I am delighted to bring you Part Two of my So You Want To Sell Your House series with Element Real Estate. Part One, Curb Appeal has generated a ton of interest and this next installment gets into some even meatier issues when it comes to being prepared to sell your home.
Disclaimer: yesterday the inevitable but potentially tragic work-at-home-mom nightmare came true for me, and my laptop is currently upside down and drying out over a towel, some rice, and silica packets from my new sneakers. For at least the next two days all of my content will be written on a combination of my phone and iPad, so bear with me if there are a few grammar quirks or oddly placed images. In normal circumstances I would just take a few days off, but I challenged myself to publish a new article every weekday in July, and gosh darn it I will not be derailed.
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled educational real estate advice post:
When we sold our last house we got great advice from Jess & Dan at Element. They walked through our house and helped us identify all our home's issues, big and small. We hired a handyman to repair any visual defects, such as replacing some rotting trim and patching damage to the ceiling from a previous light fixture. We knew from buying it that there was a (fairly common) crack in the block foundation, that was an issue a handy man was not going to be able to fix for us. We could have filled the crack and painted over, hoping no one would notice (which is what a lot of people told us to do, but is totally not cool.) Instead we had an engineer assess the issue before we even put the house on the market, so we had a disclaimer about the crack as well as a report that stated it showed no signs of causing any structural problems, and we provided that as part of the packet of information prospective buyers were provided with during their showing. By fixing what we could, disclosing everything else, we didn’t leave anything up to chance, and we didn’t need to renegotiate after the inspection because there were no surprises.
I asked our real estate expert pals over at Element Real Estate what they wanted sellers to know how about addressing your homes big issues, and they had so much great advice they ended up writing a guest post about it!
"As a seller, if you know about defects or you can visibly see them in your house, it’s best to address or correct them prior to listing your home for sale. If addressing them isn't an option for you at the moment, at a minimum you should disclose the defects – as well as your desire not to address them. Some examples of visual defects which can be easily seen are cracks or shifting in the foundation or structure, any past or recurring water intrusion, and the age (more specifically, the condition) of the roof. Other, less apparent, defects might include issues with water quality, finicky plumbing or septic issues, or known faults with your chimney or fireplace. If a seller chooses not to address a visual defect, it can reduce the chances of actually getting an offer in the first place (i.e. hoping a prospective buyer won’t be put off by a large crack in the foundation). Not investigating the extent of a defect could certainly limit the ability to negotiate once an offer is received, not to mention that some defects could be flagged by an appraiser late in a buyer’s financing process – which could leave a seller scrambling to make a last minute repair.
As a matter of practice we encourage proactivity vs. reactivity when it’s time to prepare a home for sale. Scheduling pre-inspections of certain systems is a great way to get in front of a problem. Just remember, anything that you learn as the result of an inspection you should disclose. Having a professional clean and inspect a home’s heating system or systems could be a good idea. A seller may want to have the chimneys for both fireplaces and wood stoves cleaned and inspected, too. If it applies, the septic system could be pumped and inspected, and consideration could be given to conducting water tests if the home has a private water supply. It’s important to ensure that the fuel tank, if applicable, is compliant with current regulations, as well. Don’t forget to get receipts for any pre-listing inspections and make sure each contractor specifies the work performed in writing. If a problem is noted, address it or disclose it. Remember…DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE. It’s more effective to tackle an issue head-on vs. hoping it won’t come up later.
So, what happens if, despite a seller’s best efforts, a large defect is brought to light as the result of an inspection? Knowledge is power. It’s best to get an expert opinion and estimate – and more than one if the discovery budget allows. It also strengthens a seller’s position to know what a remedy will cost, versus relying on an estimate provided by a contractor of the buyer's choosing."
Armed with this great advice, you should be ready to forge ahead with selling your house, and experience the least hold ups and hiccups possible in the process. Did you have a big issue hold up a sale or purchase of a house? Tell us about it so others can learn from your trials.
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