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Prepping Your Home for Sale: Q&A with Vincent Salvitti

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 22 March 2011

If you’re thinking of downsizing to a smaller home, making a transition to an active adult community, or looking for some other type of housing (many boomers/seniors are leaving the suburbs and moving into condos/townhomes in cities nationwide), there are things you can do to ensure a quick and successful sale.

Consider the advice offered here by Vincent Salvitti, a ReSale manager with Traditions Realty. (Traditions Realty is part of Traditions of America, a nationally-recognized developer of 55+ active adult communities: http://www.traditionsofamerica.com.)

Is it worth doing certain work to the home to prep it for sale?
“Typically, boomers/seniors are wondering about home inspections, changing countertops, or ripping up rugs,” says Erin Read Ruddick of Creating Results, a marketing firm focused on the 40+ crowd.  Sometimes, she says, people have bigger challenges, like whether to fill-in a pool, replace septic, and so on.

To begin, Vincent Salvitti does not recommend revamping the entire kitchen. “Small updates are good,” he says. But bear in mind that the more objections your prospective buyers note throughout the house (things unrepaired, cosmetic issues like dated floors, finishes and countertops, etc.), the less likely they are to buy – or the more likely they will be to whittle away at the list price. In Vince’s opinion, the homeowner is better off to remove the objection(s) early on and pay the price that way, rather than in negotiating total sale price.

What should I look for in a realtor to help me maximize my home value?
How not to choose a realtor: open the phone book, close your eyes, and circle your finger in the air before landing on a name. Ok, so maybe you wouldn’t do that, but perhaps the long list of local realtors is overwhelming and you don’t quite know where to begin.

Vince suggests that sellers interview three realtors from three agencies with a strong presence/good reputation in the community. The realtors you select to interview should also meet certain criteria: he/she should be an experienced full-time agent with an extensive network, and he/she should be professional, ethical, and honest about your home’s value. Too many times, a realtor will tell the sellers what they want to hear about the value of their home, rather than the truth about said value.  But an overpriced listing will ultimately damage the value of the home, because the house will likely linger on the market, which in turns draws lower offers, based on perceptions that buyers/agents form (correct or not, fair or not). A good agent, accurate pricing from the outset, and a well-staged home (more to come on that later) means confidence for the seller; a dishonest agent will end up chasing the market.

What could keep me from maximizing my home value?
Determining the value of a home has changed drastically over the last few years. Many still believe in a formula like this one: cost of improvements + original price + what neighbor down street sold for + what I need to get out of it at sale = value.

These folks are missing the mark on value estimation, says Vince. It’s more about what buyers are ready and able to pay for, and this can change at any given moment based on surplus or lack of inventory, changing percentage rates, and other factors.  A fair market value, says Vince, really has more to do with a ready buyer and a willing seller.

What are 4 steps I can take to prep my home for sale?
According to the National Association of Realtors, up to 87% of buyers begin their search on the Internet, so good photographs of your home are key. The best buyer, says Vince, is someone who comes to look at the home in the first 30-40 days after the market listing, so be sure to draw them in with appealing photographs.

If you were selling a car, you would probably get it detailed so that it sparkles, right? Do the same for your home. Hire a professional cleaning company, or DIY: get the windows cleaned, carpets steamed, baseboards dusted and polished, and so on. Make it sparkle.

1.       Curb appeal must be addressed. When buyers cruise through neighborhoods of interest, they are looking at the curb appeal first. It doesn’t matter how stunning your home’s interior is if the fence is falling down, the porch furniture is dirty and outdated, or the front door’s last coat of paint was applied in 1963. Says Vince, most buyers have formed their opinions of the home before they enter the front door, so it behooves the seller to examine their home’s exterior with a critical eye. Think about the sidewalk, fencing, shutters, landscaping, exterior paint, power washing, and the like.

2.       Interior of home (declutter, clean, etc.) must be clean and clutter-free. Rent storage space if necessary. Hire a professional staging agent (consultations typically cost $175) to make recommendations on furniture placement, carpet/paint colors, how to hide flaws or highlight features/focal points in a room, and how to emphasize accessories.

3.       Neutralize areas of home (personalized décor, dated carpet colors, etc.) to appeal to more buyers on the whole. It doesn’t matter how much you love your dark red dining room walls or fancy floral-print carpet. A prospective buyer needs to be able to envision themselves in the home, with their own furniture, accessories, and style, so give them a neutral, distraction-free palette to work with.

4.       Update floor finishes and appliances. Or, in the case of older homes, do some restorative/preservative work to maintain the historic charm that some buyers look for when they tour an older home.

Thinking of downsizing? Looks like you might have some work to do before putting up the “For Sale” sign… get to it!

-Michelle Seitzer

There are 2 Comments about this post

  1. Here’s a great article that explains why it’s important to sell your old home before you buy a new one. It’s a good consideration, especially with the current state of the real estate market. http://bit.ly/fsqiOH

     

    on 24 March 2011 / 4:54 PM

     
  2. Thanks for the feedback! Glad you found the piece helpful and for sharing it accordingly!

     

    on 27 March 2011 / 1:59 PM

     
 

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