This week for the 48th week of the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read The National Association of Realtors Guide to Home Selling.
There were some tips in it that my brother, sister, and I found useful back when we were preparing our parents' home for sell after my mom died in August.
One of the sections was on staging. It said, "You should spend money that is only going to make you money, make your house sell faster, and get multiple bids, if possible."
Some minor staging expenses that we did that were listed in the book were:
- fresh paint in a trendy color
- powerwashing windows and doors
Medium expenses that we did included:
- new carpet
- fresh paint throughout, inside and out (we did this in two bedrooms and in the storage room)
We chose not to do any major expenses since the new owners will - most likely - have the discretionary income to update the home to fit their needs and preferences.
The author noted that everyone wants a clean home. Your home must:
- appear clean
- smell clean
- feel clean
Some basic tips included:
- get rid of stale orders by opening windows, putting boxes of baking soda in the refrigerator, and put real charcoal in areas that absorb smells such as garages and kitchens. Be careful of perfumes, potpourri, wall-plug scents, or other masking products that could offend people with allergies.
- clean fireplaces thoroughly.
- keep countertops and table tops as clutter free as possible.
- put away family photos and other personal memorabilia
There was a section in the book about how to get the most money for your home. This is more for thinking about my own home rather than my parents' home. To achieve the best asking price:
- don't use your home as an ATM. If you take money out of your home in the form of a loan, make sure you make improvements to the home that keep it current by today's market standards.
- keep your home in top condition. All homes show signs of wear, but keeping your home in good repair means you can sell at a moment's notice without a make-ready period, and fetch top dollar for your home.
There were some suggestions about how to speed up the home sale:
- Price it right. Set a price at the lower end of your property's realistic price range.
- Get your house market-ready for at least two weeks before you begin showing it.
- Be ready or the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you'll find acceptable.
- Don't refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, be prepare to lower your asking price.
There were suggestions about ways to make your home irresistible at an open house. We did some of things listed like:
- Add new guest soaps to every bath.
- Buy a fresh doormat with a clever saying. (Ours just said, "Welcome." Nothing clever...but a pleasant message.)
- Take one or two major pieces of furniture out of every room to create a sense of spaciousness. (We did more than this. Some rooms are completely empty except for lamps.
- Depersonalize the rooms by putting away family photos, mementos, and distinctive artwork.
What is an acceptable offer?
- Is the offer at or near the asking price? Is the offer above the asking price?
- Has the buyer accepted the asking price or something close? Has the buyer then buried thousands of dollars in discounts and seller costs within tiny clauses and contract additions?
As a side note, we did have a purchase agreement presented to us within a month of my mom dying and before we had fully prepared the home for sale. Both these conditions noted above in terms of what an acceptable offer is were not met. It almost bordered on an offensive offer - one that was aimed at taking advantage of people who were grieving. As our current realtor said, "It sounds slimy." And it did. We're happy that we didn't accept the offer the buyers were proposing.
The book said, "If the buyer seems to be demanding too much, or asking for repairs or replacements that you don't feel the price of your home justifies, you should think carefully about your need to sell to this buyer."
One thing I didn't know was that at closing we each need to receive a HUD-1 statement, which itemizes all the costs associated with closing. We will need this statement for income tax purposes and for any taxes owed when we sell the home. I'm not quite sure how this works with an inherited home...so it's something that will need to be determined when taxes are done next year.
There was a list of six items to have on hand for the new owners:
- owner's manuals for items left in the home.
- warranties for any items left in the home.
- a list of local service providers - the best dry cleaner, yard service, and so on.
- garage door opener.
- extra sets of house keys.
- code to burglar alarm and phone number of monitoring service if not discontinued.
When closing out the home, we need to:
- contact gas, electric, oil, water supplies; telephone, cable TV, or satellite TV; an trash collection companies for service disconnection. Also ask for final readings.
- request refunds on unused homeowner's insurance.
- notify the gardener, snow removal service, and mowing service.
Guide to Home Selling was a useful book and had many practical ideas - from preparing for the sale to closing out a home.