Selling your home or any property can be a stressful time. There are a lot of things to consider – rooms to update, clutter to clear, realtors to deal with…and that’s before the house even goes on the market. In Southern California, we buy houses in Los Angeles every day, and every situation is unique.
If you’re selling your home, you should do everything you can to make sure the process is smooth. Minimizing the risk of something going wrong during the process is essential, as problems can cost you time and money, or even prevent you from selling the house entirely. Also, it’s not just the home that could cause you problems; potential buyers can, too.
There are some things you simply can’t plan for – a natural disaster, for example, or the sudden breakdown of a home appliance. But then, you can be as well-prepared as possible. Here’s how.
Build an emergency fund.
Studies have shown that as many as one-third of Americans don’t have any sort of savings designated for home maintenance or emergencies. If something were to happen, either before you list the home or while it’s on the market, it’s you that has to foot that bill or knock off the home’s market value. Avoid losing money by making sure you have money set aside for any eventuality. Hey, if nothing does go wrong, you have a fantastic chunk of ready cash you can either use as a maintenance fund for your next home, or spend on something you really want.
Know the importance of maintenance.
The easiest way to avoid nasty, expensive surprises during the sale process is to keep your home adequately maintained while you’re still living in it. Homes, like most things, need work to stay in tip-top condition. If a faucet starts dripping, fix it; a roof tile falls off, replace it; the paint colors of a room look dated, repaint them. Keeping your home well-maintained avoids the risk of large maintenance jobs to get your home ready for sale, or having to sell it for below market value if you choose not to renovate. It may seem pointless to spend money maintaining a home you plan to sell, but trust us, it isn’t.
One of the easiest ways to keep on top of maintenance is to continue living in the home even if it’s on the market. This helps you notice when potential problems crop up. Houses that seem lived-in are also easier to sell, as buyers can more easily imagine themselves living there.
If you’re selling a home you aren’t currently living in, it’s important to keep an eye on the place while it’s on the market to make sure nothing goes wrong. It’s a lot easier for a small leak to become a big one if there’s no one there to see it! If you’re not able to check in on the property yourself, ask, or hire someone to do it for you.
If your home is older, or has been prone to problems while you’ve been living in it, you might want the further peace of mind that comes with a home inspection. These are done before the home is listed, and gives you the chance to identify and fix any problems you might otherwise have missed before you list.
As well as damage or maintenance problems, you also need to think about loss or theft of your property while strangers are in your home. Letting a stranger poke around your house, especially while you aren’t there, is a huge act of trust and you want to make sure you’re covered in case someone does take something. Good security can also cover you if something is broken or damaged by a potential buyer.
Make sure your existing home insurance covers you. If not, update your policy. It’s not worth cutting into the potential profits from selling your home with breakages or loss. Reduce your risk by following the advice below.
- Make sure you know who’s in the house.
‘Open house’ showings, where people don’t have to make an appointment with your realtor to take a look around, are a really great idea as the more people who come in, the more likely one of them is to make an offer. However, if your open house is particularly busy, it might be hard to keep track of everyone who’s in the building. It’s really important that you, or your realtor, always know who’s in the home for security reasons. You don’t want some stranger to damage something without your knowledge. Operate a system where if a lot of people show up at once, only a certain number can be in any room at any one time.
Alternatively, you can use a lockbox. This allows potential buyers who are given the code to open a lockbox that contains a key to the house. Just make sure the lockbox can’t be seen or easily found from the street.
- Hide your valuables.
While it might be tempting to keep high-value items out on display when showing your home to give a good impression, it’s really not a good idea. You don’t want stuff you actually want to keep to get broken, damaged, or even stolen while your house is on the market. This includes items that may not have a high monetary value, but that are of sentimental significance, or irreplaceable for other reasons. Don’t forget to make an inventory of anything that could be damaged, and add it to your insurance policy to avoid paying for replacements.
- Get security.
While in the past, security systems were unwieldy and expensive, nowadays, they’re small, unobtrusive, and most importantly, inexpensive. You can pick up a wireless home security system for just a few hundred dollars. You can’t put a price on peace of mind! Just remember that you’ll need to inform anyone viewing the home that there are cameras on the property.
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