So you want to MOVE!
Selling your current house and buying a new house can be a complicated process, but everything is easier with a clear and systematic approach and help from a few experts.
TIPS FOR A SMOOTH PROCESS
TIP #1: CONSULT THE EXPERTS
There are two people you want to connect with immediately - a local lender and a local real estate agent.
A lender will review your finances to:
Get you pre-approved for a new mortgage.
Identify the best type of loan for your circumstances - including the down payment required.
Estimate your interest rate, your target price range, and your monthly payments.
Determine if you can buy a new house before selling your existing house.
A real estate agent will:
Confirm the estimated market value of your house.
Determine the optimal time to list your current house and buy your new house.
Give you tips to prepare your home to maximize your sales price and return on investment.
Help you determine what type of home you can buy with your new house budget.
TIP #2: PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR THE MARKET
There are a few things you can do upfront to maximize the sales potential of your current house.
Take care of deferred maintenance on your house BEFORE you list it! Deferred maintenance is a red flag to buyers that your house may need more work than they can afford. It can invite lower offers than your home would usually get. Common areas of deferred maintenance include: wood rot around the exterior, peeling paint, dirty heating systems and ducts, cracked/broken windows, torn window screens, etc.
Condsider a pre-listing inspection, The inspection can be the most stressful part of the home selling process. The point if the inspection is to uncover issues that are not easy for a home buyer to spot. If too many issues are revealed, the buyer might terminate the contract out of fear that the house is too much work. Or they could ask you to repair a long list of items prior to the closing. A pre-listing inspection can highlight areas of deferred maintenance (see above) or other issues in the house, so you can address them before the buyer even finds out about it. Not only will this save you lots of stress, it could also save you a lot of money by allowing you to repair the issues on your own terms and schedule.
Pack anything you don't need until your get to the new house. This includes holiday decorations, off-season clothes and sports gear, extra linens and towels, books and paperwork. This accomplishes three things: 1. Helps the house/closets appear less cluttered. 2. Makes it easier to keep clean for showings. 3. Gives you a head start on packing to move! You can store these boxes in your basement, attic or garage.
Eliminate extra/unnecessary furnishings. Most homes show better furnished. Furniture provides an important sense of scale and purpose for each room. But too much furniture can make your house look cluttered and smaller. Look in every room of your house and remove furniture that simply isn't necessary (for example: extra chairs, tables, bookshelves or dressers). Now walk though your house. If you have to walk around any furniture to move from one room to the next, consider moving/removing that piece of furniture. While the layout may work perfectly for you, it could be hard for buyers to navigate. The more floor space you take up with furniture, the smaller your house will appear.
Clear the counters. Remove as much as you can from your kitchen and bathroom counters for photos and showings. This includes toasters, mixers, and crock pots. The more counter space you show, the larger your kitchen will appear!
Organize your closets and pantry. After you pack extra linens and off season clothes, organize your closets. People naturally want to live in an organized space. When they see how organized your closets are, they'll think that level of organization comes with the house.
Clean! Do not underestimate the power of a clean home. If you are not a neat freak, it is worth hiring a cleaning professional to come to your house prior to photos and showings.
TIP #3: PRICE YOUR HOUSE CORRECTLY
Getting the list price right is the most important tool in your marketing arsenal. Do not try to "test" the market by pricing too high. And don't price high to give yourself "room to negotiate." The market doesn't work that way anymore. Pricing your house too high will reduce the number of showings you have and will cause your house to sit on the market for longer than average. Longer than average listing times almost always lead to lower offers.
By contrast, if you price your house correctly or even aggressively, then you will maximize the number of showings in the first few days. This could lead to a very quick offer or even multiple offers, which could drive your price up significantly.
TIP #4: ACCOMMODATE SHOWINGS
Make your house as easy to show as possible. Plan to be out of your house as much as possible for the first week of the listing. The easier your house is to show, the more showings you'll have. The more showings you have, the more interest you'll generate. The more interest you generate, the higher the sale price will be. Don't put unreasonable restrictions on showing times if you can avoid it!
TIP #5: NEGOTIATE QUICKLY
Once someone makes an offer on your house, try to negotiate fairly quickly, You don't need to respond within 10 minutes, but very little is gained by "sleeping" on every offer and counteroffer. All that does is create ill-will and a potentially drive a buyer away. No need to play games here. Everyone wants the same thing: for you to sell your house to someone who wants to buy it. Momentum in negotiations can be very important. Don't give your buyers time to consider other houses or second guess their offer!
TIP #6: COME UP WITH A GAME PLAN FOR MOVING
Packing and moving ALWAYS takes longer than anticipated. DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE! As soon as you list your house, start getting ready to move. Make and prioritize a list of everything you need to do. Start gathering boxes and packing supplies. Start donating and purging items that will not come to the new house.
Once you are under contract, work backwards from your Closing Date to determine your next steps. Get quotes from a few moving companies and get on their schedule early.
TIP #7: HIRE A CLEANER!
Packing and moving out of a house is stressful. Many people forget that the house needs to be cleaned before the closing and simply run out of time. This can cause problems at the walk-through. Instead of pulling a frantic cleaning all-nighter before the closing, consider hiring someone to come in and do the job for you. The house will be completely empty, so hiring someone may not cost much. Be sure to clean the refrigerator, oven, and inside cabinets and drawers too!
Consider this a gift to yourself. It will save you so much time and aggravation. Besides, you need to save your strength to get settled into your new house!