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Real Property: Selling A Home Yourself

Step 2. Prepare.

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  • Make your home look its best. You can ask a broker what would help make the home most salable. (The industry word is "staging" as in "staging your house.") Perhaps the grounds need sprucing up. Barbara Corcoran, a leading real estate broker, speaking on the TODAY show, recommended walking through your house as if you were a visitor who is picturing him or herself living in the house. At least:
    • Get clutter out of the house.
    • Eliminate personal items that are about you and your family such as photos and mementoes. Visitors want to see themselves in the house -- not you.
    • Think about investing in a couple of cans of paint to make the walls light or neutral colors which make rooms seem larger.
    • Get everything off of the kitchen counter.
    • Make closets, the attic, basement and/or garage neat.
    • Make and keep the house spotless.
  • Put together a fact sheet which describes your home and highlights the best features.
  • Pull together the documents a seller will want to see, such as a survey or site plan, recent utility and tax bills. If you're selling an apartment, the documents relating to the entity that owns the building, by-laws and rules.
  • Write up a qualification form to help decide if a prospective buyer is financially capable of coming up with the money. For example, ask for annual income, assets, debts and other liabilities, place of employment, job title/function, length of employment, and credit references.
  • Learn about mortgage financing. What products are available and for what interest rate? A broker would help in this regard. It will also help you determine whether a potential buyer is likely to qualify for a mortgage. To find out how much monthly payments would be, look at calculators such as offsite link. You can do the same with an interest-rate table you can purchase at a stationary store.
  • Depending on the norm in your area, speak with a real estate lawyer or real estate agent to find out:
    • What you need to disclose about your home.
    • What forms may be required.
    • Standard terms in your area.
  • Ask the lawyer/agent to draft the paperwork. You'll also need the attorney to set up an escrow account to hold the down payment until the closing. If you're not familiar with financial terms such as "contingencies" or "warranties," ask your attorney to explain the terms you'll need to understand when people make offers.
  • If you don't want to deal with hearing what people think of your house and of the way you've been living in it, arrange for someone else to show the house.
  • Prepare to show the house at any time - even during work hours.

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