Gay Rosen – Licensed Real Estate Associate broker – ABR, CBR, CDPE, CRS, GREEN, GRI, SRES
Selling a home can range from being an exciting adventure to a traumatic experience, and the best way to make it closer to the first is to prepare!
First thing to do? Interview several agents (unless you know beforehand the agent you would like to use)..When I am first invited into a potential client’s home, and after we discuss when the home owner would like to sell their home and where they are planning to move to, I like to offer some data on the most advantageous times of the year to sell around that wish date), and I always check on the property taxes. If the home is being overly assessed then that could impede a sale, and so an important factor (if time allows) is to reduce those taxes before marketing the home.
After we have chatted a little, discussed the market, etc. I like to tour the home , and discuss the various updates, renovations, repairs required, etc. We will also be discussing any open permits, etc. Everything should be in order prior to listing your home.
Most of us like to ‘save’ things, and so it isn’t unusual to find some clutter and wonderful storage areas packed with so many memories. I will always ask if they will be moving to a smaller abode; in which case, they would need to either place items into storage and/or give to family members/have an estate sale or throw some items away. There are also wonderful companies that will assist for those estate sales, and the Furniture Sharehouse will always take furniture/ beds, etc., in good condition (and they charge just $50 for the truck service – but all tax deductible). Ron’s Trucking is another great company who will cart away all of those unwanted items, or move your items to your storage facility. I can also recommend companies than can organize tag and estate sales also.
I am usually asked for recommendations on how to prepare the home. If the home is cluttered, and requiring professional experience, I will offer my home presentation expert (aka the home stager)( into the home, and pay for the initial consulting expenditure. Usually the home stager will walk around the home with the owners and myself, offering sage advice such as which paint colors to utilize (if required), which pieces of furniture to remove, where to place the furniture, and basically great advice. Obviously, not everyone can afford to paint rooms, and my home stager will work with anyone’s budget, from advising my clients to staging herself (at the home owners’ s expense). After the initial consultation and given advice, the home owner can continue the dialogue at their expense with my stager if desired.
Sometimes, if the home is older, it is to the home-owner’s advantage to have a pre-selling inspection as this will reveal any issues within the home that can be addressed before the home is marketed, and thus will just increase the sales price too! I also suggest an appraisal if we are endeavoring to establish a certain price point for the home. I use a local appraiser who knows the area well, and sometimes when I am selling in neighborhoods with fluctuating price points, this is a very important. You don’t want to be in contract, and the buyer’s bank brings in an appraiser from upstate or the Island who does not know the area, and undervalues the home. I always submit a report to the appraiser too but at the end of the day, it is always up to the appraiser.
Why not sell the home “As Is”. That term basically implies that there are issues within the home. So be careful before using it. If desired, we can always state that, but it is always my goal to produce the highest sales price for my clients, and so based on that, I always some offer suggestions .
Typical suggestions could be painting, floor refinishing, cabinet painting, kitchen updates, asbestos removal, etc.
For any home resale there should be clean windows, touch up painting undertaken, perhaps some power washing, planting some flowers, utilizing white linens on the beds and in the bathrooms (I usually supply those linens and towels!), and making sure there are working light fixtures! SO many times, I show up with the photographer only to find there are missing light bulbs!
What will be the listing price? I always sit down with my clients, and we look at the features of your home, compare those features, size of home, property size in conjunction with other homes that have sold in the area recently, and establish a marketing price range for your home. It is not advisable to compare your home to a neighbor’s home, and think yours is better/nicer simply because you don’t like your neighbors (that has happened) or you truly think your home is nicer. The stats do not lie…I always try to look at a home as if there is a buyer looking over my shoulder.. Younger buyers today love central air conditioning, gas heat, new kitchens, and in general are extremely fussy, and so bear in mind that these homes usually sell quicker than homes that require the updates. Second time home-owners are more forgiving (as has been my experience) , and many times love to renovate themselves, but oft times, they bid accordingly also (lower…) so beware. So, you have decided to sell, an introductory price range for your home based on local market stats has been arrived at, and now what?
I (or your agent) will give you a marketing plan. It is always nice to know what to expect and when. I order a professional photographer (always – even for a rental!), and the photography usually takes up to a week from booking to having the photos taken, and then the delivery of same. Brochures must then be ordered, so if time allows, this whole process usually takes 2 weeks, but we can always rush things if required! With money you can do anything! I absorb the cost of the brochures, floor plans and professional photography, and just ask that the home be photo ready when I arrive with the photographer. The photographer usually has appointments scheduled throughout the day, and so there is no time to re arrange furniture, etc.
Introducing your home to the market!
I am the only agent in the area who creates a personal web site for her clients. I post the floor plans, a video of the property, local area links and videos to the site, and within 2 days of posting , it can be found on the first page of Google. I can then send a link to prospective buyers who have firsthand information regarding your home. Great!
I like to introduce the home at a Broker’s open house, perhaps serving luncheon or refreshments, and a Public Open house that following weekend is permissible with the owners. The whole goal is to create excitement, a ‘buzz’ around the property and to generate as much interest as possible. The first two weeks are usually the most important weeks for a listing and so pricing is important. You want as many appointments as possible within that time period, so people bid !
Showing your home
When there are pets, I will offer to show the seller’s home so the home owner feels comforted in knowing I will not let their loved pets outside the home. If the home owner desires, it is always my pleasure to open up the house too so I can turn on the lights, make sure the doors are locked, and in general make the home owner more comfortable during the process. Obviously, I will know more about the home than another agent, and so it is always an advantageous opportunity in which to point out the key elements and upgrades of the home.. (We always have a Special Features sheet also if possible).
We always try to give the home owner advanced notice, and it is usual to request a 2 hour advance notice. However, sometimes, the agents will be in the area, just think of your home, and might call at the last minute. If it works out, always good to say ‘yes’ to the appointment! Many times, if they can’t get in, they will just move onto the next home.. Obviously, if they really want to see your home, they will make another appointment but being flexible is important.
Bidding … We receive bids! We are always taught that a bid is not a bid unless it is in writing with proof of funds (pre-approval, bank statements if cash)..However, I will always let you know immediately when we receive a bid, or perhaps if an agent will be submitting a bid. It is always good to hear!
Once there is an acceptable offer, the buyer(s) will order an inspection, and a Memorandum of Sale is drawn with the terms, the sales price, and is sent to all parties ( agents and attorneys). I will always copy you, the seller!
The Inspection. Tell your agent if there are any quirks within your home. It will save questions at the inspection. Also, it is always a good idea to have copies of recent maintenance handy so the inspector can see the home is well tended.
The Contract Your attorney will prepare the contract, and he/she will be asking you for your Title Insurance and House Deed so it is always good to be prepared beforehand! If you are selling a coop, then he will require the Offering Plan that should have been given to you at your closing.
It is always important to make sure that your attorney will be around for the ensuing few months. You don’t want to be in contract, ready to close, and your attorney is cruising around the world! I would ask how long will it take after you close to receive all of the closing documents… You don’t want to wait a year for same and you will need them for your taxes.
As a Realtor, I am not allowed to discuss/alter a contract – I could lose my license! SO, any contractual questions must be discussed with your attorney.. Also, the date for an estimate closing date within the contract is just an estimate. However, in order for a contract to be a contract, an estimated closing date is required.
Once the contract is signed by all parties, it is a fully executed contract, and the buyer then send a copy to his/her mortgage broker, and the mortgage process ensues. The buy(s) usually have 30-45 days in which to obtain a mortgage commitment. However, sometimes an extension is requested and your attorney will discuss that with you should it be needed.
The buyers will be obtaining an appraisal for their mortgage, and this is why we price a home based on local market conditions. You need the home to appraise, and the bank will be looking at recent sales, etc. An appraiser will appraise a home based on 3 factors. Recent market sales, home condition, and costs to rebuild.
The Closing! The home appraised, you have already interviewed various moving companies, and via your attorney, you have scheduled an estimated closing date.. My clients always ask me for the closing date, and as a rule I am the last person to know! The attorneys must schedule the closing date and time around their schedules, the Bank’s schedules and YOUR schedule! I am informed after the date has been set.
Don’t forget to close your accounts with your various utility companies be it Con Edison, oil company (have the oil level read by them), water company, etc.
The buyers will be having a final walk-thru before the closing. At this point, your home should be empty, broom swept clean, and if you are really busy – perhaps a professional cleaning service utilized.
Buyers as a rule always like to learn of the gardener you use, etc. so it is also nice to have a list of same ready for the buyers too, together with any appliance warranties you might have.
Congratulations. You sold your home!
Westchester is GREAT!