of all the clutter; have that garage sale and haul away the leftovers.
After you've cleaned, try to correct any cosmetic flaws you've noticed. Paint rooms that need it, re-grout tile walls and floors, remove or replace any worn-out carpets. Replace dated faucets, light fixtures, and the handles and knobs on your kitchen drawers and cabinets. Finally, as with the outside of your house, try to make it easy for prospective buyers to imagine your house as their home. Clear as much from your walls, shelves, and countertops as you can. Give your prospective buyers plenty of room to dream.
Certain home improvements that are useful to almost everyone have been proven to add value and/or speed the sale of houses. These include adding central air conditioning to the heating system, building a deck or patio, basement finishing, some kitchen remodelling (updating colors on cabinets, countertops, appliances, panels, etc.), and new floor and/or wall coverings, especially in bathrooms. Improvements that return less than what they cost are generally items that appeal to personal tastes, like adding fireplaces, wet bars, and swimming pools, or converting the garage into an extra room.
The challenge that comes with any home improvement designed to help sell your house is recouping your investment. There's always the risk of over-improving your house - that is, putting more money into it than neighbourhood prices will support.
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