Selling a home checklist

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Your home could be your most valuable asset; selling it could be as complex a task as buying it. Here's a checklist to help you manage the process.

Select your professional team

  • A broker or agent can be your primary business representative during the sales process. Brokers normally work on commission (a predetermined percentage of the sale price), which generally means they're paid only if and when a sale takes place. Some arrangements also allow the broker to bill you for some fees and costs even if your house does not sell. Real estate agents typically work under contract and those arrangements generally give the agent many specific legal rights, so you should have your lawyer review any paperwork you might be asked to sign.
  • A lawyer represents your legal interests during the entire sales process.
  • An appraiser can give you an unbiased professional estimate of the current market value of your home.
  • An inspector or engineer can evaluate the condition of your home and identify areas of potential concern for buyers.
  • Check references for any professionals you have not worked with previously.

Evaluate market conditions in your area

  • Determine whether you might be in a seller's market or a buyer's market. Indicators include a rising (or falling) number of listings on your area, how quickly an average home stays on the market before it is sold and whether or not the average house is selling at a significant discount from its listing price.
  • Evaluate the impact of nearby development activity. Among the projects that could have an impact are new industrial parks, shopping malls, schools and hospital or medical facilities. Keep in mind that new facilities could attract some potential buyers while deterring others.
  • Consider the potential effects of nearby mass transit and highway construction projects.
  • Account for any major plant closings.

Research your home's current value

  • See what nearby homes have sold for in recent months. You should focus on those most similar in size and quality to yours.
  • Look for homes that have similar amounts of interior space and yard space, with a similar number of bedrooms, bathrooms and fireplaces.
  • Consider factors that could affect a home's market potential, such as a historic property designation, central air conditioning, lawn sprinklers, swimming pools, connections to public water supply and sewer service, outbuildings such as sheds and barns, and proximity to parks, schools, recreational facilities and conservation land. Also potentially adding value are energy-saving heating and cooling systems, water conservation systems and solar panels.
  • Comparison shop to see the homes that might be competing with yours for potential buyers' attention.

Address appearance issues

  • Fill holes in walls and ceilings
  • Repair cracked or rotted clapboards, shakes, shingles and tiles
  • Touch up or repaint interior and exterior areas showing significant wear or discoloration
  • Patch any broken areas in driveways and walkways
  • Keep lawns mowed and hedges trimmed

Know all of the elements of your bottom line

  • Determine payoff amounts for all loans tied to your property
    • Primary mortgage
    • Secondary mortgages
    • Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs)
  • Identify any liens for items such as unpaid taxes, mechanic's liens and unsatisfied judgments
  • Estimate transaction-related costs such as sales commissions and fees, legal and advisory fees and the costs of preparing the property for sale

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