Friday, June 19, 2009

Ready for Sale (Part Four of Four)

Over the past three weeks we have taken a look at what some local experts say is the best way to get your home ready for sale. Some have commented that the ideas have been helpful, while others have offered their own suggestions, some of which were good enough to be included in future articles.

For this, the final installment in the series, I want to share some of the ideas that have come from discussions I have had over countless cups of coffee with scores of people involved in various areas real estate. These ideas have been synergized into my way of thinking so unfortunately I won’t be giving credit where it is most likely due. So in advance let me apologize to anyone whose idea I have “borrowed” whether or not I have had permission.

The current housing market is more oriented toward the buyers than the sellers. Housing inventories are high and interest rates are still low. (Okay they’re higher than they were a few weeks ago, but seriously, 30-year fixed rates in the 5% range are fantastic rates.) This combination makes tilts the balance such that the seller is walking uphill to get every dollar they can out of their home.

Conversely, buyers are looking for the best value for their home buying dollar. Buying a home is in some ways like buying a vehicle. Sure it runs well on the test drive, but what unexpected repairs could I be facing in the near future? And how much will these repairs cost me? The home may pass inspection, but after three weeks of ninety-degree heat, the A/C compressor may just give up the fight. That could be a financial challenge.

So here are three suggestions that can go a long way to help quell buyer suspicions and reinforce the price the sellers set. I will give fair warning that these suggestions will cost the sellers a bit of money, but could make the difference on whether or not you have to drop your sales price to get an interested buyer.

Get Your Home Inspected. Sure most buyers will have the home inspected before they close, but if a seller orders a professional inspection and then affects the suggested repairs this pro-activity could encourage prospective buyers to give extra consideration to that home. Have the inspection report laying out on the kitchen counter along with the paid receipts for the repairs. Buyers will be impressed that the seller is not trying to hide anything negative about the house. Once they put an offer on the home they will hire their own inspector, but if the necessary repairs have already been affected, everyone will be more comfortable with the transaction.

Get a Pest Inspection. This should be an annual event for most homes anyway. So contact a pest control company and get a licensed termite inspection. Again, have this report available for prospective buyers to see before deciding whether or not they will make an offer on the home. Yes, the buyers will more than likely want to hire their own pest inspection, but when their report matches the one the sellers provided, the home’s value is established even more.

Get an Appraisal. By now some of you have already clicked off and have decided that I’ve lost my last marble. But hear me out...uh, I mean, you’ve read this far so finish the article. Here’s what I’ve discovered. Realtors representing the sellers look for comparable properties that justify the highest possible price for the home. That’s okay they’re supposed to do that. Realtors representing the buyers look for comparable properties that validate a lower price for the home. And that’s okay too. They’re supposed to do that. But if an complete appraisal is done and paid for buyers (and Realtors) have more difficulty making an effective challenge to the seller’s asking price.

Buying a home is an emotional journey for everyone involved. These three suggestions will cost the seller some money up front, but can go a long way toward helping minimize stress in everyone’s corner.

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