New Year, New You? Four Questions to Ask Before Selling Your Home

There comes a time in every home owner’s life when he or she realizes, “I am not the same person I was when I bought this place.” Maybe your lifestyle or your family configuration has changed, or maybe the house just isn’t as appealing as it was when you signed that ream of paperwork on closing day.

The beginning of a new year can create the desire to make changes in your life. Should your house be one of them? 

If you’re thinking about moving, there are a few questions your Boise, Idaho real estate experts Jill Giese & Associates suggest you answer before you take the plunge and list the house. 

When you can answer these questions, you’ll know you’re in the right place emotionally and financially to move on to your next space!

What is my home really worth?

You can find almost anything on the internet, and that includes an estimated value of your home. How convenient!

But before you try to figure out how much your house is worth on your own, take a deep breath and resolve to remember one thing: “I shouldn’t believe everything I read on the internet.”

It’s possible that an automated estimate is going to be spot-on, but those algorithms depend on numbers that might or might not be accurate, such as the condition of your property, the square footage, any features or amenities you’ve added or removed, and recent sales of properties nearby that could be comparable to your own house.

A better way to figure out how much your house might be worth is to talk to a professional about your property’s value; a real estate professional who sells properties in your neighborhood every day is able to give you a more accurate idea of how much your particular, specific home might capture on the current market.

And a real estate professional can also explain what you can do to your home to help inch that number upward a little bit. Then you can make the call as to whether or not you want to make any upgrades or take the estimated price as-is. Which leads to the next question …

How can I sell at the highest price possible?

When you’re selling anything, you want to get fair market value for the item you’re selling, and that’s exponentially truer for your house, which is probably your biggest asset.

If you know your neighbor’s house sold for ten thousand more than the highest estimate you’ve been able to find for your own house, that can be a tough reality to swallow. This is where real estate professionals really earn their keep — they can explain why that house was so desirable — maybe if you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that your neighbor’s view is much nicer than yours, for example — and they can also show you where you do have some room for (price) improvement.

If you’re not ready to call in a professional, start with things that can spruce up almost any dwelling. One of the first and most important steps to selling your house for top dollar is to get the place deep-cleaned from floor to ceiling, including washing the windows and scrubbing down all of your kitchen appliances.

Start by attacking the clutter — it’s much easier to clean a room that doesn’t have a lot of furniture or objects in it, so even if you’re hoping to move up to make space for all your stuff, it’s a good idea to start cleaning out the items you know you don’t want to move with you. If there’s still a lot left, consider a shed or an off-site storage facility where you can stash things without packing it all in your closets — a place buyers will most definitely look. If you have a junk drawer or even a “junk room,” now is the time to start corralling that beast.

Then get cleaning. There’s no detail too small — make sure every room in the house sparkles to the best of your ability and smells fresh and aired-out.

There may be quite a few additional projects you could tackle to increase your home’s value, such as adding a deck, remodeling the kitchen, or even adding entire rooms in some cases. Those are good opportunities to discuss with a real estate professional, who can share feedback about whether the project is going to be worth the eventual return on investment when you sell the home — and what projects will net you more money for your property. At Jill Giese & Associates, we have a “Home Transformation” program where we can help you add value with little trouble or out-of-pocket cost for you. 

We also know stagers, contractors, and professional photographers. When a buyer falls in love with your house, it’s most likely going to be from an online listing, so your listing photos should be as high-quality as possible — that might mean bringing in a stager to spruce up the rooms and a photographer to capture the results.

How long will my house be on the market?

No one can predict the future, but experts who work in the industry can usually come close. If you haven’t called an agent yet, you might need to in order to get the information you’ll need to answer this question.

Ultimately, it depends on what the housing market is like in our area at the time you want to sell. But there are a lot of anomalies within a housing market — even in markets that seem red-hot, sometimes sellers make a mistake and overprice a home that then languishes for weeks or even months longer than more realistically priced homes. And there are some neighborhoods or even specific blocks where buyers seem to be willing to do just about anything to get their foot in the door — and other geographies where they might need to be lured in a little more aggressively.

The number of days that homes stay on the market gets shorter and shorter as housing heats up, but that number is absolutely contingent on the initial list price. Homes that need to reduce their prices to attract qualified buyers will remain on the market longer than homes priced competitively from the start. It’s really important to get the initial list price right if you’d like the home to sell quickly. And remember — the longer that house takes to sell, the longer you as the seller will be responsible for keeping it in showing condition for buyers — seven days a week.

So even in markets where houses seem to be flying off the shelves, it’s smart to talk to someone who sees those sales up close and personal every day. They can give you an educated estimate about the amount of time it should take your property to get from list to close.

How can a Real Estate Professional help?

Selling a home is a huge life event that encroaches on just about every aspect of your existence, from your meals to your work schedule to how often you do laundry and vacuum pet hair. It can be an incredibly stressful time, and a real estate professional is a personal advisor who can help sellers make the best decisions possible while keeping track of all the details.

A good real estate professional will help you determine the best price for your home, list it for you on the MLS, and handle all the marketing — from photos to open houses to glossy brochures to Facebook ads. A good agent can manage your showing schedule for buyers who want personal tours and can help you decide which offer to accept if you happen to receive more than one … and a licensed real estate professional is absolutely essential during the negotiation process, especially if the buyer is making demands you aren’t prepared to address.

A knowledgeable real estate professional will also know the best plumbers, electricians, and general contractors in the area who might be able to make any repairs or changes to the house before it closes. He or she will manage the transaction timeline, alerting you when an inspection or appraisal is about to happen and keeping you in the loop regarding financing and every other aspect of the deal.

A good real estate professional can also help you do all of this while you’re simultaneously looking for a new place to live and can help you manage that, too — including what to do if you find a home before your current house sells.

Selling a home is not as simple as listing it on the MLS and waiting for an offer to come in — there’s so much more involved that many sellers don’t easily handle on their own. Answering the above questions will get you a head start, but don’t skip talking to an agent when you’re actually ready to list that home!

And always remember, if you are interested in real estate, we are your Boise, Idaho and North End real estate experts. If you are interested in searching for your next dream home, the place to go is here!

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