When you decide to sell your Westfield area home, there are a few steps you need to take before it ever actually hits the market. First, find yourself a good REALTOR®. Second, start the decluttering and staging process. And third, fix the things you let fall by the wayside while living in your home. That’s where a pre-list inspection comes in handy. “But, Scott. I thought the buyer pays for a home inspection.” Yes. Many of them do. However, if you get a professional inspection before you list your property, it can save you time, money, hassle, and headaches. Plus, you might end up selling your property much more quickly.
Why Sellers Should Consider Getting a Pre-List Inspection
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of surprises…especially when it comes to real estate. Do you really want to wait until you are in the middle of escrow for a buyer to discover problems with the house that may jeopardize the sale? A pre-list inspection helps uncover any underlying issues you may not have known about. Then, it gives you the chance to fix them.
They say that time is money. That definitely applies here. Getting an inspection done prior to listing grants you time to shop around for the best price on repairs. If the repair costs come in above your budget, you may want to factor that into your list price. Keep estimates from two or three contractors. You can present these to the buyer to show your due diligence and transparency.
Makes Your Property More Marketable
Speaking of transparency…buyers appreciate that. A pre-list inspection helps buyers trust you more as the seller. If you make a buyer feel more comfortable about the fact that what they see is really what they get and there isn’t a “big bad” lurking somewhere below the surface, then they are more likely to purchase the home.
Property Tax Appeal Seminar
Have you signed up for the 2023 Property Tax Appeal Seminar yet? It takes place at the Coldwell Banker Realty’s Westfield East office on February 9th. Seats are still available. You need to RSVP in order to reserve a spot. So, please do so today. Thank you.
Whenever a buyer finances their purchase with a mortgage loan, the lender requires a home appraisal. If the property’s appraised value falls below the agreed-upon price, your sale may fall through. So, as the seller, you want to make sure your property is in tip-top shape before the appraiser comes through. Once you get into the escrow phase of the sale, you need to go through your home once again to ensure it looks great for the appraiser. That includes cleaning it until everything sparkles.
Home Appraisal: Does Extra Clean Add Extra Value?
Bottom line? No, cleanliness technically does not affect your appraised value. However, a spotless home creates a mindset with the appraiser similar to the one it creates with a buyer. Starting off with a positive impression never hurts. Plus, it makes the appraiser (even subconsciously) think that the homeowner kept up with the property’s maintenance.
Put in the Elbow Grease
Always, always, always clean both the interior and exterior of your property before a home appraisal. That means cleaning windows, deep cleaning carpet, mopping floors, scrubbing countertops, etc. Clear the clutter. Put away toys and clothes. Make the beds. Take out the trash. Touch up paint where needed. You make an appraiser’s job easier by allowing clear access to all areas of your home. By making their job easier, it puts them in a better frame of mind. While this should not affect your home’s value, we do tend to see higher numbers for cleaner homes.
List Your Updates/Upgrades
During a home appraisal, the homeowner and/or their representative are allowed to be present. But hovering over the appraiser may agitate them. You do not want that to happen. However, you can make it easier for the appraiser by providing a list of all updates/upgrades you performed on your property, especially those that are not easily seen. That includes upgrades/repairs to the plumbing, roof, irrigation, or HVAC system.
The Way to an Appraiser’s Heart…
…is through their stomach? Well, not really. Nevertheless, providing a nice snack and beverage can only help. When they grab for a cookie and a cold bottle of water, make sure to provide them with a list of comps in the neighborhood. Yes. Running comps is part of the appraisal process. Yet, some recent comps may not show up. Your REALTOR® can make sure to print off the most up-to-date list just before the scheduled home appraisal so that it is handy. Again, this makes the appraiser’s job a little easier.
Most homebuyers look at the size of a property, its location, and the price right away. But, some buyers (as well as their REALTORS®) also look at how long the property has been on the market. Why? Newer listings get the most traffic. When it sits on the market for a while, buyers begin wondering what is wrong with it. Also, they believe the seller might be more willing to entertain a lower offer. Find out how the days on market can affect your home sale and what you can do to change it.
How “Days on Market” May Affect Your Home Sale
What are “Days on Market”?
“Days on market” (or DOM) are the number of days from when a property gets listed to when it enters a “pending” status. The average DOM varies from city to city. According to Redfin, Madison homes saw an average of 26 DOM in April 2022 while Short Hills homes spent 12 days on the market before changing over to pending. Lower DOM brings in the most interest. As the DOM grows longer, interest wanes. So, what do you do to bring back buyers’ interest?
Breathing Life Into a Stale Listing
Review Feedback – Whenever your home is shown (either through an open house or a private viewing), your agent should ask for feedback from the potential buyer and/or their representative. From this feedback, you can find out what overall impression your home gives. In turn, this provides a base from which you can build your property back up for future potential buyers.
Take it Off the Market Temporarily – Many areas allow you to withdraw your property from the market and resubmit it after a specific period of time as a new listing (typically about 30 days). In essence, this “resets” your DOM. Use your downtime to make necessary updates/repairs to freshen it up. Sometimes, this may be something as simple as a new coat of paint or trimming the landscape. Other times, you might need to replace all the flooring or renovate an area or two of the home.
Lower Your Price – A majority of the time, simply lowering the price (even slightly) triggers a reassessment of the property by buyers. It also opens your home up to a new tier of buyers that may have considered your property out of their price range before. However, consider this. If you take your home off the market and make some updates, you might be able to list it at your original asking price. Talk to your REALTOR® to determine which areas to invest your money in to bring about the best result.
Oftentimes, we hear fantastical stories about recently sold homes. Maybe your neighbor fielded several offers after only one day on the market. Or you heard about a friend of a friend who sold their rundown property for tens of thousands over their asking price without putting any effort into fixing it up. Unfortunately, these tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Yes, the Westfield area real estate market still favors the seller, according to Realtor.com. However, a home seller needs to keep an eye out for “fake news” when they put their property on the market. Otherwise, they might end up very disappointed.
Misleading “Facts” for the Home Seller in Today’s Market
You Don’t Need to Fix It Up
You may have heard that buyers will purchase a Westfield area home no matter what shape it is in. Unfortunately, that is untrue. Today’s buyer wants a move-in ready house over a “fixer-upper”. However, you do not need to break your budget trying to create a masterpiece. I cannot express how important a good cleaning is for the home seller. Even simple things like nice curb appeal, a fresh coat of paint, and minor repairs increase your premises’ attraction to buyers.
Buyers Will Pay Whatever You Ask
Just because you ask for it does not mean you will get it. You still need to price your home appropriately for the current market. That is where a good Westfield area REALTOR® comes in handy. They can run comps on recently sold homes in your area. This gives you an idea of what people are paying for properties like yours right now. If you price it too high, you end up sitting on the market for a while. You may even need to make a few downward adjustments to the price in order to entice a buyer, possibly selling it for less in the long run. A properly priced home at or even slightly below market value not only generates interest but might even bring in a higher price than you originally wanted.
Always Pick the Highest Priced Offer
Finally, if a home seller finds themselves receiving multiple offers, congratulations! Many sellers would love to be in that position. However, the highest offer is not necessarily the best offer. Other things that should factor strongly into your final decision should include the amount of the earnest money deposit, the strength of the buyer’s financing, and how many contingencies they place on the deal.
One of the top priorities when getting your Westfield area property ready to sell is to get rid of the clutter. This helps prepare your home for staging. Remember, staged homes sell faster and for more money than unstaged ones. However, clearing your space with intention performs double duty. How? Organizing your “stuff” not only clears the clutter but also helps you when it comes time to move. Use these decluttering tips when preparing to list your home for sale.
Start Right Away
First, start the declutter process right away. It might surprise you how long it takes to go through personal items, memorabilia, etc. The sooner you begin, the less stressed you will feel about meeting your home listing deadline. Also, simply start in one room and work your way throughout the house so as not to feel more overwhelmed than necessary.
Another one of my helpful decluttering tips is to sort everything you come across into three separate piles: keep, donate, and trash. If you want, you can even make a “maybe” pile. Box these particular items up and include a detailed label. Then, if you find that you have not opened that box in six to twelve months, you may want to consider donating them.
Next, start packing. Clear bins work best because they make it easy to see the contents inside. However, cardboard boxes offer a cheaper alternative. When using cardboard boxes, make sure to clearly label which room it belongs in and what the box includes inside. That way your dishes do not end up in the bedroom and your clothes do not end up in the kitchen. Trust me. You’ll thank me later. Make sure to write the appropriate room on more than one side of the box in large letters for easy recognition.
Trash the Paper
Finally, get rid of all that unnecessary paper. Receipts. Magazines. Old bank statements. Junk mail. We tend to accumulate paper. Shred any personal or financial information to avoid identity theft. Recycle junk mail and envelopes. Magazines can either be tossed out or donated to libraries and retirement homes.
Perhaps the most important one of these decluttering tips is to just get started as soon as possible. Before you know it, your Westfield area home will be ready to show. Plus, you will already be well on your way to being ready to move out when it sells.
You listed your Westfield area home for sale and received multiple offers for it. Congratulations! Many sellers dream of being in your position. Now, the hard part. You must decide which home offer to accept. (An embarrassment of riches, right?) Sometimes, however, the highest price is not the best offer. Consider these other important factors before making a final decision.
What to Focus On When Considering a Home Offer
Most of the time, buyers include contingencies with their offer. These are conditions that must be satisfied before closing in order to complete the sale. Common ones include an appraisal, home inspection, loan approval, and sale of the buyer’s current home. If a contingency is not met by closing, the buyer can walk away with their Earnest Money Deposit in hand. Therefore, fewer contingencies usually make for a smoother transaction.
You have heard the phrase “time is money”, right? Well, an offer fitting your time constraints is money, too. Perhaps you need a shorter escrow period because you need to move quickly. Or maybe you want a little more time than 30 days to get everything packed up and ready to move. Whatever your timeframe may be, an offer that fits in those parameters may well be worth a slightly lower offer price to you.
Earnest Money Deposit
Buyers must deposit money into an escrow account to hold as “good faith”. When the sale completes, this money then goes towards the buyer’s down payment. This is their Earnest Money Deposit. If they break the sales contract and walk away from the deal completely, the earnest money goes to the seller. While 1% to 2% of the sale price tends to be the norm, a higher EMD shows how serious the buyer is about the sale. The buyer is less likely to walk away when they risk losing this money.
Finally, let’s talk financing. All-cash offers sound great. They tend to take less time to close and minimize contingencies more often than buyers who must finance their purchase. Unfortunately, a buyer with an all-cash home offer also tends to hold the negotiating power. Therefore, their offer may come in below your asking price.
On the other hand, a buyer whose offer includes financing provides a higher risk. Anything could happen to make the loan fall through during escrow. In fact, according to Rocket Mortgage, approximately 5% of pending sales fall through escrow. A home offer that includes a pre-approval letter makes a stronger claim than one without a pre-approval letter. Even so, a “pre-approval” is not a “final approval”. If your buyer does not receive final approval for their loan, then you are right back where you started…on the market and in search of a new buyer.
Before making a final decision about a home offer, weigh its pros and cons. Ask your REALTOR® for their advice. Their experience can help you make a more informed choice that works best for your individual situation.