The paperwork required from home sellers has become rather complex, a good agent will help you navigate your home sale. Seller disclosure statements and jurisdictional forms include and inform of any known defects to the home as well as airports, new roads and forest protection areas as well as actual taxes, future estimated taxes and a range of environmental concerns. To protect yourself from liability, it is important to fill out these forms thoroughly and accurately. Your realtor will help you to navigate the correct forms and required paperwork.
Find the right realtor
In the maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing, and negotiating, it makes sense to work with a professional who knows the community, has experience with the process and who you can trust to navigate your home sale.
Price it right- from the start
Several factors, including market conditions, your home’s condition and recent neighborhood home sales will determine how you should price your home. In other words, home selling is part art, part science, part marketing, and part negotiation. A house that starts out over priced takes longer to sell and likely sells for less. Your real estate agent will supply you will the latest stats and help you to price your home right.
Plan your move
UNCLUTTER! (and pack) Cleaning out closets, the basement, and the attic, you will have less to do once the home is under contract. Your agent will share resources for junk haulers, and charity organizations for donations .
Market your house for maximum exposure
Your Realtor should share a marketing plan with you, the more you know about the process of selling your home the easier it is to support your Realtor’s efforts. The photo’s and brochures, internet and print ad should be in place before the big launch of making your house active on the market.
Repair, Prepare, and Move
Your Realtor will help you stage your home- which sometimes means removing furniture, and will suggest landscaping and other improvements. She will also help you find great licensed contractors, a mover and other professionals you may need to facilitate the moving process.
Negotiate the offer
Whether you have one offer or several to consider, your agent will help you bottom line the offer and present your options to you- accept, counter-offer or reject.
Your Realtor will help you with finding great licensed contractors, movers, and finally — find you a great new house!!!
If you are serious about selling your home, you have to take your listing photo shoot very seriously. If your photos don’t excite buyers, they may not step foot inside.
You should prepare for your photo shoot as much as you would for an open house or private showing. Work alongside an excellent local real estate agent , and follow these tips to make sure your home looks its best.
Never list your home online without photos
Today’s buyers get email and text alerts when a new home that matches their criteria hits the market. There is nothing more frustrating than to see the desired address come across as an alert, only for the listing to be incomplete.
Buyers (and agents) will punish you for jumping the gun. Will they go back later and look again, once you have the photos up? Maybe — but maybe not.
You’re adding an extra step for them, and it comes across like you don’t have your ducks in a row. That’s not a great way to start out with your future customer.
Clean, declutter, organize and remove
You should spend a good amount of time preparing for your photo shoot. This means that you fluff the pillows, put toilet seats down, put Fido’s bowl and toys away, and ensure the home is in impeccable condition.
A tidy home free of clutter appeals to buyers. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.
People can zoom in, zoom out and play with photos in online listings. They’ll notice everything. If your photos don’t show your home well, it sends a message to the buyer that you don’t care, and that you are not a serious seller.
The buyer is your customer. You have a product for sale. Take the time to present it in the best possible light.
Poor photos won’t cut it
Images that are blurry, poorly lit, or distorted are not going to sell your home.
It’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer who will take high-resolution photos, and even bring extra lighting or equipment to enhance their work. They’ll also take dozens of pictures and work tirelessly to show your home in the right light and from the best angles.
Well-lit photos show off your home’s assets. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.
Don’t skimp on the number of photos
When it comes to photos, the more, the merrier. You want to make it easy on buyers to get comfortable with and learn more about your home.
Not only are the listing photos their initial impression, but they serve to help orient the buyer after the first or second showing. Once they have been through the home in person, they are better able to relate to the floor plan and how it flows. Going back to the listing photos allows them to make connections and dig deeper. Encourage them to do so by posting plenty of photos.
When it comes time to sell your home, whether you’ve lived there for three years or 30, you need to see it as a product for sale. And just like an item on a store shelf, you want your home to stand out from the competition.
Of course, your feelings and emotions about your home — and all of the memories you made there — may make it difficult to detach and view your home as a product. But sellers who quickly transition away from the emotional connection and into investment mode will reap the financial benefits many times over. Homes that go into contract quicker and with few (if any) price reductions ultimately sell for more money. And isn’t that every seller’s goal?
What’s on buyers’ wish lists
Homes that sell quickly probably have many of the features today’s buyers find desirable. Smart retailers try to understand better what consumers want, and then deliver to them. Home sellers should do the same.
When you’re preparing to sell your home, consider small renovations, updates, cleaning and even some light staging. I’ve seen sellers make significant upgrades to their home before listing, leaving them to question if they actually want to move.
Today’s buyers look for move-in ready and turn-key homes. The more bells and whistles, the better.
Focus on kitchens and baths
It’s a pretty well-established fact that kitchens and baths sell a home. If your kitchen or bathroom is tired or outdated, consider modest upgrades that pack a punch.
Painting cabinets white gives the kitchen a clean and fresh look. Consider new stone countertops like quartz or granite. And replace old faucets with shiny new ones.
Let’s face it, first impressions matter. We care about how we dress for a job interview, and we spent extra time in front of the mirror before that first date. When it comes to selling a home, first impressions matter, too. Its all about curb appeal!
The term “curb appeal” derives from real estate sales and home design. For years, buyers have formed their first impressions of homes while standing in the street or sitting inside the car, just beyond the curb. Before the advent of text messaging and smartphones, a buyer would get a phone call or fax from their agent about a new listing. The initial drive-by would determine whether or not they would go for an actual showing.
To get that buyer in the door, the seller spent hours, even days, seeding new grass and planting flowers, painting their front door, mulching, weeding and cleaning up the yard. If the home didn’t appeal from the curb, buyers moved on to the next house. Curb appeal was always the single most important piece of the home sale puzzle.
Today, curb appeal still matters — but it matters differently. Almost every buyer forms their first impression from a home’s online photos.
Instead of driving to your home, buyers will scroll through pictures of both the outside and the inside, before ever stepping foot inside. What’s more, they may never come to see it if they don’t like what they see online.
While the exterior of your home should be high on your priority list, it is most valuable only when the buyer walks up or drives by. But they may not ever get that far.
The interior also needs to show your home in its best possible light, because Web appeal has become the new curb appeal. And if your home doesn’t photograph well — either because you didn’t have it professionally shot, didn’t post high-resolution photos, or you haven’t taken the time to prep it — then curb appeal won’t even make a difference.
What sellers should do
Sellers need to spend ample time preparing the inside of their home and getting great photos, so buyers will form the best possible impression.
The downside for sellers is that they have to work so much harder than they did just 15 years ago. In our ever-more-visual society, buyers make immediate judgments about a home within moments of clicking on the new listing on their smartphone.
Sellers only have one chance to make a good impression. The home still needs to look good from the curb — but to get the buyers there in person, it needs to look great on the Web.
The things we consider to be must-have home features are constantly changing—less than a half-century ago, plush, “can’t see my feet” shag carpeting (in bold colors such as gold, orange, and purple) was all the rage, and kitchen appliances came in coordinating hues. A quarter-century ago there was no HGTV to tell us to knock down a wall to open up the kitchen or swap out bathroom vanities. And just a few years back, tiny homes were just, well, really small homes.
We wondered what home qualities are must-haves right now, what the up-and-comers are, and what’s heading straight for the dustbin of home features history. To find out, our data team dug deep into our millions of listings and sifted out the most commonly used phrases for home features, going back five years.
Voila! Here are the 20 features that are most often touted in our listings. These are the stuff that home dreams are made of—a mixture of classic favorites and rising stars.
At first glance, the results aren’t too surprising. After all, who doesn’t love fireplaces and wood floors? (Well, other than those who prefer carpet, which is No. 3.)
“Rather than a barometer of trends, those are really adoptioncycles,” says Javier Vivas, data analyst at realtor.com®. “It’s more about how long it takes a particular new feature to become prevalent. It’s like car technology: First you see the cutting-edge stuff in luxury cars, then it spreads into the mainstream.”
Listings have gotten ever-more detailed and adorned in recent years, and certain features appear more and more often as selling points. So popularity among listing descriptions is kind of like being listed on the S&P 500—it shows that a feature is no passing trend. For example, granite countertops, once a splurge, are now a go-to feature—they’ve shot up from being mentioned in 8% of listings in 2011 to 13% today.
Got it? Good. Let’s go home shopping! Don’t forget to bring your checkbook.
Fireplace (No. 1)
On a chilly night, nothing competes with snuggling up near a crackling fire—or maybe it’s the hissing, considering that the leading type of fireplace mentioned in 3.2% of our listings is gas. After all, it’s easy to clean and maintain and comes in some cool modern designs. Still, there’s nothing like the charm of a wood-burning fireplace, and its popularity is picking up fast.
And in total, fireplaces—wood-burning, gas, brick, stone, or kiva—are the stars of 23.8% of our listings.
Always popular, the classic elegance of a wood floor continues to gain ground, particularly since last year. Not surprisingly, carpeting’s popularity seems to rise and fall in opposition to wood. It’s made a comeback before, but wood seems to be pulling ahead. In 2015, wood floors appeared in 15% of listing descriptions, 2 percentage points ahead of carpet.
Meanwhile, the tile floor—though never a major contender for the top spot—has slipped from No. 4 in 2011 (when it beat out walk-in closet and open floor plan) to today’s No.10. Still, it will probably hold onto its niche in humid, warm climates such as that of Florida.
Granite counter (No. 4)
Once a rare luxury, granite has become more affordable and is now practically standard for anyone who gives a hoot about kitchen design. It shot to fame quickly over the past five years, making its slick presence felt in 13% of all listings. For those who think all this trendy granite craziness is on the wane, reports of its death, as Mark Twain might (or might not!) have said, are greatly exaggerated—at least according to our listings data.
Stainless-steel appliances (No. 5)
With their elegant and modern appearance fitting into almost any kitchen design, stainless-steel appliances have made their way into more and more households since the 1990s. “Stainless” is now mentioned in 9% of all listings, almost double its share of five years ago.
Open floor plan (No. 6) vs. formal dining room (No. 8)
A house divided? Not these days. Separate living rooms, dining areas, and kitchens have been edged out by the open floor plan, which knocks down or eliminates walls to create a sense of spaciousness and light.
The open floor plan has seen a rapid increase in popularity, and in 2014 it surpassed the formal dining room for the first time. In 2015, an open floor plan is the fifth most popular feature, representing 8% of listings. The much-debated open kitchen, which encompasses the dining as well as the cooking area, also made it onto the list at No. 9.
Walk-in closet (No. 7)
In a time of over-the-top “glam rooms” dedicated to, um, getting ready, the walk-in closet is another feature that has seemingly gone from luxe to a near necessity. Stashing all your clothes in a shallow closet with hangers crammed together and no shelves? How primitive! It’s no wonder 7% of home listings mention walk-in closets as a big selling point.
Chef’s kitchen (No. 16) vs. open kitchen (No. 10)
The kitchen used to be all business—a place to churn out meals, nothing more. Again, we’ll point the finger at TV—not just HGTV, but also the Food Network—for fueling homeowners’ desire for a kitchen worthy of a chef, featuring a center island, a large stove/oven with hood, and granite or marble counters (see No. 3).
And it’s not just for cooking, but also for hanging out while you prepare the meal—especially if you have an open kitchen, touted in 5.7% of listings. We’ll also point out that five of the top 20 home features are kitchen-related.
Garden tub (No. 20)
No, a garden tub is not set amid the lovely and fragrant rose beds so you can bathe in the open air (and get bitten by insects). The term generally refers to a wider and deeper bathtub that usually has steps but no jets. Nice! Providing a relaxing soaking experience with less cost and cleaning difficulty, the garden tub has gained popularity over the years, but it’s still a niche feature.
We’ve talked about features that have made their way into the mainstream, but we also saw a couple that are clearly on their way out:
House with vinyl siding
Vinyl siding was once one of the most popular cladding choices, because it’s affordable, long-lasting, and virtually maintenance-free. But over the years it’s become something of a gauche punch line in some quarters. It’s no wonder its lead has slipped substantially in recent years, while fiber cement is gaining ground, according to PlasticsNews.com.
Oak and cherry cabinets
The last time honey oak cabinets were trending, Monica-gate was a thing, Will Smith was the prince of Bel-Air, and Y2K loomed as the biggest threat the world faced. Yes, the ’90s were particularly friendly to oak cabinetry and cherry wasn’t far behind, popularitywise, but those days are long past. Today you’ll be hard-pressed to find either in listings or in new home construction. But maple cabinets? Welcome to the future!
A home sale typically comes as a result of a life change or a major decision. These decisions don’t usually happen overnight, providing homeowners with years to plan for a successful home sale. By using your time wisely, you will maximize your home’s value when you want to list and sell.
On your way to this point, you should be open to spending money in getting ready to sell. Investing in strategic home improvements will help facilitate a quicker and more profitable sale.
Selling a home is a large financial and emotional transaction — likely the largest in a lifetime. This makes strategic planning and counsel vital. Here are some steps you should take a year or more before you plan to list your home.
Connect with a local real estate agent
Real estate agents shouldn’t just show up, list a home, hold an open house and move on. Instead, they should be valuable assets to you years before listing. Connecting with a local agent and developing a relationship well in advance allows you to start learning the market and transitioning from the mindset of a homeowner to that of a seller.
A good agent will provide helpful information, advice and assistance on an ongoing basis, in hopes of working with you on the eventual sale. Work with an agent who can connect you to local resources like inspectors, painters and other service providers.
An agent can also assess your home’s condition and suggest small to medium-sized improvements that will help boost your home’s value. Prioritize these projects for the months or years leading up to the sale.
Have a formal property inspection
For a few hundred dollars, you can have a licensed property inspector assess the home’s major systems and components. You can take this step up to two years before you will list your home.
Why would you want to have someone come and point out your home’s flaws before selling? Because it’s better to know about any issues upfront so you can address them before your potential buyer discovers them.
Additionally, you can put a financial plan in place to pay for any needed fixes. Dry rot on your back deck could cost $500 to remedy now, but you’d be better off handling it now than having a buyer see it as a major decking/structural issue and request $5,000 when you are weeks away from closing and your back’s against the wall.
A year before you will list, spend the extra time and money ensuring that your home both appeals to mainstream buyers and passes a potential buyer’s property inspection.
If your agent suggests cosmetic fixes like laying new carpet, painting cabinets or cleaning the yellow grout in the bathroom, put a plan in place to tackle each of the projects. Waiting to the last minute will be too stressful, plus you won’t get the enjoyment out of the cosmetic fixes.
If you know your roof is at the end of its life, it might be more economical to replace it so that you can advertise a new roof. Today’s buyers want homes that are move-in ready. They don’t have the time or resources to take on projects. The more issues you can resolve for them, the more successful your sale.
Get a home warranty
A home warranty is like a one-year insurance policy that addresses your major (and minor) appliances and most systems. If something breaks, you can call the home warranty company, not the appliance repair technician or plumber. For a small co-pay, they will come out and repair or replace the item swiftly.
If your home has some issues, a home warranty is a great way to address them without having to spend weeks or months shopping around, getting bids for work and seeing through each repair. A warranty works well when you list the home and are too busy to call around getting bids.
Moving is tough, in and of itself. Add prepping a home for sale and your move becomes more emotional and stressful. Planning ahead can help you address issues in advance.
Don’t wait until the last minute, or you risk leaving money on the table. Meet with an agent early on and put a timeline in place to get the most of your home’s sale — fast.
In a strong market, if a home is priced right and shows well, it should sell within the first six weeks. If it doesn’t, many sellers become frustrated, especially if their agent begins pushing for a price reduction. The seller may think the agent just wants a quick sale, but the agent sincerely wants to help the seller get action. Agents understand that a listing loses momentum and excitement soon after being listed. Buyers will think of a home as stale, tired, or flawed if it sits on the market too long. Agents and buyers alike will view the stale listing as a problem home- and wonder why it has sat and often will be overlooked and not shown. It is important to price your home right for your best financial outcome.
If your home is not generating offers, there are ways to get more action.
Home Condition, Updates and Price
You can’t change your home’s location, but you do have some control over the other two important buyer considerations. If the home is still sitting on the market after a couple of months, and especially if it has had no showings or offers, you need to look at the price and the condition. The most activity a new listing will receive happens in the first two weeks, and sellers are likely to get the best price at that time.
You have two big choices to make if you are ready to sell. The first is to take the home off the market and make some changes, such as more staging, de-cluttering, and altering the look of the kitchens and bathrooms.
If you are unwilling or unable to make the needed changes to the home, the other option is to reduce the price. Even if your house is the absolute best home in the neighborhood but the setting is not private or on a busy road , the only option will be to drop the price.
Make sure you and your agent are on the same page
Your agent is a professional and has experience and knowledge that will benefit you, however, you are the home owner and all decisions are ultimately yours. If you and your agent don’t see eye-to-eye on the pricing or sales strategy prior to listing, it might be time to find another agent. While it is your job to prepare your home for the day it becomes “active” on the listing service and internet, it is the agents job to be completely prepared as well. Your agent should be very clear about the service and timeline you should expect. The agent should research and the homework regarding sold homes prices, days on market for similar homes and the difference in upgrades, updates and condition between your home and others that are on the market now or have recently sold. You should be consulted on when your home will be photographed, what marketing will be done and where it will appear, open houses, brochures, and plans for the sign post. Your agent should diligently follow up will all agents who have showed the house and all interested parties.
Discuss your intentions and plan with your agent upfront, and listen to her feedback. Reducing the listed price may be necessary- but you will have to see firsthand how the market works in your neighborhood. Listen to the feedback your agent is gathering and reporting to you, and take action to address repeated criticisms.
It is so important to work with an agent who is understands the area market and will work with your strategy and can help you adapt to sell your home for the best price.
You’ve found your new home — congrats! But before you dream about settling in and cozying up on your couch for a Netflix binge, you have to actually prep for and execute that big move.
While the process of moving can be exhausting, planning your move doesn’t have to be. Check out these apps to help ease your transition into your new home — and get you closer to that movie night.
Home Inventory Photo Remote
Antsy to start planning your move, but feeling overwhelmed about where to begin? Creating an inventory of the items you intend to take with you is easy with Home Inventory Photo Remote. The app allows you to take photos of your items and then group them by category, collection and even location — keeping you so organized that none of your family members can use the excuse, “I don’t remember where anything goes!”
Once you’re unpacked, the information you’ve gathered in the app will serve as an inventory of your possessions should the unexpected happen and you have to file an insurance claim.
The My Move app lets you read moving company reviews, complete a moving checklist for every step of the process, calculate the weight of the items you plan to take with you, and more. Perfect for calculating potential costs, My Move helps you plan your move on your own terms — and your budget.
Moving Checklist Pro
If you’re just looking for a thorough moving checklist, Moving Checklist Pro comes with a list of 200+ common household moving items, and you can add your own, too. Creating your own custom lists — such as schools to research, services to cancel or items to return — ensures that you’ll never forget a thing. And if you find that this app doesn’t quite meet your needs, Jimbl Software Labs will even refund your purchase.
Once your moving itinerary is planned and you’re on the road, Gogobot is a must to download. Referred to as “a Pandora for travel” by TechCrunch and named “one of the best free apps for travel” by Mom Aboard, Gogobot offers you personalized recommendations on where to eat, play and stay wherever you are on your moving journey.
Moving can be a pain, but these apps can make it a bit less of a headache. No need to wait until you have a moving date to try, though. Download a few of our favorite moving help apps today and see which one best meets your moving need.
Is Replacing Carpet With Hardwood Always Worth It?
Thinking about replacing your floors? Especially if you have carpet, the choice seems clear: Hardwood floors are preferred by home buyers and renters across the United States.
But consider carefully whether hardwood floors are the right choice for every room in your home—and what type you might want to install for the best resale value.
As you weigh investing in your floors, you’ll need to evaluate your budget, the preferences and traditions in your community and your own personal taste. Some people only want to step on soft carpet, while others prefer hard surfaces. In some warm climates such as Florida, ceramic tile flooring rivals hardwood in popularity.
In more traditional markets, tastes still lean toward oak floors, but some owners of more contemporary homes are choosing to stain their wood floors in different colors. Other trends in hardwood include wider planks, the use of reclaimed wood or hand-scraped wood that looks antique and exotic species of wood such as hickory or walnut.
Homeowners on a tight budget also may want to look into laminate flooring, which offers the look of wood at a lower price point.
Keep in mind that people with allergies typically want a hard surface that won’t hold dust. You should also think about the care and maintenance required for your floor surface since you’ll need to take care of it for years. Hardwood flooring lasts longer than carpet, can be easier to keep clean and can be refinished.
In the end, though, the decision about whether to install hardwood or carpeting in a bedroom should be based on your personal preference, at least if you intend to stay in the home for years.
Hardwood Flooring: It’s What Buyers Want
According to HGTV, the top request of home buyers and renters when looking for a home is hardwood flooring. In fact, a study of homebuyer preferences by USA Today using data from the National Association of REALTORS® found that 54% of home buyers were willing to pay more for a home with hardwood flooring.
Installing hardwood flooring can cost between $9 and $12 per square foot, compared with about $3 to $5 per square foot for carpet—so some homeowners opt to install hardwood only in some rooms rather than throughout their home. However, carpet typically needs to be replaced if it becomes stained or worn out. Good quality carpet can last about 10 to 15 years, while hardwood can last forever.
The return on investment for installing hardwood will vary according to your market and other factors, but hardwood flooring can often help your home sell faster.
Reasons to Install Carpet
While many buyers and homeowners prefer hardwood flooring throughout their home, some people prefer carpet in the bedrooms—because they like a softer surface. When you live in a two or three-story home, carpet also helps reduce noise.
If you would still prefer hardwood floors throughout your home, you could use put area rugs in your bedroom.
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