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Tips for Delaware
Home Sellers

Do The Math

Before you list your home, make sure you are comfortable with the amount you will net from the sale.  A REALTOR® will provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of your home to determine its current market value and a settlement worksheet that outlines fees and expenses that you will incur upon selling your home, including all existing liens on the home (mortgages, applicable pre-payment penalties, judgments, tax liens, etc.) any applicable REALTOR® commission, transfer taxes, property taxes and attorney fees, outstanding utilities, etc.


Price It Right

You’ve poured your heart and soul into your home.  You’ve remodeled it, you’ve purchased only the finest marble tile and granite countertops and you’ve imported sconces from Rome; it’s a showpiece!  


Unfortunately, most of the improvements you’ve made haven’t translated into market value.  Don’t take it personally.  Market value is determined by comparing your home to homes that are of similar sizes and have similar amenities (the number of bedrooms and bathrooms as opposed to the quality of the bedrooms and bathrooms).  List your home at its current market value, not on its sentimental value.  The worst thing a seller can do is overprice their home.  The longer a home sits on the market, the less likely it is to receive a competitive offer. 


Consider A Pre-Inspection

Pre-inspecting a home gives you an opportunity to correct any major defects in advance.  It’s also a great marketing tool as it demonstrates that you have confidence in the condition of your home.  Additionally, buyers will appreciate that it’s one less expense they will have to incur should they choose to purchase your home. 


Make A Good First Impression

Think of yourself as a buyer.  The front of your home is the first impression buyers will have of your home.  It’s important to set the proper tone the moment they arrive.  Stand outside your home and look at every aspect of it.  Do the shutters and doors need paint?  Does the landscaping need sprucing up?  Is the railing rusty?  Does the driveway have oil stains that need to be removed?  Be certain that your home’s curb appeal leaves potential buyers wanting to see more.


Less Is More

Consider investing in a storage unit for excess pieces of furniture while your home is on the market.  Removing items such as extra chairs, dressers, bookcases, CD/DVD racks and hope chests can make a room appear to be much larger.  Buyers will have an easier time imagining their own furnishings in your home if rooms appear to be more spacious.  


Pack It Up

De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter!  Pack up your knick-knacks and family pictures as they distract potential buyers from concentrating on the amenities your home has to offer.  Clear your kitchen counters of all small appliances and remove all of your refrigerator magnets.  Additionally, clear everything but the bare necessities from your pantry, your kitchen drawers and cabinets, your bathroom cabinets and all of your closets.  Buyers will open all of them when they tour your home to determine that there's ample storage space.


Spend A Little, Get A Lot

Incurring major home improvement expenses when you’re listing your home is not a good idea; however, don’t hesitate to spend money on things like painting, cleaning your carpets and washing your windows.  You may also wish to consider replacing dated light fixtures, cabinet hardware and switch plates.  Make sure all of your light bulbs are at least 100W and in working order so buyers can see each room clearly.


Clean, Clean, Clean

Walk through your entire home and study each room.  Do the walls need to be painted?  Are the closets and cabinets clean and organized?  Is the carpet stained?  Do the floors need refinishing?  Are the windows dirty?  Are the blinds dusty?  Do the curtains need laundering?  Is the upholstery stained?  Are the plants dusty?  Make sure you scrub the home from top to bottom prior to listing and always make sure it’s spotless when you leave for work every day because you never know when a REALTOR® will call to schedule a tour of the home on short notice.


What’s That Smell?

We love our pets.  They’re a part of the family and they bring us countless hours of joy.  Unfortunately, buyers don’t necessarily share our love of animals.  Some are very sensitive to pet odors and could potentially choose not to purchase your otherwise perfect home because they were turned off by the smell of a pet.  Remember that, even though you may not be able to smell our pets, chances are buyers will.  Consider having your carpets and upholstery professionally cleaned prior to listing your home.  Whenever possible, take your pet out of the home when a tour is scheduled and always make sure the litter box is cleaned and/or the yard is clear of dog waste every day.


FSBO Pros and Cons

Let’s start with the pros.  Well, the pro, because there’s really only one: cost savings.  If you list your home For Sale By Owner, you will avoid paying a REALTOR® commission.  Usually.  In order to draw more potential buyers, many FSBO sellers offer to pay a 2-3% commission to a buyer’s Broker. 


Now, let’s move on to the cons.  If you choose to sell your home on your own, your time and money will be spent on marketing your home, scheduling tours of your home and hosting open homes.  Most importantly, you will be completely alone when it comes to negotiating price and home inspection issues, in addition to navigating the legal documents.  Consider that the cost savings of the negotiation process along with the avoidance of potential legal liability will most likely offset the commission expense.




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Donna Marshall is a REALTOR located at 5307 Limestone Rd Suite 100, Wilmington, Delaware 19808

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