Dear Monty: We are considering a lifestyle change that involves selling our home. There is advice everywhere on the best steps one can take to fix it up, increase the value, sell it quickly with no hassle and much more. The advice is often conflicting and makes no sense to us in some cases. For example, we have kept our 30-year-old home up well and updated appliances and flooring, but to do a complete remodel seems very risky. What actions can we take to get the most out of it without spending a fortune?
Monty’s Answer: The internet is full of confusing, contradictory and misleading information. It can be challenging to distinguish between native advertising (ads that look like articles), agents with differing opinions and writers informed with incorrect information. Here is a checklist on the Dear Monty website that may help you prepare: https://bit.ly/3KQYhYg.
No. 1: Elbow grease and paint are the most effective and inexpensive first steps. You may be ahead of these tasks based on your question.
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No. 2: Pre-inspect your home. Hiring a competent home inspector upfront is a valuable service. Your home’s condition is the primary concern of your potential customers. Also, if there is a defect you are unaware of, better to learn about it before a buyer does. To wait until a buyer signs up with an inspection contingency may turn into a second negotiation. And when that happens just before the closing, it can be a stressful situation. If you fix a defect or disclose it before an offer is submitted, you avoid the stress.
No. 3: Do some research to learn what homes in your immediate neighborhood are selling for and how long it takes for them to sell. Researching online takes some time. If you are interviewing agents, they will furnish comparable sales and market data.
No. 4: Before placing it on the market, complete your state’s approved condition report. Most states require a seller condition report within a specific time after an offer is accepted. Most homes are not perfect. Homebuyers who have owned a home know this, and first-time buyers grew up in a home. The time to share what you know about your home’s condition is when you place it on the market.
No. 5: Once your home is in tiptop shape and before you place it on the market, have a professional photographer that specializes in homes prepare a presentation tour of your home. You can post it online or allow an agent to use it in any promotions they offer. Most real estate agents do not furnish presentation virtual tours. There is anecdotal evidence that agent adoption is growing. The value of the online tour is that a prospect who has seen an online tour is more likely to buy than a prospect who has not.
It is not unusual for a potential homebuyer to be suspicious about your reason for moving. Not all customers will feel cautious, but there are stories and many instances where there is deception or misunderstandings over condition issues. Most folks looking for a home will appreciate your transparency and recognize that they benefit from your efforts in staging the transaction in this fashion. You are building trust. It is well-known that homes in top condition sell faster and for more money.
Richard Montgomery is the author of “House Money: An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home.” He advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty, or at DearMonty.com.
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