SELLING

For Sellers: 29 Tips to Sell Your Home

Your home will sell. There's no question about that - in today's market or tomorrow's, good or bad. However, if you put your home on the market without preparing it for sale, you may have a long wait for an offer. You also may not realize your home's greatest return on investment. You don't have to turn your pockets inside out to get ready to sell. Some outlay may be necessary for painting, for replacing worn woodwork, carpeting, cabinet doors, or for repairing broken fixtures or appliances. There are, however, many fix-ups that cost absolutely nothing - except a little time and elbow grease. These fix-ups will make all the difference in whether or not your home makes the most of itself. Here are a few tips for getting your home ready to show itself off to your pocketbook's best advantage.

OUTDOORS


1. Spruce up all around the house. Keep lawn and shrubbery trimmed and free of bicycles and other clutter. Keep the garden beds weeded and mulched.


2. Put a flowering pot on the front step and keep it watered and trimmed.


3. Fill any cracks or potholes in your driveway and tidy up walkways.


4. Clean off your outdoor furniture; remove any rust (or toss out the rusted item).


5. Clear out the garage of everything but cars. If yours has become a tow-car attic, throw out the excess.


6. Garage doors are the most looked at feature of your home. In many cases they represent what the client first sees before viewing the rest of your home. Now is the time to be sure they are in top shape? Possibly a fresh coat of paint in order? Just remember the clients may spend more time waiting in your driveway before they come in or as they write an offer. Be sure the doors are closed during the showings.


7. Straighten gutters, the mailbox, the fence - and other things that sag.


8. Fix doorbells, tighten loose door-knobs, and oil squeaking hinges.


9. Repair broken windows and shutters.

INDOORS

10. Clean up everything in and out of sight. Shampoo carpets and polish floors. Wash or brush walls. Wash windows and clean blinds and draperies.


11. Weed clutter out of closets and cupboards.


12. Create space by storing some of the extra furniture you've found useful (bureaus, bookcases, storage chests, oversized chairs) but which makes a crowded impression. You can present your rooms as a more functional size by moving all the furniture away from the doorways and towards the outside walls. The prospective Buyer will usually discount an over crowded room as non functional and way too small?so give each room the wide open look so they can really see all the possibilities.


13. Place the remaining furniture so that traffic can flow easily from room to room.


14. Unless you're a skilled artist, scale down your personal artwork (portraits, landscapes), posters, signs, and family photos, especially in teenagers' rooms. Create a feeling of spaciousness.


15. Keep shades and draperies open, to admit as much light as possible, but screen out unappealing views.


16. Let your kitchen look warm and welcoming, not a hectic workplace. Keep your sink shining and free of dirty dishes at all times.


17. Organize cupboards and clean the refrigerator.


18. Keep countertops clear, but not empty (as if unused); adorn them with your most attractive canisters.


19. Completely degrease your oven. Let the kitchen smell fresh and fragrant (with cinnamon warming in the clean oven, if you have time).


20. Remove debris (dust, flies, moths, etc.) from all light fixtures.


21. Keep bathrooms scrubbed, tidy and equipped with fresh soap and neatly hung towels (matching, if possible).


22. Get rid of all stains and install new washers on dripping faucets.


23. Feature (with lighting or furniture arrangement) your home's best characteristics (a fireplace, a picture window, ceiling beams, a kitchen eating area, etc.)


24. If you've repainted (preferably in safe neutral tones), add bold splashes of color (with your brightest throw pillows, crockery, pictures).


25. Place plants in strategic spots in any room - the bigger the more glamorous, if space permits.


26. Light the whole house, especially dark corners and hallways.


27. Hang mirrors where they will reflect outdoor light - as well as make a room look large.


28. Try and eliminate any pet, cooking or young children's diaper odours.


29. Give the prospective Buyers privacy - take a short walk with your children and pets. Let the Buyer be at ease and let the realtors do their job. It is too common that the Seller interferes with the Realtors selling and actually hurt the selling opportunities. 


For Sellers: 30 Powerful and Insightful Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent before you Sign Anything


1. How many years have you been in the real estate business?


2. Do you work full time as a Realtor? How long do you see yourself selling Real Estate?


3. How much time do you invest each month in professional training and career development?


4. Do you offer any guarantees? What are they?


5. Do you have any testimonial letters from previous clients I can see?


6. What percentage of your business is from referrals?


7. What kind of experience and training do you have in negotiating?


8. Do you have a personal staff or assistants to see that no details are overlooked?


9. Can I get out of the listing if I am not pleased with your services? Without a hassle?


10. Do my calls get returned in a timely manner? How?


11. Do you have a WRITTEN Marketing Plan for marketing my property? Can I have a copy?


12. Are you a member of the MLS? What is that? How will that help me?


13. Does your company have a well known logo that people would quickly recognize in order to bring more and quicker attention to my home?


14. Is your company large or small? Does that make a difference to me? How?


15. Will you work with me if I am not referred by someone?


16. Do you stay in touch with me from the beginning of the listing until the closing? How often? In what way?


17. Do you personally spend money on advertising? Does your company spend money on advertising? Where?


18. How "high tech" is your business? Do you have your own computer? How many computers do you have in your office? How advanced are your software programs?


19. Are you fully automated with personal computers, fax machines, pagers and cellular phones?


20. Do you advertise through the Real Estate Weekly?


21. What support systems do you have in place?


22. What systems do you have in place that will keep you in constant contact with me?


23. Do your "For Sale" signs stand out and draw attention so that potential Buyers driving by will notice them and take down the phone number?


24. How do you help a Seller prepare a house for the market?


25. Do you have a plan for marketing within as well as outside of the real estate profession? What is it?


26. How much time and money are you willing to invest in mail-outs to the homeowners in this area to find out if they know someone who would like to live in my neighbourhood?


27. Do you prepare professional flyers detailing the amenities and highlights of the home to be given to prospective buyers who come into the house?


28. Who will be present when contracts are presented, to handle all the negotiations?


29. Will you monitor the steps leading up to the closing date such as the loan application (refer to lender or mortgage broker), title reports, and inspection?


30. Do you have a written list of what commitment you will provide