How to Score Top Dollar for Your Home Sale

After unsuccessfully trying to sell her Chicago condo “For Sale by Owner” for a few months, Sarah Kadlic brought in a real estate agent to help price and market her property.

For many homeowners like Sarah, pricing a piece of real estate is a moving target. There’s no magic number for a home sale, real estate experts say, but instead, a price range where your home has a good chance of selling quickly.

The definition of quick, or the length of time it should take for a home sale, depends mostly on the region, says Brendon DeSimone, a broker with Paragon Realty Group. In urban hot spots like New York and San Francisco, the norm is as fast as a couple of weeks, while 30 to 60 days is a healthy selling cycle in smaller cities or more rural areas.

So, before you put your house on the chopping block with a broker, or attempt a home sale on your own, here are five ways to get closer to your spot-on price — and one that will help your home sell in a timely fashion.

1. Detach emotion from your evaluation

Even though you may think your home is superior to other properties in the area, it’s important to take a neutral, unattached approach to pricing your home. That means disregarding that the house next-door is selling for more even though you have a nicer porch and a better view; or overlooking the money, time and sweat you put into remodeling your kitchen. A home sale may not translate dollar for dollar.

2. Take your online research with a grain of salt

Many of us have taken a peek at Internet sites to see how much our home or our neighbor’s home is worth, but there’s been considerable skepticism about the accuracy of these values. Real estate investor Armando Montelango says that online price information could vary 20 to 30 percent from your actual home value, especially amid a housing downturn.

3. Calculate the price per square foot

According to ZipRealty agent Harrison Tulloss, figuring out the average price per square foot of homes in your neighborhood can be a starting point for determining your home value. But he adds that the price of your home could be “plus or minus 10 percent” from this rough estimate.

4. Walk through some comparable homes in your neighborhood

Tour some home sales in your neighborhood and take note of attributes such as size (number of bedrooms and bathrooms), house materials, land, and amenities (a renovated kitchen, a finished basement, etc.). The pitfall, DeSimone says, is that you don’t know the other circumstances in play, such as a motivated seller or the reverse, a seller who won’t accept less and has the luxury of letting their place sit unsold.

5. Contact a couple of real estate agents for an estimate

Call up three agents for opinions on the price of your home, and get a comparative market analysis, or a CMA, which tells you the prices of comparable, recently sold homes, on-the-market homes and homes that were on the market that didn’t sell. The key, says DeSimone, is having access to the “sold property” information that is only available through a broker. Though it’s not an exact science, the CMA is a more precise way to hone in on the range needed to net a home sale.

6. Factor in the days on the market (aka DOM)

Often overlooked, Montelango says, are days on the market, which tells you how fast houses are selling in your neighborhood. If you need to sell your house more quickly than the average DOM, it’s going to be necessary that you discount your price below other comparables in your locale, he adds.

Brokers say that homeowners do themselves a disservice by overpricing — a sky-high number that’s not reflective of a home’s size and quality will only turn off prospective buyers, and the longer it sits on the market, the more homebuyers question what may be wrong with it. On the other hand, homeowners may feel like they’ve missed out financially by going on the market with a price that’s too low.

Finding a competitive price that’s accurate and in step with market conditions, such as the economy, local job market, interest rates and inventory — is imperative to a home selling. In a healthy housing market, Sarah’s correctly priced home yielded results. Her one-bedroom condo sold for its list price.

Home Inspections for Sellers: Prepping for the Sale

A thorough home inspection is a critical step in the home-buying process, which is one reason that it’s typically thought of as something the buyer has to do. There are, however, a few things that a seller can do to make the process smoother and ensure that a property gets flying colors during the inspection.

What can sellers do to get ready for an inspection?
The first thing is make sure they aren’t around during the inspector’s visit, says Kenny Rhodes, a licensed home inspector with nearly 20 years experience. “It’s really important that the seller not be here when we’re being critical of his home,” Rhodes says. If a homeowner does hang around, the potential buyer may not feel comfortable asking questions or discussing a property’s issues openly and honestly.

A seller can also prepare the home for the inspection. The most important thing to do here is to keep all key areas of the house free, clear and accessible. This includes providing access to the furnace, boiler and circuit breaker.

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In an ideal world, the home will inspect well and the real estate transaction can move forward. But what happens in the event that things don’t go as planned? Don’t be surprised if the buyer asks the seller to spend some money to make some repairs identified during the inspection. Buyers may also request to renegotiate the home’s price to accommodate the necessary improvements that the inspection uncovered. And in a worst-case scenario, the buyer could even walk away from the transaction entirely.

Obviously, the best way to avoid any of these situations is to deal with any problems before the inspection takes place. And how can sellers do that? They can get their own pre-sale inspection before putting the property on the market.

As you can see in this video, the inspector found some potential problem spots that the home owner may not have even considered – like a tree too close to the home and stairs not being built to code.

While hiring an inspector may feel like an unnecessary expense for a seller, it could actually end up saving money down the road. If the homeowner can make some simple repairs before the open houses begin, there will be fewer issues for buyers to notice, and the inspection process will go more smoothly once an offer is made on the home.

Karen Perry Loses Three Kids, Ex-Husband and Now Home?

First, Karen Perry endured divorce. Then, the death of all three of her children along with her ex-husband in a plane crash. Two months later, is this Arizona woman about to lose her home?

Perry, who has suffered enough heartache for a lifetime, will be moving out of her home in Gold Canyon, Ariz., after the financial troubles brought by her divorce from her late ex-husband, Shawn, forced her to put it up for a short sale.

And it’s not just any home — it’s the house where Perry’s now-deceased children were raised, KPHO reports. When Perry moved into the four-bedroom home with her then-husband six years ago, she was newly pregnant with her third child, Luke. Her second child, Logan, had just begun to walk. It was a home that held almost a decade’s worth of happy family memories that Perry holds onto desperately — so much so, that she didn’t even have the heart to put her kids’ toys away after her children, aged 6, 8 and 9, were killed.

The collective deaths of her loved ones, in a crash on the eve of last Thanksgiving in the Superstition Mountains, coupled with the prospective loss of her home, has taken its toll on the struggling homeowner.

“There’s days that I wake up that I feel like someone’s poured cement on me … where I feel like I can’t even move,” Perry told KPHO. “I need all the help I can get right now.”
Perry has been flooded with thousands of letters of support and sympathy, including charitable donations from companies such as Delta Airlines, where Karen is a flight attendant.

Delta Airlines’ Ladies Day Fund is currently offering to match donations to help Perry. They have already raised $10,000 in funds for their colleague, and have announced that until the end of January, they will match all donations by 15 percent, and until the end of February, they will match all donations by 10 percent.

Family Faces Eviction Over Toddler’s Noise

A British couple may have to leave their home because of the noise their 2½ year old makes.

The Worcester News reports that Nicola Baylis and Tim Richold have been informed by their rental’s property management company that it intends to evict them due to the noise complaints of one of the couple’s neighbors.

But Baylis and Richold, who live in Worcester, England, claim that their toddler Skye is only behaving like, well, a toddler: She’s crying and playing with toys.

“I can’t believe we’re going to be made homeless because of a toddler,” Baylis told The Sun. “She’s just being a toddler and has no idea how loud she’s being.”

Nexus Housing reportedly claims that Baylis has violated a contract that she signed agreeing to not run up the stairs, to prevent her dog from barking, and to cease to “use” her daughter as an excuse for noise that emanates from her apartment.

The notice follows a stream of complaints and four warning letters that Baylis received in the last year, says the Worcester News.

A senior housing officer with the rental company, Nexus Housing, reportedly said it has initiated eviction proceedings, but added that “this is very much the first stage in the process and any decision to repossess the property would have to be by a court.”

Cases of management companies imposing seemingly draconian penalties over breaches of resident-management contracts are by no means exclusive to England.

Similar cases in the U.S. often involve homeowners associations, community organizations that enforce their own bylaws. Last year, a U.S. family was also poised to pay a price for inflexible rules, when the Andover Forest Homeowners Association demanded that a couple remove a therapy playhouse that they had erected on their lawn for their 3-year-old, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Recently, one HOA attempted to foreclose on a Korean War vet because he didn’t pay a $340 debt, which skyrocketed once the HOA began tacking on attorney costs. Luckily for the 81-year-old, concerned neighbors stepped up to save his home.

In yet another case, an HOA blocked a nonprofit’s effort to build a home for an injured Iraq vet, claiming the proper paperwork hadn’t been filed but also admitting that some residents had worried that the features of the home that would accommodate the vet’s injuries would drag down property values.