The answers to these questions will help you decide:
How much equity do you have in your home? Look at your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out. Usually, you don't build up much equity in the first few years of paying a mortgage, but if you've owned your home for a number of years, you may have significant unrealized gains.
Has your income increased enough to cover the extra mortgage costs and the costs of moving?
Consider comparables. What have other homes in your neighborhood sold for recently? How do they compare to yours in terms of size, upkeep, and amenities?
Consider competition. How many other houses are for sale in your area? Are you competing against new homes?
Consider your contingencies. Do you have special concerns that would affect the price you'll receive? For example, do you want to be able to move in four months?
Get an appraisal. For a few hundred dollars, a qualified appraiser can give you an estimate of your home's value. Be sure to ask for a market-value appraisal.
- Trim bushes so they don't block windows and cut down on light.
- Buy a new doormat.
- Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.
- Put new doorknobs on your front door.
- Put a fresh coating on your driveway.
- Edge the grass around walks and trees.
- Keep your garden tools out of site.
- Be sure kids put away their toys.
- Buy a new mailbox.
- Upgrade your outside lighting.
- Use warm, incandescent light bulbs for a homey feel.
- Polish or replace your house numbers.
It's important to understand what legal responsibilities your real estate salesperson has to you and to other parties in the transactions. Ask your salesperson to explain what type of agency relationship you have with him or her and with the brokerage company.
Seller's representative (also known as a listing agent or seller's agent). A seller's agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a listing contract.
Get estimates from a reliable repairperson on items that need to be replaced soon, a roof or worn carpeting, for example. In this way, buyers will have a better sense of how much these needed repairs will affect their costs.
Have a termite inspection to prove to buyers that the property is not infested.
Get a pre-sale home inspection so you'll be able to make repairs before buyers become concerned and cancel a contract.
Gather together warranties and guarantees on the furnace, appliances, and other items that will remain with the house.
- Compare the home to comparable ones on the market and identify its unique and most desirable features. Why would a buyer want this home more than other homes in the same price range?
- Take snapshots of the home's best features, and use them as a starting point for your marketing approach. Make sure they are posted on the MLS System.
- Ask you, the seller, what made you decide to purchase the home, and use that information to help focus on potential buyers.