For most people, their home is their biggest asset. It is important to protect & capitalize on your investment.  I realize that your sale must be handled with care. This guide was written for you to achieve the following goals in mind; to give you the tools you need to maximize your profit, maintain control or your sale, and reduce the stress that comes with the home-selling process.

1. Know Why You’re Selling
Look closely at why you want to sell. Your motivations play an important role in the process. They affect everything from setting a price to deciding how much time and money you’ll invest getting your home ready for sale.

2. Once You Know, Keep It To Yourself
Your reasons will affect how you negotiate the sale of your home, but they shouldn’t be shared as they could become useful information to the person who wants to buy it. For example, a prospective buyer who knows you must move quickly has you at their mercy in the negotiation process. When asked, simply say that your housing needs have changed. Your reasons are nobody’s business but your own.

3. Do Your Homework Before Setting A Price
Many people tend to value their homes higher than the market.  There can be an emotional attachment that effects a Sellers perception of the value of their home.  The most common way to set a value is to look at homes that have sold in your neighborhood within the past 6 to 12 months, as well as those now on the market. That’s certainly how prospective buyers will assess the worth of your home. I will do all the market research and provide you with comps showing where your home should be priced to best meet your goals—a fast sell, maximum profit, etc.

4. Go Home Shopping Yourself
The best way to get to know your competition, identify features that are popular and learn what turns buyers off is to check out other open houses. Plan on spending some time touring other homes on the market to learn what other sellers are asking. Make note of the floor plan, condition, appearance, size of lot, location and other features. If you visit enough homes and pay close attention to the details (and what other “buyers” are saying), you’ll develop a good understanding of how different features affect pricing. Then you can apply what you’ve learned to the task of setting your price. But don’t forget to include in the equation what homes are actually selling for, not just simply what people are asking.

5. Know When To Get An Appraisal
Sometimes you can use a good appraisal to your benefit in marketing your home. However, an appraisal costs money. It also has a limited life. And you may not like the figure you hear.

6. Your Tax Assessment Means Almost Nothing
Some people look to tax assessments to assign a value. The problem here is that assessments are based on a number of criteria unrelated to property values, so they often don’t necessarily reflect the true value of your home. Have you ever heard of two identical homes in the same neighborhood with dramatically different assessed values because one was purchased more recently than the other? It happens quite often.

7. Find A Good Realtor
Nearly two-thirds of the people who sell their own home say they wouldn’t do it themselves again, according to research by the National Association of Realtors. Sellers surveyed point to difficulties in setting a price, marketing handicaps and liability concerns are among the primary reasons they would turn to a Realtor next time. And selling a home yourself usually eats up more time and effort than you might initially expect. A good Realtor knows the market and your neighborhood in particular. They will supply you with information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, something on their own background, and references from past clients. Take the time to carefully evaluate candidates on the basis of their experience, qualifications, enthusiasm, and personality. Most importantly, make sure you choose someone who is going to put in a lot of hard work on your behalf.

8. Maximize Your Home’s Selling Potential
Appearance is critical — and it would be foolish to ignore this when selling your home. You may not be able to change your home’s location or its floor plan, but you can do a lot to improve its appearance. And you should. The look and “feel” of your home generates a greater emotional response than any other factor. A prospective buyer reacts to what they see, hear, feel and smell.

9. Rely On Other People’s Judgment As Well As Your Own
The key to effective marketing is knowing your home’s good and bad points. Accentuating the good can mean a faster sale for more money; failing to deal with the bad can mean months on the market and a lower-than-desired sales price. The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to rely solely on your own judgment. Remember this is your home, a place of fond memories. Emotional issues can impair your ability to make an honest assessment of your home’s strengths and weaknesses.

10. Clean Like You’ve Never Cleaned Before
Pick up, straighten, un-clutter, scrub, scour & dust…then go back and do it again!  If your living room feels crowded, take out every piece of furniture you can get away with. Remember, you’re not just competing with other people’s homes — you’re competing against new construction as well.

11. Fix Everything – No Matter How Insignificant It May Appear
The step that squeaks, the light switch that doesn’t work, the hairline crack in the bathroom mirror — they might be minor annoyances to you, but they can also be that one detail that a Buyer sees and focuses on. The problem is that you never know what will turn a buyer off. Something minor that’s gone unattended can suggest that perhaps there are bigger, less visible problems as well.

12. Remove All Traces Of You From Your Home
When you toured other people’s homes, you may have felt uncomfortable. This probably occurred because you saw, heard or otherwise sensed something that made you feel as if you were intruding into someone’s life. The last thing you want others to feel in visiting your home is that same sense of discomfort. Avoid this by making your home as neutral as possible. Anything that interferes with a prospective Buyer’s ability to see themselves living in your home must be eliminated. A few carefully chosen knickknacks and family portraits may add warmth and character to the home, too many are a distraction. Avoid unique or trendy color schemes — paint and carpet in neutral shades of white or beige.

13. Little Touches Make A Difference
While personal items can detract, other small touches can help make your house a home to buyers. A well-placed vase of flowers, accent pieces of sculpture, potpourri in the bathroom — all can enhance the attractiveness of your home in a subtle, soft-spoken way.

14. Don’t Let A Small Be Your Downfall
Odd smells kill deals quickly. All traces of food, pet and smoking odors must be eliminated. Even when you’re sure they are gone, have a friend come by to see if they smell anything unusual.  Don’t let this be your downfall.

15. Disclose Everything
Smart sellers proactively go above and beyond the laws to disclose all known defects to their buyers — in writing. If the buyer knows about a problem, he can’t come back with a lawsuit later on.

16. The More Prospects, The Better
By maximizing your home’s marketability, you’ll increase your chances of attracting more than one prospective buyer. Why is this better? Because several buyers compete with each other; a single buyer ends up competing with you.

17. Don’t Get Emotional During Negotiations
It is important to see this as a business transaction.  A Buyer is trying to get the best price s/he can while you are trying to get the best price you can.  If you can just let go of the emotion you’ve invested in your home and approach negotiations in a detached, businesslike manner, you’ll find the process to be a lot less painful. You’ll definitely have an advantage over prospective buyers who get caught up in the emotion of the situation.

18. Know Your Buyer
In the negotiation process, your objective is to control the pace and set the duration. And the better you know your buyer, the more easily you can maintain control. As a rule, buyers want the best property they can afford for the least amount of money. But knowing specifically what motivates your buyer enables you to negotiate more effectively. Maybe your buyer needs to move quickly. Or the maximum amount he can spend is just a little below your asking price. Knowing this information puts you in a better bargaining position.

19. Make Sure the Contract is Complete
The best way to avoid problems is to make sure that all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the agreement of sale. A contract should include the date it was made, the names of the parties involved in the transaction, the address of the property being sold, the purchase price, where deposit monies will be held, the date for loan approval, the date and place of closing, type of deed, any contingencies that remain to be settled, and whether there’s any personal property included (or not) in the sale, among other things.

20. Don’t Deviate From the Contract
Resist the temptation to diverge from the contract. For example, if the buyer requests a move-in prior to closing, just say no. Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling through. If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is. But it’s to be expected when you’re selling anything of such great value. And you’ll thank yourself for all the expense and hard work when the outcome works to your satisfaction.