Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Declutter, Clean and Get that Home Inspection!

Getting ready to sell your house? We asked our global Coldwell Banker network for their best advice for those prepping their homes. Check out what they had to say.

Get Inspected

“Get the home inspected and address any necessary repairs now before it becomes an issue during negotiations.” says Susan Heckman, Marketing Coordinator for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. At the same time you should also check with your town to ensure there are no open permits on your home.

Believe me, I know how scary the word inspection is but this is one of those things that will hang over your head until it gets done. Make the appointment and get it off your mind now.

Curb Appeal Matters

The first impression of your home is incredibly important. Buyers who have the ability to do a “drive by” will and if what they see on the outside doesn’t look good then chances are they are going to skip on checking out the inside.

“Buyers sense “Pride in Ownership” from the moment they drive up and want to be the people who love their home. Make it feel like a place to “come home from work to”, “raise a family in”, “retire into.” It’s important to demonstrate the benefit of the features, not the features themselves. That’s what HOME is all about. Convey the dream.” –Alec Schwartz, Coldwell Banker Preferred

Stand in front of your house and determine what areas of your front yard and home look tired. For some it might just require quick fixes. For example, “a quick coat of paint will make your entrance sweet and inviting” says Teresa Congioloso withColdwell Banker Pryor Realty, Inc.

Whatever it is that your home needs start thinking about it now. “Start clearing away the outside from any winter debris. Getting the home ready for a beautiful spring yard takes time, and shouldn’t wait until its already spring to start” says Lauren Lehr from Coldwell Banker Conroy Marable Holleman. Once you do the work have your real estate agent come over and take the listing photos, that way your hard work is captured on camera and your home is presented to potential buyers at it’s very best.

Pay attention to every detail from small things like the mail box all the way up to your landscaping. Here are some ideas on how to improve your curb appeal for less.

Transition into Spring

Andrea Geller, with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, suggests removing all signs of winter. “Once you have removed dead foliage from the outside, bring your attention to the inside. Get rid of auxiliary heaters. If you live in a condo make sure the hallways have been cleaned of trails of salt from boots. The remnants of winter in the common areas give the impression to potential buyers that the association does not properly maintain the building.”

Take this time to swap out your seasonal decor. For example, put away the heavy blankets and bedspreads, swap out boot trays for throw rugs and consider adding some bright floral arrangements.

De Clutter AKA Minimize

“Remove the clutter, potential buyers for your house need to be able to visualize it as their home. By removing a few items of furniture you don’t necessarily need, some extra kitchen appliances from on top of the counters, and pictures. As strange as that last one sounds, your buyers don’t need to feel as though the eyes in the pictures are watching them!” says Scott Vinson II with Coldwell Banker Royal Realty.

As you declutter, you can pack away items you won’t need until after your move and donate or trash things you no longer want.

A Fresh Coat of Paint Goes a Long Way

Painting is one of the best things you can do to prepare your home for sale. According to HomeGain’s Prepare to Sell 2009 national survey, the average price to paint interior walls is $500 to $750, but that increases a home price by an average of $1,500 to $2,000 — which can be a 250 percent return on investment.

“Don’t be afraid to use color” say Matthew Rathbun from Coldwell Banker Elite  While neutrals are the safe route to go, nice flat colors and accent walls give a home character. Gray has becoming an increasingly popular trend as well.

Clean Up (Or Hire Someone to Do It!)

Imagine walking into a home smelling last night’s dinner, seeing mold on the bathroom tile and pet hair dust balls the size of desert tumbleweeds? Yuck!

A clean home will help your home sell much faster. If getting down and dirty just isn’t your thing then you can always hire someone. If you plan on doing it yourself, “remember the small details like based boards, door trim and light switches” says Lisa Heglar from Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. We also suggest getting your carpets professionally cleaned.

Set a Budget

Items that you put off fixing or upgrading may be back on your radar now that you will need to present your home in it’s best light. Before you go breaking that piggy bank and completely remodeling your kitchen check out this post on How to Limit Spending When Getting a Home Ready to Sell

Get Inspiration from Other Sellers

Unless you are a professional interior decorator, staging your home will not come naturally. Check out what hundred of other homeowners just like yourself have done to make their homes “market ready” by browsing through these thousands of photos.

Let Us Help

Last but certainly not least, our favorite tip came from Matthew Rathbun fromColdwell Banker Elite …

“Blue, lots of blue, starting with the sign in the front yard.”

Any questions, please give me a call, Chris Maroc 914-215-2025

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Are you interested in renting your home in Stamford?

So You’ve Decided to Rent out Your Home? Some Tips

Cynthia Kent and her husband, John, didn’t set out to be landlords, but career choices made it necessary.

“We have rented out our home in Florida for nine years because we move all over with the military,” says Kent, who recently relocated her family from Nevada to Alabama for yet another posting.

Some people become accidental landlords because of a job change or difficulty selling a house. Others find they need to rent out the home of an elderly parent who has moved into a care facility. More than 3 million owner-occupied homes were converted to rental properties between 2007 and 2011, according to a 2013 report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

Some advice for those taking on this challenging new role:

FINDING THE RIGHT TENANT

A credit check and legal background check can help you find reliable, honest tenants, says real-estate agent Gail Carpenter of Northwood Realty in Pittsburgh.

“Sometimes a credit check alone” will rule out an applicant, she says.

Personal references can be useful if the applicant is local and you have mutual acquaintances. Otherwise, be wary.

“Do not take ‘personal’ references too seriously,” says New York City condo owner Sharon Lynch, who rented her home to tenants while spending a year in California. “Anyone can get a friend to write something nice about them.”

Lynch suggests using an online directory to search for an applicant’s current address and get contact information for their neighbors. “Not only can these people tell you if your applicants are good neighbors, but they can also supply you with the landlord’s contact information,” she says, “just in case your potential tenant is faking you out, pretending a friend was his or her landlord.”

Meet applicants in person and really talk with them, Carpenter says.

And request a rent that doesn’t price good applicants out of the market. You might earn more over time with a slightly lower rent, she says, because “that can help you keep your property occupied, versus asking for the moon and then it sits there vacant.”

PREP THE HOUSE

Once you’ve found your tenant, clean your home thoroughly and “make the property as safe as it can be,” Carpenter says.

You may also want to tackle any looming home improvement jobs now, rather than leave your tenant to handle (or ignore) them when they become larger problems.

If you plan to return to the home eventually, it can be practical to drop the rent slightly and fill one room with belongings you’re leaving behind, rather than paying for a storage space. Put a new lock on that door and take the key with you.

DOCUMENT AND DISCUSS

“It helps to take pictures of the house inside and out,” Kent says, to document its condition and cleanliness.

Don’t skip anything, and don’t assume one panoramic shot of each room will do. If you’re leaving furniture, also photograph the condition and cleanliness of each piece.

When Lynch returned to find her tenant had damaged the kitchen countertop, such “before” photos were key in being able to use the tenant’s security deposit to help pay for repairs.

When your tenant arrives to inspect the home before moving in, Kent says, “have tenants sign a document of the pictures, showing the condition at move-in.”

That walk-through inspection is vital for both parties. “Always be present for the move-in and move-out inspections,” says Babette Maxwell, who has rented her home to tenants several times during her husband’s Navy career and founded “Military Spouse” magazine to advise other military families about challenges like this one.

Also, Maxwell suggests, “Provide your renter with a baggie of ‘approved’ nails, screws, picture hangers.” And if you “have specific products you want used on your counters, cabinets, floors, yard,” she says, “list them in the lease.”

TEND THE OUTDOORS

As you negotiate the lease, don’t forget to have a detailed discussion about outdoor space, too. Will you or the tenant pay for lawn cutting? Who will keep up with pulling weeds and trimming bushes? Is the tenant permitted to plant flowers and do other gardening?

You may want to do an outdoor cleanup before you leave and then have the tenant agree to maintain that level of neatness.

Scan the property for any trees that could fall on the house and assess their health. Better to pay now to have a sick tree removed than worry about the outcome of a storm.

PLAN AHEAD

If there are repairs or upgrades that you promise your tenant, set a schedule in your personal calendar for completing them in the weeks after they move in.

Kent also recommends leaving a “welcome binder that stays with the house with local information, cleaning requirements and other details.”

Make sure your tenant knows how to contact you and how to handle problems that might arise. Have a reputable contractor or other professional on-call in case something needs to be repaired, says Carpenter.

“A lot of landlords grumble about getting a call in the middle of the night,” she says, but things will inevitably happen.

Then, stay in touch. If you won’t be living close enough to check on the property yourself, arrange for a friend or hire a property manager to do so.

Being a landlord “isn’t just signing the lease and disappearing,” Carpenter says. A tenant will respect you and your property more if you remain involved.

If you are interested in renting your home, please call Chris Maroc, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage at 914-215-2025.