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Tips for Sellers

Welcome to our Sellers process page! There's a lot that goes into a successful sale, so please review the helpful tips below, and then reach out to us personally for more information on how we can help you sell your home!

De-Cluttering Your Home

 

De-Cluttering:1

 

As we kick off 2012, a lot of us get motivated to give our homes a good cleaning. It's a way to clear the physical and mental clutter and, if you're selling your home, it's a must-do to help attract buyers.  Cleaning up and de-cluttering will gain you thousands of dollars at the time of the sale and cost you as little as a few hundred dollars.

We recently helped a Cupertino client load up 20 trash bags worth of their once-prized possessions. It's funny how, as the years go by, time and lack of room can make you realize that those prized-possessions are just eating up space.  Most of us have more than we need. Having more stuff than you need in a home is not appealing to buyers. It can make them feel cramped, nervous, and overall uncomfortable in your home which may result in a lower offer.  The best approach to de-cluttering is to have an organized plan.  So, if you're rolling up your sleeves and getting started, a good place to start de-cluttering is the hall closet. Why? Buyers are certain to open it up and check it out for storage space.

 

Declutter 2

 

De-cluttering a home can be a huge task that can be made even more laborious if you're not careful. What people will want to do is haul everything out of that closet and then they don't know what to do next because they've got too much stuff to deal with.  It can be an overwhelming process.

We recommend a systematic approach to clearing clutter. We tell our clients to first start with everything on the floor. Pull those items out and leave everything on shelves inside. Go through the items and get rid of the things that you don't have a use for.  The golden question to ask is not 'Will I ever use that?' That's what we call the 'keeper' question because the answer to the question is almost always 'Who knows, maybe.' So then you end up keeping it.  The better question to ask is, "What will make me use this or what will make me need this?"

We have found that when that question is asked, often people realize that they're never going to use the item and are more willing to let it go.

Once you've found the stuff you're ready to get rid of, what do you do with it? Many sellers attempt to store it until they can have a yard sale or they donate the items. If you donate your items, make sure you take a look at the book Money for Your Used Clothing byWilliam R. Lewis, CPA. The book tells you what the IRS will let you take as a tax deduction.

We also recommend to have a plan of what to do with all the clutter once you have cleared it out.  One common predicament sellers find themselves in is putting their belongings in storage and paying for the storage rental month after month.  When they finally look at their stuff, they find that they ultimately don't need any of it.

The sooner you get your house ready to sell, the better decisions you will make and the easier and enjoyable the overall sales process will be!

 

Why Stage Your Home?

Staging Your Home

 

Want to sell your home quickly and for Top Dollar?  Staging will help.  Staging is presenting your home in its best and most appealing light to the majority of home-buyers.  In theory, staging isn't hard or costly, but in reality, many homeowners find it difficult because it's often hard to see something objectively when we love it.

Staging helps buyers see the potential of your home, or more specifically, the potential of each room of your home.  Often time, staging a certain room will even make the room appear larger!  You may have heard the term "location, location, location".  We put a twist on it and call it "location, location, staging!"

Our team of professional stagers and designers can help you fully stage your home or even partially stage your home, depending on your own wishes.  During our complimentary home evaluation, we will even make some suggestions of items in your home that the stager may even be able to use, thus saving you the effort of moving everything completely out.

Please make sure to check out our "Staging - Before and After" section to see some of our team's Gorgeous staged homes!

 

Finding A Real Estate Agent

Finding A Real Estate Agent

 

Okay, you've made the decision to sell your home.  Now it's time to find a real estate agent, or agents!  Where to begin?

Make sure the agent has closed many properties and has worked a few years at least.

The average real estate agent closes only 1 or 2 houses a year. More closings mean more experience and the more scnarios they have guided home sellers through.

A great place to meet agents is at open houses.

Don't worry that you are not interested in that particular property.  You want to be evaluating the style of the agent and their communication skills.  Are they personnable?  Are they friendly?  Do they greet the visitors of the Open House?  Are they knowledgeable of the house and neighborhood?  The style in which they are representing the house will be a good indicator of how they will represent your own home when it's time to market your own home.

Contact the agent with whom a friend or relative worked.

If this agent produced positive results for a friend, there's a good chance they will do the same for you.

Make sure your agent is online.

Having a web savvy agent is very important today as over 85% of all buyers initially see their homes online. Great agents have laptops and often have moved to mobile technology to assist. A real estate agent in today's world must email, text, and be available to buyers and sellers alike.  More and more buyers are moving to Silicon Valley to work for high-tech companies.  These buyers are experts on the internet and know where to look on the web when looking to purchase a home.  Having agents who are just as knowledgeable about the internet and social media as today's buyers will give you a huge advantage in today's market.

Look for signs that the agent is busy.

A hard-working, go-getter of an agent is good.  It can mean they have many connections to buyers' agents and even buyers themselves.  Great agents will give you their undivided attention and will even make you feel as if they are their only client.  You are most likely a pro at your own job and can handle multiple things on your plate at the same time.  This is the same for a seasoned agent.  If real estate is their full-time job, then chances are they can also handle multiple listings at the same time.

It is important that your agent is knowledgeable about the area and is "hyper-local".

Ask questions about things you have learned through your new-found interest in real estate. If they don't know more than you - after all, this is her livelihood! - go on to seasoned agent. Local knowledge is particularly critical especially in city settings.  You want to find an agent who is "hyper-local".  This means they focus only on a certain area or neighborhood.  We all know real estate in different cities are all different in terms of price point and demand.  What may surprise more people is even within a city, neighborhoods and even streets can perform differently from one another.  One street may be closer to the local schools than another, or one street may have a bit more traffic noise than a street behind it.  Finding an agent who knows the uniqueness down to this level will only help you market your home most accurately.

See how the agent's MLS listings come up in searches.

When listing in today's market, all listings from small to big should have professional photos - this is the first sign of a professional real estate agent who understands today's market.

How respected is the brokerage/agent.

You want an agent that will network and work cooperatively with other agents - after all, the eventual buyer of your home will most likely be represented by an agent themselves.  Seasoned agents tend to know the other agents in the area and have good working relationships with them. This tends to transform into good transactions.

Check the references that an agent should be able to provide you.

Ask the agent you are considering for references from past clients.  Satisfied and happy clients are more than willing to provide a great recommendation of their realtor

Ask your agent where they live.

An agent that lives and works locally will have their finger on the pulse of the market and be able to answer important questions about the community. They should at a minimum know the schools where they work. This is especially important in large cities.  They should also know about the local hot spots around town, good places to eat, local theater and location of parks.  Many of today's buyers are families and so they will be most interested in knowing what there is to do around town.  An agent who knows as much of this information as possible will do a better job "selling" your home to buyers during an open house.

Ask "Can you recommend service providers who can assist me in obtaining a mortgage, making repairs on my home, and other things I need done?"

Keep in mind here that a real estate agent should generally recommend more than one provider and shouldn't receive any compensation (ethical issues tend to arise when this happens).  Put more weight on an agent who has a team of contractors, inspectors, etc. they generally work with.  Chances are they have developed a repertoire with this team and this will ensure an overall smoother sales process.

Ask how long the real estate agent has been working full time.

It is not that newer agents aren't capable, it just is a factor in making an informed decision. Many "experienced" agents are not always the best choice either. Especially if they haven't kept up with technology.

Ask the agent if the real estate agent is a full time agent.

Is this her only job? You should demand a full time agent.

Ask Who the agent is working for in the transaction, the buyer or the seller?

A real estate agent selling a house almost always works for the seller and tend to spin things a sellers way.

Ask "How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction?

How frequently?" Using what media? Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but that one reflects your desires.


Evaluating the Offers

Evaluating the Offers

 

Now comes the really fun part!  We've successfully marketed the house, many agents and buyers have shown the home and it's offer day.  We give you a call and give you an update that we have received multiple offers on your home!  What should you expect next and how should you compare the offers against one another?

Price

Clearly one of the most important details of the offer.  There is more behind the price than just the bottom line.  What is the percentage of down payment across the offers?  Are some offers all-cash offers?  Evaluating the risk of each offer is just as important as the amount of the offer itself.  We will give our expert opinion of which offer to choose that will ensure a smooth and timely closing.

Timing

A closing date that meets your requirements, such as your need to move right away, or at the end of your child’s school year, might be worth more to you than the highest price.  When will it be convenient for you to move away and hand the keys to the new owners?  Rent-back is a popular term these days.  It basically means how long you will stay in your own home after the close of escrow.  Lenders typically allow up to a 30-day rent back, however there are a few lenders now who are allowing up to a 60-day rent back.  There is also a deposit required and an agreed upon rental rate.

Who pays for what?

An offer that requires the buyer to pay for expenses you might normally cover, such as closing costs, might add up to more dollars in your pocket than an offer with a higher price.  There are some items that are typical and customary for the seller to pay for and some, the buyers to pay for.

Items included in the deal

Most buyers expect you to include everything permanently installed or attached to your property, such as light fixtures or a built-in dishwasher. The selling price should be slightly higher if your buyer also wants items such as your refrigerator, washer-dryer, chandeliers, furniture and curtains.  It is important to be clear and disclose those items that are or are not included in the sale.

Is the buyer pre-approved?

Even the best price will quickly lose its luster if your buyer can’t come up with the funds on closing day. To protect yourself, make sure the offer specifies that the buyer has been pre-approved for a mortgage big enough to purchase your home.

Size of the deposit

A serious sales offer comes with a deposit (also known as "earnest money" or "a binder").  It can be anywhere from 20 percent to 50% of the selling price, but a higher percentage indicates a higher commitment on the part of the buyer.  It is also very important to make sure the deposits are "liquid".  Are the funds still tied up in an employee stock purchase plan or are the funds in banks overseas?  Choosing an offer whose deposit is ready and available will greatly rincrease the chances of a smooth closing.

Inspections and repairs

Don’t be put off if the offer is conditional upon a home inspection. The buyer usually pays for this. It offers reassurance that your home’s structure is sound and that your heating, electrical, plumbing and other systems work. Warning bells should start going off, however, if the offer requires you to pay for additional specialized home inspections and the cost of repairs.  You've done your job and completed all of the necessary inspections and provided them in the disclosures.  It is now the buyer's turn.  If their inspector finds something that has already been disclosed in your insepctions, chances are you will not be responsible for repairing the item and this will greatly increase your chances of selling your home "As-Is".

If the offer is conditional

An offer that says the sale is contingent on sale of the buyer’s home is risky. It means the deal won’t close unless the buyer sells his or her home, usually within a certain period of time. If the buyer can’t or decides not to sell, your deal will fall through.  It is important to also evaluate where the home that the buyer's home is located.  Is the property located in a "hot" area?  How is the overall market there?  If the housing market is doing well in the buyers' area, then the risk is lower and you can consider accepting a contingent offer on your home.

Clauses that can cost you money

Be leery of clauses that say you have to pay extraordinary costs, such as the cost of a home appraisal or the cost of the buyer getting a mortgage. Also, be careful that your closing date doesn’t require you to move out before you are able to move into your new home, or you could end up paying for expensive interim accommodation.


Sale Agreement

 

We will sit down and go over every offer in great detail. Having seen literally hundreds of offers, we can explain what every clause will mean to your bottom line.  We are skilled negotiators and can often respond to an unacceptable offer with a successful counter-offer that includes a better price or fewer conditions.