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What are your real estate related goals and resolutions for this new year?  Do you hope or plan to buy, sell or remodel your San Jose area home?  If so, this is a great time to sketch out your objectives so that you can get the wheels in motion.

For Silicon Valley home owners who are thinking that 2013 is the year to sell and move up, move out of the Bay Area or downsize, it’s very wise to plan ahead so you can maximize your return on investment of time and money. Particularly for senior home sellers, the process of decluttering (which is “Job # 1”) normally is a much bigger undertaking than expected, and it requires far more time and energy than is usually anticipated.  It’s one of those jobs that seems to grow once it gets underway!  Here are a few quick home selling planning tips:

  • Hire your real estate professional early in the process so that she or he may provide additional guidance from the beginning (it doesn’t cost more to hire early, you may prevent mistakes and you get more help for your money)
  • Decluttering is the biggest task for all home sellers and it’s where you get the most bang for your buck.  Talk to your Realtor before embarking, though, as some items may be helpful for staging and you don’t want to totally empty the house. It’s a balancing trick.  (Completely empty homes do not sell as well as those which are furnished.)
  • Fix everything that is broken or in disrepair
  • Clean everything: windows, window tracks, hardware, lamps, mossy patios, etc.
  • Plan to have pre-sale inspections but hire inspectors with your real estate sales person

For Silicon Valley residents who want to purchase a home this year:

  • Hiring a Realtor early on is also wise, as you will get more guidance and again not pay more for it
  • Plan to be pre-approved for your loan before seriously shopping for a new home – sellers and their agents will not take you seriously with a mere pre-qual letter, they want to know that you’ve submitted all your info to your lender and have a green light, needing only an appraisal, contract and preliminary title report
  • Read up on the market conditions, trends and statistics for the specific areas which interest you – you can find all of Santa Clara County here: www.popehandy.rereport.com (reading only the whole county, state or national news will be misleading)
  • If anyone else will be involved in the home buying decision or financing, include him/her/them in the viewings from the beginning or they may veto your choice due to lack of experience in seeing what you’ve seen

For those home owners who want to improve their houses, condos, townhouses this year:

  • Updating and remodeling should be ongoing, ideally, since it’s much easier to paint one room each year than to take on the whole house at once, so with that in mind, start a file with what was renovated and when, and then a second list of the life expectancy of various components such as heater, air conditioner, water heater, and so on
  • Along the same lines, get a schedule or checklist of maintenance items that should be done on a regular basis – doing these things will prevent costly repairs later!  Many can be found online by searching for home maintenance schedule or checklist.
  • Plan to have your home inspected for pests periodically (termites, dry rot, etc.) – often every 3-5 years is appropriate in Northern California.  (Ongoing contracts with nationwide pest control operators does not mean that your home is being inspected for termite or that damage is prevented.) Additionally, you might also have your house inspected by a property inspector every 10 to 15 years to make sure that any dangerous conditions are found and corrected before they cause problems.
  • Want to do a major remodel with the idea of selling in a few years? DO consult with your Realtor to see if your plans will help or hurt your future market value!  Real estate agents know what buyers want and do not want to see in homes today.