A Complete Review of the Home Selling Process from Start to Finish at TheMurenTeam.com

Preparing Your Home for Sale: Steps to Spruce Up Your Property

Whether you are sprucing up your home as a spring cleaning ritual, or preparing your home for sale, there are some tried and true tips to help you gain the most from your efforts. In fact, some of the most important fix-up projects a homeowner can perform may be accomplished on little more than elbow-grease, and they can help speed the sale of your home. A thorough cleaning, a fresh coat of paint and yard grooming are the ABC’s of preparing for a sale.  First impressions are important and a neat, clean look gives a good first impression to buyers. 

Some Additional Ideas which you may want to Consider
Plan a yard-sale, or a tax-deductible donation to remove old furniture and toys, appliances and other clutter material.  Your attic, garage, closets, cupboards and storage space will look so much bigger and moving will be easier for you. A newly painted wall (in a light or neutral shade) is a canvas to the eye of prospective buyers and clean windows brighten and enlarge each room. A well clipped yard - free of scattered toys - allows viewers to focus on the neatness of the home. Fix dripping faucets and repair any caulking cracks.  Bathrooms are a key selling point.
If you are prepared to invest some money to improve your home’s presentation, start with the most cost-effective projects and remember to keep a journal of jobs and receipts.  Home improvement costs are often deductible (when costs are incurred 90 days before the sale and paid within 30 days after the sale).  While lawn-mowing and weekly cleaning bills do not qualify according to IRS regulations, new paint, a new water heater, or new gutters usually do apply. 

Some Hints for Quickly Sprucing up your Home 
• Replace broken gutters and shutters.
• New paint indoors or out is usually approved by the IRS for deduction if completed and paid for near the time of sale.
• New floor coverings (in neutral shades) on kitchen and bathroom floors may be another affordable investment which can speed a sale by appealing to buyers’ desire for a property that is ‘ready to move in,’ particularly if the current style of colors are dated.
• Repair broken woodwork, loose planks, and creaky stairs.  No buyer wants a home that needs structural repairs.
• Hardwood floors are a plus.  If you have hardwood floors, consider removing the floor covering, especially if the carpet is worn.
You may want to reconsider more ambitious jobs, however, if you are thinking of selling the home any time soon.  While bathroom and kitchen up-grades generally help appreciation, not all home additions will add value to the property - other than that value which you personally enjoy. Not everyone wants a swimming pool that could be a safety hazard for young children, or an island kitchen design that restricts kitchen traffic flow.  A new deck may recoup its installment costs, but new kitchen cabinets come in a variety of designs and styles that the buyer should choose.  Talk to your REALTOR® about the improvements most appropriate in current market conditions and you will do your share to speed the sale of your home.  For some background and useful statistics, review our report on "Remodeling Your Home - A Cost vs. Value Report".  Now that your home is looking good and on the market with the right Realtor it should be no time at all befor you recive an offer.

Contract to Closing 
10 Steps for a seller to aware of betwen contract to closing.  The steps below are typical of those you’ll follow from your initial contract to your closing.

Immediately after they negotiate the contract, buyers should apply for any financing necessary to complete the purchase. The agent's advice can help them select a reputable lender whose products and service best meet their needs.
Notification of loan application is passed to the listing agent, who keeps the seller informed as the process progresses. During this process, buyers must furnish the lender pertinent information regarding their assets, income, debts and credit history.  It is importent that your Realtor (the seller representive) keep involved in this process to ensure it is proceeding in a timly manor.

The rise in the importance placed on home inspections is probably the most significant change that has occurred in the home selling process in recent years. Typically, the process involves a top-to-bottom inspection of the property, performed by an inspector who is chosen and paid by the buyers. After the buyers review the report, they have the right to ask that some or all of the defects discovered be repaired.   

The seller may not be obligated to make these repairs; however, if the parties cannot reach an agreement within the prescribed time period, the contract dies. Both the buyers and sellers move back to square one. The buyer must look for another house and the sellers must look for other buyers. This process can easily amount to a complete renegotiation of the contract. The role of the listing and selling sales personnel is critically important in facilitating a successful negotiation during this often difficult home loan process.  

As a part of the loan approval process, the lender will require that the property be appraised to ensure that the value of the property is adequate to justify the loan. Although the buyer and seller have already agreed on a price, the appraiser's evaluation must support that price. If the appraisal is not adequate, the contract must be renegotiated or the loan will be disapproved. If this occurs, both buyers and sellers return to square one.  It is importent that your Realtor (the seller representive) is infomed on your market area in case the appraiser needs assistence when determining the value of your home.

When the appraisal has been satisfactorily completed and the lender has verified the buyer's income, credit, etc., the loan can then be approved. Both listing and selling agents will work to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to reach this point. A closing attorney is then selected.

When the loan is approved, an attorney specializing in real estate must be selected to prepare for and conduct the closing. The buyer usually makes the selection unless the seller is paying the closing costs (which include the attorney's fee). Among other items, the attorney will check the title to the property, prepare necessary paperwork, and handle the receipt and distribution of all monies in the transaction. The attorney will represent the lender in the transaction, not the buyer or seller. The attorney must be approved by the lender. Buyers and/or sellers may hire attorneys to represent them. While this is rarely done, it might be advisable in special circumstances.

Most contracts require the sellers to furnish a termite clearance letter to the buyers. A licensed pest control operator must certify that the property is free from infestation by termites or other wood destroying organisms. This inspection requires specialized skills and is separate from the home inspection. If the inspector finds active infestation, the property must be treated to alleviate the problem. In addition, any structural damage caused by current or previous infestation must be repaired. The cost of this inspection and any required treatment or repair is usually the responsibility of the seller.

Prior to closing, the buyers must arrange for a homeowner's insurance policy covering the property. The selling agent will help the buyer make sure that the coverage is adequate to satisfy the requirements of the lender. These arrangements must be made prior to closing and the policy must be present at the closing.

Prior to closing, any repairs agreed upon as a part of the home inspection and termite inspection must be completed. Sellers should be careful to hire reputable repairmen and keep good records of completion and payments involved. Buyers will normally have the property re-inspected to ensure satisfactory completion.

Prior to closing, both buyers and sellers should arrange to have the utilities transferred from one to the other. To accomplish this task, a date (usually the possession date) will be agreed upon for the transfer. The sellers notify the utility companies to cancel their services on that day. The buyers make applications with the various utilities and ask that their services be established on that same day. It is important that these dates coincide to avoid a lapse in service.

After the loan is approved, the closing attorney will prepare the necessary documents to finalize the sale. A time will be scheduled for the buyers, sellers, and their respective agents to meet to "close" the transaction. At this meeting all of the paperwork will be reviewed and signed. The buyer will make payment to the closing attorney in certified funds, and the closing attorney will make payment to the seller and others receiving monies. Careful planning and coordination are essential to ensure a smooth, successful closing process. During this critical period, an experenced Realtor will prove to be extremely valuable.

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