Are you thinking about selling your home? Maybe, you feel like the REALTOR commission fees seem awfully high, and you could save a ton of money by listing your home for sale by owner (FSBO). Possibly, you were ok with paying a listing agent fee, but then you found out the buyer’s agent fee would come out of your home sale proceeds, and that left you scratching your head.
Well, if you really want to sell your home by yourself, i’m going to walk you through all the steps to do it! First, you need to evaluate your home. Is it ready to go on the market? Are there little things that drive you crazy, like peeling paint, or a dead lawn, that you think may turn off buyers too? If so, and you have the resources to fix them, do it. If you were working with a competent real estate agent, he or she may call multiple contractors, provide you with quotes, and advise you on which actions will have the biggest payoff. But, you’re not, so just do whatever is easiest and feels right.
Next, you need to figure out at what price you should list your home for sale. Be careful this is the most difficult part for all FSBOs. If you price too high, you will royally f*** yourself. Your home will sit on the market. Then, you may reduce the price, but buyers will wonder why it's been on the market for so long. Eventually, it may sell, but probably at a lower price than if you had just priced it correctly from the start. So, how do you determine the asking price? You could look at zillow, and realtor.com, and ask Suzie who lived across the street from you how much she sold her home for when she sold it last fall, but this probably isn’t the best method. You need access to the sales data for the most comparable homes in your neighborhood that sold the most recently. In a state like Texas, this info can be hard to find. Since we are a non-disclosure state, you will probably need to enlist a real estate professional at this stage.
First, set up a new email address, something realistic, but something you will only use for this process such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you have the new email set up, contact ten agents and tell them you’re curious what your home is worth. Some of them may just respond with a rough estimate. This is somewhat helpful, but they don’t know anything about the current condition of your home so it's probably not the best estimate. A handful of agents will send you what’s called a CMA. A CMA is a comparative market analysis. This is gold. It will show relevant home sales to base your list price off of. Most of the REALTORS will now start emailing you non-stop to list your home, so this is the part where you will be glad you created a new email. If a ballsy one stops by your house, just tell them you decided to list with someone else. DO NOT tell them that person is yourself, unless you are genuinely considering listing with a REALTOR.
Once, you have some relevant sales, you need to compare your home to the homes listed on the CMAs. Do you have a nicer kitchen than the house four doors down from yours that sold last month? List your home for more than that one. Is your house also half the size? Maybe your home should be listing for less. You really don’t know what you’re doing here, so just google “remodeled kitchen value”, and then determine an asking price that seems right to you.
Ok, now that you have a list price, and your peeling paint is fixed, you can just put a sign in the yard and call it a day! Not so fast; first, you want to make sure your home shows well. You’ve been looking at homes online to possibly move into when you sell, so you know what I am talking about here! Are you “hearting” any of those homes with zero pictures, or clutter all over the countertops? I didn’t think so. You need to make sure your home looks its best so buyers fall in love. If you had hired a listing agent they may have paid for a maid, a stager, and helped you with strategies to de-clutter. But, you didn’t. So, watch ten episodes of Marie Kondo on Netflix, and then decide this spark joy method isn’t really for you. Shove half your belongings into the garage, turn the Roomba on, and call it a day.
Now that your home is show ready, you need amazing photos to showcase it! A real estate agent would pay for amazing professional photos from a pro who specializes in real estate photography. They may even have videography or drone footage done to show buyers how special your home is. But, since you’re on your own, you will need to find these professionals by yourself. Google "real estate photographer" and choose the one that can get out to your home the fastest, or just take some iPhone photos, apply a filter and decide these images are just as a good as any a professional would take.
Ok, now you have a beautiful show ready home, great photos to showcase it, and a listing price. Time to put a sign in the yard. You go to Home Depot, get a sign and a sharpie to write your number across it. You grab the hammer, wonder why its so hard to put a stinking sign in the Texas dirt, and then decide to reward yourself with a cold beer on the porch while you take all of the phone calls that will be pouring in shortly. You finish one, then another, and wonder why no one is calling. Then you remember your home is in the back of the neighborhood and no one really sees the sign besides your neighbors who already know you are selling.
You must re-strategize. You realize that your home must be on the internet! You put it on Zillow, and you wait. Finally, you get a call. It’s an agent who may have a buyer that’s interested. She wants to stop by and take a look. She comes over, looks around, says the home isn’t for her buyer, but asks if you would like to list with her instead.
After 15 or so of these, you finally get a real buyer who comes to look at your home. You leave work early, rush home, and open the door for them. They think they can afford your home, but they haven’t talked to a lender so they don’t really know. If you were working with a REALTOR, they would vet potential buyers before they came to your home. You wouldn’t have to deal with the inconvenience of all of these phone calls and physically being at the home to show it to buyers, but you are not. So, you stress out, and your work and personal life suffers.
After the fiftieth real estate agent calls you to list your home, you finally cave. You are sick of wasting your time and energy trying to sell your home by yourself, and you realize that the fees may be worth it. The real estate agent tells you about all sorts of disclosures you didn’t even know you needed. She explains that while your attempts at marketing were ok, that in order to really market your home you needed to do a lot more. Lastly, she explains that in 2017, only 7% of homes were sold FSBO, and those that did sell for sale by owner sold for about $66,000 less than those sold with a real estate agent. She shows you how she will do the hard work for you, marketing the home, following up with buyers after showings, making sure buyers are qualified before seeing your home, and most importantly, that she is here to protect your best interests throughout the entire process. She is going to make sure you understand all the forms, are kept in the loop with all activities related to the home sale, and she is going to walk you through the pros and cons of every offer you receive. This way, you can make an informed decision on the best offer to accept when you sell your home, and you can get back to doing what you are good at.
Do you remember the first time you met your spouses parents or the last time you went on a job interview? If you’re like most people, I bet you gave some thought into what you wore, or how you styled your hair. I can’t remember the specifics of getting ready for either of these scenarios in my personal life, but I guarantee you I was stressing about my appearance. I likely tried on multiple different outfits, played with my hair up and down, found unique ways to hide my tattoos and added a slight spritz of perfume before walking out the door. Preparing your home to go on the market requires the same amount, if not more energy, but if you follow these steps you can avoid the stress.
First things first, you want to fix anything that is obviously wrong with your home. Is there a back door that the dog scratched up or a leaky faucet? Fix or replace it now. If you leave it as is, the perceived cost to a buyer will be far greater than the actual cost to fix it. If there are other eye sores that make your home appear dated, you may want to consider making some changes. Updating lighting and plumbing fixtures or changing out knobs or pulls is an easy ways to modernize your home that is relatively low cost, and you can even spray paint them if replacement isn’t in the budget. One of my favorite ways to modernize a home is to add new address numbers. You can buy modern chrome numbers for about five dollars a number on Amazon and the difference they make in the perceived value of your home is incredible.
The first impression is usually the exterior of the home i.e. the front door. When a buyer arrives to see your home, the agent is struggling to open the lockbox and the buyer is looking around, taking it all in. Make sure this area is appealing! Spiders are not a good look-even if it’s Halloween. Oh, and that reminds me, if you’re selling around a holiday, please don’t decorate this year. While you may love Jesus and have a full nativity scene complete with LED lights that you put up every year, your ideal buyer may not. Your goal is to make your home appealing to the largest pool of prospective buyers possible. Make your entrance attractive by making sure the door is clean, the patio is swept, and a nice door mat greets your buyers. Clean your exterior windows, and add some flowers to make your house instantly scream, this is the place I want to call home!
Selling your home is about much more than selling a place to live, you are selling the idea of a better life - and this life does not include dirty dishes in the sink. You want your home to show it’s best self from the moment a potential buyer lays eyes on it. I once showed a home with feminine care products all over the master bed (luckily they were unused), but this did not make a great first impression on me or my client. So, first things first you want to clean, de-clutter and de-personalize the space. Although you may enjoy the framed photo of your grandparents that rests on your mantle, you want buyers to envision themselves living in your home, so remove all personal items. Countertops in the bathrooms and kitchen should be cleared off with the exception of a few items to add color and personality to the space - think a luxury hand soap or a bowl of fruit in the kitchen. I recommend my clients place bath products that are used daily in a caddy or plastic bin that can be tucked under the sink out of site when not in use.
Furniture placement is key too! First, you want to re-configure every room back to its original purpose. Have a bedroom that you use as an office? It’s time to pack up the file folders and bring in an air mattress on a frame. It doesn’t need to function as a bedroom, it just needs to look pretty! You also wan’t to make sure your furniture is best placed to maximize the natural features of the home. You don’t want a large bookcase blocking the gorgeous ten foot window, and you also don’t want bulky furniture that makes the space appear smaller. Any furniture that is ripped or broken needs to go. That’s not something I see in my “dream life” and it’s probably not something a prospective buyer sees either.
Oftentimes, it’s hard to figure out which items need to go, or how to arrange the furniture. That’s why I offer a complimentary staging consultation to all of my clients. I say offer, but really, it’s mandatory. I want to do a good job so that you are happy! That means we are going to work together to make sure your home looks picture perfect for buyers while also remaining functional for your life. If that fourth bedroom really needs to stay an office while your home is on the market, we will simply make sure it is the best looking, Pinterest-worthy office, and that buyers know it could be a bedroom too.
Last, but certainly not least, photographs are incredibly important! Almost every buyer who visits your home decides to because they saw the photos online first. That is why these photos need to be top notch. I know, you think that you can take wonderful photos with your iPhone 10 and its fancy camera, but this will not cut it. You need a professional photographer to make buyers fall in love at first sight. This is why I always provide complimentary professional photography for my listings- the pro has crazy lenses and tripods and a boatload of experience in photographing houses.
This may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s really not that difficult. Just put yourself in a buyer’s shoes and use that process to guide you as you make your preparations. Still feeling like you don’t know where to start? Contact me, and I’ll walk you through the details step by step.
If you’re planning to sell your home in Texas, you almost always need to provide a seller’s disclosure form. This form is provided to buyers informing them of any known defects to the property, previous repairs, and general property conditions. There are a few exceptions for the mandate to provide a seller’s disclosure, and they are noted in the Texas Property Code. These exceptions include:
While a seller’s disclosure is not required in these cases, you may still want to provide a seller’s disclosure if you have knowledge of the property. One of, if not the most, common reason for lawsuits in real estate is from failing to disclose known information about the property condition. So, if you own a fourplex, and you previously were the landlord for the property. You likely know about some aspects of the property’s condition. I’d recommend completing a seller’s disclosure form even though you are not required to per the Texas Property Code.
The seller’s disclosure form I recommend my clients use is the Texas Association of REALTORS® Seller’s Disclosure Notice (TAR-1406). This form is composed of eleven sections. The first section simply lists which features a property has.
The second, third and fourth sections deal with known issues, defects or conditions at the property. The fifth section addresses a range of property conditions including if the property is located in an HOA. The sixth section deals with the survey, and the seventh section asks owners to list any inspections provided within the past four years. If you have an inspection report from this time frame, you must provide it. Section eight pertains to tax exemptions, and section nine addresses insurance claims to the property. Section 11 require’s seller’s to disclose knowledge in regards to the presence of smoke detectors on the property.
The last page of the seller’s disclosure notice should not be ignored. It discusses additional notices to buyers and the utility providers for the property. Filling out the utility provider fields will make it much easier for the buyer to transfer utilities when the property is sold.
If you have questions about the Texas Seller’s Disclosure notice, or selling your home, contact me today.
In many ways, listing a condo for sale is similar to listing a house for sale. You must determine an appropriate asking price, prepare the home to go on the market, and then advertise the home to prospective buyers. Digging up relevant home documents such as the ones listed in this post, are helpful when selling a home or a condo. However, there are a few additional items you will also want to research prior to listing a condo for sale.
First, you will want to find out what types of financing can be used to purchase a condo in your complex. Why should you care what types of loans a buyer could use to purchase your condo? Well, not all condo complexes qualify for all types of loans. Let’s imagine you receive an amazing offer on your condo. You accept the offer and begin preparing to move. A few weeks go by and then you are notified that the buyer can no longer purchase your condo because the condo project does not qualify for the loan product the buyer planned on using to purchase your condo. In this scenario, it’s possible they may not be able to qualify for a different type of loan, and you will be back at square one. To make matters work, your home will have been off the market for a few weeks - valuable time you could have used to identify a buyer that is truly qualified to purchase your condo.
You can see how it makes sense to understand what loans buyers can use to purchase your condo. This example sheds light on the greater issue of making sure a buyer is thoroughly vetted to ensure he or she can qualify for the purchase. Whether you are selling a house or a condo it’s important to verify with a buyer’s lender that the buyer is truly qualified and that the property is eligible for their specific loan product. When selling a condo specifically, I would check to see if the condo building qualifies for FHA financing. You can check to see if your condo project is FHA approved on the HUD website. Additionally, I recommend determining if the condo is warrantable. This one is a little trickier; however, this post outlines some of the factors that influence whether a condo is warrantable or not. You should also check with an experienced mortgage professional.
There are a few other things you will want to know about your condo before listing it for sale. Understanding what your HOA fee covers and how much it is monthly will help you better market your condo for sale. You also want to find out how much the resale certificate costs and what the HOA charges for transfer fees. And, you want to find out how long it usually takes the HOA to provide the resale certificate. All of these items are on the sales contract. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, how can you intelligently negotiate an offer you receive? Contact your HOA for detailed information on these items.
Researching all of these pieces before you list your condo for sale ensures a smooth closing. As an experienced listing agent with a plethora of condo sales under my belt, answering all of these questions is part of my listing checklist. If you are interested in selling your Austin area condo, contact me today.
If you’re preparing to put your home on the market, you are probably staying busy cleaning, de-cluttering, and starting to pack. You may also find time slipping away from you as you spend hours perusing Zillow searching for your dream home. However, have you even thought about gathering these important documents? By taking the time to locate the following items will make selling your home much easier. After all, you don’t want to find yourself unpacking box after box looking for that overstuffed home folder when you have a ready buyer prepared to purchase your home. So, do yourself a favor and gather these docs now; you’ll thank me later.
When you purchased your home, you likely obtained a survey for the property. If you haven’t made many structural changes to the footprint of your home, and it hasn’t been five decades since you purchased the property, you can likely still use the survey when you sell the property. When a buyer submits an offer on your home, they can select to use the existing survey or opt for a new survey. If you have an existing, reliable survey, it’s unlikely the buyer will ask you to purchase a new one. A new survey will cost at least a few hundred dollars, so do yourself a favor and find that survey today. It’s important to make sure the survey has the surveyors seal; however, you don’t have to have the original copy.
2. Floor plans
If you have existing floor plans for your home, find them. A prospective buyer may have different needs than you, and may want to alter the home to fit those needs. Floor plans make it easier for buyers to make an informed decision about the costs of remodeling. Floor plans also save buyers time and you the inconvenience of allowing them back into your home to take measurements. With a floor plan, a buyer can easily start imaging how their furniture would fit in your home.
3. Repair receipts
Did you install a new roof a few years ago? How about HVAC work? These big ticket items are often areas of interest to prospective buyers. If you can provide documentation that a new roof was installed just last year, buyers will find your home more appealing knowing they won’t have to incur roof repair costs in the near future. It’s also good to document bids for repairs you didn’t make. Maybe you thought about adding an external propane tank so you could install a gas stove but you never did. Buyers may similarly express interest in installing a gas stove, and this bid could be the last piece propelling them to put an offer in on your home.
4. Loan Statement
This one is muy importante! In order to determine how much you should list your home for, and to assess if an offer is acceptable to you, you must know how much money you have in the home. You likely receive a monthly statement from your loan provider and it will state the loan payoff amount. Keep this number in the back of your mind as you prepare to sell your home.
5. Utility Bills
Buyers often want to know about utility costs. This is another piece of the puzzle that makes up their monthly living costs. If you can provide documentation for your utility costs (especially if they are low) it will make it easier for a buyer to commit to your home. If you can find your statements for electric, water, gas, and trash for the last 12 months. You or your agent, can then average the costs to provide an estimate to prospective buyers.
6. Manuals and Warranties
If you kept all your manuals for your appliances, good for you! A buyer will find these documents helpful and you can put them all in an envelope with a pretty little bow to deliver to them at closing. Warranties will work in your favor, if they are transferable. Remember that fictitious roof repair I alluded to earlier. New roofs usually have a one-time transferable warranty attached to them. So if something happens to the roof after you sell the home, the new buyers will still be protected by the contractor’s warranty.
For other great tips on getting ready to sell your home take a look at these posts:
Prioritizing Upgrades When Preparing to Sell Your Home
Increasing Your Home's Value
Prepping Your Home Now to Net the Most Money on Your Austin Home Sale
If you’re thinking about selling your Austin area home, contact me today.
Yesterday, I was at a closing, and my client and I decided it would be funny to track exactly how many signatures were required to officially sell the property. I always make jokes about closing saying “you sign your life away” or “you’ll practically get carpal tunnel in the process”. But, we were curious, exactly how many signatures would it take.
As my client continued to sign a variety of forms, many of which seemed to cover the same thing, I started tallying. All in all she signed her name 24 times yesterday, and initialed 6 times. This was part of a 1031 exchange so I speculate she may have endured a little less pain had it not been.
This process got me thinking. I wonder how many signatures and initials are required in total from the listing to the closing. I looked back through my records and uncovered these stats:
All in all my client signed her name 29 times and her initials 28 times. Keep in mind this was for one seller client. Also, this was a multiple offer situation and there was no countering on the contract. All in all, these numbers were actually less than I thought, and, as my client pointed out, almost all signing before the closing was done electronically which makes it a lot easier than by hand.
You’ve been working on getting your home ready to go on the market for a few weeks. You’ve been tackling various projects; cleaning up the yard, touching up the paint, and de-cluttering. Unfortunately, these projects may seem to take more time than you had imagined and now the time has come for your home to be photographed. Preparing your home for photos is a little like preparing your home for a party. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, but overall you want it to appear tidy and clean.
First on your list should be removing clutter. If you’re running low on time, this means cramming everything in the closets, drawers and boxes in the garage. Obviously this isn’t the best approach for long term, but if you just need the home presentable for photos, this is your best bet. You really want only a few minimal items on all the countertops in the home. Hide all your kitchen appliances in the cabinets, and make sure all the random papers, personal items, and cooking supplies are off the kitchen countertops.
In the bathrooms, place all of your personal items (toothbrush, deodorant, beauty supplies etc.) in a large Tupperware, bath caddy, or box. Place this box under the sink. Your countertops will be clear, and you can utilize this method throughout the showing process as well. Simply remove the box in the mornings and evenings, perform your daily hygiene routine and then put the box back under the sink.
Don’t forget the pet’s and kid’s stuff. Hide food and water bowls in closets. Make sure the litter box is tucked away out of sight. Stuff the kids toys under beds or in the closet, and make sure all of the kids and animals are out of the way for the photos.
When it comes to cleaning your home for photos, you can get away with doing a lot less than you will need to do to prepare your home for showings. For photos, you want to focus on a few main areas: floors, countertops, and windows. Make sure the carpet is vacuumed and steam cleaned if necessary. Have stubborn stains? This stuff works miracles! Sweep and mop the hard surface floors, and make sure to clean the countertops and kitchen appliances. Windows are important too! If time permits, take the screens off. Photos look better without the mesh in the background. If you’re running short on time, make sure to clean the most prominent windows, especially if they reveal a pretty view.
Outside you will want to make sure the lawn is cut and leaves are raked or blown away. Hide your trash bins in the garage or on the side of the house. Nothing ruins a gorgeous first shot of your home more than an unsightly waste bin. Last but not least, don’t forget the lights. Make sure all of your lights are functioning and have bulbs. Open all of your blinds and curtains to let in natural light. Great light really does make a great photo.
Preparing for listing photos leads to great images. First impressions occur with your home’s photos these days. Do yourself a favor and take these steps to ensure your home looks it’s very best when buyer’s see it online. Thinking about selling your Austin area home? Contact me today for more home selling tips.
Many people will tell you that the best time to sell your Austin area home is in the spring. However, is now really the best time to think about listing your home for sale? Well, it may be and it may not be. For many Austin residents, spring likely is the best time to sell your home. However, depending on what type of home you have and where it is located, you may be better off waiting if you want to sell for the most money.
For homeowners in the City of Austin, spring probably is the best time to sell your home. Over the past three years, the median home sales price for single family homes in the city limits has been highest in the summer months. In 2015, the highest median sales price for these homes occurred in May at $360,000. In 2016, the highest monthly median sales price was $377,470 in June. Last year, we saw the highest median sales price occur in June again with the median sales price increasing to $407,500.
As you can see, single family homes in the City of Austin really do sell for the most money in the spring. It’s not all about the price though. If a quick sale is important to you, the spring market is great for that too. The last column in the chart above represents the number of days a home is on the market before it goes under contract. Over the past three years, the median days to sell in the spring months was almost always less than 2 weeks.
If you’re thinking you want to sell your Austin home for the most money in the least amount of time, now is the time to start preparing to sell your home. Keep in mind that there is usually about a month of time from the date the contract is accepted until the closing date. In order to close in June, you want to list your home in April or May.
Now, if you are thinking about selling your condo in the City of Austin, now may not be the best time to sell. City of Austin condos had the highest median sales price in December for both 2015 and 2016. In 2017, the highest median sales price for condos in the city limits occurred in October when the median sales price was just under $305K.
If you don’t live in the city limits of Austin, spring may not be the best time for you to sell either. While single family home sales in Travis and Hays County conformed to the spring is the time to sell trend, homes in Williamson County did not.
In Travis County, May was the month with the highest median sales price in 2015. In 2016 and 2017, June yielded the highest median sales price for single family homes in Travis County with sales prices of $350K and $370K respectively. Hays County single family home sales showed the highest median sales price for 2015 in June with a price of S250K. In 2016, the highest median sales price occurred in April. Last July yielded the highest median sales price for 2017 with a median sales price of $270K.
Conversely, winter seems to be the best time to sell single family homes in Williamson County. In 2015, the highest median sales price was $252,500 which occurred in December! A month usually not associated with peak selling season. In 2016, November yielded the highest monthly median sales price, and in 2017, December led again with a median sales price of $287K. I should note that in 2017, the June median sales price was a close second with a median sales price of $286,713 and a much shorter number of days on market, 15 days compared to 40 in December.
If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, you really need to look at the market activity in your specific neighborhood. I’d be happy to run individualized reports for you; just contact me. Alternatively, if you are mildly curious what your home is worth, click here for a quick home worth estimate.
Recently, I was talking to a prospective client. We were discussing commissions and he commented, “well, a listing agent really doesn’t do anything”. I resisted the urge to scream obscenities at his face, and calmly replied that a good listing agent does a lot more than you think. Besides, taking care of the essential duties when listing a home for sale, I’ve gone above and beyond for my Austin area real estate listings more times than I can count.
So, what exactly does a listing agent do? Well, first and foremost, I cover the basics. I help you price your property, prepare it for the sale, market it to prospective buyers, negotiate the offers, and ensure a smooth closing. I don’t just put a sign in the yard, a lockbox on the door and say good luck.
When I help my seller clients prepare their home for sale, that sometimes means I’m getting down and dirty with them. I want the home to show the best it can, after all, any listing is a reflection of my work. In the past, I have helped clear out the belongings from a home that had been vacant for over 5 years, mopped the floors of a condo minutes before the photographer arrived, coordinated extensive remodels so that my seller would get the highest price for his home, and even mowed the lawn. I also have personally staged a number of my vacant listings. A staged home sells quicker and for more money than a vacant property so I lug couches into and out of homes, and add décor touches.
Once the home is ready, I pay a professional photographer to capture the property in its best light. I try to always meet him there to make sure he captures unique elements of the property, and then I take those images and create a full-fledged marketing campaign. I stay up late designing flyers, spreading the images through social media, and promoting the property through a plethora of other modes.
Sure I put the property on the MLS, as any competent agent would, but I also field numerous phone calls and emails from prospective buyers, coordinate showings, and when it’s necessary personally show the home. I host open houses, and door knock the neighborhood to make sure all the neighbors no your home is for sale. I put your home on REALTOR tours to make sure all the agents who work your neighborhood know the home is for sale as well.
While your home is on the market, I make sure it stays in tip-top shape. This winter, we had an unprecedented amount of freezes in Austin. I regularly attended to my listings, making sure the heat was on, cabinets were open, and just to be sure the pipes wouldn’t freeze, turned the water off. I joked with one seller client recently that this was the hardest part of my job; I had bloodied my knuckles and bruised my arms countless times while struggling with a wrench to move that tight knob to turn the water on and off.
At another listing of mine, I noticed someone had tracked mud all across the brand new carpet. I personally got on my hands and knees and scrubbed and sprayed that carpet till it looked good and new.
My listing efforts are not limited to physical labor. A few years ago I was helping a young lady sell a home she had inherited in East Austin. Unfortunately, her grandmother didn’t have a will and the mortgage company refused to release the payoff statement to her. This was delaying closing and something had to be done. I must have called, and emailed at least twenty high up employees at the bank. I sent out hand-written notes, and finally, I got through to someone, and she was able to send us the payoff statement.
Of course, I handle all the other tasks a good listing agent takes care of too. I negotiate for my clients’ best interests, prepare net-sheets for incoming offers, vet prospective buyers, and ensure the final settlement statement is prepared correctly.
I’m sure this sounds like a lot of work, and don’t get me wrong it is, but I love every minute of it. I take great pride in my work, and feel a great sense of accomplishment when my client sees the amount of money they made on their home sale. If you’re looking for a go-getter, who works hard to ensure your Austin area home sells for the most money, contact me today.
In the past, I’ve discussed cosmetic strategies for preparing your home to sell for the most money. Articles such as 9 Tips to Increase Your Home’s Worth and Prioritizing Upgrades When Preparing to Sell Your Home provide an overview of strategies to increase your home’s curb appeal both outside and inside your home. Conversely, this article focuses on home maintenance and home repairs that you should address prior to listing your home for sale.
In an Austin home sale, the buyer has what is called an option period. The option period allows the buyer the right to access and do all necessary due-diligence on a home prior to being locked into the home sale. The buyer has the unrestricted right to terminate the contract during the option period, and the earnest money will be returned to the buyer. It’s strongly recommended that the buyer have a licensed home inspector inspect the property during the option period. Any aspects of the home identified by the inspector as areas of concern, are leverage for the buyer. The buyer can either request the homeowner fix the issue of request monetary concessions for the repairs. These requests are formally submitted to the seller in the form of an amendment to the contract.
Probably the most common item I see on such an amendment is the request for the air conditioner to be cleaned and serviced. If you’re preparing your Austin home for sale, you should consider having the AC cleaned and serviced prior to listing your home. Why give the buyer an opportunity to overcharge you for this service? If you tackle this before listing your home, you can take your time comparing quotes from different providers, rather than rushing to have the AC serviced when you’re in the middle of moving or risk conceding more than necessary to the buyer for the service. While you’re at it, you should also replace the air filters.
The other benefit to repairing or servicing your home prior to the repairs being mandated in an amendment is that you get to choose who does the work. Once a repair is required per an amendment, the repair must be made by a licensed contractor. If you are handy, you may be able to fix things yourself prior to listing your home or hire an unlicensed handyman who is still qualified for the job. An inspector will note every little thing that is wrong with a home. A door without a stopper will be noted, as will the lack of a smoke detector in a room. I’m not particularly handy, but I could easily install these items. Another item I regularly see on inspection reports is a lack of an anti-tip bracket on the oven. This five to ten-dollar part effectively anchors your stove to the wall so that a child cannot get in the oven and have it fall over leaving them trapped inside.
Another item you may consider DIYing is in regards to the exterior of the home. An inspector is going to note any plant growth that creeps up the home as an area of concern since it could lead to wood destroying insects entering the home. Pull off any vines or climbing plants that are making their way up your home. You should also clean out leaves and debris from gutters and make sure gutter spouts are properly diverting away from the home. If your home has flashing, check to see that its properly diverting water off the roof, and away from the home. Grading is also an area of interest for an inspector. Your yard should slope down from your home so that water moves away from the property.
If you have any known leaks in your home, it’s best to address these now. Even if you don’t, you may want to check under your sinks and around your toilets to make sure there is no water penetration. Leaks in faucets or sink pipes can usually be addressed quite easily. It may just be a matter of tightening a piece or replacing a washer. You should also address any running toilets. Sometimes it’s as easy as adjusting the flapper chain- an easy no tools required fix. If you have major plumbing issues, it’s best to consult a licensed professional.
Another common item on inspection reports is electrical issues. A lack of GFCI outlets is often noted as a potential safety risk. It’s my understanding that if the outlets are properly grounded this is not necessarily an area of concern. However, if you don’t want to be nickel and dimed during the option period, this is another item you may want to address. Any outlets or fans that are not functioning properly should be looked at by a professional, and while you are at it, make sure all your lights have functioning bulbs. An inspector may not be able to assess if a light doesn’t work or if it’s simply lacking a functioning bulb.
These are just a few of the most common repair requests I see. If you’re planning to sell your home, determining which projects are the most important is a complex evaluation. Your budget, and desired sale price will determine the most important projects. Not sure which projects you should tackle before selling your Austin home? Contact me today, and I’ll help you decide which projects will allow you to net the most money in your Austin home sale.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.