04/04/2012For nearly four years, a couple in their 50s -- both professionals -- were eager to downsize from their sprawling, 30-year-old house to a much smaller townhouse in a brand-new community. Though they yearned to be free of the headaches involved in the upkeep of the family home, they dared not put their house on the market until the economy improved. Now they're ready.The concept behind a painting party -- friends helping friends -- can also translate into other pre-sale projects, such as yard work and de-cluttering, she says."Because many people have been struggling financially, they're more sympathetic with others. They want to collaborate and help out," Bergstrom says.
-- Do a "power cleaning" for major impact.
"People loathe cleaning -- particularly if they're overworked at the office and come home tired at night," says Mark Nash, a real estate broker and author of "1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home."
But doing an in-depth cleaning can be one of the most cost-effective steps that sellers can take to distinguish their property.
"The simple fact is that clean sells. Like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover. And any house that looks the least bit dirty will nearly always be passed over," Nash says.
However, remember that pre-sale cleaning will not be the superficial work you typically do before guests come over for dinner.
"You need to do a power cleaning -- the deepest cleaning you've ever done. For example, you need to clean every window, inside and out, no matter how high," Nash says.
Are you unwilling to tackle such an in-depth cleaning? Then Nash recommends you spend the few hundred dollars it costs to hire a well recommended cleaning company.
"For sellers, an investment in cleaning services gives a tremendous bang for the buck," he says.
-- Choose a real estate agent skilled in property staging.-- Have your home inspected before prospects come through.
In a seller's market, some buyers might waive their right to a home inspection to make their offer more competitive.
But buyers are feeling so confident these days that they rarely pass up the chance for an inspection. And when an inspector working for the buyers finds substantial issues, it's not unusual for them to exit a transaction.
As Nash says, many smart home sellers won't risk a failed deal, which could put their moving or retirement plans at risk. To avoid this outcome, he urges sellers to hire their own inspector before their place goes up for sale.
Granted, it can cost $200 to $600, and there will be more bills if the inspector locates problems that require repair. But that could be money well spent if it preserves your chance to sell on your timetable.
"The reality is buyers are now much more willing to walk away from a deal if scary-sounding problems are identified by their inspector. The best way to avoid this crisis is to identify and resolve all the issues before anyone comes through to look at your place," Nash says.
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