Now more than ever, selling your property takes careful research, planning and preparation to net the highest yield and have the smoothest transaction. Here is a partial checklist to help you with that process:
Define the reasons for the sale of your property. This may identify terms, conditions and contingencies that should be incorporated in the contract.
Request or prepare a realistic Cost Market Analysis (CMA) to determine property value. In this market pricing the property properly is of paramount importance.
List all property improvements you have done with costs and backup documents. Prepare file with all permit documentation including closeout and final inspection documents from the building department.
Prepare a file with all documents for your property. Include deed, condo/homeowner association documents, title insurance policies, mortgage documents, warranties, certificates for shutters and impact windows, maintenance contracts, etc.
List all assets and benefits the property offers that may not be visible to everyone. Has the house been hurricane hardened; does it have impact windows and doors; low-e or tinted glass; higher than normal insulation in roof and walls (Normal is R19 roof – R4 walls); high efficiency AC (SEER 16+); Energy Star Rated appliances; low volume water fixtures; emergency generator; wind resistant roofing, etc.
Check with Building Department for open permits or recorded code violations. It is not unusual for roofers, painters or other contractors to leave permits open. If it is a complicated matter, there are consultants who specialize in resolving these issues. You want to resolve these issues before you have a contract.
Develop strategies to reduce or eliminate capital gains tax, if profits exceed allowable limits. A single person can exempt up to $250,000 in net profits from capital gains tax – up to $500,000 for a married couple. Discuss with your CPA or tax attorney.
Prepare financial strategies for sales proceeds. Older sellers who paid off their mortgages and are not planning to own again may benefit by offering a first mortgage. If you have a lot of equity, you may want to set aside some moneys for other purposes – consider all options. If you are selling below the mortgage amount (short sale) you will want to consult a tax attorney or CPA regarding possible tax implications.
Prepare all Disclosure Statements required by State law. All known defects that may affect the value of a property must be disclosed in writing. You also must provide disclosures about lead base paint, mildew/mold, radon, Chinese drywall, etc. We will provide you all the forms and assist you filling them out.
Landscape, paint and do minor improvements to increase curb appeal. A few dollars well placed can increase the value of home beyond the value of the improvements. Make sure you or your contractor pulls all required permits and does required inspections including final and permit closeout.
Develop security plan for open houses and other showings. Secure all jewelry, small electronics and other valuables that can be easily concealed. Also remove or secure all prescription drugs and medications.
Review contract templates to become familiar with terms and conditions. Define the terms and conditions you wish to have included in the offer to purchase contract.
Select a closing agent or attorney to prepare seller’s closing documents and review your contracts if necessary. If there is a trust, discuss procedures with your attorney.
1.1. Staging for success
Home staging is about highlighting the best visual assets of a property to create a great first impression. Staging is what you do after you've cleaned, de-cluttered, painted and made minor repairs -- it is about turning your home into a showroom. Some people have the talent and ability to stage their own home with the help of their agent, but some may prefer the services of a professional stager or interior designer.
Professional stagers are highly skilled designers who can create a mood for a space. Stagers can create dramatic scenery. Stagers bring in a vast array of items to spruce up the house. How they are utilized is limited only by the creativity and vision of the stager.
The cost of professional staging varies depending on the size of the house, the number of rooms and the furniture and accessories available at hand. It can be as little as $500 for consultation and minor implementation to over $5000. If the stager includes furnishings and accessories because the house is empty, there may also be monthly rent for those items. Staging is not limited to the interior -- the outside is extremely important because most buyers often make their decision about a home as they approach the property.
So the front or curb appeal as is called in the business, is of utmost importance and should be in perfect condition. The landscaping should be well maintained and green; the front door and walls should be clean and painted; the door knob, hinges, mailbox and porch light should be clean and shinny, etc. All burned out light bulbs both inside and out should be replaced and light levels increased on the interior. If a house captures the buyer’s heart as they approach, they tend to look at the interior more favorably resulting in a sale.