Preparing to Sell

How Do I Prepare My House to Sell?

Put your house's best face forward. This is crucial to getting your asking price or selling quickly. Helping a home show better does not take a lot of money.

  • Do yard work. Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden and clean debris from the yard.
  • Check the exterior. Clean the windows (both inside and out) and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking. If your home was built before 1978, new federal law gives a buyer the right to request a lead inspection. If you think you might have some problems, do the inspection yourself beforehand and make any fixes you can.
  • Make sure that the doorbell works.
  • Clean and spruce up all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. It is especially important that the bathroom and kitchen are spotless.
  • Organize closets.
  • De-clutter and de-personalize. A cluttered house appears smaller than it is. Your personal knickknacks and family photos are great to have around, but you want the buyer to imagine his living there, not you. Pack up the clutter and your personal items for your next home.
  • Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Get rid of leaky faucets and frayed cords.
  • Make sure the house smells good: from an apple pie, cookies baking or spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. Hide the kitty litter.
  • Add flowers. Put vases of fresh flowers throughout the house.
  • Play music. Having pleasant background music playing in the background also will help set your stage.

What Repairs Do I Have to Make?

If you want to get top dollar for your property, make all minor repairs and selected major repairs before going on the market. Nearly all purchase contracts include an inspection clause – a buyer contingency that allows a buyer to back out if numerous defects are found or to negotiate their repair costs.

The trick is not to overspend on pre-sale repairs, especially if there are few houses on the market with many buyers willing to buy at almost any price. On the other hand, making such repairs may be the only way to sell your house in a down market.

What Information Do I Have to Disclose to Potential Buyers?

In most states, the seller is obligated to disclose information about the home, but obligations to disclose information about a property vary.

Under the strictest laws, you and your agent, if you have one, are required to disclose all facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property, which are known or accessible only to you. This might include:

  • Homeowners association dues
  • Whether or not work done on the house meets local building codes and permits requirements
  • The presence of any neighborhood nuisances or noises which a prospective buyer might not notice, such as a dog that barks every night or poor TV reception
  • Any death within three years on the property
  • Any restrictions on the use of the property, such as zoning ordinances or association rules

It is wise to check your state's disclosure rules prior to a home purchase.

How Do I Set the Selling Price?

rice your home according to current market conditions. Because the real estate market is continually changing and market fluctuations have an effect on property values, it is imperative to select your list price based on the most recent comparable sales in your neighborhood.

Compare to other market sales. A so-called comparative market analysis provides the background data upon which to base your list-price decision. When you prepare to sell and are interviewing agents, study each agent's comparable sales report (the data should be no more than three months old).

Go with a consensus. If all agents agree on a price range for your home, go with the consensus. Watch out for an agent whose opinion of value is considerably higher than the others.

Contact a Realty of Maine agent for information on comparative market analysis and pricing your home.

When is the Best Time to List a House for Sale? As soon as you decide to sell it.

If you want to get the best price for your house, the key is to give yourself as much time as possible to sell it. More time means more potential buyers will probably see the house. This should result in more offers; it also gives you time to consider more options if the market is slow or initial interest is low.

More questions about Selling your Home? Ask one of our agents.