While there will always be things outside the control of any home seller, those things that you can control can make all the difference. But don't get too far ahead of yourself -- this is the time to plan. Here's what you need to do!
Real estate agents will give you a home valuation for free, because ultimately they hope you'll engage their services when it comes to selling your home. Therefore use the experience of a handful of local and trusted agents who are renowned for their selling success and invite them to come and value your home. Then, ask what he or she thinks you can do to boost the value of your property.
Real estate agents spend their entire professional lives checking out houses, so they know what attracts a buyer, what turns him off -- and what you should do in order to have the most successful, profitable sale. Most real estate agents will be happy to give you tips, because if you can increase its value, you can increase the price... and if they are asked to represent you, they will ultimately make more in commissions from the sale!
To help with this step, ask one of the real estate agents to give you a break down of all the local fees, commissions, taxes and costs you will likely face when selling and buying. These should include any real estate agent's fees, attorney fees, inspection/surveyor's costs, and any potential capital gains tax.
Add to these expenses the costs you will incur when buying a new home -- and remember to include any deposit, mortgage broker fees, survey costs, escrow charges, title company fees and insurance. Last but not least, get a rough quote from a moving company -- typically based upon the square footage of your existing home and how far you're moving.
You will want to contact your current mortgage lender and ask them if and what penalties and fees you will incur for early repayment of your existing loan. Let your lender know that you are intending to sell your home, and they will give you an up-to-date statement of the amount remaining, which will help you figure out exactly how much selling up is going to cost you in real terms. (This number will, of course, be updated with the most current amount just before close of escrow.)If you have savings, a trust or other financial resources, add those to the amount you'll have on hand to boost your purchasing power.
Now you have to approach a mortgage lender and work with him to determine exactly how much you can comfortably afford to borrow. The broker will consider many factors, including the approximate price of the home you're buying, how much of a downpayment you can make, the status of any existing home's sale, how much you earn, your net worth -- and will take a look at that all-important credit score.
The goal is two-fold: to figure out how much you will be able to spend on a new house, and to increase your attractiveness as a buyer -- as you're pre-qualified, they know you're a serious bidder, and should be able to close within six weeks or so.
Having already met and worked with real estate agents for the valuation of your home, get back in touch with your favorite and ask him or her to help sell your home! If you are in doubt about which agent to choose, talk to friends, family and colleagues in your area who have recently bought or sold a residence and ask for personal recommendations. You need to feel comfortable with the agent you choose -- and you need to make sure they will sell your house as quickly, efficiently, honestly and effectively as possible.
Once you choose your agent, go through their entire marketing strategy for your home and make sure you are comfortable with their approach and that they are going to do everything required of them to assist you. Also ask them to revalue your home based on the work you have done to it and any market movements that have occurred in the interim.
Now you have a clear budget, you can begin the exciting process of searching for a new home. It may seem tedious to get all the financial facts and figures in place before heading off to find that dream house, but by laying the groundwork first, you will be less likely to be heartbroken after you fall in love with an unsuitable, unaffordable home. Instead, you will be preparing yourself for success.
While you're still browsing houses, get to work with the repairs, renovations and heavy work needed to bring your house up to the top of the market. (Read more about the whys and hows of prepping the exterior of your home for sale here.)
First impressions really do matter, so you will need to review every aspect of your home. What will a buyer"s eye be drawn to -- the room's fantastic proportions or the dead plant in the window? Walk through each room and not only try to look at it with fresh eyes, but your other senses, too. Evaluate how it smells (bad odors can seriously spook buyers) and sounds -- are there any banging pipes, loose floorboards or squeaky doors?
As for any improvements you do make, do them well. A patchy or drippy paint job isn't much of an improvement. Neither is installing tile unevenly (even if it's gorgeous), nor is the addition of something like bargain-basement cheap or mismatched faucet sets.
If you can be quick to respond to a viewing request and flexible in terms of close of escrow, you will be doing everything you can to grease the wheels for the sale of your home.
And by keeping your home as tidy as possible, you should be able to say "yes" to a viewing request at a moment's notice. Start packing the non-essentials as soon as you decide to move, and rent a storage unit temporarily to get all of that extra stuff off-site.
Yes, the housing market may be tough -- which really means you have to be that much more prepared in order to compete. But with the smarts and the determination to see the whole home sale process through, you can be loading up that moving truck sooner than you might think!
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