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Millie C Lumpkin
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Many homeowners target spring as their timeframe for selling their home? For some, spring makes sense in terms of children’s school schedules, some don’t want to show during the winter months with the mess of snow and many just see spring as the start of the peak season for buyers. All of these are valid reasons. If you are planning to sell in spring, there are some things you can do now to prepare.

 

Find Out How Much Your Home Is Worth

Finding out how much your home is worth in the current market really should be your first step. It’s a good idea to have an experienced realtor work with you to give you an estimate of your home’s value. There is a lot of information available online in terms of real estate activity. However, a realtor will make sure you are basing your opinion of value on comparable homes and will adjust for differences in the comps that affect the value of your home. This can make a difference if the homes include ones that have been rehabbed or upgraded.  Comparable means similar condition, square footage, style within a certain distance and sold within a certain timeframe.

It may be tempting to set your price higher than market value to see if you can get more for your home. However, overpricing your home is not a good idea. Overpriced homes sit on the market longer and often end up selling for less than they could have if initially priced right. Buyers have access to a lot of information about real estate activity. If you have not been in the real estate market even in the last five years, a lot has changed.

Once you know your estimated sales price, you can calculate the expected net proceeds from the sale. The net proceeds reflect the sales price minus the mortgage balance owed, real estate commission, mortgage escrow payments for property taxes and insurance and other closing costs. Your realtor should be able to provide a net sheet with these figures. These net proceeds are what will be available to you for a down payment on your new home or whichever other use you have in mind for the funds.

How Is the Market?

When selling your home, it is important to know the condition of the market in your community.  Overall, there is currently a tighter supply of homes in many neighborhoods and communities in the Chicago area.  This tighter supply has pushed prices up and resulted in multiple offers being the norm rather than the exception.  Not all communities and not all price points are experiencing a seller's market. Some communities have a more balanced market where buyer demand is more in line with the supply of homes. Foreclosures and short sales are still a significant factor in the Chicago area. In those communities where foreclosures are more prevalent, the market has improved from where it was but prices are more volatile.  

Determine if Repairs Are Needed

Now is a good time to go through your home and make a list of any repairs are needed. Check for needed plumbing repairs, unfinished DIY projects, holes in the walls, minor mold issues in the laundry room, seeping water in the basement, etc. It might also be a good idea to have the furnace serviced, remove old wallpaper, clean the carpet, buff up the hardwood floors or paint. Even if you are not doing major upgrades, it makes a difference if your home can present as well-maintained.

 

Do You Need to Declutter?

Clutter can be a real turn off for buyers. You want them to visualize themselves living in your home and clutter is a major obstacle in that picture. You want to emphasize the spaciousness of your home as much as possible. If every square inch of floor space, wall and counter is filled --- your home feel confined.  I’m not necessarily talking messy. Think about the kitchen counter that has canisters, a toaster, dish rack, blender, etc.  You want buyers to see how much counter space and closet space you have. Also, maximize floor space. Think about the living room that has several oversized pieces that overwhelm the room --- great for living in but not for selling. This is also the time to address the clutter in the basement and garage.  Do it before buyers come through with negative feedback and that clutter causes your home to sit on the market longer.

 

Curb Appeal Is Important Too

Most buyers today begin their search on-line.  Not only do they start on-line but many buyers will drive by the home before scheduling the showing appointment with their agent. If the exterior of your home is not appealing, many buyers won’t bother making the appointment to see the inside. Early spring is a good time to pull the weeds, add mulch, paint the trim or add some flowers. Another good reason for paying attention to the exterior is to make sure that there is no peeling paint. Buyers with FHA financing may get a flag if there is peeling paint on the exterior (including window and door trims). FHA also considers the garage as part of the home when assessing condition. If the garage roof or gutters are in bad condition, FHA buyers may find it difficult to get financing approved.

 

How Is Your Exit Plan?

Before you put your home on the market, you may want to check out the market of the new neighborhoods that you are considering for your new home. Are you finding homes that fit your price range? How are the schools? You should also speak to a lender early to make sure of the amount of loan you would be prequalified for and whether there are any issues that need to be addressed. Make sure of your exit plan for when your home is sold.

 

Depending upon your reasons for moving, selling your home can be exciting if it means moving on to a new phase in your life. For some, a growing family is the reason or the financial means to move into a bigger home. However, whether the move is welcome or just a necessary evil, being prepared can make selling your home easier.  


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