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Old 02-25-2011, 06:24 PM   #21
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East Tx's "sell the house" ideas are good. My son recently sold his small Capitol Hill townhouse for way more than I thought he would get. They moved their stuff out and a home stager brought in some tasteful minimalist furniture, paintings and knick knacks that showed the small spaces to great advantage. They were on the market about two weeks.
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:32 PM   #22
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When we sold our last home, I touched up the paint and trimwork all over the house, emptied and repainted the closets (made them look move-in -ready) had the carpets professionally cleaned, but it was the new SS appliances and granite in the kitchen that clinched the deal...it sold in 34 days for top dollar in that neighborhood.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:09 PM   #23
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Wow...some great tips here Purron! They make me realize I'm so far behind the times...'course then again it's been 17 years since I've sold a house.

The only thing I can add is removing family and pet pictures from your home, installing light dimmers for ambience (and leave the light on for 'em), and no one (including kitties) are to be at home when your house is shown.

Good luck!
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Old 02-26-2011, 06:08 AM   #24
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The only thing I can add is removing family and pet pictures from your home, installing light dimmers for ambience (and leave the light on for 'em), and no one (including kitties) are to be at home when your house is shown.

Good luck!
Thanks. Light dimmers are another good idea. We'll move to the other place when this house goes on the market. No way DH, the kitties and I want to live in a showroom.
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Old 02-26-2011, 07:08 AM   #25
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Lots of really great ideas on these posts. I think clearing the house of anything not absolutely necessary is important. We rented a storage unit and moved most of our stuff there until the house sold. I didn't see anyone mention purchasing a home warranty for the buyer. A two year warranty may cost $500 but is well worth the price to put buyers minds as ease. The thing that sold our house was us doing the financing; however, I know that not everyone is in the position to do this.
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Old 02-26-2011, 07:45 AM   #26
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Your house has nice curb appeal. Congratulations. Can't add much to this list of excellent advice.

With a realtor's help you can look at the listings of the last 20 or so houses sold in your area in your intended price range. Here you can look for things like granite, roof, etc. That will help understand what people are expecting when they walk they the front door. We have past experience with two real estate agents that were real professionals and added incredible value (one buying, one selling). The selling agent focused heavily on this.

The expenses that have the greatest impact are those that affect appearance. New roof and a/c don't and you won't get your money back. That money might be better spent as part of the negotiation process as in a "new roof or new a/c credit"

+1 on the storage space, Get as much stuff out of the house as possible. It has to look roomy and shouldn't have too much personality.
+1 on the realtor advice. Could be part of the realtor selection process.
+1 on the handyman. He can spend a day or two just doing small repairs that have big appearance impact . Paint retouches, grout cleaning or replacement, tightening or replacing wall sockets, making sure all the lights work well, etc. Fix faucets, toilets. Replacing or cleaning anything rusted or stained. People don't want to buy expecting to spend time or money with little things.

Maybe do a home inspection. The report will help you prepare for any adjustments, and if its good enough, can be part of the sales documentation.

You also might want to spend a few $ on new bedspreads, pillows for the sofa, a few decorations for the dining room. Make it look a bit more like the magazine layouts.

Go out and take a look at a couple of houses on sale right now at your intended price level. See what the competition looks like.

If you price your house competitively and do the stuff folks are recommending here you will have a competitive advantage.
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:01 AM   #27
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A home inspection is a mixed bag as you may not be able to withhold any report. Much depends on local practice and laws. Seek the advise of your realtor. We had one, the report was very good and we fixed the few items on his list. In the Bay area everyone gets a pre-listing inspection and puts it on the table. Condition is a part of the price negotiation.

You can't keep the dimmers if you install them. They become part of the house. But, dimmers are inexpensive today. I wouldn't do that because the buyer then will be on a hunt for other issues that may cause issues with your sales contract.
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:36 AM   #28
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Interesting how home inspections are used in other parts of the country. As I mentioned earlier, I accepted an offer 3 days ago. The buyer is doing the home inspection right now. This is done here to identify any issues and to inform the buyer of current condition and things that need replacing soon and next 5 years. Also used to ask for discounts on any issues found or to walk away from the deal
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:45 AM   #29
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Yes closets and storage are key. I emptied out all of my closets and storage areas to half what I had in there, even our clothes. I learned all these tips from watching the home sales shows on HGTV.
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:50 AM   #30
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Lots of really great ideas on these posts. I think clearing the house of anything not absolutely necessary is important. We rented a storage unit and moved most of our stuff there until the house sold. I didn't see anyone mention purchasing a home warranty for the buyer. A two year warranty may cost $500 but is well worth the price to put buyers minds as ease. The thing that sold our house was us doing the financing; however, I know that not everyone is in the position to do this.
I didn't offer it up front knowing the buyer would probably ask for it as a concession. Everything they asked for on the concessions (e.g. fridge, warranty) I was already positioned to give them. I also gave them freebies such as everything needed to repair the sprinkler system, lawn mower, edger, extra house paint, some tools....

I can't tell you how valuable it was to have an inspection up front. The guy doing the inspection was tough! We fixed anything that was not in current code compliance (we were in the county when the house was built) and any life/safety issues. Some things on the list were up to the buyer to fix.

The inspection report was in the "house book" that was on the counter during open houses. All items on the inspection report were either checked as fixed or unchecked. It was very clear to the potential buyer what the house needed. The house book was the second most popular topic at open house. Freshly baked cookies always rated first.
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:41 PM   #31
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I got the initial feedback on the buyer's inspection. They came back with 2 items, both on the heaters (I have 2). The upstairs flue came off and was exhausting to the attic (probably from high winds we had recently). this is an easy fix. The 1st floor unit cycles on/off, maybe this inspector isn't familiar with this unit. They want the units checked/serviced to state the 1st floor is working properly and possibly cleaned. They are both in the 14 - 15 years old. Nothing else came up in the inspection.

I just had to mention when I bought this house in 1989, the furnace was an old converted unit from coal to fuel oil to gas boiler. I asked the seller to have the unit the simple answer was "No". Actually, his full quote was "I never spent a penny on maintenance in 24 years, why should I start now?" Now I have to pick up the tab on the service check as the seller, boy have times changed!
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:54 PM   #32
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A home inspection is a mixed bag as you may not be able to withhold any report. Much depends on local practice and laws. Seek the advise of your realtor. We had one, the report was very good and we fixed the few items on his list. In the Bay area everyone gets a pre-listing inspection and puts it on the table. Condition is a part of the price negotiation.
Good point. Some real estate laws mandate disclosure, and an inspection report could be a liability in that case. Better to ask the Realtor.
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Old 02-26-2011, 09:11 PM   #33
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A couple more ideas:

- I don't know whether granite countertops would be worthwhile, that's a question for a local realtor. Even new laminate countertops can really make a difference in how the kitchen looks, and you'll only be out a few hundred dollars.

- When we sold our place a couple years ago, we replaced the old stove and refrigerator, but not with brand new appliances. Instead we found new-ish ones on Craigslist. And a new range hood. We were shocked at how much better the kitchen looked, and it's not like it was awful to start with.

- To spruce up the bathrooms, get new toilet seats. This sounds kind of silly, but I saw that tip in a property management book, and it really does make a difference.
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:35 AM   #34
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One comment about realtors. We sold in Feb 2008 when things were already slowing bigtime. Interviewed 3 realtors. The one with the best reputation (and most listings) gave us the lowest suggested listing price and didn't give us any credit over similar typical builder spec homes. Two others felt the house was better than spec and would sell higher. We did our own crude comp investigation and listed with the realtor who was the "hungriest" for our listing (and got the theme of the house and knew the neighborhood best). Listed closer to the higher suggested price with the thought of nothing to loose.

Built a good chunk of it ourselves when we were still kiddies but we didn't have high expectations either. Did plenty of staging, put in new kitchen granite and refinished hardwood floors. Lot's of painting and decluttering.

24 viewings in 3 days, 3 offers, and sold above listing price on day 4. Moral to story: "hot shot" realtors are not always a perfect judge. Get multiple opinions and don't completely discount your own judgement even if it is biased. Good luck!


Here's a slide show of the place. Nothing fancy but we thought a wee bit better than builder spec:

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Old 02-27-2011, 05:32 AM   #35
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When I am king, people who buy houses will be forcibly trained to understand that it is better to buy a house for $290K with $10K of decorating, etc, required, than to buy the house redecorated by someone else, to their taste, for $300K.

We sold our house 4 years ago to go and rent. It took more than a year to shift it, with most non-purchasers moaning about the decorative order, despite the fact that they all had plans to make substantial changes to the house to have it their way. We'd already moved out by then and didn't want to supervise contractors remotely, so we had to sell it in the state it was in (which was perfectly acceptable to live in, just not "all shiny and new").

On the other hand, we knew people who bought for $300K, spent $100K on expensive new stuff (high-end bathrooms, kitchen, etc), sold for $450K a year later, and the new owners put in new, even-higher-end bathrooms and kitchens.
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Old 02-27-2011, 07:52 AM   #36
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IMO - Fix things that are broken. Paint, replace carpet (if unsightly), curb appeal... spit and polish to make it appealing and "Move in Ready".

I would be less inclined to replace expensive infrastructure that are aged but still working. Nor would I replace cabinets unless they are unsightly or broker. I would reduce the price during negotiation.

This give the buyer some latitude about when to replace (select the replacement and realize the expense at a different time). Plus, these reductions (which you would pay anyway) will make some buyers feel they have negotiated a good deal. Time-bounding the decision (just like a car dealer does in negotiations)... puts pressure on a buyer lock-in the "negotiated price".

However, you should know the replacement costs of these items so you know your bottom line acceptable offer.

If that does not seem to work... One can always withdraw the house from the market, apply the upgrades and list it again later.
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Old 02-27-2011, 08:44 AM   #37
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:51 PM   #38
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Just thought I'd mention what my realtor discussed with me about 2 weeks ago. There is supposed to be a gigantic new wave of bank held foreclosures that will be released very near term. This info came from my agent, her broker and several lenders that she deals with. My comps were made up of 75-85% shorts and foreclosures, my house was in the small minority of normal for sale homes. Check your local market and ask what the inventory is like right now and near term.
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Old 02-27-2011, 03:14 PM   #39
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Just thought I'd mention what my realtor discussed with me about 2 weeks ago. There is supposed to be a gigantic new wave of bank held foreclosures that will be released very near term. This info came from my agent, her broker and several lenders that she deals with. My comps were made up of 75-85% shorts and foreclosures, my house was in the small minority of normal for sale homes. Check your local market and ask what the inventory is like right now and near term.

Yeah, I'm keeping a close eye on this. Here's a site I've found useful.

Real Estate Market Statistics for Northern Virginia | RBI

If you click on a county or city, you can pull up detailed reports which gives you a good idea of the trends. This information is gathered by a company called RealEstate Business Intelligence using data from the MRIS Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
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Old 02-28-2011, 05:54 PM   #40
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Good idea about the paint and carpet. To handle the concern with A/C unit, why not offer a one year home warranty. Then the A/C is covered if it goes out.
I would replace the kitchen counter tops with something like a Corian solid surface-less expensive than granite.
Get nice appliances if you buy-Whirlpool Gold or KitchenAid. Otherwise, offer an allowance, perhaps $3,000. Some buyers might have a newer fridge that they want to keep and appreciate the allowance for the other items.
Replace the curtains with mini-blinds.
If you need help finding a Realtor, let me know. RE Broker for 16 years.
Good luck! Bruce
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