I have received several phone calls from clients and readers who are considering selling their home in the spring. Despite the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, now is the perfect time to start laying the groundwork for a successful sale. This is especially true in Lamorinda where the “spring” market has gotten progressively earlier; school enrollment begins in the early spring which means many buyers are looking to close on their new home even earlier in the year to ensure that their child is able to attend neighborhood schools. It is more important than ever to start making your to-do list now if you want to take advantage of this typically strong early selling market.
I always suggest that sellers spend time de-cluttering and getting rid of things that they no longer use or need. Consider donating your unwanted treasures. There are wonderful charities that will pick up items that can be reused or recycled. These donations not only help deserving non-profits, but your generosity will be repaid come tax time when you are looking for those itemized chartable deductions. When it comes to trash, if you live in Lafayette, Republic Services (previously know as Allied Waste) provide bulk garbage pick ups. Check with your service provider to find out more information. There are also professional organizers who will come to your home if you need extra help with the de-cluttering process. Thinning out your possessions need not be an overwhelming exercise and is a good habit to get into regardless of whether or not you are planning to move.
Now is also the time to start getting quotes, picking finishes and lining up contractors if you plan to make updates to your home prior to selling. Make sure that you consult with your Realtor® throughout this process to ensure that you are making choices that will appeal to current buyers. While as homeowners we may love a particular avant-garde choice in decor, it may not be what today’s buyers want and are paying a premium for. It is important to make sure that the money you put into upgrades will translate into more profit at the close of escrow. However, there are some circumstances in which it does not make financial sense to make updates in advance of a sale. In this case or when the budget for repairs and upgrades is limited, I often recommend just a simple coat of paint. It can go a long way to brightening up a house and making it feel current and refreshed.
About a year ago, I wrote about the benefits of presale inspections. I still highly recommend sellers pre-inspect their home so there is time to make repairs or disclose any defects before going to market. A pest inspection and a home inspection are good places to start. It is essential to use reputable inspectors, who are well known and trusted. They will provide clearly written reports describing the condition of the home and highlighting any areas of concern. If you are not in a position to address the items flagged by the inspector, it may be a good idea to get quotes for their repair and include them in your disclosures. That will help potential buyers to better understand the current condition of the home and also the financial implication of any problems.
I believe it is always in the seller’s best interest to disclose to potential buyers as much information as possible up front. It allows for more informed decisions to be made on all sides and reduces the likelihood of having to renegotiate a deal once in escrow, based on newly discovered defects. Do keep in mind that, even with presale inspections, a buyer may still want to do their own inspections. Many sellers are surprised when they have paid for a home inspection and the buyer decides to perform one as well, but getting a second opinion is a common practice.
And finally, take a good look at what your home is worth before you go full speed ahead. This means looking beyond your Zestimate and seeking the advice of a local Realtor® who understands the nuances of the Lamorinda market. They can help you to evaluate your situations and make sure your expectations are realistic and that a move makes financial sense.
I wish you and your family a wonderful and restful holiday season. Please feel free to email me or call with your real estate questions.