Your home is likely your most expensive asset. It is important to ensure that you have taken the necessary steps to reduce your risk exposure and maximize profit.
It is very risky to sign a contract to sell your home before you know if you are qualified to buy another. If your financial circumstances have changed since your last purchase, you may not qualify for another loan, or the market may not provide a price that will allow you to determine you to buy the type of replacement home you want. The last thing you want is to end up renting or buying something that was far from ideal.
Before you decide to sell the house, get pre-approved by a lender you trust and research the housing market in the area where you wish to live so that you have a good idea how much it will take to buy a replacement.
Finding the right loan and lender is crucial to your home buying success. It is up to you to determine which lender is best for your needs, and it is always a good idea to have at least a bit of background about the loan process before you talk to a lender.
Call your lender to check the payoff for your current mortgage. Be sure to request the breakdown of any additional administration fees or penalties. You will need that figure to complete Step 6 and close your deal.
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Determine your home's fair market value. Real estate agents will usually help you determine value as a courtesy, but you might take it a step further and order an appraisal.
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Most houses need at least a little work before they are shown to potential buyers, to maximize resale value. Typical project include repainting, closet and cabinet organizers, windows and general cleaning, a clutter free look tends to be most appealing to buyers.
Make all needed repairs unless you want your house to be regarded as a fixer-upper. When getting your home ready to sell, think of it as a product competing with brand new homes. It needs to show well, which means it should look organized and clean. This easy to read guide is packed with dozens of useful tips on how to get your house to show its best potential: from weeding the flower beds to making sure the litter box is clean. The house should be spotless and you need to have a plan to make your home look its best when a prospective buyer comes for a visit on short notice. It is a lot of work to get everything done, but such literally does pay off.
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Calculate moving expenses, loan costs, down payment, home inspections, legal fees, paying for a new hazard insurance policy -- all expenses related to buying a new home. Your lender should give you a disclosure of estimated costs when you apply for loan pre-approval.
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Ask yourself, will your closing proceeds cover your costs to buy a new home? If not, do you have cash or other funding to make up the difference?
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Your house should always be available for show, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you. Let your listing agent put a lock box in a convenient place to make it easy for other agents to show your home to home buyers. Otherwise, agents will have to schedule appointments, which is an inconvenience. Most will just skip your home to show the house of someone else who is more cooperative.
Most agents with all and give you at least a couple of hours notice before showing your property. If you refuse to let them show it at that time, they will just skip your house. Even if they come back another time, it will probably be with different buyers and you may have just lost a chance to sell your home.
Try Not to be Home
Home buyers 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 room to room. Do not volunteer any information, but answer any questions the agent may ask.
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 the sunlight and it brightens up any dim areas. Your house looks more cheerful with the lights on.
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 (or the oven) for a moment and put a drop of vanilla extract on it. It will smell like you have been cooking.
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 home buyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, it is best to keep dogs in a penned area in the back yard. Try to keep indoor cars 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 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.
Keep the House Tidy
Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a home it is recommended that you develop the habit. Pick up papers, do not leave empty glasses in th 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.
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If you are listing with a real estate agent, she will ask you to leave when the house is shown. Why? Because lurking sellers make buyers nervous--they do not feel comfortable inspecting the house when they feel they are intruding in your personal space.
Unless there is a valid reason for it, do not ask your agent to be present for all showings, because that requirement can be the kiss of death for showing activity. Other agents want privacy with their buyers and they do not usually have time to work around your agent's schedule.
Make the house accessible. That means it should always be ready to show. Many agents will not show a house that takes 24 hours to get into.