Angie's List: Selling your home

Selling a home can be a big task for any homeowner.

Details such as home staging, photos and your real estate agent can really affect how much your home sells for, and how quickly it sells.
"In today's real estate market it's a competitive market so consumers are looking for ways to rule out your house,” says Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “So you really need to get back to the basics and make sure your house really shines. Is your house clean, inside and out? Is everything organized? A lot of times people think that their own interior design is a selling point, it usually isn't."

Jennifer recently listed her house. She's hoping the updates will entice buyers.

"As soon as we bought the house we started trying to think of improvements to make from a new roof to a new heating and air condition, water heater, things of that nature. About a year and a half ago, we started really thinking about putting it up on the market. We got more serious with the interior cosmetics. So we've done granite in all the bathrooms and the kitchen, we've redone flooring, added a new shower, new toilets throughout, we're about to put new carpet in downstairs, we re-carpeted all the upstairs last year. So we've did quite a bit of work,” Jennifer said.

When people are thinking about buying a house they are looking for reasons to rule it out.

Simple things like a leaky faucet or bigger issues like a faulty water heater can be a turn-off for buyers.

"I hate that my sellers are surprised often when the inspection happens that they had no idea that that was happening. And then they are stuck with a bill of fixing it that they weren't expecting and they have already agreed on a sales price. My advice is a lot of times if they haven't done anything with the mechanicals and they haven't had yearly HVAC inspections and they haven't checked their water heater, it's been a long time, that they go ahead and have somebody out to do that so they are not surprised,” says Real Estate agent Paula Smith.

Hicks says finding a good realtor is key.

"When shopping for a realtor you want someone that is going to get your house sold quickly and at the price you are looking for so you want to do your due diligence and ask them questions. How long as their average house been on the market, how close to the original asking price did the house sell, and what is their expertise in your neighborhood."

"About a year and a half ago when I brought Paula in, our real estate agent, to go through the house and tell us what things we needed to fix,” Jennifer described. “She went through the house. There were some minor fixes here and there, but when she got to this room she was like Jennifer, this is a deal breaker you have got to fix this room.' If was very dated, we had the gold shower, brass. It had the regular glass doors, but with the hard water that we have here, it was just limed up, it was very hard to maintain."

You also want to work with real estate agent who has online listings says Smith.

"Online photos, in today's society and the real estate market, is the only way that houses sell. Most people will automatically assume if there is one picture on the Internet that means the inside of the house is not in good condition. That's not necessarily true, but it is for a lot of homes."

In the past, open houses were a popular way for would-be buyers to see properties they were considering.

But with the rise and convenience of online listings, that feature photo and video tours, experts say open houses aren't as necessary.

Angie's List Tips: 4 ways to sell your home fast
1.) Make repairs: When people are thinking about buying a house they are looking for reasons to rule it out and simple things like a leaky faucet or a missing floor tile can be a turn-off for buyers. Take the extra step and make these small repairs service your home's mechanicals regularly.
2.) Keep it clean: You never know when someone may stop by and want to see your home so keep it clean and tidy. Remove as much clutter as you can - this will help make the house look cleaner. Don't forget the outside too - keep your grass mowed and weeds out of flowerbeds
3.) Stage your home: If you have fewer personal belongings, prospective owners can picture their own belongings in the home more easily. Bring in some furniture pieces to fill an empty room.
4.) Online listings: The Internet is a popular place for people who are looking to buy a home and it's one of the first places they look. Find a real estate company that has online listings and offers a virtual tour, photos. Attractive, high quality photos are crucial. The first image is very important to buyers using online search tools. They will either click on that home or skip it and move on.

Open houses are becoming a seldom-used item in many real estate agents' tool boxes, according to real estate experts who talked recently with Angie's List. Highly rated real estate pros tell us few sales are made at open houses and often they're just opportunities for the neighbors to check out your house. In years past, open houses were a popular way for would-be buyers to see properties they were considering. But with the rise and convenience of online listings, featuring photo and/or video tours, experts say open houses are just not as necessary.

Angie's List Tips: Working with a real estate agent
• Ask questions: Many agents offer free market analyses. Before choosing and agent, ask how they came up with their price, their opinion of what's happening in the market, etc.
• What experience do you have? You want an agent with a proven history of sales in your area. Ask how long they have been in the business, how many homes they sold last year, and the average number of days those homes were on the market.
• Do you have references? Ask for references and talk to former clients whose homes they've sold to get their experience on how the process went.
• Marketing plan: Get a copy of the agent's marketing plan, review it, and make suggestions if appropriate. A good agent should tailor a marketing plan specifically for your home - not just list the home online. He or she should be creative in making your home stand above the rest.
• Communication is key: Your agent should be in contact you frequently and keep you updated on your home and other homes for sale in your area. If you decide yours isn't doing enough, find another again who will.

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