For Sellers

What does it really take to sell a house? What are the things that I make sure we do in order to help the sale go as quickly as possible for the best price possible?

Here are my not-so-secret secrets:

But wait, those of you who are savvy real estate veterans might be asking, isn’t that the buyer’s responsibility?

Traditionally, yes. However there are huge benefits to conducting the inspections yourself. For one thing, as the seller, you can avoid being hit with any surprises later; surprises that might break a deal or at best send you into re-negotiations with your buyer.

You may choose to correct issues that arise. For example, I have one client who had no idea that the shower in her rarely-used guest bathroom was leaking — like a sieve! — into the crawl space. She was mortified by the discovery and chose to make the repairs before staging the house for sale.

Whether you choose to correct an issue or to simply properly disclose it, you are miles ahead of where you would be if the buyer discovered the issue later; disclosures engender good will, surprises demolish it.

I also recommend to my clients that we get bids for items we choose not to fix. For example, if the buyers know that there’s a roof defect and they know how much the repair is going to cost, it makes the whole process more transparent.

Generally, if you spend a lot of money on a product only to find out the product is defective, you either want your money back or want to walk away. Over the years, I have seen repeatedly that when you give your potential buyer a more complete picture of what they are paying for — before they agree to spend their money, they are more likely to accept the condition.

Very often, a seller says, “I don’t want to spend money on inspections.” But, had they done so, they would have had a more solid buyer.

Inspections can be extensive — and expensive — however the value is paid back a hundredfold: You get a more committed buyer. It’s worth it to not have to hear the phrase: “I had no idea.”

Many people have the misconception that staging a house has to mean renting  furniture. That is not necessarily the case. Staging is an individualized process, depending on the condition of the house and the quality of the current design.

Some people have exquisite taste and own beautiful furnishings. In which case, we can work with what you have, using a few insider techniques that I’ve learned to depend on over the years.

But being nearly sale-ready is not the norm. Just like we don’t dress for a wedding or a prom every day, most people generally don’t live in a house in show condition.

If you’ve been to a few Bay Area open houses, you already know: The majority of houses in Bay Area are all dolled up when they go on the market. We have to dress your house up some, of course; you wouldn’t attend a formal dinner in a sweatsuit!

Very often, we can find the elements for staging “in your closet” so to speak. We start with what you have and then, with just a little primping and arranging, we can create the ready-to-show version of your home.

(For more discussion of this topic, see My Secrets to Staging Your Home series: “Close the Lid!“; “Mirror, Mirror“; and “Get Rid of Your Junk!“)

It is critically important in the selling process to know who is on title to the property and in what manner they are holding title. This is not a surprise you want to encounter later, when you are in contract.

Because of some surprises my clients and I experienced early in my career, I now ask that all clients pull a property profile or preliminary title report.

In one of those early learning experiences, my client had recently broken up with his partner. However he guaranteed that he was the only person on the title. “I own the house,” he said. “Me, and only me!”

And, in fact, as it turned out, his ex-partner was not on the title.

However, his deceased mother was.

This put us in an awkward position — and liable for a lawsuit — because the home was on a 15-day close and the buyer had already given notice at his current residence.

We recovered the situation by allowing the buyer to move in while we probated the seller’s deceased-mother’s one-quarter interest in the property.

If I had known about the issue in advance, we could have completed the probate process before putting the house on the market. Lesson learned:  I recommend to my clients to get a copy of the property profile, every time.

Are you thinking about putting your house on the market?

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