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Home Seller’s Four-Step Checklist Pays Dividends

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Question: Some time ago you published an excellent four-step checklist for home buyers. But I’m a home seller. Do you have a similarchecklist for home sellers?

Answer: Selling a home is potentially the most profitable financial transaction most people ever do. But one costly mistake can make a home sale a nightmare. Here is my four-step checklist for home sellers:

  1. Get your home into tip-top, “red ribbon deal” condition. Most home buyers want to buy a home in near-perfect “red ribbon deal” condition without the need for any immediate fix-up work.Take a note pad and walk around your home, inside and outside. Jot down everything that needs cleaning, repairing or fixing. For example, most homes need interior and exterior paint. This is the most profitable improvement you can make.

    Pretend you’re setting up a model home. View your home through the critical eyes of a buyer. Would you buy your home in its present condition? Probably not. In addition to painting, cleaning and repairing, add fresh landscaping and new carpets, if needed, to make your home sparkle.

  2. Interview at least three successful local realty agents. Even if you’re thinking of selling your home alone without an agent, interview at least three successful agents who sell homes in your vicinity. Most do-it-yourself home sellers eventually hire an agent. By interviewing several, you’ll know which agent should get your listing.Each agent should give you a written comparative market analysis showing recent sales prices of comparable nearby homes, neighborhood homes currently listed for sale (your competition) and the agent’s estimate of your home’s market value. Then compare the analyses.

    Before listing your home for sale with the best agent, be sure to phone his or her recent home sellers to ask, “Were you in any way unhappy with this agent and would you list with the same agent again?” Finally, don’t sign a listing for more than 90 days unless it contains an unconditional cancellation clause (just in case you chose the wrong agent).

  3. Obtain customary inspections and make repairs before putting your home on the market. The best realty agents recommend, as part of the listing process, having a professional inspection plus any customary local inspections, such as for termites, energy efficiency and code compliance.Make any necessary repairs before putting your home on the market. By having completed the inspections, you’ll lessen buyer resistance when your agent can show serious prospects the inspection reports.
  4. Set your asking price at your home’s market value, not above or below. Since you interviewed at least three realty agents before selecting the best, you should have a good idea of your home’s market value once it’s in tip-top, model-home condition. Don’t overprice it.Setting the asking price even a few thousand dollars too high will discourage buyers and their realty agents.

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Letters and comments to Robert J. Bruss, a San Francisco-area lawyer, author and real estate broker, may be sent to P.O. Box 280038, San Francisco, CA 94128. Bruss suggests consulting an attorney or tax advisorbefore making important real estate decisions.

Credit By Robert J. Bruss for the Los Angeles Times