“Real Estate Spring” in Central Virginia is officially upon us. As the weather warms, buyers seem to suddenly appear in search of a new home, making it the perfect time to prepare to sell. Local real estate agents like Judy Frantz, of John Stewart Walker, Inc, have been encouraging sellers to prepare their homes for this prime season since before the holidays. She suggests that before getting down to the nitty-gritty selling process, homeowners should take time to make sure their abode is in tip-top shape.
“Frequently, I am asked by sellers to generate a list to help them prepare for the market,” Frantz says. “It is not too late for many of the items on the list to be tackled.”Prepping your home for selling doesn’t necessarily mean spending tons of time and money; there are many simple, yet impactful, things you can do to make your home “show ready.”
Here is a list of important things Frantz recommends to her clients that should be done to update your home for selling:
- De-personalize. Remove most family photos. Buyers are trying to place their own family in the house and don’t want to be distracted.
- Remove trinkets and gadgets that may pull a buyer’s focus onto your personal items instead of your home. Clearing them out also means less dusting!
- Professionally clean your carpets and bathroom tile grout.
- Look up high in corners and on lights for cobwebs and dust.
- Clean up bookshelves so they are neat and tidy.
- If you have rooms without overhead light, be sure to have a lamp connected to a wall switch.
- Replace dark or intensely painted rooms with light, neutral colors. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way.
- Any water damage should be explained and repaired.
Other things to consider include replacing old or broken hardware, adding fresh plants to the entryway, removing excess furniture, cleaning out the fireplace, replacing broken appliances, hiding trashcans, clearing off counters and tables, de-cluttering closets, and putting away any toys or pet accessories. As far as the exterior goes, consider adding fresh mulch, removing dead plants, and reseeding where grass is bare. Remember, the outside of your home is the first part a buyer will see, so curb appeal is a must.
Once your home is staged, it’s time to get a little more technical and begin the process of selling. Here, Frantz provides a timeline of events you should expect to run into:
- Choose a listing agent and interview real estate agents: This should take place two to three months prior to listing.
- Find out how much your home is worth: A market analysis is done by the real estate agent and is the best indicator of the current value of your house to a buyer. This is done during your agent interview phase, with an update from your real estate agent every two weeks while your house is on the market.
- Advertise/market your home: Online advertising with professional photos is key. Your home should be sourced out to at least 20 different websites that have real estate searches within the first two weeks of listing. This could be done yourself or by your agent.
- Show it off: You should have at least one open house to draw attention. Ask for buyer feedback so you can adjust things accordingly if needed.
- Receive offers/negotiate: Once a buyer is found, a contract will be signed by all parties, making the home “under contract.”
- Inspections: Inspections and special investigations will occur within seven to 14 days of contract ratification. Inspections can include, but are not limited to: home, roof, heating/cooling, fireplaces, and even a survey. A survey is a specific point-to-point reference on all four corners of your property.
- Homeowners Association packet: If applicable, this is ordered at contract ratification for a three-day buyer review.
- Repairs: Any agreed-upon repairs can be issued as a credit to the buyer if their lender allows or repaired with receipts to the buyer.
- Arrange for moving: The seller should arrange for the moving company. If closing occurs during the peak May to July period, the seller should call as soon as possible.
- Appraisal by buyer: Roughly three to four weeks prior to closing, an appraisal is ordered by the buyer’s bank and the seller arranges for final cleaning. Buyer starts arrangements for cleaning and yard care to take place after closing. At this time, the buyer should also arrange for homeowners insurance.
- Closing time: The real estate agent will arrange the closing time for buyers and notify the closing office if any party will be out of the area. If applicable, a Power of Attorney will be arranged and paperwork will be sent to any out-of-area buyers or sellers. About two to three weeks before closing, the closing office will require the seller’s loan information and any other debt against the house in order to pay off the loans.
- Almost there: One week before closing, the seller transfers utilities, obtains fuel oil credit from service provider, etc. Now would also be the time to provide your new address to post office. Buyer applies for utilities and/or accepts transfer, arranges for a certified check for closing costs, and also arranges for mail at the post office. At this time, the seller arranges for funds to be brought to closing if the contract price is less than their debt on the home. Make final check on movers.
- Walk-through: Buyer has walk-through with their real estate agent one to three days prior to closing. Buyer secures certified check for closing costs made out to closing company.
- Moving/cleaning: Seller has moved and arranged for final cleaning one to three days prior to closing. Seller signs paperwork and approves the HUD or closing statement.
- Final steps: Buyer brings driver’s license and certified check to closing. Closing papers are signed. Meet the moving truck!
While there are many steps involved in selling a home, being prepared for what is to come is really half the battle. Now that you know what to expect and how much time you’ll need, get to work on prepping your home, showing it off, and get ready for a successful sale!