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11 Things Most People Forget to Do When Selling Their House

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You’ve decided that you’re ready to sell your house, found a great real estate agent, and are busy making repairs and updates to make sure your home stands out. But, you’re probably noticing that getting ready to sell your house can be a big undertaking. From tackling home improvement projects to having your home staged, there’s a lot to do before listing your home for sale. 

Even with a list of to-dos, many people may forget important tasks throughout the process. Luckily, to help you as you’re getting ready to sell your house, we’ve put together a list of the top things most home sellers forget to think about that could cost you the sale. So before putting your home on the market, be sure not to overlook these 11 things: 

1. Declutter and organize your closets and cabinets

You may have gone through your home and minimized the clutter, organized your desk and other surfaces, and stored away your antiques and personal items – but did you tackle your closets and cabinets?

During a home tour, there’s a good chance that potential homebuyers will look in your closets, kitchen drawers, and cabinets, so you’ll want to showcase what your house has to offer in terms of storage. Start by decluttering your closets, cabinets, and drawers, being sure that you’re only keeping enough belongings in each to highlight the potential that space has to offer. Think of it as an extension of your home staging, but for your storage areas.

There’s a lot to do to prepare your home before it hits the market. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t know where to begin, consider hiring a professional organizer to help get your home in order so you can focus on other important tasks.

2. Clean stains and eliminate odors

We should all consider small stains, marks, and other imperfections as badges of honor for a house that’s been well-loved. Nonetheless, when you’re getting ready to sell your house, these slight bumps and bruises will stand out to potential buyers, so make sure to tackle them head-on.

Start by going outside and re-entering your house as if you were an interested buyer looking at it for the first time. From there, do a walk-through of every room and take note of all the imperfections you notice. You might be surprised with how quickly your list grows. 

If you have pets, there’s a good chance your home may have an odor that you can no longer smell. Deep cleaning your house is a surefire way to help eliminate these odors, but simple things, like opening up the windows for a few hours each day, can help air out your home (especially if there are any chemical smells lingering). You can also place plugin room fresheners to help infuse a clean scent throughout your house. However, be sure you don’t overdo it with artificial scents – this can make buyers question what smell you’re trying to mask.

3. Replace light bulbs

Small tasks, like replacing a lightbulb when it goes out, are something that many forget to do when getting their home ready to sell. To keep potential buyers from being distracted by these little imperfections, walk through each room and ensure every lightbulb is working. Don’t forget to check that all the exterior lights are working as well. Depending on the time of year, open houses or home tours could happen when the sun is going down or when it’s already dark, so be sure to make your house shine inside and out.

Pro tip: Make sure all your light bulbs are the same color temperature inside your house as well as outside. A soft-white light LED bulb can create a bright but welcoming environment for new homebuyers.

neutral interior design built in shelving

4. Think about the small details: plants, mirrors, rugs

As you’re getting ready to sell your house, consider each room’s individual characteristics so you can really showcase the potential of every room. 

Add some greenery throughout your home

Nothing breathes life into a room more than a little greenery. A potted tree can work wonders in a living room, but even smaller house plants throughout your home can make a difference, such as on a desk or near a bedroom window.

Open up even the smallest rooms with mirrors

As you’re getting ready to sell your house, you may notice a certain space feeling a little cramped. Consider adding a mirror to open up the room. Mirrors can make small spaces seem large because they create the illusion of depth and work wonders in darker spaces to reflect light into areas that may not receive an abundance of natural light. 

Rugs can add character to an otherwise unimpressive space

A simple way to add character to your home is by staging your space with rugs. However, keep in mind that you want to use rugs to enhance a space rather than use them as the focal point. If you have a strange space in your home that you never really figured out a good use for, a rug could offer a little personality while leaving the space and its potential to the imaginations of the buyers.

5. Enhance your outdoor space

Enhancing your curb appeal is one of the most impactful ways to create a great first impression. However, you don’t want to forget about your other outdoor areas, such as your front porch or entrance, back entrance, side yard, and backyard. You want to enhance the outdoor spaces around the house so potential buyers can see themselves living as much outside your house as inside.

Simple additions like placing potted plants at your front entrance or adding fresh beauty bark around the base of your hedges and trees can go a long way. If you don’t already have a designated outdoor space for entertaining, consider building a DIY fire pit or staging your deck with outdoor dining furniture. If you don’t plan on taking on a major outdoor renovation before selling your home, it’s a good idea to invest in your backyard’s landscaping. Ultimately, your outdoor space is just as important as what your home has to offer on the inside.aerial photography home

6. Get professional aerial photography

Listing photos are powerful marketing tools when you’re getting ready to sell your house, and homes with professional photos are known to sell for more and spend less time on the market But another great way to make your home stand out amongst the competition is with aerial photography.

Drone photography can show off your entire property, offer a scenic view, and capture the surrounding area. An aerial shot can easily put the full scope of your property into perspective for potential buyers and make for eye-catching listing photos. 

7. Don’t forget about your gutters

Depending on where you live, you may not see as much rain in locations like Phoenix, AZ, but in many cities where rain is much more common, such as Vancouver, BC, clogged gutters are red flags to potential buyers. If you don’t have time to clean your gutters yourself as you’re getting your home ready to sell, consider hiring a professional to clear out and inspect your gutters to ensure this little oversight doesn’t drown out your hopes of selling your home quickly.

8. Paint your baseboards and crown molding

It’s common to paint the interior of your home a neutral color to appeal to more buyers, but many sellers forget to pay attention to their baseboards and crown molding when getting their home ready to sell. While the crown molding may need minimal cleaning and touch-ups, your baseboards most likely have seen a lot more traffic, especially if you have kids and pets. To correct these homely blemishes, try cleaning your baseboards with simple dish soap and water. But, if it has seen years of wear and tear, consider refreshing them with a new coat of paint.

hardwood flooring kitchen

9. Focus on your floors

If you’re considering what repairs to make before selling your house, a floor makeover can be one of the smartest investments to give your home a refresh. One of the first things homebuyers look at when entering a new home is the floors, so it’s important to make yours a statement. If your carpet is approaching its 10-year mark, it’s most likely looking pretty worn and can benefit from being recarpeted. Recarpeting your floors can make a huge difference in making your home look fresh and ready for new homeowners. Such as you did with your walls, you’ll want to go with a neutral color to appeal to the majority of homebuyers. However, if your carpet is only a few years old, getting it professionally cleaned can go a long way in bringing your carpet back to life.

If you have hardwood floors, bring them back to their former glory by refinishing them. This will include sanding down the floors to eliminate the original finish and stain, then restaining with the desired color followed by a coat or two of sealer.

10. Gather your documents

As you’re getting your home ready to sell, you should have your important documents in order as well. You’ll want to gather all documents you have regarding warranties, manuals, service records, and any repairs done to your house. These documents are important for several reasons, and different parties need certain ones before you sell your house.

During the home inspection process, home inspectors are going to go over your house with a fine-toothed comb. If your furnace or water heater hasn’t been serviced in years, they’ll let you know. Take a proactive approach by gathering all your service records so you’ll know ahead of time if something needs to be serviced before listing your home.

However, beyond the paperwork your agent and the home inspector would like to see, title companies require very specific documentation to sell your home, including:

  • Mortgage loan information, which will show any outstanding mortgage balance and pay-off balance (if there is any)
  • Final purchase and sale agreement
  • Deed
  • Title report
  • Property tax information, including the most recent tax statement
  • Homeowners insurance information
  • Lease agreement, if you’re currently renting the property
  • Any reports or documentation that relates to the property
    • Warranty paperwork, permits, service documentation, instruction manuals, dates of home improvement projects, and age of the roof, furnace, hot water heater, HVAC, and all the other major appliances.

11. Pre-sale home inspection

The last – but arguably most important – step is to conduct a pre-sale home inspection when you’re getting ready to sell your house. While not mandatory, it’s a proactive approach to understanding your home’s value and addressing any repairs or issues before listing your home for sale.

If you wait until the buyer initiates their own home inspection, you may encounter delays during the closing process as repairs are being made, or as you negotiate with the buyer on repair costs. These factors could affect your asking price as buyers may ask for concessions to cover any repairs, so you’ll want to limit the number of factors that could cause the buyers to walk away from the deal. Ultimately, getting a pre-listing home inspection will leave you in a better position when it comes time to negotiate with potential buyers.

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Real Estate

13 Tips For Real Estate Investors Crafting An Exit Strategy

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Photos of featured members.

Real estate investors know that not every purchase they make is going to be a win. In a few cases, you’ll end up with a dud, where a property that looked good at first ends up being more trouble than it’s worth once you’ve bought it.

This is why no investor should go into a property purchase agreement without having at least one clear exit strategy defined. To help avoid a bad purchase before it’s too late, 13 experts from Forbes Real Estate Council share critical steps all real estate investors should consider to craft their exit strategy from the moment they start scoping a property out.

1. Understand The Current Financials

It’s important to understand the current financials of the property. From this you can model a multiyear pro forma focusing on the value enhancements you plan for the property. Based upon that model, you can project a valuation for the property at some point in the future. This process should help clarify the investment potential for the property. – Mark Tiefel, Capital Equity Group, Inc.

2. Set Clear Objectives Before Investing

Know your objective before investing in a property and establish your goals for any property you’re considering. This helps identify what success looks like for a property you want to invest in, which will help map out your exit strategy. Committing to a property without a clear objective and “winging it” after you commit to it typically ends up costing a lot of money and time. – Jim Brooks, The Brooks Team – EXP Realty


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3. Consider The Future Buyer Persona 

Know your buyer. Always have the future buyer persona in mind when you are buying an asset. If you know your asset will attract syndicators, for example, then make sure to renovate no more than 50% of the property so you can leave meat on the bone. If you buy a larger asset, you can renovate 100% of it and then sell it to an institutional buyer who normally doesn’t like to execute a value-add plan. – Ellie Perlman, Blue Lake Capital LLC

4. Check Tenant Laws And Sale History

I believe that when purchasing any property, investment or not, you should buy with an exit strategy. Real estate is an investment that is used to create wealth. Look at local tenant laws, development in the area and rental rate history. If new inventory is coming, then rents will decrease. Check sale history for the last five years for trends. – Steven Minchen, Minchen Team/Elevated Living Network, Inc

5. Stress-Test The Deal At Purchase

Any good exit plan starts with stress-testing the deal at purchase. There are many factors in stress-testing a deal but here are a few to consider: 1. Never run out of money, so plan accordingly; 2. Increase the vacancy to at least 25% for the duration of hold and verify that the expenses can still be paid; 3. Increase the exit cap rate by at least 10 basis points per year of hold. – Chris Roberts, Sterling Rhino Capital

6. Plan For The Worst-Case Scenario

Always plan for the worst-case scenario when trying to exit. It’s really that simple. After proper planning and extensive research, determine what the worst-case exit strategy is. If you can stomach the worst-case scenario, then move forward and commit to the property. – Ben Grise, InvestWithBen.com

7. Buy A Property That’s Easy To Sell

Buy a property that will be easy to sell. I prefer single family homes over condos because there is more buyer demand. Homeowners Association dues can also go up as condos get older and/or there can be special assessments for repairs which can make a property harder to sell. Assess the location—does it back to a commercial property or a railroad that may make it hard to sell? Does it have a good floor plan? Be picky! – Kristee Leonard, The Leaders Realty, LLC

8. Have A Multipronged Exit Strategy

Commercial real estate is evolving quickly before our eyes. Having a multipronged exit strategy approach to real estate investment is necessary. Don’t follow the headlines but look for the trend lines. Underwrite an asset traditionally but also underwrite the property in a nontraditional way. Look for one to two scenario analyses considering what happens if a market, sector or demand trend changes quickly. – Jacob Bates, CommonGrounds Workplace

9. Have At Least One ‘Weasel’ Clause

A “weasel” clause is a clause that allows you to exit, even when you’ve made the mistake! Resist the temptation to overdue. You need one. My personal favorite is “subject to the approval of the hard money lender.” Only once in 20+ years have I had to exercise this weasel clause to get out of a deal, but when I did, it was literally 10 minutes before closing. – Sherman Ragland, The Realinvestors®️ Academy, LLC

10. Have Multiple Exit Strategies

Having multiple exit strategies helps protect you from losing money on a deal. If you buy a house to flip but cannot get the price you anticipated to make a profit, if you’re able to rent it out instead, you’ll protect your investment. Unfortunately, if you get in a deal with only one exit strategy and that strategy does not work out, you will find yourself in a risky situation. – Chris Bounds, Invested Agents

11. Check Out Average Days On Market

Find out what the average days on market are for comparable properties throughout the year prior to your purchase. You will then have a good indication of when would be the best month of the year to resell the property for its highest and best price and for the shortest amount of time for an effective emergency exit strategy. – Mor Zucker, Team Denver Homes – RE/MAX Professionals

12. Hire A Home Inspector

Hire an excellent home inspector. These professionals are priceless! Sure, they can alert you to big red flags but they can also point out a lot of “minor issues” to consider. An itemized list will let you know exactly when to exit if a particular task takes more resources than you expected. Feedback from a professional inspector can help you “exit well,” minimizing losses and maximizing gains. – Michael McMullen, Prominence Homes and Communities

13. Remove Emotion From The Equation

Always remove emotion from the equation and perform unbiased, clear-headed due diligence without a lot of rosy scenarios. Be conservative with your valuation and repair estimating—often, investors value too high and underestimate renovation costs. Sometimes the best strategy is to walk away from a deal rather than spending the next several months wasting time and resources on a low-margin deal. – Nick Ron, House Buyers of America

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Real Estate

Digital Mortgage Lender Announces Softbank-Backed SPAC And $7 Billion Valuation

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SoftBank founder and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son invested in Better during his search for 'fast-growing pre-IPO companies'.

The Softbank-backed digital mortgage lender Better announced yesterday its intention to join a SPAC with The Aurora Acquisition Corp., in order to take Better public. The transaction is expected to close in the latter part of 2021. This merger gives Better an implied equity value of approximately $6.9 billion and a post-money equity value of approximately $7.7 billion, as stated in the announcement. 

A subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp., SB Management Limited, will bring $1.5 billion private investment in public equity (PIPE) and Novator Capital, the sponsor of Aurora Corp, will invest $200 million through the same method. Activant Capital, an existing investor in Better, will also participate in the PIPE for an undisclosed sum. 

Only a month ago Softbank invested $500 million in Better, leading to a valuation of $6 billion.

Better’s strong financial footing is no doubt a direct consequence of its success due to the covid pandemic’s double influence of sustained low interest rates over the past year and the need for consumers to be able to close on transactions without having to meet in-person. Last March, when the pandemic’s impact began, Better had a 200% increase in applications compared to February and a total of over $1 billion in closed loans during the month, which is more than the four-year-old company closed for both 2017 and 2018 combined. In all of 2020 they funded $24.2 billion in volume, according to the press release announcing the SPAC. 

Better, which has not been without some controversy, was founded in 2016 by Vishal Garg who was frustrated with the mortgage application process after losing out to a cash buyer when he made an offer on a home. He built the all-digital, multi-product platform to lower costs and speed up the process for buyers. Company marketing materials say their online process allows qualified customers to close in as little as two weeks.

The biggest takeaway from this news is how large the demand will be going forward for real estate transactions to take place in a fully digital manner. The pandemic has shown us that the market can continue with limited need for in-person contact and mortgage lenders of every size will have to improve their digital platforms if they want to stay competitive. The news about Better is only the beginning of a much larger trend.

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Real Estate

How Consolidated, Bundled Real Estate Offers Can Serve Homebuyers

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Close up hand of man signing signature loan document to home ownership. Mortgage and real estate property investment

Amit Haller is the Co-Founder & CEO of Reali, a high-tech, high-touch real estate company founded in 2016. 

When homebuyers make the largest financial decision of their lives, they want the best options that take the pain out of the real estate process. They’re ready to focus on the details that matter most to them — such as settling into their new home — and desire a simplified and streamlined process to get them there. In recent years, that’s come in the form of bundled real estate products, where consumers are eager to combine several steps into one.

At Reali, we’ve also seen this trend emerge across several industries, not just real estate. Bundles have become highly appealing to customers regardless of the complexity of the buying process, including purchase decisions around insurance, home appliances and video game systems. Bundling often means financial savings for consumers, but it also means less stress and time-consuming interactions with nuanced details. Essentially, bundles save time, money, and stress, and that’s exactly what real estate companies should do for customers.

Here are the top trends we’re seeing in 2021:

1. Consumers want to keep it simple.

Complex decisions take more time, and right now, most of us are stretched too thin to think through all of the details. The pandemic, as well as other personal and social concerns, have stretched our capacity to do everything we want to do, including daily activities such as working or running our household. At the same time, people are eager to move into the next phase of their lives, and we’re seeing them begin to move forward by holding their delayed weddings, buying new appliances or investing in a new home. Anything that makes the process simpler will help that transition.

In real estate, homebuying can be one of the most stressful transactions that people complete. They have to worry about real estate brokers, a mortgage, insurance, escrow, inspection and warranties, and all of that can require different companies and experiences to complete the final tasks. Consumers may get lost along the way or miss a critical detail right now as they begin to move toward a “new normal.” 

In an experiment by our partner agency, Next Step, consumers who saw real estate as complex were nearly three times as likely to say that they wanted a bundled experience. They wanted more ease in the process and a smoother experience to get to their end goal. Essentially, bundling can help people to make a decision sooner rather than later, experience less risk and stress — and actually enjoy the decision-making process of buying a home. Any bundled options that real estate companies can provide to free up customers’ time and stress could reduce the barriers for making a decision.

2. Bundling can increase the perceived value.

Homebuyers want the best purchase for their hard-earned dollars, which has become even more prominent in the past year. People have faced tough financial decisions, and many families are rethinking the priorities that they need in a home-work-school space. They’re looking for more value and an all-in-one solution that makes the financial decisions easier and more transparent.

In the Next Step study, people said that, compared to individual product offers, consolidated bundles seemed more valuable, more popular and more preferred than other options, which plays to our psychological needs for belonging and smart decision-making.

Bundles also decreased costs. On average, people can save nearly 16% by bundling homeowners and automotive insurance policies, according to a 2015 Insurance Quotes study. Those who combined condo and car insurance saved about 11%, and those who bundled car and renters insurance had an 8% discount.

Overall, bundling complementary products can lead to a cost-savings of about 8% for consumers, according to a marketing study from Fordham University. In addition, the researchers found, offers that make sense together can create greater consumer happiness, which is the ultimate goal. For real estate companies, this could mean pairing mortgage options with insurance options or legal services.

3. Consolidated offers can facilitate the decision-making process.

Customers have told us that the decision-making process seems more complex than ever. People have easy access to products and services across the country — even across the world — and that can lead to analysis paralysis when deciding on the best option. We’ve found that bundles can help people make those decisions, particularly in complex service industries.

For instance, in a 2019 Accenture survey of 47,000 consumers, half said they were interested in bundled services in healthcare, home security, car care, personal finance management and homebuying. In real estate in particular, they voiced a need for end-to-end homebuying services, including advice on finding a new home, securing a mortgage, using legal services, buying insurance, and getting help with the moving process.

Ongoing survey data show that this trend has been increasing in recent years and became more popular throughout last year in particular. In the insurance industry, for example, consumers said they were seeking bundles so they could make better decisions and experience greater value from their options.

In fact, a 2020 survey by Deloitte found that consumers said offering non-insurance products was the most important factor when choosing an insurance provider. They said it added value and created an extension of the core products, so consumers wanted to buy them. In real estate, this requires rethinking the conventions around what products to include and creating innovative options.

Ultimately, we need to keep consumers in mind when considering the best ways to serve them in the homebuying experience. Their concerns come out loud and clear, with a need for simpler decisions, a smoother decision-making process and bundled packages that increase the value of their purchasing power. Real estate leaders should step up to provide these consolidated offers to clients and guide them along the successful path to homeownership.


Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?


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