Proactive is the buzzword when addressing both cosmetic and mechanical components of a listing. It's always best to take time in making the repairs beforehand, rather than correcting items as potential buyers spot them.
It's that time of year again, the 2018 selling season is upon us. If you have clients getting ready to put their home on the market, the task list to prep for the market can seem endless. To make it easy, we’ve compiled a home maintenance list for you of ten things sellers should do before putting that for sale sign in the ground.
The sun is peeking out and the plants are starting to blossom, so it must be about time for spring chores again. Here’s an annual spring checklist of important issues to tend to around the house.
1. Roofing repairs: If you suspect winter storms may have damaged your roof, it needs to be inspected. (If you’re not comfortable with the height or steepness of your roof, hire a licensed roofing contractor for the inspection.) Look for missing or loose shingles, including ridge-cap shingles.
Examine the condition of the flashings around chimneys, flue pipes, vent caps, and anyplace where the roof and walls intersect. Look for overhanging trees that could damage the roof in a wind storm, as well as buildups of leaves and other debris.
If you have roof damage in a number of areas, or if older shingles makes patching impractical, consider having the entire roof redone. Also, remember that if the shingles have been damaged by wind or by impact from falling tree limbs, the damage may be covered by your homeowners insurance.
2. Check gutters and downspouts: Look for areas where the fasteners may have pulled loose, and for any sags in the gutter run. Also, check for water stains that may indicate joints that have worked loose and are leaking. Clean leaves and debris to be ready for spring and summer rains.
3. Fences and gates: Fence posts are especially susceptible to groundwater saturation, and will loosen up and tilt if the soil around them gets soaked too deeply. Check fence posts in various areas by wiggling them to see how solidly embedded they are. If any are loose, wait until the surrounding soil has dried out, then excavate around the bottom of the posts and pour additional concrete to stabilize them. Replace any posts that have rotted.
4. Clear yard debris and clean pool: Inspect landscaping for damage, especially trees. If you see any cracked, leaning or otherwise dangerous conditions with any of your trees, have a licensed, insured tree company inspect and trim or remove them as needed. Clean up leaves, needles, small limbs and other material that has accumulated. Do any spring pruning that’s necessary. Remove and dispose of all dead plant material so it won’t become a fire hazard as it dries. Be sure to have your pool maintenance company service the pool and correct any PH balance.
5. Fans and air conditioners: Clean and check the operation of cooling fans, air conditioners and whole-house fans. Shut the power to the fan, remove the cover and wash with mild soapy water, then clean out dust from inside the fan with a shop vacuum — do not operate the fan with the cover removed.
Check outdoor central air conditioning units for damage or debris buildup, and clean or replace any filters. Check the roof or wall caps where the fan ducts terminate to make sure they are undamaged and well sealed. Check dampers for smooth operation.
6. Check and adjust sprinklers: Run each set of in-ground sprinklers through a cycle, and watch how and where the water is hitting. Adjust or replace any sprinklers that are hitting your siding, washing out loose soil areas, spraying over foundation vents, or in any other way wetting areas on and around your house that shouldn’t be getting wet.
7. Check vent blocks and faucet covers: As soon as you’re comfortable that the danger of winter freezing is over, remove foundation vent blocks or open vent covers to allow air circulation in the crawl space. While removing the vent covers, check the grade level around the foundation vents. Winter weather can move soil and create buildups or grade problems that will allow groundwater to drain through the vents into the crawl space, so regrade as necessary. Remove outdoor faucet covers. Turn on the water supply to outdoor faucets if it’s been shut off.
8. Prepare yard tools: Replace broken or damaged handles, and clean and condition metal parts. Tighten fittings and fasteners, sharpen cutting tools and mower blades, and service engines and belts in lawn mowers and other power equipment. Properly maintain equipment will ensure safely and efficiency.
9. Change furnace and AC filters: Now is the time to replace furnace filters that have become choked with dust from the winter heating season. This is especially important if you have central air conditioning, or if you utilize your heating system’s fan to circulate air during the summer.
10. Check smoke detectors: Daylight Savings Time snuck up early again this year, and that’s usually the semi-annual reminder to check your smoke alarms. So if you haven’t already done it, now’s the time. Replace the batteries, clean the covers, and test the detector’s operation before it’s too late.
If you have gas-fired appliances in the house, add a carbon monoxide detector as well (or check the operation of your existing one). CO2 detectors are inexpensive and easy to install, and are available at most home centers and other retailers of electrical parts and supplies.
Tips courtesy of Inman News
Home staging versus interior design: What's the difference? And which one do you need? While both share the goal of making your home look its best (and many pros offer both services), each serves a very distinct purpose. Here are some questions to ask to help you decide which one is right for you.
Are you selling your home soon, or staying put?To begin, consider whether you're planning a move in the near future. If a sale is on your mind, a home staging company is the right choice.
"Home staging is all about prepping your house so it will appeal to as many buyers as possible," explains Dessie Sliekers of Slick Designs.
Home staging can include changing out paint colors, adding new pictures and artwork, and bringing in furniture and accessories. This service is generally viewed as a temporary one that's done in order to garner bids and result in a sale.
But if you're settled into your home for the foreseeable future, an interior designer would be more suitable. "An interior designer is knowledgeable about building construction, remodeling, and structural details," says Sara Chiarilli, a designer with Artful Conceptions in Tampa, FL. While a designer may also offer home staging services, this professional offers a much broader range of services, from complete overhauls (ripping out walls, installing new flooring) to simple color updates (paint, carpet, drapes, upholstery). "A designer will create a beautiful, functional space for her client that will last," Chiarilli says.
Do you want to express your personal style, or fetch top dollar when you sell?
Home staging often has pretty rigid sales tactics (e.g., rolling three towels just so in the powder room, or displaying shiny green apples on the dining table nearly every time). This isn't to say there aren't different approaches to home staging, but the majority of a stager's tweaks will be impersonal and on the generic side. "A home staging company is concerned with placing furniture to best sell the property and won't necessarily take into account what the client really likes," says Chiarilli. Sliekers agrees: "With home staging, you'll receive firm suggestions."
The upside, however, is that on average, a staged property sells 88% faster and for 20% more than a non-staged one. Hire an interior designer, on the other hand, and you get a lot more creative control. Do you want a bright-green laundry room and a tricked-out master bath? A designer will work to meet your needs. "This professional operates as your partner to handle paint consultation, light fixtures, improved plumbing, new furniture, finishes, artwork, and rugs—all of which is approved by the client," says Sliekers.
Are you on a tight budget, or want to spend big?
You can spend up to $500 per room if your budget allows. However steep that may seem, an interior designer will charge more—anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour, depending on her expertise. "Staging tends to be cheaper because it's usually a one-time consultation, sometimes paired with the selection of rental furnishings or artwork," says Sliekers. Interior design, on the other hand, is a much more expansive service, so that's reflected in the price.
By Jennifer Geddes Realtor Magazine
Steve Wadlington, president of WIN Home Inspection, explains how sellers can avoid potential conflict with buyers and gain an edge in negotiations.
In the typical real estate transaction, the buyer is the one to order a home inspection. But sellers, too, can request a professional assessment of their home before putting it on the market. A pre-listing inspection provides sellers with upfront information about the condition of their property, which gives them more control over repairs and potentially strengthens their negotiating position.
Few sellers take advantage of this opportunity, according to Steve Wadlington, president of national home inspection services company WIN Home Inspection. “I don’t expect pre-listing inspections to become mainstream in my lifetime,” he says. Lack of awareness contributes to the underutilization, Wadlington adds, but he also acknowledges that sellers may be reluctant to spend the money for such services.
Additionally, sellers and their agents have a legal duty to disclose to buyers any property issues that are revealed in a pre-inspection report. REALTOR® Magazine spoke with Wadlington about how pre-listing inspections can boost home sales and help sellers defend their asking price.
Are there any differences between a pre-listing inspection and a buyer’s inspection?
The only differences are the customer for whom the inspection is being conducted—in this case it’s the seller, not the buyer—and the point when the inspection occurs. The scope of the inspection is the same. A pre-listing inspection focuses on proper functionality of all major systems and components of the house: heating and cooling; electrical; plumbing; roof and structure; siding; and doors and windows. It’s a full inspection for the seller to better understand the condition of their home prior to the buyer’s inspection. This gives the seller important information to consider so they’re not caught off-guard in the midst of a transaction.
How much does a typical pre-listing inspection cost?
The fee is usually the same as a buyer’s inspection, generally ranging from $350 to $500 for a qualified inspector who carries E&O insurance. Of course, the price varies based on location, square footage, age of the home, and any special conditions, such as whether the home is built on a steep incline.
Why should a seller do an inspection, particularly if the buyer is going to do one anyway?
The value to the seller is that a pre-listing inspection makes them aware of issues in advance of negotiating a purchase agreement, allowing them the chance to resolve the issues or have them accounted for upfront in the asking price. This gives the seller better control in marketing their home and helps minimize stress from heat-of-the-moment negotiations once a purchase agreement is tendered. Homes that have a pre-listing inspection generally sell faster and have fewer inspection-related issues to negotiate, enabling a smoother transaction.
What should a seller do if a pre-listing inspection uncovers significant problems in the home?It’s always better for everyone to know about major inspection issues as soon as possible. Once they’re identified, they can be carefully assessed for proper resolution. Depending on the nature of the issue, a seller shouldn’t automatically assume that everything needs to be fixed before putting the home on the market. Their real estate professional should advise whether the repairs are necessary to the viability of the sale. Regardless of who owns the property, issues of concern to the buyer will need to be dealt with somehow, and the associated cost of the resolution is a consideration for both the buyer and seller.
If the seller doesn’t want to pay for repairs, what solace does a pre-listing inspection give to the buyer?
For many buyers, being provided forthcoming inspection information has both tangible and emotional value. They’re made aware of issues identified in the inspection report, which gives them more facts to work with, and then they’re provided subsequent clarity on which issues have been or will be resolved as part of the transaction. Sellers who proactively disclose pre-listing issues give buyers proper awareness to factor them into their offers.
Can pre-listing inspections help real estate professionals when marketing a home?
The more information agents can provide to give buyers peace of mind, the better it is for the sale. A pre-listing inspection can also reinforce the seller’s asking price. It enables agents to explain how the inspection report—plus any repairs that were made before listing—helped the sellers arrive at the home’s value. At WIN, we also provide a “Ready for Purchase” sign rider to identify the house as one that has pre-listing inspection information available. It’s similar to what the auto industry has done with marketing certified used cars.
What about sellers who don’t see the sense in paying for an inspection?Actually, a pre-listing inspection can ultimately save money for sellers in two ways. First, by being aware of and disclosing known property issues upfront, the seller can make it known that consideration for those items has already been factored into the sales price. That effectively takes these issues off the negotiation table. Second, the seller can choose to repair the issues prior to listing, which gives them more control over repair costs.
Should a seller offer the entire pre-listing inspection report to a buyer or just a summary? How much detail is necessary?
I think this is a situational consideration, where sellers should consult with their real estate professional. The industry has evolved such that it is reasonable to view the inspection summary as containing all of the important need-to-know items found in the full report. Since the real goal here is to ensure transparency and awareness, the summary should be adequate to achieve that. Depending on the length and complexity of the full report, as well as the technical complexity of the issues presented in the summary, I can see where a good faith effort to offer more detail could actually cause undue alarm if the buyer can’t put the information in proper perspective. But bear in mind that much of the longer report will also confirm positive functionality of the major systems and components of the home, so it can offer added positive value as well.
Wouldn’t buyers still want to do their own inspection?
Yes, absolutely. If a seller claims to have resolved issues that were uncovered in a pre-listing inspection, the buyer will want a subsequent inspection to confirm those repairs. Whether the buyer uses the same inspector that the seller used is a matter of personal preference, and there are pros and cons either way. Using the same inspector can be beneficial because their prior experience and familiarity with the home allows them to better detect changes based on a point in time. But a properly trained and certified home inspector will inspect the home for the seller or the buyer in the same manner. This person’s view of the home is objective and won’t change based on who hired them.
Credit: Graham Wood - Realtor Magazine
Have you been thinking about downsizing your home? You may not be saying “when is it time to downsize?” per se but you may find that you’re asking yourself these sorts of questions:
If so, you may want to start thinking about your next move.
Whether you’re seeking to downsize to a smaller space, for less maintenance, a lower mortgage payment, or for a different lifestyle, it’s never too soon to start planning.
We know even the mere thought of downsizing your home can be overwhelming. That’s why you need a trusted person to guide you through the process. Someone who has helped others downsize. A seasoned Realtor can help you explore the communities and homes that represent the lifestyle you’re seeking – whether it is a townhouse, condo, apartment, or even a senior living option. We will help you line up a team to help you with everything from decluttering to getting your home looking its best to lining up senior moving specialists.
We’re here to help with this transition and enjoy life more than they ever have before.
Ready to start the conversation? Let’s meet for coffee to talk about your goals and dreams. Reach out today and let’s get started.
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