Preparing to Sell

You’re preparing to sell a home in Metro Detroit, Michigan. You’ve made the decision to sell your updated bungalow in downtown Plymouth. Or your condo in downtown Birmingham. Or perhaps your beautiful home on a lake in Stonewater in Northville. Now what? This page summarizes the next three steps you need to take immediately after you’ve decided it’s time to put your home on the market:

  1. Decide which to do first, buy or sell
  2. Decide whether to FSBO, or hire a professional
  3. Get your home ready for sale

Once you’ve completed these three steps, you’ll be ready to move on to the next phase of the selling process!

Note: See the bottom of this page, where we have included links to free downloadable resources specifically designed to help you with the process of selling your home. 

1. Decide Which to Do First: Sell, or Buy

This is the classic “chicken or the egg” question as it applies home buying and selling: Which comes first, the purchase of your next home, or the sale of your current home?

It is also the toughest question in real estate, and one that most every homeowner will have to answer at one point or another in their lives. The basic dilemma is this: Do you put your home up for sale first and face the possibility of selling your home quickly and having nowhere to go? Or, do you hold off on selling your current home until you find one you want to buy, then face the uncertainty of not knowing when your original home will sell and at what price (and, worst case, maybe having to make two house payments for who knows how long)? There is no right or wrong answer here; it is purely personal preference. Here are the two schools of thought and the advantages and disadvantages of each:

Buy Next Home Before Selling Current Home

Advantages

  • You have eliminated the risk of not knowing where you will be moving next
  • You can take your time in making the decision of buying your next home, increasing the chances that you will make an intelligent, rational choice

Disadvantages

  • Your offer on your future home will likely include a “home sale contingency,” which will make your offer less enticing to the seller (in fact, many sellers – and most relocation companies, which are typically involved in sales relating to corporate transfers – will simply not entertain offers that include home sale contingencies)
  • You do not know exactly what your current home is really worth (because you haven’t sold it yet)
  • You may have a hard time selling your home and you may end up making two payments (one on your existing home, and one on your future home)
  • If you get a bridge loan to finance your purchase (which is typically the case is such circumstances), you may end up with three payments (one on your existing home, one on your future home and one on your bridge loan)

Sell Your Current Home Before Buying Next Home

Advantages

  • From a financial perspective, you can proceed with confidence (as you have the advantage of knowing exactly how much your current home is/was worth)
  • You will not need to include a “home sale contingency” with your offer on your next home, making it much more attractive to the seller

Disadvantages

  • You may have to find your next home rather quickly
  • You take the risk of possibly having to buy a home that is not perfect for you (or of making two moves; one into an apartment as you continue to look for the right home, and then into your new home after you have finally found it)

Again, this is clearly a personal preference issue. We have always believed it better to sell your home before buying your next home. We think the advantages outweigh the potential disadvantages of using this approach (particularly with regard to the whole “home sale contingency” issue). In our personal dealings in real estate, we have never included a home sale contingency in an offer because we know how unappealing these contingencies are to sellers.

Having said that, again, there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s whatever you are most comfortable with.

2. Decide Whether to FSBO, or Hire a Pro

At Professional One, we like to speak directly and honestly with people. We know that many people think about selling their home themselves at one time or another.

Rather than avoid the topic, we believe it’s more professional to address the issue in a straightforward manner, and help people make an honest, rational and well-informed decision.

That said, click here to review more information that will help you make a better decision.

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We’d Love to Help You Star in Our Next Real Estate Success Story!

3. Get Your Home Ready

You’ve made the decision to sell, now it’s time to get your home in tip-top condition before putting it on the market. Time after time, we’ve seen how homes in mint condition sell faster and for higher prices than homes that are not.

And when you consider how easy (relatively speaking) it is to do this, and how this is one of the few parts of the home selling process that you can completely control, we would implore you do to do as many of the things you see listed below as possible.

SPRUCE UP THE YARD & EXTERIOR

  1. PAINT: Few things will enhance the salability of a house quite so much as painting the outside. Before painting, scrape or water blast any blistered or peeling paint; repair gutters and down spouts and replace wood showing dry rot. Wood, trim work, gutters, and wrought iron should receive primary attention.
  2. FRONT ENTRY: Give special care to this area. This is where buyers get their first opportunity to make a close inspection, and they will pick it apart looking for flaws, so eliminate them. All woodwork should be freshly and neatly painted, including the door if necessary. Replace a badly worn or broken doorbell button. Polish the door brass. Repaint or replace an unsightly mailbox. Put out a new or clean door mat. Do a thorough weeding and pruning job on any flower beds near the entry, and try to have some flowering plants growing.
  3. YARD: Mow and trim the lawn. Weed flower beds; remove or replace dead plants or trees. Water regularly during the growing season. With desert landscaping, make sure that no underlying plastic is exposed, that rocks and sand are tidy, and that weeds and grass are removed.
  4. DRIVEWAY, GARAGE/CARPORT: Clean up grease or oil spots; remove the soil at least, if not the stain. See that the garage door opens freely and that the automatic door opener is in good working order. If possible, don’t park cars in front of the house or in the driveway, and try to have very few parked cars on the street near the house. Recreational vehicles or boats should be in the garage or carport or behind a fence in the back. Derelict cars or ones being overhauled, should not be visible from the street and preferably should not even be present.
  5. FENCE: A few missing stakes or slats are real eyesores to buyers, yet are usually inexpensive and easy to fix. Repair, paint or stain as necessary.
  6. ROOF: Remove visible debris or toys. Straighten the television antenna if necessary. Remove any tree branches bearing on the roof.
  7. AIR CONDITIONERS/EVAPORATIVE COOLERS: Repaint or replace any rusted exposed metal. Correct improper draining.
  8. PATIO: A nice spread of outdoor furniture looks very appealing. If necessary, borrow from a friend to enhance showability.
  9. SWIMMING POOL: Adjust chemicals until the pool sparkles. Hose dust and cobwebs from filtration equipment. Store chemicals and tools neatly.
  10. ON-SITE SEWAGE DISPOSAL SYSTEM: OSDS Ordinance passed in September 1999 by the Wayne County Commission requires that an on-site sewage disposal system be evaluated prior to time of sale or transfer of property.

LOOK AT THE BASICS AROUND THE HOUSE

  1. LIGHTS: Every light socket in and around the house should have a good bulb of adequate wattage. Don’t overlook those outside; in the garage; utility room, halls, closets, or over the kitchen sink; and in the oven and exhaust hood.
  2. SWITCHES AND FIXTURES: Repair or replace wall switches, outlets, and light fixtures that don’t work, replace any broken switch plates. Note: If you are not fully competent to handle these repairs, call in a professional.
  3. APPLIANCES: Those that will be sold with the home should be in good working order. If specific equipment does not work and you do not intend to repair it, point this out.
  4. PLUMBING: Badly chipped or irreversibly stained sinks and tubs should be re-enameled, patched, or replaced. Leaky or excessively noisy toilets should be fixed, as well as any dripping faucets.
  5. SPRINKLER SYSTEMS: These should be working properly with no defective heads.

HINTS ON HOUSEKEEPING

  1. LIGHTS: Every light socket in and around the house should have a good bulb of adequate wattage. Don’t overlook those outside; in the garage; utility room, halls, closets, or over the kitchen sink; and in the oven and exhaust hood.
  2. SWITCHES AND FIXTURES: Repair or replace wall switches, outlets, and light fixtures that don’t work, replace any broken switch plates. Note: If you are not fully competent to handle these repairs, call in a professional.
  3. APPLIANCES: Those that will be sold with the home should be in good working order. If specific equipment does not work and you do not intend to repair it, point this out.
  4. PLUMBING: Badly chipped or irreversibly stained sinks and tubs should be re-enameled, patched, or replaced. Leaky or excessively noisy toilets should be fixed, as well as any dripping faucets.
  5. SPRINKLER SYSTEMS: These should be working properly with no defective heads.

OLFACTORY OPTIMIZATION

  1. WET TOWELS AND WASHCLOTHS: Residents of a home frequently aren’t aware of what a potential source of bad odor these are. Replace all used towels with fresh ones before a showing.
  2. SOILED CLOTHES: When the house is being shown, keep dirty laundry out of the living area; move it to the utility room, garage, or storage area. This applies especially to a diaper pail.
  3. GARBAGE: Take all trash and garbage out of the house, particularly any food-related discards for the kitchen, and make sure no potatoes or onions are going bad under the sink or in the pantry. After running garbage through a disposal unit, grind up part of a lemon to add a fresh smell.
  4. SEWER GAS IN THE HOUSE: Do whatever is necessary to correct this problem before the house is placed on the market.
  5. CATS & DOGS: As a first step, move the cat’s litter box out of the house. And be sure to clean up after the dog before any showings.

ONE FINAL NOTE

The legal principle of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) is dead or dying. We are living in an age of consumerism, and it’s hard to find a court that won’t favor the buyer in a dispute. In fact, consumer groups and many government agencies are taking the posture that the seller has a positive obligation to disclose everything.

If you have a problem in your home, don’t mask it. A common example is the homeowner who spray-paints a ceiling to cover water stains caused by a leaking roof. If you have a major problem that you don’t intend to correct, disclose it! Sure, some people will be turned off by the prospect of a major repair, but most buyers who otherwise like the home will be philosophical about a problem openly displayed. And usually they will discount the price they offer by far less than the cost of the repair.

Resources to Help You Prepare to Sell

when selling a home or buying a home, these are the "16 questions your must ask your next real estate agent"

Your home is too valuable to risk representation by the wrong agent. Learn how to find the right agent! Get your free download >

when selling a home, the professional one real estate "ultimate guide to getting top dollar when you sell your home" will help you optimize your results

The most comprehensive Guide of this kind ever! Learn the secret to Getting Top Dollar when you sell! Get your free download >

when selling a home, the home sale prep checklist guide from professional one will help you optimize your results

In a hurry? Get our Quick Home Sale Prep Checklist. Go from zero to the top sale in your area fast! Get your free download >

when selling a home, find out the value of your metro Detroit area house or condo

How much is your home worth? Click to get your value instantly, with tons of key data included! Get your value now >

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