Know thy Abode  

by Pool Builders on 11-24-2009 in Articles

So....you'd like to sell your house? Great! Everyone's doing it. But this is your first time and you'll be doing the sale yourself. Nervous? Of course!

The fact is, it's only unnerving because you haven't got a clue about the dynamics of selling a house - your house. It's the one asset you have where you've plunked down your lifetime savings. Now you want it all back!

That equity you were slowly building over these years will come back to you a hundredfold because you've thought about it long enough to realize that there is a handsome profit waiting to be made.

Don't worry! This episode in your life doesn't need to be a drama of horrors. In this book, we've collected important tips for you - the first timer - all 101 of them, in fact.

And when that check finally lands on your hands and the last box has been shipped out of your house to make way for the new owners, it will be exhilarating - more exhilarating than you've ever imagined it to be.

Study the tips. Some you already know, no doubt. But even with 101 or 1001 tips, you'd still need professional advice - you managed to eliminate the real estate agent, but you'll still need your lawyer (or notary) and your accountant.

You need to consult with other professionals as well - like the professional house inspector who can dish out valuable advice about repairs and maintenance.

These tips can help you map out a selling strategy for your house, and when you turn the lock for the last time, you'll come out of the experience wiser. And yes, wealthier, too.

The confidence you gain by getting your feet wet the first time could - who knows? - make you want to do it the second time, and then a third time...and more!

Know thy Abode

Getting to know your house...for the last time
Okay, you have a good understanding of real estate, you know your community, and now it's time to know your house like the back of your hand.

Every house has a hidden defect or a very visible fault. Take pencil and paper and do a tour, taking down all the weaknesses that can potentially be spotted by buyers when they visit. Go around your house several times to make sure you've covered everything.

You want to discover the defect before the buyer does. Spare yourself some embarrassment. Don't underestimate the buyer's ability to see through walls!

Did you say an in-ground pool?
If your house comes with a swimming pool, mention it! An in-ground swimming pool adds a lot of value to a house.

Make sure the pool is clean and there are no floating algae or fungi when the buyers come knocking at your door.

If there's anything that can be quite disconcerting it's a pool with no water, dead leaves and little creatures floating about, or large cracks in the pool. A pool isn't fun without a heater. Let your buyer know that the pool's heater is working.

Put romance back in their lives...
If you live in an area with a colder climate - Minnesota for instance -- a fireplace makes a good sell, so don't forget to mention it.

This particular detail can go into the ad, or you can surprise your potential buyer when they come to visit. It's all up to you. Find out what the real estate agents say about fireplaces.

In Florida for example, a fireplace is not something you'd think a house should have, but in upscale, gated communities, families do have nice fireplaces in the living room or basement. Ambiance, that's why.

See, this garage door is really simple to operate!
Check your garage door mechanism and see if it's working properly. You'll want to demonstrate to potential buyers that your garage is in tip top shape.

You may also want to show them your maintenance records (garage doors usually need to be inspected and lubricated once every two years, depending on how recent your garage door and mechanism are).

I never promised you a rose garden.
Check your front and back yards. Are they well-kept or do they look like they've been neglected for the last six months? Is your grass healthy and green and well-manicured?

When buyers look for a house, they customarily concentrate on making adjustments inside the house; they understand that part of the house buying process is renovation.

At least they're prepared for this event, but when they see that the outside of the house also needs major attention, they could get discouraged - and dismayed no doubt - to see such an unkempt front yard and backyard.

You'll have a roof over your head for the next 25 years.
Make a list of major and minor renovations you've undertaken in the last five years. Keep this list in your pocket so that when you give the house tour, you can mention these renovations.

Things like "my husband and I had the roof changed entirely even before the 25-year period. One thing you won't have in this house is a leaking roof".

Or else: "These kitchen cabinets and drawers were given a face lift only three months ago".

Or perhaps: "We decided to install smoked glass in one part of the kitchen to hold our crystal collection". Then turn on the light of the smoke glass cabinet to show some dramatic effect, the expensive crystal collection and the dim lighting.

Wow, a home spa!
Pay attention to the bathrooms. Make sure they have good lighting, squeaky clean faucets and a shiny, sparkling bathtub. A stained bath tub is unsightly.

Hang some of your best linens for the visit. A bathroom that smells and looks clean can be a persuasion point. Count yourself lucky if you have a whirlpool or a large Roman bath.

For couples just recently married, the whirlpool or spa might just bring you closer to finalizing that deal. One thing with house hunters: they start with a budget in mind, but watch how they're easily swayed to stretch that budget a little more when they see amenities that they otherwise would not have thought about previously.

A house that's safe and sound.
Buyers are likely to ask you about insulation and energy efficiency systems in your house. If you don't know or can't remember, be honest and say so.

However, it definitely would be to your advantage if you can speak knowledgeably about the "inner character" of your dwelling. The old installation materials of older houses were declared a health risk by the US and Canadian governments many years ago, and house builders have switched to safer insulation materials.

Make sure you mention this if you do know, especially if you're dealing with a buyer who happens to be a lawyer.

What? No hot water again?
Many people don't know this, but if you were smart enough to have your water heater checked periodically, say so.

Water heaters, in order for them to work efficiently, have to be inspected regularly. Over time, water heaters get an accumulation of chemicals in the bottom. Even if a new roof costs a lot more than a new water heater, buyers appreciate the present owner's thorough "sense of maintenance" by looking into details that homeowners usually overlook.

Someone forgot to look up the ceiling...
One real estate agent in Washington DC remarked that she was approached by a couple to sell one of the "cutest houses in the neighborhood".

It had excellent potential - large backyard, nice French bay windows, a second floor landing area that was large enough to accommodate a family gathering, and solid wooden floors.

The only thing wrong, according to the real estate agent, was the entire lighting system. The lamps and chandeliers looked like they were put there since the time of Adam and Eve.

She suggested to the present owners to replace all the lights and to invest in good quality lamps. The cutest house in the neighborhood eventually sold - just three weeks later - for $900,000.00

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