Real Estate Tips
9 Steps to Prepping Your Home to Sell
Your home is your castle, as the saying goes. You spent time and money, goodness knows, to make it just right. And now you’re moving on. What’s the first step?
Pulling up roots and planting a For Sale sign in the yard can challenge even the least sentimental among us. So making a mental and emotional adjustment may be the first step. You look around and see your family everywhere in your house. Even the trees in the yard have become personal!
Plan ahead to help smooth the course of change. Keep your focus on your new and exciting goal. Decide on the terms you want. Selling your house is the end of one journey and the beginning of the next.
Ask yourself: Does your house invite buyers to imagine themselves living in it? Bear in mind, finding a new home is not unlike falling in love. Buyers want to be swept away at first sight. And at some point, one will step through your doorway, take a look around, and hear bells ring.
But first, they will analyze your decor, criticize your wall color, and judge your housecleaning skills. Buyers are discerning, and well they should be. They are about to make the investment of a lifetime. What impression will your house make?
Take these steps to prepping your house to sell:
1. Make it sparkle. Clean and polish everything, inside and out. Go beyond surface cleaning. Deep cleaning has never been so crucial. People will open your closets, peek inside your pantry, and pull out your drawers. They will eye every nook and cranny. Empty everything so the buyer can contemplate what they would put there.
2. De-clutter. Clear surfaces such as countertops, desks, and tables. Scrutinize all storage spaces and donate, recycle, or toss unused items. Clutter is a buzz-kill. Don’t empty your closets only to fill the garage with boxes—buyers will wonder if the house lacks enough storage space. Rent a POD or find temporary storage in friend’s basement for items you want to keep. Sweep the floors in the garage, attic, and basement
3. Make small repairs. Fix bent or torn window screens. Put fresh batteries in smoke detectors. Replace every lightbulb in the house. Buyers turn on lights, and the brighter the better. Call a handyman if needed, to repair plumbing or electrical issues.
4. Paint and clean the exterior. If you don’t plan to paint the whole house, at least give the front door a fresh coat. Choose a bright contrast to the main color. Clean out and repair roof gutters. Pressure wash the driveway and siding. Put out a new welcome mat.
5. Freshen interior walls. Putty nail holes, sand rough spots on interior walls. Spot-cleaning and touching up is more likely to highlight spots. Paint the entire wall for an even, clean look. Choose grays and milky whites. As much as you enjoy the orange wall in the study, a neutral palette reflects light and will open up the space, giving the appearance of more space.
6. Remove personal items.The family photos in the hall help make your house a home—for you. Now is the time to store them. Personal items distract. Allow the buyer to imagine her own family living there. How good are you at viewing things objectively? Most of us grow used to our surroundings and blind to what a buyer would see.
7. Banish odors. What odors, you say? Wash the dog’s bedding, and anywhere else she sleeps. Your nose may not detect it anymore, but other noses will. Wash bed clothes, and sprinkle baking soda over carpets and rugs before vacuuming to freshen daily. Freshen the air naturally, by rubbing a few drops of orange, eucalyptus, or juniper essential oil inside the vacuum cleaner.
8. Curb appeal. First impressions count, and for not a lot of money, your entryway can be a pleasing invitation to step inside and see what else the house has to offer. Trim and tidy bushes and trees, and keep the lawn mowed. Look at Pinterest and the cover of home and garden magazines for ideas. Heed the best advice when designing a fresh look: Keep it simple.
9. Interview real estate agents. An agent can give you helpful feedback about your property. Ask questions—we see all sorts of properties and can offer a practical sounding board for your concerns. You might set up a schedule for discussing finances, home repairs, and opening your house to buyers. An agent can help you manage the process of selling in your preferred timeframe.
You have some control over the way buyers perceive your home. Take the buyer’s perspective, and it will be a win-win. The buyer gets their castle, and you stand a good chance of selling on your terms.
Written by Suzanne Arthur, Broker, REALTOR. Connect with Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how she can make selling your home easier for you. To keep up with all of Asheville’s local happenings follow @suzannearthur_realtor on Instagram and check out her website suzannearthurrealtor.com.
Due diligence in North Carolina
One of the most common questions our Brokers receive pertains to due diligence and how it works. We thought it would be helpful to explain the due diligence process and what it means to a buyer and a seller. In 2011, the North Carolina Real Estate Commission introduced a revised Offer to Purchase and Contract in which a new term called “due diligence” was introduced. Due diligence is a process by which a buyer gives the seller a non-refundable fee in order to have time to inspect, appraise and do their “due diligence” in determining if they will close on the home.
Please don’t confuse the due diligence fee with an earnest money deposit, though. Earnest money is a second part of the typical Offer to Purchase. Like the due diligence fee it’s also negotiable, but a big difference is the earnest money is refundable if the buyer terminates the contract during the due diligence period.
In our market, a buyer typically performs a home inspection, pest inspection, radon test, property survey, and obtains a loan during the due diligence period. But, the buyer is not limited to those items. They can do air testing, lead-paint testing, underground storage tank tests, mold testing, etc. It’s the buyers time for any and all inspections. It’s also a time when you can negotiate with the seller for inspection items, bring in contractors for quotes, and meet with the homeowners’ association to ask questions. Should the buyer wish to terminate the contract during the due diligence period they can with written notice. If this occurs the buyer would receive their earnest money back, but would lose their due diligence fee.
Should a buyer complete the transaction, the due diligence fee and earnest money will be credited towards the purchase price. These credits would appear on the Closing Disclosure provided by the buyer’s lender and attorney.
Below we outline more details about due diligence and how it works during a real estate transaction.
Q: What is “Due Diligence”?
A: “Due Diligence” is the buyer’s opportunity to engage in a process of further investigation of the property and the transaction as described in the Offer to Purchase form within a period of time agreed to by the seller and buyer.
Q: What might the buyer investigate during “Due Diligence”?
A: The buyer will want to inquire about anything bearing on a decision to either move forward with the contract or to terminate it. Paragraph 4 of Form 2-T outlines many, but not all, common considerations of the “Due Diligence” process such as home, pest, and septic inspections, property survey, appraisal, title search, loan qualification and application, repair negotiation, etc.
Q: How much time is allowed for the “Due Diligence” Process?
A: The amount of time is negotiable but the period begins with the effective date of the contract. Paragraph 1(j) of Form 2-T will state the period’s agreed upon ending date. Buyers should be certain to negotiate enough time to fully complete their inquiries – especially as related to appraisal and loan approval and any repairs discovered during property inspections.
Q: What is the “Due Diligence” Fee?
The fee, if any, is negotiated and paid by the buyer to the seller for the right to conduct “Due Diligence”. The amount of the fee may be influenced by such matters as the market for the property, number of days on the market, personal circumstances of buyer and seller, and the length of the “Due Diligence” period.
Q: Is there a limit to the repair items the buyer can ask the seller to perform?
A: No. The buyer is free to ask for any number of things; however, the seller is not obligated to agree to any of them. Repairs, if any, are completely negotiable.
Q: If the buyer is not satisfied with the seller’s response, or lack thereof, to repair requests, what can the buyer do?
A: The buyer can terminate the contract or agree to move forward without the repairs.
Q: Must the repairs be completed by the seller before the end of the “Due Diligence” period?
A: No, but the seller is required to complete any repairs in a good and workmanlike manner prior to the settlement date. Failure by the seller to complete the repairs could result in a breach of the contract. (See paragraph 8(k) and (l) of Form 2-T).
Q: Must the seller allow the buyer to inspect the property to verify the repairs have been completed even if the “Due Diligence” period has expired?
A: Yes. The buyer has the right to verify the repairs have been completed satisfactorily, during or after the “Due Diligence” period. The buyer also has the right to do a final walk-through. The seller’s failure to permit the buyer to verify repairs or to do a final walk-through is a breach of the contract.
Q: What happens at the end of the “Due Diligence” period?
A: The buyer must make a decision to move forward with the contract or to terminate, so it’s a good idea to discuss progress with the buyer as the end of the period approaches. There is a “Warning” to the buyer in paragraph 4 of Form 2-T advising termination if the seller does not agree to a requested extension of the “Due Diligence” period. The buyer’s loss of the right to terminate for any or no reason then places the earnest money at stake. To avoid any misunderstandings, provide any extension agreed to by the seller to the buyer in writing.
Q: If the buyer decides to terminate the contract under the “Due Diligence” clause, must the seller agree?
A: No. It is the buyer’s sole decision to make, assuming it is made during the “Due Diligence” period and not afterward. The termination is a notification to the seller, and must be in writing, but the buyer does not need the consent of the seller. It is a unilateral decision made by the buyer for any reason or no reason at all. The buyer typically gets back the earnest money but not the “Due Diligence” fee, unless otherwise negotiated.
If you have any questions pertaining to any part of a real estate transaction please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us – we would love to help you!
Information sourced from North Carolina Real Estate Commission.
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