Gear Up To Sell Your Cincinnati Area Home

In our Gear Up To Sell pages, we present you with the basics on choosing a listing agent, pricing your home and staging it for a quick and profitable sale.

 

We try to put our advice in the form of checklists. You'll find them grouped under the following criteria:Are you ready to sell?; Choosing a Listing Agent; Determining your Price; Presentation; and Fielding Offers.

You can also find great tips and ideas on our Home Seller Information page.

ARE YOU READY TO SELL?

 

Are you financially ready to sell your home?

 

  • Get pre-approved for a loan;
  • Check your mortgage payoff;
  • Determine the market value of your home - note, this is very different than what your home might have appraised for at your last refinance. Appraisals are a good faith estimate of your home's value - a sales price will be based upon current market conditions. You can check your local auditor's sites to see what houses in your neighborhood are actually selling for. Compare the number of bedrooms and baths, the style of house and other applicable features and come up with an honest ball park figure;
  • Determine the costs of a home sale (buying and selling agent commission; title insurance and relevant inspections; transfer fees; prorated cost of property tax; homeowner association fees if applicable; cost of surveys, etc.;
  • Determine your buying costs (moving, downpayment, inspections, title work, insurance;
  • Calculate your estimated proceeds (deduct payof from fair market value of home and then subtract your costs).

Be Flexible

 

Sorry, but to sell your house, you will have to invite strangers into your home. On a fairly regular basis.

They will touch your things, and make snide comments about your taste (particularly if you don't follow our advice on staging your home). You will need to be able to flee your home at a moment's notice. You and your family will need to kerb your more animalistic instincts and keep the place sparkling clean for, possibly, several weeks at a stretch.

 

But, you can do it. And, we'll help you. Here's our best advice on keeping a positive attitude when selling your home.

 

You may enjoy a bit of clutter, a bit of filth, or a lazy evening after work. Sorry, but when your house is on the market, you have a second job. Your house needs to stay perfectly clean, because it needs to be show-able with a moment's notice.

 

More than ever, agents want to be able to show houses on the fly. With cell phones, they can call from the road, client in tow.

It often happens that an agent is taking a buyer around, and that buyer sees something in a house that they just love. It is a big clue to that buyer's motivation - and the agent knows the perfect house for them. It's yours.

 

You're not going to make them wait 24 hours, are you? No! You want to get them in and sell them on your house while the iron is hot!

 

A good listing agent will call for feedback on their listing. A good seller will listen to the buyer's reaction to their home. It's difficult not to get defensive, or have hurt feelings. Sometimes the feedback can be fairly blistering, particularly if you have lived in your home for years, or really customized it to you and your family's taste. Let's face it - individuals are unique, and their houses tend to mirror that individuality .... but, good houses are as vanilla as the day is long.

 

Protect Yourself When Strangers Are In Your Home

 

 

Protecting your valuables is important when leaving your house open for showings.

It is rare that things go missing, but it is an obvious opportunity for dishonest people to take advantage. Here are some simple ideas for keeping your belongings safe and sound:

 

  • Jewelery should be locked away somewhere, be it in a safe or a safety deposit box;
  • Keep checkbooks, credit cards (and credit card statements), and any documentation with your social security number in a locked drawer in your file cabinet.

 

Is your home in good repair?

 

A seller can probably start to address this without this guide.

There are clearly necessary repairs in any property - a broken blind, loose doornobs, a cracked tile. Every house has its imperfections, but unfortunately these details are what a buyer might like to focus on.

A missing wand on a vertical blind could end up as a contingency in your first offer.

 

 

Also think about your house inspection - has your furnace and A/C been recently serviced? Are your gutters clear?

 

Buyers tend to play with things - they flick switches on and off, look through your cabinets, turn on faucets and flush toilets.

Things you should definitely repair (list compiled by actual experience):

  1. Touch up exterior paint, if necessary;
  2. Fill any holes in the driveway;
  3. Repaint, refinish or replace the front door so that it looks shiny and inviting;
  4. Remove personal touches from the front-door (common offenders - family name over address or on door);
  5. Make sure front door lock works easily and that the key fits properly;
  6. Repair any exterior or interior lights that do not work;
  7. All windows should be operational, inside and out;
  8. Roof leaks;
  9. Clear gutters and downspouts;
  10. . Repair or replace missing shingles;
  11. Waterproof flashing around chimneys;
  12. Any damage to mortar and brick on the exterior;
  13. Plaster or spackle any obvious imperfections;
  14. Replace any worn, stain or stinky carpet;
  15. Repair or replace any broekn floor tiles;
  16. Repair or replace any faucets, toilets and switches that are not operational;
  17. Wobbly railings must be replaced - this is as much a liability issue as it is a marketing one;
  18. Fix doors and windows that creak, and make sure they open smoothly;
  19. Find any leaks in the plumbing and repair them. Replaster and paint water stains - be wary of mold and mildew;
  20. Leaking walls in a basement can be expensive to repair. You may prefer to lower your price with the clear understanding that the new price reflects this problem;
  21. Take care of any clogs and leaks;
  22. Good water pressure is important to a home buyer;
  23. It may be worthwhile to upgrade your power service, if it is low. Ask your agent;
  24. Do you have GFIs in the kitchens and bathrooms?
  25. Bring all HVAC items into working condition and ultimate efficiency;
  26. Replace any cracked window panes;
  27. Replace stove hood filter if necessary;
  28. Fix any faucets that drip;
  29. Replace the furnace filter.

 

Home improvement - how much is enough?

 

 

A seller can go mad trying to prepare his/her house for sale. It is crucial to be practical about what you can and can not change in your house.

This way you can concentrate on the items that will bring the biggest rewards. The following are suggestions that have worked with other clients - they may not all apply to you. Try to use your own best judgement, and when in doubt, ask your Team agent what they think (if they haven't already volunteered an opinion). You know they'll give you an honest answer!!

 

  1. Keep a record of all your home improvements - if you haven't done it up until the point you put your home on the market, do your best to reconstruct one;
  2. Replacing old light fixtures can sometimes increase a home's appeal to potential buyers. If you are unsure, ask your agent what he or she thinks;
  3. If the exterior of your home is painted, and the paint has faded, a touch-up may be in order. Remember - curb appeal!! If you decide to repaint, consider the color yellow - it seems to be popular among home buyers;
  4. Any room that has dirty or marked walls, or that are currently painted strong or dark colors, should be repainted in a neutral tone;
  5. Steam clean the carpet;
  6. Clean the grout. If it has become discolored, use a whitening product;
  7. Have your fireplace or woodstove professionally cleaned and inspected;
  8. Some landscaping may be in order - hire a professional to lay out your garden, if you don't know what you are doing and are surrounded by amateur gardeners. Otherwise, some simple additions usually do the trick - think shrubbery, mature flowers, and a healthy lawn;
  9. A home's lawn is a big deal. It goes a long way towards establishing curb appeal. A bare or patchy overgrown or weed-infested lawn tells a potential buyer, from the moment they drive up, that they have work to do. In most cases, your lawn should be green, bare patches should be reseeded, and it should be freshly mowed and edged;
  10. If you don't have any landscaping at all, buy a few mature shrubs and position them strategically - they don't require a lot of maintenance, are affordable, and paint a nice picture. If you are feeling more confident, buy some mature flowers and plant them in a sculpted bed;
  11. Mulch all flower beds and around trees;
  12. The entryway should be spotless. perfectly manicured walk, crisp and fresh paint colors, and an elegant doorway. If your door is faded, the paint if chipped, or the wood damaged, consider repainting, refinishing, or if necessary, replacing it;
  13. Replace the bulbs in your bathroom with the highest wattage possible.

 

Inexpensive Interior Items that Can Sell Your House

 

  • New light fixtures;
  • Fresh new towels - big, fluffy and luxurious;
  • Fresh paint;
  • High wattage bulbs in the bathroom;
  • New face plates.

 

CHOOSING A LISTING AGENT

 

Interviewing a Listing Agent

 

We think you should avoid agents who are trying to buy a listing. When you conduct your interviews you will, naturally, be inclined to go with the agent that suggests the highest list price.

 

Beware of this tactic - in the business we call it "buying a listing". Agents who want to get in the door will often suggest a higher sales price than what is actually feasible. They will work you on the price during the course of your listing contract to lower it, until you are at the market price. In the meantime, the agents who interviewed for your listing will know that your home is overpriced.

 

Your house could sit on the market for months this way, leading it to appear stale. People will wonder if something is wrong with it. It stops standing out in the memory of buyers and their agents.

 

Think of it this way - with your price, you are not marketing to buyers who can make an emotionally-based decision. You are marketing to agents who have no emotional connection to the deal, and who will advise their clients accordingly. Moreover, if your house is extraordinarily overpriced, and you are actually able to sell it to someone, a bank requires that an appraiser confirm its value.

Beyond the pricing of your home, basic things to look for in a listing agent are:

  • Professionalism;
  • You want a full-time agent - there are a few that try to do this part-time;
  • Familiarity with your neighborhood;
  • Familiarity with your price-range;
  • Competency to market and advertise your home effectively;
  • Ask for references;
  • Their time in the business;
  • Ask them how many homes they sold in your neighborhood this year?
  • Ask them how they arrived at your list price;
  • Ask for a specific marketing plan;
  • Determine their communication strategy - how will they keep you in the loop?
  • Does your listing agent make you feel comfortable and confident?
  • Do they return your phone calls promptly?
  • Do they answer your questions? Beware of the agent who prevaricates or talks around your questions.

 

 

DETERMINING YOUR PRICE

 

 

Most Common and Costly Mistakes In Pricing Homes

 

Overpriced Homes: Overpricing a home is disastrous to its future sale. Some agents attempt to win a listing by offering the highest list price to the owner. Watch out for this - ask them how they arrived at their price. They should show you comparable sales in your neighborhood, and demonstrate how your house compares.

Buyers represented by an agent determine their price range from the outset. More often than not, their agent chooses the houses they look at. So, a house that is overpriced (and agents know when they are) will not get showings.

Your house can sit on the market, and provoke a fury of gossip about why it is not selling. Is there something wrong with it? Are the owners too greedy to accept a lower offer?

Worse, though, is that an overpriced home starts to disappear. Your home should get a lot of showings the first week it is on the market, if it is positioned correctly. After a week or so, similar houses enter the buyer and his/her agent's consciousness, and yours starts to fade away. If your house sits on the market for a while, and it will if it's overpriced, it is nearly constantly overlooked.

Underpricing your home: Obviously, if a house is under-priced it will sell quickly, but it cuts into your bottom line. A good listing agent will help you figure out what you need to make on your home to be profitable, as well as pricing the home to sell quickly without giving anything away.

Amenities and their market value: This is the biggest problem for sellers. The worth of a home's amenities is neighborhood-specific. Granite counter tops will not raise the value of your home in every neighborhood. They're lovely, and they might speak to one buyer, but they may not improve your list price.

Some amenities are expected in particular areas, and you are therefore justified in asking a premium price for them. If they are not, you have just given your buyer a very nice house-warming gift.

The Carol Meadows Team does offer advice when their clients rehab their homes. They'll tell you if your plans will make you money.

 

PRESENTATION

 

Do You Have Curb Appeal?

 

Imagine the home in the Steve Martin remake of 'Father of the Bride'. That's the ideal - that house has curb appeal. Many agents argue that curb appeal, or the exterior appearance of your home, is the most vital component in its sale. We are some of those agents.

How can you tell if you have curb appeal? Change your perspective, and take a long critical look at your home. Try standing across the street and take a good look.

Compare yours to your neighbors homes - does your house measure up? You might also try taking a picture of your house, or videotaping it, to see your house honestly, just like your buyer will.

 

Entryway:

The front door of the house will be the focus of your buyer's attention. It should be immaculate.

Polish the door handle and refinish, repaint, or even replace the front door. Remove any personal touches from the entryway - family name on the doormat or over the address is a no-no, after all, you are trying to help a buyer to see it as their house.

 

Invest in a new doormat. Make sure the lock works easily and the key fits properly. All exterior lights should be fully functional. The lock-box is often hung from the front door knob, and if the showing agent has to struggle to retrieve the key, you've set the wrong mood for your buyer.

Paint Loose paint must be removed. Clean the siding by power-washing it. If the house looks faded, consider repainting. Yellow is a great color for houses - people seem to go for it.

Windows Make sure that your windows are clean and operational inside and out.

Decks and Porches Powerwash and seal, stain and/or paint your decks and porches. Sweep them on a daily basis, remove ratty deck furniture. Decks and porches are meant to be places for calm reflection, enjoyment and laziness. If your deck/porch is messy, a potential buyer will not feel suitably relaxed. Common no-no's on porches and decks - ashtrays (particularly full ones), toys, garbage cans and containers that collect water and attract mosquitos.

Yard OK. No cars, car parts or car-related accessories in the front yard. Or the back yard.

Look, also, for the more innocuous brands of yard clutter - leaves and branches.

Dog waste should be picked up immediately when your house is on the market. Sorry, but you know you'll miss a piece or two if you don't bag it and pitch it immediately.

Large swing-sets can make a back yard look smaller - keep this in mind, and consider taking them down.

Landscaping: Your landscaping should be, at least, comparable to the neighborhood average.

If your lawn is nothing but grass, and your neighbor is channeling Martha Stewart, you will suffer from poor curb appeal, no matter how well maintained your enormous patch of grass may be.

 

Invest in a few shrubs. Avoid young trees - they will not add to the appearance of your home. Mature trees are expensive - we suggest shrubs and a foray into the world of container gardening. Container gardens are just as they sound - nature in a box. You can cultivate flowers in a pot yourself, or keep buying them when they die, it's really up to you.

If you have a good area for flowers, and want to flex some gardening muscles, plant some mature, colorful flowers. Don't buy bulbs or seeds and plant them - they will not grow fast enough to create your much-needed curb appeal. Make sure the bed is mulched - this will prevent weeds from growing, and makes it look nice and neat.

Reseed your lawn, if necessary, and keep it freshly mowed, making sure it is evenly cut and edged.

Prune your existing shrubbery and trees, rake up leaves and grass cuttings, and mulch around any trees.

Pools and Hot Tubs Keep pools and hot tubs freshly maintained and constantly cleaned. A pool with algae is a negative, a pool with leaves in it looks neglected, and makes the buyer wonder what they're getting into.

Driveway: Make sure the driveway is not full of non-functioning, ugly vehicles.

You'd be surprised how many of these we've shown. Potholes are a real turn-off, as well, so fill them up.

 

Sidewalks Edge them and remove any vegetation growing in the cracks. Sweep and powerwash them.

Roof The condition of your roof can be visible from the street. If you know that your roof leaks, you should repair it. If you don't, you will need to disclose it, and a buyer will almost certainly want a new one.

Mold and Mildew Kill any mold and mildew on the outside of the house, the sidewalks, the roof or the driveway. Mold and mildew is a huge deal-killer.

General Exterior Check your gutters and downspouts to make sure they are clear and working properly. Repair or replace any missing shingles, check the flashing around the chimneys to make sure it is watertight. Any mortar or bricks should be in good condition.

Cleanliness is next to profit-i-ness

For many sellers, keeping the house clean is the hardest part! It's all about painting a picture, and unfortunately, that picture starts by being immaculate. It helps to focus on key areas, and common mistakes made, we find. Then, after you have addressed all of these issues, try taking a video-camera through your house, and see what you find. If you don't have a video-camera, ask your most compulsive friend to walk through, and give you some honest feedback.

  1. 1. The exterior of your home should be clear of all junk or clutter - long-dead automobiles or their parts have no place in the yard of a home for sale. Neither does dog waste - make sure you pick it all up!
  2. 2. If you have siding, consider powerwashing your house. It's amazing how much it can brighten your home - the colors will pop just a bit more if they don't have a thin layer of dust on them;
  3. 3. Take that powerwasher around back and have a go at your deck, and don't forget any porches or patios;
  4. 4. All lawn furniture should be clean and inviting, table tops should be cleared, and ashtrays should be removed;
  5. 5. All metal fixtures in your home should shine, but none more so than those on your front door. Use a glass cleaner to get them nice and shiny, and be mindful of how quickly they will smudge and fade. We would recommend that you polish everything up before every showing, at least, if not every morning before you leave the house;
  6. 6. Mold and mildew is a huge problem when selling a home. Kill any that exists, if at all possible. Mildew odors will scare potential buyers. Note: If you have water coming in to your home, you will have to disclose it, even if you've cleaned up the mold or mildew;
  7. 7. Make absolutely certain that your house smells good. We love your pets, too, but sometimes they don't smell good. You know when. Do whatever you can to mitigate pet odors, smoke or cooking smells. Empty the cat box every day and use lots of baking soda. Keep your dog outside when possible. Consider leaving the windows open in the morning when you are getting ready for work, and close them up before you leave, so the house is aired out (you may not even notice the smells, but a buyer will);
  8. 8. Kitchens and bathrooms should be spotless. All metal fixtures should be shined up with a glass cleaner before showings, grout should be clean, and there should be fresh towels. The floor should be freshly cleaned. Put all the dishes away in the kitchen, keep the counters clear and clean;
  9. (a) Special instructions for cleaning the kitchen - clean the exterior of all the appliances, and don't miss inside the oven. Clean underneath the sink (looking possible water leaks while you're down there). Clean or replace the stove hood filter. Don't miss the cabinet fronts, and polish up the pulls with glass cleaners. Clean counters and backsplashes, and the floor.
    (b) Special instructions for cleaning the bathroom - Clean all ceramic tile, and don't forget to clean the grout. When you clean the tubs and the sinks, look for rust. Attempt to remove it - Zap! is a great product for doing this. Mildew must go - get rid of it, and make sure it stays gone!

  10. 9. Have your carpets professionally steam-cleaned before putting your home on the market. If you have pets, use a carpet freshener on a regular basis (again, avoiding very strong scents);
  11. 10. Clean the grout in between your tiles. There are specially made bleach pens for this very purpose, or use a toothbrush;
  12. 11. Get rid of all your clutter. You may not see it at first, but it needs to go. Clutter accumulates in garages, basements, attics, and kitchens;
  13. 12. Closets must be neat, clean and organized. Clutter builds up here, as well;
  14. 13. Clean your windows;
  15. 14. Clean and polish door and window handles/knobs;
  16. 15. Dust your furniture;
  17. 16. Clean and organize all storage areas;

Special Note for Smokers

We're not your mother, so we won't make the obvious admonitions. Ahem. Anyway, if you do smoke, particularly if you do so inside your home, you will have to work harder to sell it. Non-smokers have a particularly strong reaction to the smell of cigarettes, but even smokers react to tobacco odors. Oh, the hypocrisy!!

Here are our tips for smokers:

  1. 1. Smokers should stop smoking inside the home while their house is on the market;
  2. 2. Smokers will often find that their walls are stained with nicotine, meaning that they should be repainted;
  3. 3. Carpets should be professionally steam-cleaned to get the odor out;
  4. 4. Even if you don't smoke indoors, your dirty clothes will also smell of cigarettes, and should be laundered as soon as possible. Pay special attention to your coat closet - it can reek to a non-smoker!
  5. 5. Blinds can also be stained by smoking indoors - try to unhook them and soak them overnight in a bath full of bleach. If they are still yellowed, they need to be replaced;
  6. 6. Ashtrays kept outside should be emptied, cleaned and put away before showings;
  7. 7. Don't throw your cigarette butts on your lawn, and try to prevent your guests from doing the same.

What to do with your pets

It's tough to sell a home with pets. You think your pet is adorable, and it probably is. The problem is, some people don't like them, or worse, are allergic. Moreover, there is a very distinct "pet odor" that can be a real turn-off to a potential buyer.

Do your best to remove pets from your house while you have it on the market. Keep them outside, crated, or confined to a room with a note on the door. Dogs should generally be kept outside, and indoor cats in a specific room with a sign on the door.

Make sure your agent puts a note about your pets in your MLS listing, or with showing instructions, to prevent animals from escaping.

Empty the cat box every day, and use a liberal amount of baking soda.

Is your house ready to sell? Criteria for room-by-room inspection!

Entryway: An entry-way must be well-lit and have nothing lying around either inside or outside. Paint the front door, replace it or refinish it. All fixtures should be polished and shiny. If you normally use an alternate entrance, pay close attention to the front - this is probably how a buyer will first approach your house.

Living Room or Great Room: Remember - furniture is clutter, so keep it at a bare minimum. These rooms are meant to facilitate traffic, and to be gathering areas. The room should seem large, so the wall color and organization of the furniture is important. Watch your bookshelves and cabinets in these rooms - they can be too full of books and knick-knacks.

Family Room, Den or Study: These rooms are the most frequent offenders. They have a tendency to look overly lived in - or, too personal. It's difficult for a buyer to imagine it as their space if there are too many personal touches. Keep furniture at a minimum, and watch for book overflow! These rooms should look comfortable, but anonymous and uncluttered.

Kitchen: A kitchen must be perfectly clean and shiny. All clutter is removed, and unnecessary items are removed from the counter tops, including appliances. Make sure that your cabinets and drawers are neatly organized, and look nearly empty. Remember that a buyer will probably go through your cabinets to make sure there is room for all their stuff.

Bedrooms: Bedrooms should be thoroughly cleaned, and clutter-free. Re-arrange furniture, remove some if necessary, to maintain good traffic flow through the rooms.

Bathrooms: Check the lightbulbs to make sure they are of the highest possible wattage. Make sure the bathrooms are thoroughly cleaned, and that the faucets don't drip. Be vigilant about rust and mildew.

Basements: Make sure all clutter is removed, and that what remains is neatly organized. If it is damp in your basement, consider using a dehumidifier.

Garages: Make sure all clutter is removed, and that what remains is neatly organized. Watch for oil stains.

Easy, Fast Ways to Make Your House Sparkle Before Showings

  • Glass cleaner on metal fixtures;
  • Mopping kitchen and bathroom floors every day will keep them sparkling clean, and produce a clean smell;
  • Don't use heavily scented products in your home - they won't appeal to everyone's taste and may even provoke someone's allergies;
  • If you have pets, use a light carpet freshener and vacuum daily;
  • Zap! is a great cleaning product for removing rust - it is quite strong, though, and can damage ceramics if used too often;
  • Bleach pens are available for cleaning grout;

Make Your Basement, Attic & Garage Look Awesome

  • Well-lit;
  • Clean smell - these areas usually don't smell so good;
  • Clean up the clutter - use matching storage units to put everything away;
  • Workbenches should be really organized;
  • Go through all your paint cans and throw out what is not necessary. Label remaining cans with the room that they go to;
  • Go through all the boxes - throw out, donate and organize everything. Boxes should be neatly stacked and clearly labeled;
  • Use a dehumidifer, if necessary, in your basement;
  • Clean any oil stains in the garage.

Staging your home for a profitable sale

Staging is kind of a trendy concept, but perhaps not very well understood. It is much more than keeping your house clean and in good repair - it's a design concept, really. We start with the oft-repeated curb appeal, inviting entry-way, and immaculately maintained and updated home, and then start to paint a picture.

The goal of staging a home is to set the right mood - a mood that says, 'wouldn't you love to live here? You would be oh-so comfortable, and have room for all of your stuff. This is the home you've been looking for - you could move in just as it is.'

Seriously. That's what your buyer is supposed to think.

Staging is an art form, as far as we are concerned. Some sellers can manage it on their own, and often an unoffensive living space is all that is really necessary to sell a house. We do work with an extraordinary staging professional, though, and if we believe you need professional help, or if you can't be bothered, we can hook you up with Cincinnati's very best.

Here is a simple list of definite to-do's to either start you on your way, or gauge your enthusiasm:

  • 1. CLUTTER KILLS. Have a yard sale before you list - sell, donate or trash everything you don't need. Then put half of what's left in storage. Pay special attention to the kitchen, storage spaces and closets. Everything in your house needs a home.

    (a) Closets and Clutter: Go through your clothes and shoes, putting clothes you don't want to donate in a box, keeping what you need, and donating the rest;

    (b) Furniture is Clutter: People tend to have way too much furniture in certain rooms - this looks like clutter to a buyer, and makes the house look small;

    (c) Storage Areas: Remove anything unessential from storage areas;

    (d) Bookshelves: Shelves overflowing with books close a space in, and lead a buyer to believe there is not sufficient storage space;

    (e) Family Rooms, Dens and Studys: These rooms are famous for collecting clutter;

    (f) Kitchens: Buyers will assess the cabinet and drawer space to see if all their belongings will fit. Empty your cabinets of all but the bare essentials - if they look empty, it feels like there is a plethora of space. Appliances should be stored in cabinets, or in boxes. The counters should be completely clear. Get rid of your junk drawer, and start eating your canned goods! The collection of cleaning supplies (much-used during a house sale) under your sink should be thinned out, so that only the essentials remain.

  • 2. Open every window covering and let the light in. Turn on all your indoor and outdoor lights. Use the maximum wattage bulbs in the bathrooms. Light fixtures can make a difference, particularly when they are a focal point (ie., over the dining room table, or in a small space) - consider putting in some new light fixtures. Make sure window handles are polished, and panes are clean;
  • 3. Your home should smell good. There are some that advocate baking cookies before open houses, or the magic of the smell of vanilla. The Carol Meadows Team advocates a simple clean smell. Overwhelming smells are just that - you run the risk of alienating a buyer, or sending them sneezing to the next house on their list. Watch for cooking smells, pet smells, and smoke outdoors. If your basement is musty, try using a dehumidifier to dry it out, and then mop the floors fairly regularly;
  • 4. The entryway must be well-lit and uncluttered;
  • 5. Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. Make sure they are spotless - all metal fixtures should shine, and everything should be scrubbed perfectly clean. Fresh towels in the bathroom are important - big fluffy towels make a bathroom look luxurious. Clear all clutter from the kitchen so that nothing is on the countertops;
  • 6. Go away. Buyers will feel like intruders if you are there, and they will hesitate to look inside cabinets and really explore the home. They will leave with questions, rather than an overriding desire to buy your house. Most importantly, though, it will be branded as your house, not theirs, and this is contrary to all your efforts to stage your home for a quick sale;
  • 7. Personal touches make a house a home, but it makes it your home. A buyer needs to be able to picture his or her life in your house - this is obviously complicated if you have a kitty-cat motif, or wall-to-wall wedding pictures.

 

FIELDING OFFERS

Negotiating a Sales Contract

An offer will have an expiration date - you must respond with a counter-offer, rejection or acceptance by that time. Usually the primary negotiation point on a sales contract is the price. However, there are other important aspects of an offer to consider.

A financing contingency is when a buyer makes their offer contingent on being able to obtain financing. Sometimes buyers are not pre-approved before they start shopping - particularly if yours is one of the first homes they see. If this buyer does not qualify for financing, your deal is dead. This means your home has been off the market for some time, so think carefully about this.

The date of the closing is also important. What if a buyer has sold their home and needs to move in quickly? Do you have somewhere to go? Or, vice-versa - what if they need to sell their home and want to allow a couple of months until the closing? If you have already bought a new home, this means you can incur some carrying costs.

Better deals than most have gone down over ridiculous squabbles over furniture. Imagine, if you will, a beautiful old house selling for more than $300,000 going back on the market because the buyer and the seller could not agree on who would get the macrame pot holder in the living room? It's a true story. It's always best to be circumspect with these details - or better yet, decide when you list the house what you are willing to part with and what you are not, so no one can claim they were misled.

Appliances are usually expected to be included in the sale of a property. If you don't want to fight about who keeps your Sub-Zero, or college 'fridge, get it out of the house before you put it on the market.

It is normal to have a contingency for inspections. Common inspections are whole house inspections, where the property and its mechanics are thoroughly inspected, and termite inspections. The contract should provide a timeline for these inspections to be completed.

You can offer to buy a home warranty for your buyer. This warranties the mechanics in the house, and provides some insurance on the property, for a given period of time. It's a nice good-faith gesture, and usually quite affordable.

Clauses that Home Buyers Hope You Don't Notice

  • Financing contingency;
  • Too many contingencies - this can lead a deal to collapse;
  • Linking the closing on your house to the sale of the buyer's home.

Cincinnati Utilities

Gas & Electric

  • Cinergy: 513-421-9500

Telephone

  • Cincinnati Bell: 513-565-2210

Trash Removal

  • Rumpke: 513-742-2900
  • CSI: 513-771-4200
  • Waste Management: 513_242-5080

Water

  • Cincinnati: (513) 591-7700
  • Clermont County: (513) 732-7970
  • Western Water: (513) 722-1682
  • Loveland: (513) 683-0150
  • Warren County: (513) 925-1377
  • Butler County: (513) 887-3061
  • Mason City: (513) 398-8010

Cable

  • Time Warner: (513) 489-BEEP
  • DirecTV: (800) 531-5000
If you think you might be ready to sell your home, or even if you're not and need more advice, don't hesitate to give us a call! Contact information is located at the top left of the website. Or send us an email to request information!