We had a saying in the Army, "failing to prepare is preparing to fail." Well, if you are considering buying or selling this year, now is the time to prepare.
If you are selling, some items to consider:
- Gather records for your house. For example, repair & maintenance records, warranties, instruction manuals, and the like. What year was the roof replaced? How about the boiler?
- De-clutter as much as possible. I can't emphasize this one enough. Pack and store all items that you won't need during the marketing period. This is often challenging, but if your place is cluttered, many buyers will get the wrong impression about the property. This applies to the interior and exterior.
- If it's a condo or part of a homeowners association, confirm that you are paid up on all of your fees. If you aren't, it could delay the sale.
- Verify that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are up to code. If they aren't, it could delay the sale.
- Are there any items attached to the property, such as a chandelier or an antique doorknob, that you would not want included in the sale? Make a list of exclusions. By default and unless you specify otherwise, anything physically attached to the property is considered part of the real estate and is included.
- Are there cosmetic defects, such as holes in walls, scratched floors, or squeaky hinges? Items like these are relatively inexpensive for you to repair relative to their impact on a potential buyer. Are there major defects? Consider what you can repair prior to selling.
- Sit down with an agent, such as myself, to discuss an estimate of the fair market value and a pricing strategy. Are you prioritizing speed, price, or a balance?
- These are just a few items to get you started. Consider inviting me over for a walk-through. I will help you make a custom checklist, and can also prepare a market analysis and discuss a marketing and pricing strategy with you. Doing this now will contribute to a successful sale and smooth transaction.
If you are buying, you also have a to-do list to tackle:
- I've actually written a short book about the home buying process, and a good first step is to read it. Shoot me an email and I'll send you a free copy.
- Consider meeting with me in person to discuss a search strategy and to discuss your goals. I'd be happy to meet you close to your home or work.
- You're going to need a pre-approval letter or proof of funds in order to be taken seriously. Because the market moves so quickly, you might lose your dream home if you wait too long to get your financials in order. Talk to a loan officer or your financial advisor to discuss what makes sense for you and what you can afford. (Let me know if you'd like recommendations.)
- Set up property alerts with me. You'll get an email from me each morning when there are matches to your criteria. This is a good way to familiarize yourself with the inventory and pace of the market.
- Start attending Open Houses. I'll send you notices of open houses in the email alerts. This is a good, low-stress way to refine your sense of what you're looking for.
- That's just a start. The best way to kick things off is for us to meet and discuss your goals.