MICHAEL BURKE
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Selling Real Estate in Western New York

5 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market

  1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and youíll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.
     
  2. Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items offsite or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.
     
  3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn our or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you donít plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.
     
  4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.
     
  5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend youíre a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?

Forms Youíll Need to Sell Your Home

  1. Property disclosure form. This form requires you to reveal all known defects to your property. Check with your state government to see if there is a special form required in your state.
     
  2. Purchasers access to premises agreement. This agreement sets conditions for permitting the buyer to enter your home for activities such as measuring for draperies before you move.
     
  3. Sales contract. The agreement between you and the seller on terms and conditions of sale. Again, check with your state real estate department to see if there is a required form.
     
  4. Sales contract contingency clauses. In addition to the contract, you may need to add one or more attachments to the contract to address special contingencies ó such as the buyerís need to sell a home before purchasing yours.
     
  5. Pre- and post-occupancy agreements. Unless youíre planning on moving out and the buyer moving in on the day of closing, youíll need an agreement on the terms and costs of occupancy once the sale closes.
     
  6. Lead-based paint disclosure pamphlet. If your home was built before 1978, you must provide the pamphlet to all sellers. You must also have buyers sign a statement indicating they received the pamphlet.

12 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your REALTOR®
Make sure you choose a REALTOR® who will provide topnotch service and meet your unique needs.

  1. How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job? While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate ó like many other professions ó is mostly learned on the job.
     
  2. What designations do you hold? Designations such as GRI and CRS®, which require that agents take additional, specialized real estate training, are held only by about one-quarter of real estate practitioners.
     
  3. How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year? By asking this question, youíll get a good idea of how much experience the practitioner has.
     
  4. How many days did it take you to sell the average home? How did that compare to the overall market? The REALTOR® you interview should have these facts on hand, and be able to present market statistics from the local MLS to provide a comparison.
     
  5. How close to the initial asking prices of the homes you sold were the final sale prices? This is one indication of how skilled the REALTOR® is at pricing homes and marketing to suitable buyers. Of course, other factors also may be at play, including an exceptionally hot or cool real estate market.
     
  6. What types of specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home? You donít want someone whoís going to put a For Sale sign in the yard and hope for the best. Look for someone who has aggressive and innovative approaches, and knows how to market your property competitively on the Internet. Buyers today want information fast, so itís important that your REALTOR® is responsive.
     
  7. Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction? While itís usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, itís important to understand where the practitionerís obligations lie. Your REALTOR® should explain his or her agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party.
     
  8. Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and help with other things I need done? Because REALTORS® are immersed in the industry, theyíre wonderful resources as you seek lenders, home improvement companies, and other home service providers. Practitioners should generally recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with or receive compensation from any of the providers.
     
  9. What type of support and supervision does your brokerage office provide to you? Having resources such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney, and assistance with technology can help an agent sell your home.
     
  10. Whatís your business philosophy? While thereís no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess whatís important to the agent and determine how closely the agentís goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.
     
  11. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently? Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but how you judge the response will reflect your own desires. Do you want updates twice a week or do you prefer not to be bothered unless thereís a hot prospect? Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a personal visit?
     
  12. Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of your three most recent clients? Ask recent clients if they would work with this REALTOR® again. Find out whether they were pleased with the communication style, follow-up, and work ethic of the REALTOR®.

Simple Tips for Better Home Showings

  1. Remove clutter and clear off counters. Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small decorative items. Put excess furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season clothing items that are cramping closet space. Donít forget to clean out the garage, too.
     
  2. Wash your windows and screens. This will help get more light into the interior of the home.
     
  3. Keep everything extra clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, mop and wax floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator. Polish your doorknobs and address numbers. Itís worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it.
     
  4. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Potpourri or scented candles will help.
     
  5. Brighten your rooms. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets. Clean the walls, or better yet, brush on a fresh coat of neutral color paint.
     
  6. Donít disregard minor repairs. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but theyíll give buyers the impression that the house isnít well-maintained.
     
  7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, place a pot of bright flowers near the entryway.
     
  8. Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.
     
  9. Add a touch of color in the living room. A colored afghan or throw on the couch will jazz up a dull room.  Buy new accent pillows for the sofa.
     
  10. Buy a flowering plant and put it near a window you pass by frequently.
     
  11. Make centerpieces for your tables. Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.
     
  12. Set the scene. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. For example, in the basement you might display a chess game in progress.
     
  13. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. Show off the view if you have one.
     
  14. Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if itís not in use.
     
  15. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Put away those old towels and toothbrushes.  When buyers enter your bathroom, they should feel pampered.  Add a new shower curtain, new towels, and fancy guest soaps.  Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight.
     
  16. Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If thatís not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where theyíll be to eliminate surprises.
     
  17. Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. While a real estate salesperson will be on site during the showing or open house, itís impossible to watch everyone all the time.
     
  18. Leave the home. Itís usually best if the sellers are not at home. Itís awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there.

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Copyright ©2011 Michael Burke, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, HUNT ERA. All Rights Reserved.
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Michael Burke
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Hunt Real Estate ERA
8780 Sheridan Drive
Williamsville, NY 14221

Cell: 716-474-8155

mburke@huntrealestate.com