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Facts of Life for Home Sellers
Porch Chair
Tip:  Don't forget to make your outside spaces inviting in any season!


Fact #1.
Most Buyers Prefer a New Home.
 
If they can purchase the size and style home they need in the location they desire, with the lot they prefer, at the price they can afford,  they'll buy new.  The reason they are looking at resale homes is that the home they need is not available or affordable in a new home.

Fact #2

If there are many available homes, most buyers will choose the home that is closest to "New" in condition. If the home you're selling is an older home, and particularly if you have occupied this home for a number of years, go out and look at new homes.   Notice the fresh smell, the cleanliness, the professionally maintained landscaping,  the light, open spaces.  Then go home and do everything you can afford to do to capture  that feeling of newness in your home.


IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD ANY REPAIRS OR IMPROVEMENTS

If you cannot afford needed repairs, you may list your home "as is," and price accordingly. Keep in mind that listing this way may be a red flag for owner-occupant buyers, and an invitation for investors to make low offers. 

Selling "as is" does not negate your obligation to disclose any known flaws in the "Seller's Property Disclosure."  If significant safety, system, or structural issues are identified, FHA or VA may require that the seller repair or replace, and that the property be reinspected after repairs are complete.  In other words, your buyer may be unable to get a government loan on your house. If you can afford repairs, complete them before listing.  Not only will the home show more favorably, inspections and closing will go more more smoothly.


IF ALL YOU CAN AFFORD IS ELBOW GREASE

1.  Weed your flower beds, prune your shrubbery, cut and edge your lawn.  Clean up any yard clutter.  Plant bright annual flowers in concentrated splashes of a single color.

2.  Pack up 80% of your family photos, collectibles, clothes, etc. to decrease clutter, create the illusion of space, and create a neutral environment.  If someone in the family is a hunter, this is a good time to pack up the dead animal heads.

3.  Clean your home top to bottom.  Pay particular attention to the kitchen and baths.  Remember, your Buyers would rather have a new home.  Look up:  notice cobwebs, dirty vents, ceiling fixtures.  Clean all light globes and keep light bulbs changed.

4.  Buy some cinnamon /spice or citrus air freshener, and use it in every  room (plug-ins are great for this).  Please don't smoke in the house-  the smell permeates the carpet, the draperies, and furniture.

5.  If you only have time to do minimal housekeeping in the morning,  load the dishwasher, wipe off the kitchen counters, make the beds,  and hide all the dirty clothes and towels!  You never know when  your  house will be shown.  If you have pets, do constant, vigilant clean-up.

6.  Steam clean carpets.  If any rooms of carpet need stretching , get  them stretched now.  This is an obvious cosmetic flaw and will invite lower offers or a request for you to replace the carpet.

7.  Pressure wash the exterior of your home, the driveway and the walk, the roof,  and patio or deck as needed.   Clean gutters if needed.

8.  If you have a porch or deck, make it inviting. Stage the area with a table and chairs, set the table with bright cheerful dinnerware (cheap at Dollar Tree!)  This is expanded living space. This is important at any time of the year, because winter buyer are looking forward to spring!


IF YOU CAN AFFORD MORE EXTENSIVE SPRUCING UP, ADD:

1.  Update your ceiling light fixtures and ceiling fans neutral fixtures.   Avoid brass, and styles that are particularly country, modern, etc.

2.  Paint the interior walls and ceilings.  Again, think WARM, LIGHT, and NEUTRAL.   Remove any dated wallpaper and replace with light neutral paper, or prep and paint walls.  Steer clear of any  particular style, such as country, modern, etc.

3.  Paint the shutters and front door of your home.

4.  Replace the mailbox if it is old and battered.

5.  Replace torn or missing window screens.

6.  Replace any double pane windows on which the seal has broken.  These appear to be foggy, because there is moisture trapped  between the layers of glass. Replace any wood rot in siding, and door and window trim.


IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO DO MORE, ADD:

1.   In today's market, there is a strong buyer preference for hardwood floors and tile in lieu of carpeting and vinyl.  Buyers watch HGTV, and FYI, and they want bright, open floors plans and high end finishes.  If you have wood floors, just keep them clean and shined.

If your budget allows, replace worn or outdated carpet and vinyl with a neutral hardwood floor. If not, you may consider a  light, neutral color carpet, and a beige & white combination works well for vinyl flooring.  If you Lightly buff and add a coat of polyurethene to your wood floors.

2.  Paint interior and exterior as needed. (Be sure to have your painter check for wood rot in wood or pressed wood siding, and window and door trims).

IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD ANY IMPROVEMENTS, PRICE ACCORDINGLY!

INDEPENDENT HOME INSPECTIONS

Any flaws or damage of which you are aware must be disclosed  in the Seller's Disclosure Statement. This statement becomes a part of the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

Virtually all home buyers have an independent home inspection. While buyers and sellers may agree upon certain repairs being completed prior to closing, FHA and VA appraisers may require additional repairs before making  a loan commitment.  With new (2015) federal guidelines, most conventional and government loans will take a minimum of 60 days to close. Any last minute negations about repairs will require an extension of the closing date.  If you are just beginning to consider listing, I would be happy to send you a sample Seller's Disclosure form. If you have any general questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

More Good Advice:

If you have pets, let's discuss how they will be handled during showings.  We want your pet to be safe, and also create a calm environment for your potential buyers. If you know that your home is going to be shown, turn on all the lights  and fans, turn on some soft music, and LEAVE if possible.  If you must be there while your home is being shown,  make yourself scarce.   Walk  around the yard, go to the basement, be available for questions, but don't give the potential buyers and their agent a "tour."  They will stay longer and  give your home more consideration if you are not there.

magnifying glass
To avoid last minute problems and stress, you may consider hiring an INDEPENDENT HOME INSPECTOR to inspect your home prior to listing, and a qualified pest  control company to inspect your home and issue an official GEORGIA WOOD INFESTATION REPORT (termite letter) prior to listing. 

You have the option to wait for the buyers to schedule (and pay for)  their own independent home inspection,  wood infestation, which includes conditions conducive to wood infestation) , and  (occasionally) Radon inspection. What inspections are ordered, and which party orders and pays for the inspections, in negotiable.

Repairs you make prior to selling your home are not considered improvements but "homeowner maintenance".  They will not increase the market value of your home.  However, not doing needed repairs certainly will decrease the value of your home and add to its time on the market.

Minor repairs may be negotiable between buyer and seller with a conventional loan. However, FHA and VA loans require certain safety standards as well as projected life expectancy of major components such as roof, HVAC, water heater, etc.

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Email Pat: greathomes@patsabin.com