Hello Neighbors,

if you're thinking about selling your home, then there's quite a bit on your mind. To make things easier, we've compiled some tips to help you prepare for this next important step in your life:

Tip No. 1 - Know why you're selling. The reason you look closely at why you want to sell is that your motivations play an important role in the process. They affect everything from setting a price to deciding how much time and money you'll invest to getting your home ready for selling. For example, what's more important to you : the money you walk away with, or the length of time your property is on the market? If your goal is a quick sale, that can dictate one kind of approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the sales process will almost certainly take longer.

Tip No. 2 - Once you know, keep it to yourself. Your reasons will affect how you negotiate the sale of your home, but they shouldn't be given as ammunition to the person who wants to buy it. For example, a prospective buyer who knows you must move quickly has you at their mercy in the negotiation process. When asked, simply say that your housing needs have changed. Your reasons are nobody's business but your own.

Tip No. 3 - Do your homework before setting a price. If you decide to sell your home on your own, the most common way to set a value is to look at homes that have sold in your neighborhood within the past six to 12 months, as well as those now on the market. That's certainly how prospective buyers will assess the worth of your home. You can usually learn what homes have sold for in your neighborhood by making a quick trip to City Hall; home sale information is in the public records in most communities (but not all). If this sounds like a lot of work, you may decide to hire a Realtor. Your Realtor will do all the market research and provide you with comps showing where you home should be priced to best meet your goals - a fast sell, maximum profit, etc.

Tip No. 4 - Go home shopping yourself. The best way to get to know your competition, identify features that are popular and learn what turns buyers off is to check out other open houses. Plan on spending a few weekends touring other homes on the market to learn what other sellers are asking. Be sure to make note of the floor plan, condition, appearance, size of lot, location and other features. If you visit enough homes and pay close attention to the details (and what other "buyers" are saying), you'll affect pricing. And then you can apply what you've learned to the task of setting your price. But don't forget to include in the equation what homes are actually selling for, not simply what people are asking. And remember, if you're serious about getting your home sold quickly, don't be more expensive than your neighbor.

Tip No. 5 - Know when to get an appraisal. Sometimes you can use a good appraisal to your benefit in marketing your home. And if you get a VA or FHA appraisal, you can use it to let prospective buyers know that your home can be financed. However, an appraisal costs money. It also has a limited life. And you may not like the figure you hear.

Tip No. 6 - Your tax assessment means almost nothing.  Some people look to tax assessments to assign a value. The problem here is that assessments are based on a number of criteria unrelated to property values, so they often don't necessarily reflect the true value of your home. Have you ever heard of two identical homes in the same neighborhood with dramatically different assessed values because one was purchased more recently than the other? It happens quite often.

Tip No. 7 - Find a good Realtor.  Nearly two-thirds of the people who sell their own home say they wouldn't do it themselves again, according to research by the National Association of Realtors. Sellers surveyed point to difficulties in setting a price, marketing handicaps and liability concerns among the primary reasons they would turn to a Realtor next time. And selling a home yourself usually eats up more time and effort than you might initially expect. Once you understand how much work it will be to sell it yourself, talk to a Realtor you trust even if you decide to strike out on your own. Many top professionals are more than willing to help do-it-yourself sellers with the paperwork, contracts, etc. Plus, you'll have a relationship with an agent if problems do arise that require professional help.

If you decide to work with a Realtor, contact two or three - you probably met a few that you liked during your open house tour. Explain to each that you're thinking about putting your home on the market and you'd like to meet to talk about pricing and marketing. By having this group "evaluation" done, you should end up with a fairly tight price range to help guide your decision. Any Realtor who is substantially higher or lower than the group should be able to justify their estimate. Just as you should be concerned with too low a price, beware of a Realtor who gives you the highest price - they may be trying to buy your listing. A good Realtor knows the market and your neighborhood in particular. They will supply you with information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, something on their own background, and references from past clients. Take the time to carefully evaluate candidates on the basis of their experience, qualifications, enthusiasm, and personality. Most importantly, make sure you choose someone who is going to put in a lot of hard work on your behalf.

For more tips, be sure to swing by our office to pick up a pamphlet (or two!) on this or other real estate topics.