By locating your important documents, beginning organizing, starting your repairs, and making preliminary plans, you can save yourself significant stress and make your home sale next year easier, faster and more profitable. When you are ready to put your home on the market, your time will be filled with those last minute details that make your home look its best and help you get your highest price. Looking for a new home consumes time and energy. Once your current home is under contract, you will often have a list of repairs that need attention: therefore, why not get started early?
Start Your Move in Your Filing Cabinet!
Pull out the files for your home, including the closing documents from your home purchase. Find your survey. Unless you refinanced your house or moved your fence, your survey is probably with your closing documents from your original purchase.
If you can provide an acceptable, existing survey to the title company when your home sells, a new survey may not be necessary, which could save you about $400, the charge for a new survey. Other important documents in your file cabinet include your original loan documents or proof that you paid off your loan. The title company will request probated wills, heirship affidavits, and divorce decrees as they pertain to the property.
Receipts, warranties and documentation of repairs and modifications are important. These will give information about transferrable warranties, such as for a new roof or for foundation repair. Did you do any home construction that required a building permit? Put the permit with your important papers. The booklets that come with your appliances will be helpful to the new owners, especially for information about operation and replacement parts. Don’t forget to have recent utility bills handy because future buyers often ask about the cost of gas, electricity and water.
Selling Your Home is Only Half of the Move!
Our Fort Worth area housing market has been very good for sellers during the last few months. If you listed your home, you could feel confident that your home would sell, which means a potential seller needs a plan of action for moving. Are you planning to buy another home? Are you purchasing locally? Your seller’s agent can set up your free, online search for homes in the multiple listing service that might suit your needs and meet your criteria. If you use your selling agent as your buyer’s agent, she can help you coordinate your sale, purchase and move smoothly by knowing how both transactions fit together. While you are at the very beginning of your home search, you might enjoy driving by the home listings your agent sends you. These drive-by viewings will give you a feeling for neighborhoods and be helpful later when you become more focused and serious in your search. Ask your agent to help you find new construction that is just right for you if you would like a brand new home.
This is also the time to meet with your CPA, financial planner and mortgage officer as you make plans to pay for your new home. If you do not have a favorite mortgage officer, ask your real estate agent. Most agents have a list of mortgage officers who have given other buyers great service, and we agents also know which lenders have special programs that might help you.
Maybe you wish to move into an apartment or other rental property. Begin researching the prices, availability and desirability of different units or houses. I have met with potential sellers who decided against selling their homes after learning current apartment rents. If you don’t have a home immediately ready for you right after the sale of your home, you will need to make temporary living arrangements, such as leasing back your current home or living with friends or relatives.
Repair, Sort, Discard and Clean!
Making repairs months in advance will save you the stress of having to do the work under pressure after the problem shows up on an inspection report or after it scares away buyers.
Some of our beautiful winter days are perfect for trimming trees or bushes, cleaning or repairing gutters, or fixing wood trim.
Why not look for potential problems as you put up or take down Christmas decorations? Many Texas winter days are great for cleaning and organizing the garage or storage building. Painting exterior trim is often very beneficial in making your home look its best. Check the ideal outside temperature for exterior paint before starting to paint. A day that is great for repairing gutters might be too cold for painting outside. Even a cold, dreary day is a great time to visit the paint department and make plans for spring painting.
Inside your home you can be decluttering, repairing and cleaning. If you put away decorative items as you take out your Christmas decorations, think about whether to bring those things back out after Christmas. Why not pack them for moving? Your home looks more spacious with fewer decorations. Look at your closets. Will your possessions attack potential buyers if they look inside?
Christmas can be a great time for house repairs. As family and friends come to visit, you will be reminded of the leaky faucets and toilets that don’t quit running. I’ll never forget the Christmas my son came to visit and fixed the drywall hole in the kitchen where his father stepped through the ceiling. My son made the repair at the same time that I whipped up the mashed potatoes for our Christmas dinner. As I cleaned up the kitchen, I couldn’t distinguish the potatoes from the spackle from the ceiling, but I was delighted to have the hole in the ceiling fixed!
Cleanliness is so important when trying to sell. Obviously, it’s much too soon to do the cleaning that makes the bathroom and kitchen fixtures shine, but it’s not too soon to wash the curtains.
Take a look at the baseboards. If they can’t be scrubbed, consider painting them. Take a look at your ceiling fans and light fixtures. When was the last time they were cleaned? Even though they will probably need to be cleaned again, why not make a first pass at them now?
Buyers seem to always check out the oven. After you are finished with the holiday baking, cleaning the oven would be a worthwhile project. For many of our sellers, doing the deep cleaning necessary to make a home really ready to go on the market and receive the highest and best price is a real challenge as they juggle life’s many demands.
Now is a good time to make plans to hire a professional cleaner. Often the best ones are those who work for your friends and family and come with high recommendations.
I hope these suggestions have given you ideas that will make selling your home easier, quicker and more profitable in the spring. Please contact me to discuss how I can serve you.
– Kathleen Wheeler –