Friday, February 22, 2008

What Every Seller Should Know - Part II

While your your home is up for sale, there are a few things that you should know. For the most part, these are general ideas, applicable to most forms of real estate. Check with your Realtor® to be sure.

1. Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the term used for the first impression a prospective buyer has of your home. Approach your home from both directions on the street and the sidewalk. What do you see? Is it what the modern home buyer wants to see? Is the lawn mowed, and are the trees and hedges trimmed? Are your outside windows clean and shiny?

2. Inclusions / Exclusions

When you list your property for sale, you must determine what you want to include and exclude from the sale. If the removal of an item will damage the property, it is considered a fixture, and would otherwise be included in the sale, unless you specify otherwise. For example, if you have a stained glass window in the dining room that is a family heirloom, or if you have a flower or shrub that is special to you, you may want to exclude it from the sale.

On the other hand, personal property is an item that may be removed without any detriment to the property, so you may take it without specifically excluding it. For example, if you want to leave your washer and dryer for the new owners, you may specifically want to include them in the sale.

3. Seller’s Disclosure Form

When you sell your home, you must prepare a “Seller’s disclosure statement” form. This statement is your disclosure of the condition of, and information about, your property. As the seller, you are not expected to have any expertise in construction, architecture, engineering, or any other specific areas related to the construction or condition of the improvements on the property or the land. You disclose the information with the knowledge that even though it is not a warranty, you make the representations based only on your own knowledge.

4. Agency Disclosure

All real estate licensees act as agents or sub-agents of the home seller or buyer. The subject of agency could fill a volume, so this guide will only briefly cover the main issues.

In Michigan, there are three primary forms of agency in real estate. The “seller’s agent” is the most common – as the licensee represents the home seller’s best interests. The “buyer’s agent” has become equally common, as the licensee looks out for the best interests of the home buyer, perhaps at the expense of the seller. The “dual agent” is the licensee who lists your home, and then represents the home buyer, as well. A dual agent must be disclosed to both parties, who agree in writing, their consent that the dual agent is looking out for both parties’ best interests.

5. Effective / Efficient advertising

Effective means “doing the right things”, while efficient means “doing things right”. When it comes to advertising your home for sale, do you know the difference? Your Realtor® does, and can design an advertising campaign for your home which will result in direct interest from qualified buyers.

6. Financing Options

Many prospective buyers for your home don’t know much about financing – how or where to get the best mortgage. Your Realtor® knows just about all there is to know about financing. The Realtor® knows how to work closely with all kinds of financial institutions, and knows their methods and requirements. The Realtor® can also get the buyer to the right lender for the specific financing needs. Did you know that one local lender has 22 different financing options for the purchase of a home?

7. Qualifying the Buyer

How do you feel about discussing your finances with a stranger? About the same way that most home buyers do, too. Your Realtor®, as a third party, has been specifically trained to ask just the right questions to determine if the buyer is qualified to purchase your home, without unnecessary prying into the buyer’s financial situation.

8. Environmental Issues

In Washtenaw County, there are at least four environmental issues that you must be aware of when selling your home:
1. Do you have an underground oil or gas storage tank? If so, you may have to dig it up before you sell.
2. Do you get your water from a well? Has the water been tested?
3. Do you have invisible radon gas in your basement?
4. Does your furnace, water heater, or gas stove give off carbon monoxide (CO) gas?

Each of these four issues will be reviewed during the contractor’s inspection (covered in part III – my next post).

9. Closing the Deal

How good a salesperson are you? Getting a reluctant and indecisive buyer to make a decision will be the test. Saying just the right thing, and knowing when not to say anything, can make a big difference. Successful selling is an art and a science. And since buying a home is the biggest investment most of us ever make, highly sophisticated sales techniques are demanded. This is where your Realtor’s® specialized training and experience really pays off.

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