How To Take The Headache Out Of Home Selling

Graphic image - How to take the headache out of home selling in Silicon ValleyGetting your home to sell for top dollar can be a lot of work for everyone involved. If you want to take the headache out of home selling, it helps tremendously to be extremely organized, to have a plan, and to start early.

How early should you begin preparing to sell your home?

The more “lead time” you have, the better, as there are things to be done on multiple fronts. If you are a highly seasoned mover, with a number of relocations under your belt, the odds are good that you don’t have excess clutter and buying, selling, and moving are just a process you have down. For everyone else, for whom moving every 10 years or more is the situation, the tasks ahead may seem almost insurmountable. For most of us, a year is really not too soon.

Six months to two years before you put your home on the market

  1. It’s never too early to de-clutter the storage spaces (closets, garage, a basement, storage shed) for items that haven’t been used in years, no longer fit, are out of style, or otherwise fall into the category of “I should have gotten rid of that years ago”.
  2. Start a file or group of files for home selling. Start to organize your list of repairs and alterations and improvements to your home, as all of these will be relevant for disclosures. If you have permits and finals for work done, it is good to get copies of them put into the file with your list of work that’s been done. Some sellers believe that if they have fixed something, it does not need to be disclosed, but that’s not the case. The history of the property also includes past issues, how addressed, and of course any current issues.
  3. If you have the disclosures and inspections from when you purchased the home, it would be useful to have them handy.
  4. Are the county records for your home accurate? If not, reach out to the county tax assessor’s office to see what must be done to get them corrected. (Wrong info will confuse home buyers and can potentially cause problems.)
  5. Create a list of things that need touch up paint, stain removal, replacements or repairs and start to tackle them. Make sure that ordinary maintenance, such as cleaning out the gutters and replacing batteries in smoke detectors, stays on course.
  6. Look for safety hazards such as concrete walkways or sidewalks that may have tripping hazards. If you live in the City of San Jose, you are supposed to get permits and finals for work on sidewalks – and the city can be slow in approving your request. Beginning this months in advance or more is a good idea.
  7. Are you in or near a hilly area such as Almaden, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, or Saratoga? Find out if you have moisture in your crawlspace and do your best to make sure that the grading around your house is sloped to carry any water away from it. Get your downspouts extended so that the water flows several feet away from your structure. This is very important to protect the foundation of your home.
  8. Check all of the locks for your house and garage and make sure that you have keys for each one. When you sell your property, a key for each lock will be required (per the California Association of Realtors contract). Got an abandoned lock? Either remove it or get a key to make it functioning again. To make it easy on yourself, I suggest labeling each key and put one set of everything aside for your future buyer, as sometimes when a home gets packed up the rarely use key goes into a mystery storage box.

Within six months or so of when you’d like to sell

By this point, you have probably done 90% of your decluttering or more. For most people, that is the biggest task. What’s still in your home and easy to reach are things you will need and use for the upcoming half year only. (more…)

How to quickly get your Silicon Valley home ready to sell

Tips to Sell FastIf for some reason you find yourself in a very big hurry to get your Silicon Valley home on the market, you may not know where to begin or how to get it done.  Today I’ll give you a quick list of the best things to do, and in order, too!

First, hire a great, full time real estate professional.  This Realtor or other sales person will be your partner from the beginning and can give you insight and advice on the best place to spend your time and money for the best return on investment – and which items are the most important in your house or condo’s particular case, given the time restrictions. Your Realtor can also help you with time lines, managing pre-sale inspections (worst case, they can happen after your home is on the MLS), etc.  Sometimes home owners begin on their own and make less than ideal choices when choosing paint colors and so on.  Since part of the service provided when you sign a listing agreement is good advice, do hire first!

Second, think clean, uncluttered, and “good working order”.  The rest of the tips all fall under the broad umbrella of staging – mostly de-cluttering, cleaning, and making sure that things work as intended.  Perhaps you won’t be able to make everything immaculate and perfect, but in many cases, with even a  few days you can hit the biggest areas fast.

Make a list of everything that needs some kind of minor repair or adjustment. Getting those items fixed will send a message to home buyers that your house or condo is turnkey and not a “fixer”.   It may not be conscious, but if home buyers find doors that squeak loudly, doorbells or lights that don’t work, they begin to wonder if there are any big ticket items that are in need of repair or replacement, too.  Hire a handyman or contractor as needed so that your home gives the right first impression.

Moving at lightening speed, with the listing signed today and the home on the MLS tomorrow? This isn’t fun, but I’ve done it with sellers at times.  In those cases, you may have one frantic 24 hour period. Think of it like you do when entertaining relatives who may go anywhere in your home…

What would you do if you had one hour’s notice before company would be arriving at your doorstep? Here are some quick fixes for the hurry up sale:

  1. Be armed with large boxes or laundry baskets so you can begin to collect things where are where they do not belong and get them at least generally to where they do.
  2. Get the floors, counter tops and surfaces almost completely clear.  If it’s newspapers, throw them out (show no mercy!).  Have a box or basket for each bedroom or room of the house and put the items into the correct basket as you go through the house.  For example, you could have one box for the garage, another for the master bedroom, another for the hall bath, etc.  Bring all boxes into each room that you are “clearing” and take just one room or area on at a time.  You may be moving 6 or 8 boxes or baskets from one room to the next, but it’s a faster way to sort and move things.
  3. If there’s no time to actually put all of these items away, do what most of us did in college: put the basket or box in the closet.  And then close the door.  No, it’s not ideal. It’s a quick fix and it will do the job 90-95% of the way.  If you’re in a rush, it’s got to be good enough.  Ditto that with the garage.  If all else fails, put things into the garage.  Some buyers may chuckle, but yours will most certainly not be the only house where they see this happen.  If you have a truly excessive amount of stuff, get a pod or use a service such as Door to Door, where they bring a container to your driveway, you load it, they then take it away and you get it back when you’re ready to move. (more…)