Ten Tips For Success

Here are Allison Ziefert’s Top Ten Tips for Home Seller Success:

1. Get rid of it before you move: If you are selling your house you are probably moving somewhere new. Why pay to move unwanted items and then discard them? If you aren’t taking it with you get rid of it before you list your house. Houses with less clutter sell for more money. Closets look more useful, rooms look more spacious and the true beauty of the architecture of your home is visible to buyers when they can see it. Your buyer’s home inspector will need to see into basement, attic and garage spaces so make sure those are clear. As one local stager that I know always says, “Clutter eats equity.”

2. Clean it top to bottom: As an agent that works with a lot of Maplewood/S. Orange buyers, there’s nothing worse than showing a dirty house. It’s a complete turn off, a distraction and it makes buyers wonder how well you’ve maintained your house. Clean it top to bottom before you list. This means shining up floors, dusting woodwork and under beds, cleaning out all appliances, removing any mildew from shower areas. Have your windows professionally cleaned– it makes a huge difference in the amount of light that comes in.

3.Repair obvious issues: If you have a leak in the roof, gutter overflowing with leaves, dripping plumbing, damaged plaster or faulty wiring fix it now. Obvious defects make buyers start to wonder if there is more wrong with your house. Better to take care of known issues before they de-rail your transaction during the home inspection.

4.Close open permits: If you have done work on your house it often happens that the work gets done and someone (either you or your contractor) forgets to call the town inspector back to sign off on the work. A seller is typically responsible for obtaining a certificate of occupancy to deliver to the buyer. If there are open permits you will not be able to do so. Phone your town building department to check and see if you have any open permits and close them out before you list. If you are in S. Orange you need to have your sump pump inspected prior to closing. Talk with me and your plumber about taking care of that.

5. Pull your oil tank: Have your property scanned for underground oil tanks. Underground tanks can leak and it can be costly and time consuming to remediate. If you have one, remove it before you list. It’s extremely rare for a buyer to purchase a home with an underground tank since many of them have leaked and they are reluctant to take on that liability. Even de-commissioned tanks are problematic and must come out. It’s a must do in today’s market. If you removed a tank or know that a prior owner did and you have any paperwork on this, put it aside for your attorney.

6. Make your house easy to show: As someone who works with many Maplewood and S. Orange home buyers, I can tell you that houses that are difficult to show end up getting shown less. Houses that have the most showings sell for the most money. Using a lockbox is not only more secure but it helps your agent track showings and report feedback from buyers to you. As much as possible, don’t limit the hours of showings, require too much advance notice or say “no” to agents who want to show your house. Make sure your front door lock works easily. Don’t be home for showings or leave pets unattended for agents to deal with. Make sure the house is clean, fresh smelling and leave the lights on and blinds open to let in as much light as possible.

7. You only get one chance to make a first impression: Because most buyers start their home search online, your internet photos are critical. If your photos aren’t smashing, you won’t get buyers in the door. Focus on improving curb appeal- your first first impression. Make sure landscaping, mulching, paint etc. are in good repair. Take a quick photo of the front of your house and look for eyesores. Use a professional stager to make your house show its best. Staging helps to highlight your home’s best features and to allow buyers to connect to it. With staging, your property competes better with other properties. It will sell faster and for more money. Use professional photography, floor plans, video and marketing materials. Don’t skimp on this. Amateur work looks like it.

8. Set your expectations for home inspection: Here is one thing I can promise–The buyer of your home will do a home inspection and every home inspector picks up issues on a home inspection. From the beginning, realize that no matter how much you love your house it’s not perfect. It’s probably not horrible either. Know that, in most cases, your buyer will ask you for a credit or to make repairs as part of this process. In the end, your buyer will feel like they aren’t getting what they want from you. You will feel like they are unreasonable. But somewhere in the middle, you will agree to work through the issues and your transaction will close. Remember this is a business transaction and your house is a commodity. I can help guide you through this process and negotiate inspection issues to your advantage.

9. Make sure your buyer is qualified: Make sure your agent takes on the important task of qualifying your purchaser. Read my piece how your realtor can and should help with this: http://blog.bestnjtowns.com/sellers-is-your-buyer-qualified/

10. Finally and Most Importantly….Price it right from the beginning. Only a buyer can determine what your house is worth. Price it right from the beginning, and you will be in control of the process and will net more in the end. Price is your biggest marketing tool, and it’s hard to recover from a pricing mistake. I can help you understand what Maplewood and S. Orange homes like yours are selling for and develop an optimal pricing strategy for your property.

Thinking of selling a home in the Maplewood and S. Orange area or surrounding towns? Let’s meet for a free and confidential consultation.