If you are thinking about selling your
home in Union County, chances
are that you are caught up in a mass amount of emotion. You
might be looking forward to the new home or possibly facing
the uncertainty of a major move cross-country. You may have
the reluctance to leave your memories behind or you may be
eager to start an exciting and new adventure. We have put
together some information that will assist you in making an informed decision. If you have any questions throughout this
process, you can contact us by email
or phone at any time.
HERE ARE SOME EXCELLENT IDEAS FOR YOU AS A SELLER TO REVIEW IN PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR THE MARKET PLACE.
This is one of the most important decisions you will make. What price I should ask for my home? Most Realtors will provide you with a competitive market analysis for you to review. This will include properties of like type that have sold within the past year, properties that your home will compete with and expired properties that have not sold. As a general rule, your asking price should be about 5% of what your home should sell for. Remember, most buyers will not make a full price offer unless your home is priced very competitively on the market. If your home is priced very competitively, you may have numerous buyers that have a strong interest in your home. If this is the case then you may get multiple offers near or above your asking price.
Listing agents will market and promote your home to local Realtors who are members of the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). During the first couple of weeks of your listing, your home should have a flurry of activity with buyers and their agents coming to view your home. You may also have buyers’ agents previewing your home for their clients.
Remember, if you and your agent have overpriced the home, fewer agents will preview your home. After all, they are Realtors, and it is their job to know local market conditions and home values. If your house is dramatically above market, why waste time? Their time is better spent previewing homes that are priced realistically.
If you have over priced your home and you have not had much activity or an offer, this is generally when you begin to think about dropping your sales price. When you drop your price, your house is "old news." You will never be able to recapture that flurry of initial activity you would have had with a realistic price. Your house could take longer to sell. Even if you do successfully sell at an above market price, your buyer will need a mortgage. The mortgage lender requires an appraisal. If comparable sales for the last six months and current market conditions do not support your sales price, the house won't appraise. Your deal falls apart. Of course, you can always attempt to renegotiate the price, but only if the buyer is willing to listen. Your house could go "back on the market."
Once your home has fallen out of escrow or sits on the market awhile, it is harder to get a good offer. Potential buyers will think you might be getting desperate, so they will make lower offers. By overpricing your home in the beginning, you could actually end up settling for a lower price than you would have normally received. It's very important to set a realistic sale price at the beginning.
THE LISTING AGENT - MARKETING YOUR HOME TO HOMEBUYERS
Every home seller likes to be assured that their listing agent or the real estate company will run ads featuring their home. Newspaper ads could be large display ads with lots of listings or small classified ads featuring just your property. Ads may also appear in the Eastern Oregon Real Estate Guide and also show up on the Internet. Today, there are more and more Buyers (92% and rising) using the Internet and it is important for you to have a Realtor that can have your home be found easily on the Internet. To find out how competitive your Realtor is on the Interne and how your property is being displayed, click on one of these Search Engines such as www.google.com, www.yahoo.com or www.msn.com and type in La Grande Oregon Real Estate. Because of the volume of information on the internet today, buyers are much more informed and educated in the market condition than ever before.
Even before the sign is up and the brochures are ready, your agent should list your property with the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service). The MLS is a database of all the homes listed by local real estate agents who are members of the service, which is practically all of the local agents.
Important information about your property is listed here. This includes general data such as square footage and number of rooms, to such details as whether you have central air conditioning or hard wood flooring. There should also be a photo, and a short verbal description of what makes your house "special."
Agents search the database for homes that fit the price range and needs of their clients. They pay special attention to homes that have been recently placed on the market, which is one reason you get a lot of attention when your house is first listed. Many agents will want to preview the home before they show it to their clients. MLS will expand your sales force by the number of Realtors that are members of the local MLS. Instead of having just one agent working for you, now you may have multiple Realtors. The listing agent's main job is to make sure other MLS members know about your house. This is accomplished through listing your house in the Multiple Listing Service and your agent networking with other Realtors that are members of the Multiple Listing Service.
Realtor Tours are open to all the members of the local multiple listing service. It usually occurs within the first week your house is placed on the market. Though it may seem funny, nothing seems to attract a real estate agent like the offer of free food. So if your agent offers "free eats" at the Realtor tour, you are likely to get more visitors than if nothing is offered.
It seems fairly obvious that when you put your house up for sale that your agent will put a "for sale" sign in the front yard. The sign will identify the agent's company, the agent, have a phone number and in some cases have a web page address so that prospective buyers can get information that they need.
Signs are great at generating phone calls, even if very few actually purchase the home they call about. However, you might be one of the lucky ones. For that reason, you should determine what happens when someone calls the number on the sign. Does a live person answer the phone or does the call go to a voicemail or recorder?
You want someone to answer the phone while the caller is "hot." When buyers call the number on the sign, the call should go to a live person who can answer questions immediately. A potential buyer may be on the street outside your home, placing the call using a cell phone.
Your agent should prepare a flyer that displays a photo and provides details about your house. There should also be a phone number so buyers can contact your agent to get additional information. The flyers should be displayed in a prominent location in your home and also in a brochure box attached to the "for sale" sign.
The brochure box is convenient for those buyers who drive by and just happen to see the "for sale" sign in front of your house. It provides enough information so they can determine if they want to follow up with a phone call or inform their own agent they are interested in your house.
When you first list your home many agents send "announcements" to all of the other houses in your neighborhood. This can be done in the form of postcards, a letter, or flyers left hanging on the front door. These are important because your neighbors might have friends who are looking to buy a house. The announcements create "word of mouth" advertising, which is the best kind.
A lockbox is a basically a padlock with a cavity inside where the key to your house can be placed. Our local MLS board uses a electronic lock box for increase security for the home owners. Realtors use an electronic card to gain access to the lockbox for the key. MLS Members also have a contractor code for the home inspectors and the appraisers once your house is in escrow. Your listing agent can also keep track of how many showings your property has had and the dates that it was shown. Having a lockbox available at your house makes it easy for other agents to get access to your house. Realtors do work weekends with their buyers. Having a lockbox is extremely important for that reason. If you choose not to have a lock box it is giving a mixed signal to the Realtor and buyer, meaning that you may lack motivation to sell. Most of the homes today have the electronic lock box on their home.
For some home owners that have had their home longer than 10 years it is hard to consider removing personal items in the home. The reason for asking the seller de-personalize is that buyers want to view the home as how they would want to live in it. If you are preparing for your own move, now is a good time to take down your family photos, any trophies and collectible items and box them up. It is a good idea to rent a storage unit or store your person items with friends or family. It's not a good idea to store your boxes in the garage because this leads to clutter. Having your home in a presentable condition will bring you a higher sales price.
This is the hardest thing for most people to do because they are emotionally attached to everything in the house. After years of living in the same home, clutter collects in such a way that may not be evident to the homeowner. However, it does affect the way buyers see the home, even if you do not realize it. Clutter collects on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garages, attics, and basements. Take a step back and pretend you are a buyer. Let a friend help point out areas of clutter, as long as you can accept their views without getting defensive. Let your Realtor help you, too.
The kitchen is a good place to start removing clutter, because it is an easy place to start. First, get everything off the counters, even the toaster. Put the toaster in a cabinet and take it out when you use it. Find a place where you can store everything in cabinets and drawers. Of course, you may notice that you do not have cabinet space to put everything. Clean them out. The dishes, pots and pans that rarely get used? Put them in a box, and put that box in storage, too.
You see, homebuyers will open all your cabinets and drawers, especially in the kitchen. They want to be sure there is enough room for their "stuff." If your kitchen cabinets, pantries, and drawers look jammed full, it sends a negative message to the buyer and does not promote an image of plentiful storage space. The best way to do that is to have as much "empty space" as possible.
For that reason, if you have a "junk drawer," get rid of the junk. If you have a rarely used crock pot, put it in storage. Do this with every cabinet and drawer. Create open space.
If you have a large amount of foodstuffs crammed into the shelves or pantry, begin using them, especially canned goods. Canned goods are heavy and you don't want to be lugging them around to a new house or paying a mover to do so. Its best to just use them up.
Beneath the sink is very critical, too. Make sure the area beneath the sink is as empty as possible, removing all extra cleaning supplies. You should scrub the area down as well, and determine if there are any tell-tale signs of water leaks that may cause a homebuyer to hesitate in buying your home.
Closets are great for accumulating clutter, though you may not think of it as clutter. We are talking about extra clothes and shoes, things you rarely wear but cannot bear to be without. Do without these items for a couple of months by putting them in a box, because these items can make your closets look "crammed full." Sometimes there are shoeboxes full of "stuff" or other accumulated personal items, too.
Many people have too much furniture in certain rooms. If you are one of them it’s a good idea to downsize too that your furniture does not take up so much room. When a buyer walks into your home, he or she is visualizing how they would live in your house and how their furniture would fit in.
Basements, garages, attics, and sheds accumulate not only clutter, but junk. These areas should be as empty as possible so that buyers can imagine what they would do with the space. Remove anything that is not essential, and take it to the storage area.
If you need to have a yard sale to downsize go ahead and have one.
All your sink fixtures should look shiny and new. If this cannot be accomplished by cleaning, buy new ones where needed. This can be accomplished inexpensively and they are fairly easy to install. Make sure all the hot and cold water knobs are easy to turn and that the faucets do not leak. If they do, replace the washers. It is not difficult at all.
Check to make sure you have good water pressure and that there are no stains on any of the porcelain. If you have a difficult stain to remove, one trick is to hire a cleaning crew to go through and clean your home on a one-time basis. They seem to be wonderful at making stains go away.
THE CEILINGS, WALLS AND PAINTING
Check all the ceilings for water stains. Sometimes old leaks leave stains, even after you have repaired the leak. Of course, if you do have a leak, you will have to get it repaired, whether it is a plumbing problem or the roof leaks.
You should do the same for walls, looking for not only stains, but also areas where dirt has accumulated and you just may not have noticed it. Plus, you may have an outdated color scheme.
Painting can be your best investment when selling your home. It is not a very expensive operation and often you can do it yourself. Do not choose colors based on your own preferences, but based on what would appeal to the widest possible number of buyers. It is wise to choose an off-white color because white helps your rooms appear bright and spacious.
Unless your carpet appears old and worn, or it is definitely an outdated style or color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good carpet cleaner to clean it. If you do choose to replace it, do so with something inexpensive in a fairly neutral color.
Repair or replace broken floor tiles, but do not spend a lot of money on anything. Remember, you are not fixing up the place for yourself. You want to move. Your goal is simply to have as few negative impressions upon those who may want to purchase your property.
THE WINDOWS AND DOORS
Check all of your windows to make sure they open and close easily. If not, a spray of WD40 often helps. Make sure there are no cracked or broken windowpanes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home.
Do the same things with the doors. Make sure they open and close properly, without creaking. If they do, a shot of WD40 on the hinges usually makes the creak go away. Be sure the doorknobs turn easily, that they are cleaned and polished to look sharp. As buyers go from room to room, someone opens each door and you want to do everything necessary to create a positive impression.
For those who smoke, you might want to minimize smoking indoors while trying to sell your home. You could also purchase an ozone spray that helps to remove odors without creating a masking odor.
Pets of all kinds create odors that you may have become used to, but are immediately noticeable to those with more finely tuned senses. For those with cats, be sure to empty kitty litter boxes daily. There are also products that you can sprinkle in a layer below the kitty litter that helps to control odor. For those with dogs, keep the dog outdoors as much as possible. You might also try sprinkling carpet freshener on the carpet on a periodic basis.
THE COST OF REPAIRS
Do not do anything expensive, such as a major remodeling project. If possible, use savings to pay for any repairs and improvements. Do not go charging up credit cards or obtaining new loans. Remember that part of selling a house is also preparing to buy your next home.
Most real estate advisors tell you to work on the outside of the house first, but unless there is a major project involved, it is best to do it last. There are two main reasons for this; first is that preparing the interior of the house is easier. It helps for you to develop the proper mind set required for selling. That is to begin to thinking of your "home" as a marketable commodity. Second, the exterior is the most important. A homebuyer's first impression is based on his or her view of the house from the real estate agent's car.
So take a walk across the street and take a good look at your house. Look at nearby houses, too, and see how yours compares.
Is your landscaping at least average for the neighborhood? If it is not, buy a few bushes and plant them. It is also advisable to not plant new trees. Mature trees are expensive, and you will not get back your investment. Also, immature trees do not really add much to the appearance value of the home.
If you have an area for flowers, buy mature colorful flowers and plant them. They add a splash of vibrancy and color, creating a favorable first impression. It is also not advisable to purchase bulbs or seeds and plant them. They will not mature fast enough to create the desired effect and you certainly don't want a patch of brown earth for homebuyers to view.
Your lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, well watered, and free of brown spots. If there are problems with your lawn, you should probably take care of them before working on the inside of your home. This is because certain areas may need re-soding, and you want to give it a chance to grow so that re-sod areas are not immediately apparent. Plus, you might want to get your lawn fertilize in enough time to be effective.
The big decision is whether to paint or not to paint. When you look at your house from across the street, does it look tired and faded? If so, a paint job may be in order. It is often a very good investment and really spruces up the appearance of a house, adding dollars to offers from potential homebuyers.
When choosing a color, it should not be something garish and unusual, but a color that fits well in your neighborhood. Of course, the color also depends on the style of your house, too. For some reason, different shades of yellow seem to elicit the best response in homebuyers, whether it is in the trim or the basic color of the house.
As for the roof, if you know your house has an old leaky roof, replace it. If you do not replace a leaky roof, you are going to have to disclose it, and the buyer will want a new roof, anyway. Otherwise, wait and see what the home inspector says. Why spend money unnecessarily?
The back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, keep it freshly maintained and constantly cleaned. For those that have dogs, be sure to constantly keep the area clear of "debris." If you have swing sets or anything elaborate for your kids, it probably makes more sense to remove them than to leave them in place. They take up room, and you want your back yard to appear as spacious as possible, especially in newer homes where the yards are not as large.
THE FRONT DOOR AND ENTRYWAY
The front door should be especially sharp, since it is the entryway into the house. Polish the door fixture so it gleams. If the door needs refinishing or repainting, make sure to get that done.
If you have a cute little plaque or shingle with your family name on it, remove it. Even if it is just on the mailbox. You can always put it up again, once you move. Get a new plush door mat, too. This is something else you can take with you once you move.
Make sure the lock works easily and the key fits properly. When a homebuyer comes to visit your home, the agent uses the key from the lock box to unlock the door. If there is trouble working the lock while everyone else stands around twiddling their thumbs, this sends a negative first impression to prospective homebuyers.
Homebuyers will feel like intruders if you are home when they visit, and they might not be as receptive toward viewing your home. Visit the local coffee house, yogurt shop, or take the kids to the local park. If you absolutely cannot leave, try to remain in an out of the way area of the house and do not move from room to room. Do not volunteer any information, but answer any questions the agent may ask.
TURN ON THE LIGHTS
When you know someone is coming by to tour your home, turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights, even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a "homey" impression when viewed from the street. During the daytime, turning on the lights prevents harsh shadows from sunlight and it brightens up any dim areas. Your house looks more homey and cheerful with the lights on.
DON'T OVER SPRAY! Do not use scented sprays to prepare for visitors. It is too obvious and many people find the smells of those sprays offensive, not to mention that some may be allergic. If you want to have a pleasant aroma in your house, have a potpourri pot or something natural. Or turn on a stove burner for a moment and put a drop of vanilla extract on it. It will smell like you have been cooking.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR PETS! If you have pets, make sure your listing agent puts a notice with your listing in the multiple listing service. The last thing you want is to have your pet running out the front door and getting lost. If you know someone is coming, it would be best to try to take the pets with you while the homebuyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, it's best to keep dogs in a penned area in the back yard. Try to keep indoor cats in a specific room when you expect visitors, and put a sign on the door. Most of the time, an indoor cat will hide when buyers come to view your property, but they may panic and try to escape.
THE KITCHEN TRASH
Especially if your kitchen trash can does not have a lid, make sure you empty it every time someone comes to look at your home, even if your trash can is kept under the kitchen sink. Remember that you want to send a positive image about every aspect of your home. Kitchen trash does not send a positive message. You may go through more plastic bags than usual, but it will be worth it.
A GOOD HABIT! Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a home it is recommended that you develop a good house keeping habit. Pick up papers, do not leave empty glasses in the family room, keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Try your best to have it look like a model home? A home with furniture but nobody really lives there.