Always Be Ready to Sell in 30 Days

Here’s my latest client letter sent out last week. It concerns getting top dollar for your home if you sell – and why your home should always be in a condition to go on the market within 30 days. I hope you find it useful.

Here’s the Full Article:

You Should Always Be Ready to Go On the Market in 30 Days

If a life-changing event happened and you decided to sell your home, could you be on the market within 30 days? It’s a test worth taking. I think the condition of your house should be such that you could always bring it to market at short notice. Staging and cleanup will take a month just by itself. You won’t want any outstanding maintenance issues to trip over on your way to the next home.

I deal with a lot of clients who are moving because their lives are changing in some way: a promotional transfer or a job offer that involves relocating, or a sudden loss of job in the household; a family sickness – or family growth, with a surprise pregnancy; divorce, or a marriage that combines two households; an inheritance that opens new opportunities, or a business opportunity that has to be seized quickly.

In all these circumstances, dealing with the change itself requires a full-time effort of focus. And changing your home, as we know, is one of the great stress times in life. In the midst of all this, is there really time to fix the plumbing and catch up on neglected repairs in order to go to market and receive the best price for your home?

Many people are faced with this dilemma when life-altering circumstances develop. More than 1 in 10 American households move each year, and the latest Census shows the causes are almost equal between moving to a better location (46%) and reasons of family or job change (44% combined).

Are you ready to sell your home for top dollar and move to another one?

We don’t live in staged homes, thankfully, but we do need to stage them to display them for sale. In my experience, it takes a solid 30 days from the decision to list the home, to clean up the normal debris of living and make the home suitable for showing.

You have to take the closets down by half, clean out the garage, declutter every room, clean and wash the windows, and deep clean the entire house. And while all this is happening, you have to sort and pack, find movers, look for a new home, check out neighborhoods and schools, and deal with a host of other details.

In addition, there are all the little things in the house that you’ve put up with but which buyers may not want to inherit. Loose handles, sticking doors, inoperable windows, quirky appliances – all the things we live with and get used to. But the reason buyers like a model home so much is that they don’t have to remove the current inhabitants mentally to figure out what it would be like to live in it. With your home they usually will have to. Little things can spoil a deal.

And these are just the little things. When we start to look at larger issues such as rotting wood, a fence that needs repair work, outdated wiring that isn’t up to current code, an aging water heater, we get into areas that you won’t easily have time to fix if you want to go to market in 30 days.

Usually you can take major systems that are towards the end of their life expectancy, such as a roof or A/C, and wait to go under contract before replacing these. You should budget for replacement if these big-ticket items will prohibit buyer insurance or jeopardize the deal. But these are items to negotiate during the inspection period. They can be replaced quickly and professionally in time for closing.

It’s the thousand-and-one little fixes, if left unattended, that could cost you dearly in negotiations, or even the deal, if the buyer has to fix them. Buyers always estimate more time and money to take on a repair burden than it would cost you as the current occupant to fix.

If you’re wondering what shape your home is in, for a few hundred dollars you can hire a home inspector with the mission to give you a brutally honest report on its condition. And then instead of trying to argue back against the report, simply turn it into your punch list, and get started bringing your house up to market worthiness. And frankly, a well maintained home pays for itself, and is a far greater pleasure to live in.

For most people, our homes are our savings, and a cushion against life-changing events. But this cushion only works if we can unlock the equity built up in our homes, and this means successfully selling the property, and for the highest dollar.

© Stephanie Passman


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