Here are some tips for those of you who are thinking about or preparing to sell your home. Click on a section title to reveal the information inside.

How to Price Your Home

When the time comes to price your home for sale, you may be tempted to start with the price you paid for it, add a healthy markup and call it a day. Unfortunately, that strategy is unlikely to result in a true reflection of your home’s market value.
Here are a few strategies to help you figure out how much your home is worth:
1. Abandon Your Personal Point of View. How much will a ready, willing and able buyer be willing to pay for your home? Buyers don’t care how much you paid for the home, how many memorable moments you and your family shared in the home, how much cash you need for the down payment on your next home or how much time and money you’ve invested in your home’s hardwood floors, fresh paint, lush landscaping or other improvements.
2. Do Your Own Market Research. Go to open houses in your neighborhood and try to make an impartial assessment of how those homes compare to yours in terms of location, size, amenities and condition. Assuming all the asking prices were the same, would you buy your home or someone else’s?
3. Calculate the Price per Square Foot. The average price per square foot for homes in your neighborhood shouldn’t be the sole determinant of the asking price for your home, but it can be a useful starting point. Keep in mind that various methodologies can be used to calculate square footage.
4. Consider Market Conditions. Are home prices in your area trending upwards or downwards? Are homes selling quickly or slowly? Will your home be on the market in the spring home-buying season or the dead of winter? Are interest rates attractive? Is the economy hot or cold? Will you be selling in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market? Is the local job market strong or are employees fearful of staff reductions?
5. Sweeten the Transaction Terms. Some buyers have needs that go beyond the bottom line. If you’re willing to close quickly, you’ll attract buyers who want to move in right away. The more creative and flexible you can be in meeting the buyer’s needs, the more success you’ll have in pricing your home to sell.

Set Your List Price

During this phase of the home selling process, I will help you set your list price based on:
• Pricing considerations
• Comparable sales
• Market Conditions
• Offering Incentives
• Estimating net proceeds

Pricing Considerations In setting the list price for your home, you should be aware of a buyer’s frame of mind. Consider the following pricing factors: If you set the price too high, your house won’t be picked for viewing, even though it may be much nicer than other homes on the street. If you price too low, you’ll short-change yourself. your house will sell promptly, yes, but you may make less on the sale than if you had set a higher price and waited for a buyer who was willing to pay it.

Using Comparable Sales No matter how attractive and polished your house, buyers will be comparing its price with everything else on the market. your best guide is a record of what the buying public has been willing to pay in the past few months for property in your neighborhood like yours. I can provide you the information on sales figures for those “comps”, and analyze them for a suggested listing price. The decision about how much to ask, though, is always yours.
The list of sales and active listings in your area is what I use to come up with a “Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).” To help in estimating a possible sales price for your house, the analysis will also include data on nearby houses that failed to sell in the past few months, along with their list prices. The CMA differs from a formal appraisal in several ways. One major difference is that an appraisal will be based only on past sales. In addition, an appraisal is done for a fee while the CMA I provide is free and may include properties currently listed for sale and those currently pending sale. In a normal home sale, a CMA is probably enough to let you set a proper price.
A formal written appraisal (which may cost a few hundred dollars) can be useful if you have unique property, if there hasn’t been much activity in your area recently, if co-owners disagree about price, or if there is any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a value on your home.

Consider Market Conditions A Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) often includes Cumulative Days on the Market (CDOM) for each comparable house sold. When real estate is booming and prices are rising, houses may sell in a few days. Conversely, when the market slows down, average CDOM can run into many months. I can let you know whether your area is currently a buyer’s market or a seller’s market.

Estimating Net Proceeds Once you’ve been given an estimate of market value, you can get a rough idea of how much cash you might walk away with when the sale is completed. This can be particularly useful as you start looking for another home to buy. From the estimated sales price, subtract:
• Payoff figure on your present loan(s)
• Broker’s commission
• Any prepayment penalty on your mortgage
• Attorney’s fees, if any
• Unpaid property taxes

In addition, I can tell you whether local customs or rules dictate that the buyer or seller is to pay for the following items:
• Title insurance premium
• Transfer taxes
• Survey fees
• Inspections and repairs for termites and the like
• Recording fees
• Homeowner Association transfer fees and document preparation
• Home protection plan
• Natural hazard disclosure report

As far as closing costs are concerned, you and your eventual buyer may agree on any arrangement that suits you, no matter what local practice dictates. I can help you in estimating what your final closing costs will be.

Tax Implications of Selling Your Home

Selling a home can have a major impact on your federal and state tax returns.

Check with your tax consultant on the factors that may affect taxes resulting from the sale of your home. For example:
• Whether you purchased the home or acquired it by gift or inheritance
• Whether you used your home partly for business or rental
• Costs associated with selling your home
• Home improvements or additions, which may help to offset capital gains
• Gain from the sale of a prior home on which tax was postponed prior to the enactment of the federal Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997

The federal Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 says when you sell your home you can keep, tax free, capital gains of up to $500,000 if you are married filing jointly or $250,000 for single taxpayers, or married taxpayers who file separately. To qualify for the exclusion, you must have used the home as your principle residence for a least two of the prior five years. It is not a one time tax exclusion. You can use the exclusion as often as you meet the qualifications.
The federal Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 further clarified the law and says you can prorate the $500,000/$250,000 exclusion (not your specific gain) if unforeseen events, such as a job change, illness, or some other hardship forced you to sell before you meet the two-year residency requirement.

Many, but not all federal tax benefits are also available from state tax departments. Be sure to discuss your move with a tax professional familiar with state tax rules, especially if you are moving from one state to another.

"Setting The Stage" for Selling Your Home

Making a good first impression can mean the difference between receiving serious offers for your home or being subjected to months of “tire-kickers” dropping by but never buying. To ensure that your home will make the best impression possible consider these six tips for savvy home sellers:

1. Focus on Curb Appeal. The outside of your house can be the source of a very good first impression. Keep the grass well watered and mowed. Have your trees trimmed. Cut back overgrowth. Plant some blooming flowers. Store toys, bicycles, roller-skates, gardening equipment and the like out of sight. Have at least the front of your house and the trim painted, if necessary. Sweep the porch and the front walkway. After dark, turn on your front porch light and any other exterior lighting.

2. Clear Out the Clutter. Buyers won’t purchase a home they can’t see. If your home has too much furniture, overflowing closets, crowded kitchen and bathroom countertops or lots of family photos or collectibles on display, potential buyers won’t be able to see your home. Get rid of anything you don’t need or use. Fill up your garage or rent some off-site storage space if that’s what it takes to clear out your home.

3. Use Your Nose. Many people are oblivious to scents, but others are extremely sensitive to offensive odors. To eliminate bad smells, bathe your pets, freshen the cat litter box frequently, shampoo your carpets, dry clean your drapes, and empty trash cans, recycling bins and ashtrays. Place open boxes of baking soda in smell-prone areas, and refrain from cooking fish or strong-smelling foods. Introduce pleasing smells by placing flowers or potpourri in your home and using air fresheners. Baking a fresh or frozen pie or some other fragrant treat is another common tactic.

4. Make All Necessary Repairs. Buyers expect everything in their new home to operate safely and properly. Picky buyers definitely will notice-and likely magnify-minor maintenance problems you’ve ignored for months or even years. Leaky faucets, burned-out light bulbs, painted-shut or broken windows, inoperable appliances and the like should be fixed before you put your home on the market. These repairs may seem small, but left undone they can lead buyers to question whether you’ve taken good care of your home.

5. Introduce Lifestyle Accessories & Make Your Home as Comfortable & Attractive as Possible. Set the dining room table with your best dishes. Put out your only-for-company towels. Make up the spare bed. Hang some fresh curtains. Put some logs in the fireplace. Use your imagination.

6. Put Your Buyers Cap On. Walk up to your home and pretend you’ve never seen it before. What do you notice? How do you feel about what you see? Does the home seem inviting? Well-maintained? Would you want to buy this home? Your answer should be an enthusiastic yes!

Maximizing Exterior and Curb Appeal
Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and as little money as possible) to maximize its exterior and interior appeal. Tips to enhance your home’s exterior and curb appeal:
• Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly
• Trim hedges, weed lawns and flower-beds, and prune trees regularly
• Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling
• Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint
• Clean and align gutters
• Inspect and clean the chimney
• Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles
• Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking
• During winter months, keep walks and drive neatly cleared of snow and ice
• During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance
• Re-seal an asphalt driveway
• Keep your garage door closed
• Store RV’s or old and beaten up cars elsewhere while the house is on the market
• Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door

Maximizing Interior Appeal
Enhance your home’s interior by:
• Giving every room in the house a thorough cleaning, as well as removing all clutter. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms have actually rented storage garages and moved half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, more spacious look. After all, you will be moving anyway so why not pack up some of that stuff?
• Hiring a professional cleaning service, once every few weeks while the house is on the market. This may be a good investment for owners who are busy elsewhere.
• Removing the less frequently used, even daily used items from kitchen counters, closets, and attics, making these areas much more inviting. Since you’re anticipating a move anyhow, holding a garage sale at this point is a great idea.
• If necessary, repainting dingy, soiled or strongly colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige. The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.
• Checking for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement.
• Repairing cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.
• Check the bottom of doors for shoe marks (especially the front door), clean fingerprints from windows, light switches, and stainless steel appliances.
• Replacing broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings, and other woodwork. Inspecting and repairing the plumbing, heating, cooling and alarm systems.
• Repairing dripping faucets and shower-heads. Buying showy new towels for the bathroom, to be brought out only when prospective buyers are on the way.
• Sprucing up a kitchen in need of more remodeling by investing in new cabinet knobs, new curtains or a coat of neutral paint.

Showing Your Property

Coordinating Appointments All appointments are scheduled through me via an online "showing request" system set up by the Board of Realtors, and accessed by all licensed real estate agents. Agents request a showing online which comes to me directly via a text and email. I then contact you through you preferred method (text or phone call) to confirm the appointment will work for you.

If You Cannot Be Reached If every attempt to reach you has been made, I will confirm the appointment with the requesting agent, but will let them know I could not reach you. They will at that point show your property to their client, but will make sure they see if you are home first before entering unannounced. Unless specifically instructed, it is presumed that you do not want to miss any opportunity to show your property to interested parties.

Appointment Time Frame
A request for an appointment could be immediate (as soon as a few minutes), or as distant as next week. The time frame requested is generally over the period of an hour or two. Agents attempt to be punctual, however, circumstances may cause them to be earlier or later than expected. In the event it is necessary for an agent to cancel his/her appointment, you will be notified as soon as possible.

Special Instructions I will see that any special instructions you have communicated are noted in your property records. Appropriate information (pets, security, etc.) will be provided to the requesting agent when the appointment is confirmed.

The Appointment I ask that you try not be present when a showing is scheduled. The prospective buyer may feel like an intruder and may hurry through your property. If need be and you have to be there, avoid having friends and family in the house. Allow the agent and prospective buyer to talk, free of disturbances. Agents know their buyers requirements and will emphasize the features of your property that are important to their clients. If you are not present during the appointment, the agent will gain access by using the KeyBox on your property. If you will be present during the appointment, the licensed agents will identify his or herself and offer you a business card.

If You Plan to Be Away Please inform me of any extended period of time when you will not be available to give permission for appointments. In this case, please consider to allow all requested appointments during your absence. If possible, you should provide me with a phone number where you can be reached in the event an offer needs to be presented.

Previewing Properties Agents who preview your property, without a prospective buyer along, are simply educating themselves on current properties on the market or are attempting to match the needs of their clients. If your property meets the needs of a client, they will call and make another appointment to show your property.

Unexpected Requests If anyone stops by without an appointment to see your property, ask them to call the phone number on the “For Sale” sign to set up an appointment. Even an individual identifying themselves as an agent needs to coordinate appointments through the RE/MAX Results answering service.

Quick Appointment Tips:
• Refer to “Setting The Stage Sells your Home” six tips to ensure that your home will make the best impression possible to prospective buyers
• Open drapes and blinds
• Turn on lights
• Play soft music
• Keep pets outdoors or confined to a specific room (provide a note on the door stating “Please do not let pets out”)
• Minimize any recent cooking odors with an air freshener

Seller Responsibilities

Please Be Prepared to Provide the Following Items:
• Spare key to your home
• Average monthly utilities billing
• Current property tax bill
• Information as it applies to your home
• Current Title Insurance Policy
• Homeowners Association Documents
• Condominium Documents
• Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions
• Abstract or Torrens Owners Duplicate Certificate
• Copies of any recent inspections:
Pest and Dry-Rot
Septic and Well (if applicable)
I usually ask sellers to write a list of why they love their home or area. Copies can be left for potential buyers during a showing so that they may see a non-apparent amenity about your property.

Please Review the Following Contracts and Disclosures:
These are the standard forms regulated by the Board of Realtors and the State of Minnesota.

Forms to be completed by the Seller(s):
• Agency Relationship Form
• Affiliated Business Arrangement Disclosure
• Sellers Property Disclosure
• Well Disclosure
• Lead Paint Disclosure

Forms to be completed by the Buyer(s):
• Purchase Agreement
• Financing Addendum
• Inspection Contingency Addendum
• Arbitration Disclosure

Marketing Plan

• Your home will be submitted to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) exposing it to over 6000 real estate agents and their prospective buyers.
• A RE/MAX Results yard sign with our names and numbers will be placed on your property attracting interested parties.
• We’ll create some incredible brochures using multiple pictures of the inside and outside of your home as well as the room dimensions and features. These brochures should be displayed in your home during showing appointments providing prospective buyers a reminder of your home.
• Showings by appointment only, arranged through our friendly RE/MAX Results office staff.
• Each agent that shows your home will be contacted for feedback and we’ll report that information back to you.
• We’ll hold open houses often throughout the sale, exposing your home first hand to the public.
• An Agent Open House will be held the first Tuesday that your home is on the market giving all real estate agents the opportunity to preview your home. We’ll provide lunch and be available to answer their questions.
• Your home will be promoted at RE/MAX Results staff meetings.
• I’ll represent and negotiate for you on all contracts presented, making sure all details in the contract are covered and that your interests are protected.