I checked out some books from the library about selling homes. One book, Sell Your Home in Any Market by Jim Remley had some helpful ideas. Most of the information in the first part of the book seemed written for an agent or someone wanting more technical information about selling. I was looking for more practical advice for what home sellers can do.
There was a list of 20 last-minute things to do just before a showing including:
- dust the furniture
- clean off counters
- beds made
- garbage cans empty
- carpets vacuumed
- lights on
- load the dishwasher
- load the washer
- pick up every room
- turn on soft music
- set the temperature between 68 and 72
- freshen it up by putting a drop of vanilla on a lightbulb in each room of the house
- clean out the entry
- pick up the front yard
- move extra vehicles
- open all rooms
- turn on fireplace (this applies to a gas fireplace)
- display photos (ones of the home different seasons)
- display flyers
Since this is an estate sale, not all the items applied. We did and do what applies in our case.
There were ten reasons to list your home during the winter (which may happen in our case):
- fewer showings
- less competition
- homes show better during the holidays
- January is the biggest transfer month
- timing (this applies to the seller needing to meet moving goals more easily which doesn't apply in our case)
- more time to get top dollar
- great time to shop (again, geared to a seller who needs to find another home)
- more advertising
- more attention (from agents since they don't have as much inventory)
- the market (meant for sellers who are looking to buy a new home...so this doesn't apply to us)
Ultimately, the author said, "The best time to list your home is when you're ready to sell." Honestly, that would be never. I don't want to sell the home. However, my brother, sister, or I aren't in a position to hold onto the home or buy one another out of our portion of it. It would be nice if we could...but that's not the reality of our lives.
The other section that was helpful was the five essential "must haves" you need before accepting any offer:
- a substantial earnest money deposit
- a preapproved loan
- time limits for condition and contingency removed (e.g., disclosure review, financing and appraisal, pest and dry rot inspection, whole house inspection, title approval)
- clearly understood terms of sale
- progress benchmarks (e.g., buyer must submit a loan application by a specific deadline; buyer must approve inspections or reports by a specific date)
When thinking about a counter offer, reflect on Is it really worth a counteroffer? In other words, is it worth losing a sale over? Perhaps an extra five days to move is worth a counteroffer, or perhaps not - the key is to understand the risk versus the reward.
Once the home sells and is closed on, the author suggested that the seller leaves the buyers a housewarming gift. This could be as simple as a plant, a bottle of wine, or a dinner for two at a local restaurant. "Be creative, the buyers will love it!"
I don't remember any seller doing this for us. However, I remember an agent giving me a pie to celebrate the purchase of land in Grand Marais (which I have since sold). That was a nice way touch.
The author also said that once a year he and his wife take a home tour. They don't look at new homes. They look at their old ones - the homes that they have owned over the years. For them, it is fun to look at their life in the context of homes that they have owned.