Do you and your family really want or need to sell now? Understand that in a buyer’s market you will get less than what you would in a seller’s market. Can you put off selling until the market changes? You may be able to put retirement or buying that house in the country on hold while you watch the real estate market or make those renovations to the house that will make it sell quickly.
If you home has a flaw, defect, or just needs upgrading, this may be an opportunity for you to complete that renovation in order to make the house more saleable. Look at other homes selling in your area. Do they have some feature your home does not? Maybe now is the time to add that feature to make your home more competitive.
Your situation may allow for a delay in selling the home. For example, in a divorce it is not unusual for one spouse to remain in the home for a certain amount of time while the home appreciates in value. At some mutually decided date, which is stated in the divorce agreement, the home is sold and the proceeds are divided.
How much do you still owe on this house? Sit down and figure this out to the penny. Include what is left on your mortgage, home improvement loans, and any other loan that you put your home up as collateral for. Do you owe contractors, carpenters, or anyone who worked on your home money? Are there any liens against your home for bills not paid, IRS taxes owed, real estate taxes owed, or assessments not paid?
This may be tough to figure out. You may need the assistance of a real estate professional like an attorney to determine this.
Once you figure out how much you need to pay off in order to sell the house you may, unfortunately, find out that right now you cannot make enough money on the sale of the home to pay off your debts. The mortgages, loans, and liens on the house must be paid, either through the sale of the property or by a direct payoff. If you must sell the home now you will need to pay off all the debts before these liens will be released and give you a free title to pass to the buyer.
Even before you speak with a real estate agent you need to have an idea of what price you want to get for your home. Keep in mind the amount that you owe. Use the Internet to do some research on what comparable homes in your area have sold for. Read the local free real estate magazines and the real estate section of the newspaper and pay attention to prices that homes like yours are being offered at. While your real estate agent will be able to give you an educated approximation as to what the home should sell for, only you know the amount you need from the sale.
You want to present your home in the best light possible, so you need to complete all those minor repairs, clean, repaint, and get rid of the clutter. It is very difficult for a real estate agent to be able to give you a fair assessment of the sales price for your home if you are constantly saying things like, “I will paint this,” “I will fix that,” or “This furniture is going to storage.”
Sit down with the family and discuss the upcoming sale. Get the cooperation from the family on what will and will not be done while the home is on the market. You may decide that there are certain things you do not want to do, such as putting away personal pictures, putting your pets in a kennel, or even leaving the house while the potential buyers walk through.
Especially in a buyer’s market when property can remain unsold for a longer period of time, many sellers do not want to disrupt their lives. A home that is in good condition and priced correctly will sell even with walls full of personal pictures and Fluffy nipping at the buyer’s heels. Be straightforward with your real estate agent, if he or she will not respect your wishes, find someone who will.