In addition to organizing your clutter, cleaning out your closets, beautifying your home and making it downright sparkle, there are several other things to do prior to putting your home on the market. Here are some pre-listing-your-home items to consider as you begin your journey down the home-selling path:
- Determine a Strategy or Plan for Your Next Move - In the event that your home sells quickly, it's prudent to have a plan in place for your next step or move. Some sellers have bought other houses, and so for them, the plan is already in place. But if you are looking to sell before you buy, you might want to explore some short-term housing options so that you have an executable plan and can close as quickly as a potential buyer wishes.
- Schedule Your Title V Inspection - For those of you who live in towns like Weston, Wayland, Lincoln or Dover,passing the Title V certification is generally the seller's responsibility. The septic system or cesspool must be deemed in good working order in accordance with the state mandates for the deed to convey from seller to buyer. Some sellers opt not to do the Title V inspection until they have found a buyer, but most do it in advance of listing their home or just as they are listing their home. This way, they know in advance if there are any issues with the system that they need to repair or replace. When you are scheduling your Title V inspection, keep the time of the year in mind as the ground freezes in the winter, and therefore performing the inspection can be difficult. One more thing to note is that in Weston, for example, a passing Title V report is good for two years and can be extended for a third year if you pump the system annually.
- Check the Status of Your Building Permits - If you did any work to your home while you owned it, you likely pulled a building permit with the town. If so, it's prudent to check with the town in advance of listing your home to make sure all of the building permits have been closed out. If you did work but didn't pull permits, this can be an issue for buyers, and the lack of permitting may come back to bite you. As part of a transaction, most buyer's agents will go to the town to make sure permits were pulled for any work done. Depending on the situation as well as the nature and scope of the work you did, you may want to talk to the town to see how to remedy the situation before it becomes an issue with a potential buyer.
- Develop a List of Home Improvements - This list, especially if extensive and recent (i.e. in the last 10 years), is something to include on the "beauty sheet" that buyers receive when viewing your home. It can also help answer the plethora of questions that buyers often have and help justify the pricing of your home. Be sure to include what work was done and when.*
- Feature Photos of Outdoor Spaces, Gardens and Patios - If you are selling your home in the winter and the land is snow covered, this is crucial. Leaving photos at your home of the lush yard and gardens in full bloom and color (as pictured here) can certainly help buyers visualize what your property looks like in the warmer weather. You can also include these photos on MLS so they are part of the MLS listing sheet and available to all potential buyers - not just those who come to see your home.
- Identify Your Exclusions - Before listing your property, it is important to determine which items - those that are built-in or attached to your walls and ceilings - you are planning to take with you and will no longer remain with the house. Often sellers exclude dining room chandeliers (as pictured below), sconces and window treatments. Other times sellers will exclude sentimental plantings or trees. From a protocol standpoint, if you are excluding a tree, for example, you will likely need to replace it with something similar rather than leaving an ugly, messy hole in the ground. Similarly if you are taking window treatments, the buyer might ask you to fill and paint the holes left in the walls from the extracted curtain rods.
- Make Relevant and Appropriate Disclosures - Make sure that if there are any disclosures (i.e. easements on the property, part of the land is in another town), you have information documenting and explaining the disclosures to buyers. You also need to include the disclosures on the listing sheet. This way there won't be any last minute surprises for a potential buyer, which typically don't go over well.
- Find a Real Estate Attorney - Most sellers already have a relationship with a real estate attorney prior to listing their home, but this is something to consider if you don't. Your real estate attorney will spearhead the Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S) as well as the closing process, and thus it's important to find someone you trust and someone who gives you solid legal advice.
- Choose the Right Real Estate Agent for You - Similar to the process of finding an attorney, you need to choose a real estate agent to market, showcase and list your home as well as serve as your seller's representative. In my humble opinion, it will likely make the home selling process much more positive, rewarding and successful, if you choose someone who gives you their undivided support, counsel and care. Furthermore as we like to say, "Don't let an agent buy your listing." In order to secure the listing, an agent may give you a high, unrealistic price, which ultimately doesn't behoove any of the parties involved. My advice would be to look at the whole picture - the price the agents give you, the marketing they will provide and, most importantly, the support, responsiveness and care they show you - and choose the best fit for you with all of those considerations in mind. Ultimately it's the working relationship you have with your agent that becomes the most important element in the home-selling process.
What are your thoughts? When you last sold your home, did you have a similar checklist prior to putting your house on the market? And which tasks - those listed above or others - were most important to you before listing your home? I can't wait to hear....
For more information on the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (781-267-2844 or www.homesalesbylisa.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.
*It follows, however, not to highlight these improvements if necessary permits weren't pulled to do the work.