The photographs you place in your listing are in most cases the first glimpse a potential buyer will have of your home.  They are vitally important to whether or not a buyer decides to make an appointment to come for a showing or visit your open house.  You want to make that first impression a good one, so follow these important tips for great photos.

Keep It In Focus

Make sure your photos are clear and in focus. If you don’t own a good camera, borrow one.  Your REALTOR® may handle taking the photos for you, and may have a high-end camera that takes better photos.  If so, hold out for those pictures.

Take a look at the pictures before they are published to make sure they’re in focus and sharp.

Get A Good View

Nobody needs to see an up close picture of the bathroom sink—a photo taken from further back showing the size and layout of the room is far more helpful.  The same goes for bedrooms.  The corner of a room doesn’t show much of it.  Take your pictures from as far back as you can to include as much of the room as possible.

When taking pictures of the outside, be aware of obstructions such as trees or vehicles in the driveway that make it hard to see the home.  Take pictures from several angles both inside and outside the house.  The better the view of your home in the pictures, the more a potential buyer can see to help determine if the house is right for them.

Clean House First

Laundry, toys, or clutter lying around do not make for a great selling point.  Take the time to clean up and put things away before you take the pictures.  Less clutter will make the rooms look larger, and nobody wants to see your clothes tossed on the bed or your child’s toys on the floor.

Remember, you want people to see a house that they can imagine making their own; seeing your clutter and mess makes that task more difficult.  Instead, present a house that is as clean and clutter-free as possible.

With today’s online listings, pictures are more important than ever.  Buyers expect to see multiple photographs that they can examine at their leisure to decide which houses to check out in person.  Make sure your listing photographs show your home to its best advantage so that you can draw in buyers and sell more quickly.

A home warranty plan, also known as a home protection plan, is a service contract that offers homeowners a way to safeguard themselves against possible breakage or a malfunction within the home.  It’s impossible to predict the future, which is why so many buyers look for that little extra peace of mind to comfort them when life unexpectedly throws them an unforeseen problem.

Who Needs A Home Warranty Plan

Basically, anyone who purchases a home and is concerned with the cost of repairs should consider a home warranty plan.  This is especially true of first-time home buyers who may not be familiar with home maintenance.

Factoring In The Cost

When factoring in the potential cost of repairing a major appliance or other home component, a home warranty plan may not be a bad investment.  The actual cost of warranty coverage will depend on the plan chosen and the items protected.  As is the case with everything in life, it’s best to shop around and compare prices.

Who Pays For A Home Warranty Plan

As a buyer, you can order a home warranty plan in conjunction with the purchase of your home.  However, some sellers or builders may include this type of offering as an incentive to attract potential buyers.  In this case, the plan is yours at no additional cost.  Some REALTORS® may also offer a home warranty plan as a gift to customers who buy a home through their agency.

What’s Covered & What’s Not

Just like a car warranty, no two policies are the same.  Coverage varies by location and issuer, and your REALTOR® can help you to choose a warranty plan that best suits your needs.  Most basic plans cover a home’s heating and cooling system, electrical system, plumbing, water heater and major appliances, including a dishwasher, range/oven/cooktop, garbage disposal, etc.  Coverage does not apply to items that are misused or damaged, either intentionally or through negligence.  Instead, most home warranty plans are designed to protect the homeowner from defects that result during the course of normal wear and tear.

When considering the purchase of a home warranty plan, review the complete contract and familiarize yourself with exactly what’s covered under your policy.  If you want an upgraded policy, don’t hesitate to ask your REALTOR® if one is available.  Most companies do not require a home inspection and will notify homeowners when their coverage is about to expire.  The good news is that most policies are renewable.

What To Do If A Problem Arises

If you are unable to satisfactorily resolve an issue with your home warranty plan, either due to denial of a claim or undesirable service, talk to the REALTOR® who sold you the home.  If he/she refers a lot of business to this particular company, it may be possible for him/her to speak with them about reaching an amicable resolution.

The purchase of a home is a big step and it’s likely to be the largest purchase you will ever make, so be sure to consider all of the options available to help protect yourself from costly repairs.  Ask your REALTOR® for more information relating to available home warranty plans.

In tough economic times, saving the money that you would have to pay a real estate agent to help you sell your home can be a tempting idea.  Sale by owner has become a fairly common practice in many locations, and in some cases it can be successful.  But before you consider trying to sell your home without any professional help, there are a few things you should keep in mind—the downside to a sale by owner.

Legal Details

Selling a home is a complex legal process, and there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be filled out, signed, and filed properly.  While showing the home and hosting an open house by yourself are relatively easy to do, some of the more legal aspects of the home selling process might be a bit complicated for the uninitiated.  When you let a REALTOR® help you sell your home, you can be confident that all of the paperwork is in order and everything is filed properly.

Tricks Of The Trade

A REALTOR® has the experience to know the right thing to say to a potential buyer in order to pique their interest, and how to get more people into your home for an open house.  It’s that practical knowledge and inside expertise that makes it possible for a REALTOR® to sell your house a lot faster than you might be able to on your own.

A Matter Of Time

Selling a home is time consuming.  Can you leave work to show it during the day?  Can you accommodate people who want to see the house on weekends or other odd hours?  Can you spend a whole day hosting an open house?  Think about the time commitment that is involved in being your own agent, and be realistic about your abilities.  Your REALTOR® can do all those things and more, because it is his or her job to do them.

Sale by owner sounds like a good idea on the surface, but be sure you consider all of the details involved before you decide to go it alone.  Having a professional by your side through all of the ins and outs of selling a home can make things a lot easier on you, and you can sell your house more quickly and more profitably.

In addition to location and condition, the asking price of a home is at the top of the list of important considerations.  When a potential buyer is looking for a property, they want to get the best possible value for their dollar.  This doesn’t mean that a home should be priced too low, but it does mean that knowing how to price your home is a must.

Know The Value

Regardless of whether you are in a buyer’s market or seller’s market, it’s important for every seller to know the actual value of their home with the help of an appraisal.  With this information, you will be able to choose a listing price that does not exceed the home’s value.  At the same time, you will know how to react to various offers that a potential buyer may make.  If you can select a price that is affordable to a range of buyers, you may receive multiple offers thereby sparking a possible competition among the interested parties.

Do Your Homework

The asking price that you choose should not be based on an appraisal alone, but rather a combination of factors.  One such factor is that of recent selling prices for comparable homes in the area known as “comps.”  Important comparisons include construction year, square footage, views (if applicable), interior upgrades and additional features that make the home unique.  While you’re doing research, check out current listings and the asking price for each home available in your area.

Set A Realistic Timetable

In researching the sale price for other comparable homes in the area, you should also note the length of time a particular house has been on the market.  Some homes practically sell overnight, while others may remain on the market for months without being sold.  If you want to sell your home quickly, you should consider this when setting a price.  A bargain will obviously move quicker, but it’s important to make enough from the sale to feel good about your choice.  If you aren’t in a hurry to close, talk with your realtor about a fair starting price that’s at or near the appraised value of your home.

Ask Your REALTOR® For Advice

While you hold the key, so to speak, to your house’s actual asking price, most sellers will ask their REALTOR® for their opinion.  After all, real estate is their business and they will be working with you through every step of the process.  If you choose a REALTOR® that you trust, give great consideration to the advice they offer.

When we have pets, they quickly become a part of our family.  But when it comes to selling your home, potential buyers may not be impressed by the presence of your four-legged family member.  Whether it’s due to allergies or a simple case of not being a lover of animals, many buyers shy away from a home with pets.  The good news is that there are strategies you can employ to sell your house without a ruff time.

A Foolproof Solution

If you worry about potential home buyers being scared off by the presence of your pet, find an alternate location for them while you are showing the home.  Perhaps a neighbor, family member or friend could watch your pet for a few hours.  Otherwise, consider boarding your pet temporarily.  Without the discomfort of an unfamiliar animal, buyers will be free to tour your home and envision their own belongings in it without having any distraction.

If All Else Fails . . .

If you cannot find a way to temporarily relocate your pet, place him/her in a pet carrier when buyers are touring your home.  Animals should not remain in this type of unit for more than two hours at a time, but this should give buyers enough time to see the home and ask any questions.  If you have an outdoor kennel or exercise pen, your pet may be satisfied here until the tour is over.  Your main focus is to keep him/her from interfering with the tour and/or disturbing your potential buyer.

What’s Left Behind

As every pet parent knows, animals often leave little surprises in some unapproved places.  If you find yourself with carpet stains or pet odors, hire a professional cleaning company.  If this fails, replace the carpet or consider installing hardwood floors.  Buyers will see stains or smell the presence of an animal and may form an early opinion, which isn’t likely to be favorable, before even giving your house a chance.  Once your pets are out of the house, remove their litter box or training pad(s) and clean the area thoroughly.

Staging

Many sellers are already aware of this term because staging a house is essential in the real estate business.  If you have pets, remove any photos or other goodies, including toys and furniture, when showing your home.

Picture Perfect

When you sell a home, your REALTOR® will take photos for the listing.  These images may appear in advertisements and/or on the REALTOR’S® Web site, which means they should represent everything that is wonderful about your home.  Avoid any photos that show your pet, his/her toys or bed.  Buyers are not looking for a pet, but rather a house that they can call home.

Legal Matters

Your local law may require that you inform potential buyers that a pet lives in the home.  Nobody likes to see pet hair on the carpet or see a dirty litter box, but they do have the right to know everything about the house, including any pet presence.

There’s a lot to do when preparing to sell your home, and some improvements to make it easier to sell might be on the list.  When you need to get your home looking its best but don’t have a lot of extra cash to spend on it, try a few of these simple tricks that will help sell your home faster without breaking the bank.

Cleaner Is Better

If you can’t afford to replace the carpets in your home to make it look better, consider vacuuming them instead.  Carpets that have seen better days can look much better when they have been steam cleaned.  May companies offer deals on carpet cleaning, or you can rent a machine and do it yourself.  As a bonus, clean carpets make the home smell nicer as well.

Cleaning the outside of the house really adds to curb appeal.  Rent a pressure washer for the day and clean the driveway and outside walls.  Patios and decks can benefit from pressure washing as well.  It will leave concrete and wood looking like new and get rid of cobwebs and dust on the house.

Change Small Details

If you can’t afford to put in new cabinets, make them look fresh with new hardware.  Simply adding new handles to cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom can really improve their appearance and add a more modern touch.

New windows might be out of the question, but a quick coat of paint on the frames and windowsills can really brighten up old windows and make them look new again.  If you don’t have time or money to paint the entire exterior of your home, try painting just the front door.  It will create a bright, welcoming accent.

Cover Old Furniture

Staging your home for sale is expensive, and difficult when you are still living there and also on a budget.  Instead of replacing furniture, buy slipcovers to make them look new.  Colorful throws and pillows can change the look of the room as well and make buyers see it in a different light.

Scratched up tables can benefit from the same treatment as a couch.  Use a tablecloth for the dining room table and place lace doilies or colorful placemats as an option to cover a coffee table or end tables.

Simple touches can really change the way a buyer sees your home and help you to sell it quickly.  They don’t have to be expensive; you can change the look of your home easily at a small cost.

Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home, it’s time to think about what comes next.  Throughout the process, you may find it beneficial to have a checklist to help guide you in some very important choices that you will be making in the coming months.

Get An Appraisal

When you list your home for sale, an appraisal will be helpful for a number of reasons.  As the seller, you may wonder why you would need to have your home appraised, but here’s why.  As a seller, you do not want to overprice or underprice your home.  If you ask for more than the home is actually worth, lenders won’t likely grant a loan even if you find a willing buyer.  If you price your home too low, not only will you be taking away from your own profit, but potential buyers may wonder what’s wrong with the home that it’s priced so far below market value.

With an appraisal, you can list your home with the knowledge that you need to make sure the price is right.  If you want to advertise the home as a bargain, sell it somewhat below the appraised value.  Buyers will know they are getting instant equity in the home and lenders will see the investment as a good one.

Decide How Quickly You Want To Sell

Believe it or not, your schedule could greatly impact the listing price.  If you are in a hurry to sell, you may find that a competitive asking price will help you to get the cash you need much quicker.  A price that reflects the higher end of a buyer’s budget may take some time to sell, so consider these factors when pricing your home.

Make Time For Updates

Your REALTOR® will offer advice as to what needs updated, repaired or changed in order to maximize the potential of your home.  When a buyer looks at a house, they are looking at the cost, needed repairs or upgrades, decor, etc.  Once your REALTOR® does a walkthrough and explains what, if anything, needs updated, you will commit to an asking price and sign the listing agreement.

Field Offers

As a seller, you are probably already aware that potential buyers will make an offer that could be less than your actual asking price.  Most REALTORS® will tell you that if you ask for ‘X’ amount of dollars, buyers will probably offer you ‘X’ amount instead.  That’s the name of the game, and you will need to decide whether or not your asking price is firm or negotiable.  If an offer comes your way, you will always have the option of making a counteroffer or simply rejecting the deal altogether.

As a final thought to the negotiation process, keep in mind that buyers typically offer less than they are actually willing to pay initially.  Most offers are time sensitive, which means you may have to make some quick decisions.  Of course, your REALTOR® will be there to guide you through every step of the process and will likely offer an opinion as to whether or not an offer is fair in the current market.

Close The Deal

When the price is right and you agree to the terms, it’s time to say goodbye to your former home and hello to a brand new life.  Letting go is not always easy, but moving forward is a part of life.  If you still live in the home, most contracts will require that you move within 30 days.  If you no longer live in the home, most buyers will want to move in immediately.

When your home is on the market but you are still living there, you can’t very well make it a model show home.  Still, there are a few things you should think about putting in storage while your home is for sale in order to make it as appealing as possible to buyers.  Here are the top five things you should consider putting out of sight.

Excess Family Photos

Buyers want to picture themselves in the house, and a slew of family photos hung all over the place can make that difficult.  If all they can see is you and your family, they won’t be able to easily envision their own family there.

Your Liquor Cabinet

A nice wine rack or a few bottles displayed near the wet bar are fine, but if you keep a lot of liquor in the house put it somewhere out of sight.  While it may seem illogical, buyers who share different lifestyle views might be put off by it.

Your Pet’s Toys

Chewed up tennis balls, smelly stuffed animals, and half-digested bones are part of life with a dog, but people coming to see your house will find it unattractive.  It will also tell them your pet has the run of the house, and they will wonder what damage might have been done.

Signs Of Repairs

Put away the plunger and similar items when you are selling.  It will prevent buyers from wondering if something is wrong with the plumbing, even if you only keep it around as a precaution.

Anything That Clutters A Room

So the extra bedroom is used as an office/exercise room/guest bedroom?  Versatility is great, but all that stuff in there will just look like there isn’t enough space in the house for everything you—or a buyer—needs.  Get rid of the exercise equipment and the desk, and leave the guest bed.  Extra bedrooms are more of a selling point than an office or exercise room.

It might be annoying to have to put some of your personal items away while you sell your home, but it can mean a faster sale and a larger profit.  Buyers need to see a home as a place where they can live, not the place where you live.

Here are the most common mistakes people make when selling their property.

Home Is Priced Too High

This will certainly turn buyers off, and you may have to make several contingencies or offer incentives in order to get buyers even interested in making an offer. While you may feel your home is special, asking more than the fair market value will usually get you nowhere.

Home Is In Bad Condition

While your home in its current condition may work for you and your family, if there are obvious repairs that need to be made, or it is terribly outdated, fixing these problems will not only make it easier to market your home, but will also increase its value.  In most cases this increase will be considerably greater than the money you put into making the changes.

Home Is Being Marketed Incorrectly

When selling your home, there are no guarantees that the ultimate buyer will simply walk through the front door.  In many cases you may have to bring your home to the buyer.  Effective marketing will help ensure that your property receives maximum exposure to attract a ready, willing, and able buyer in the shortest period of time.

By adhering to the advice in these simple tips, you can avoid the biggest mistakes homeowners make when selling their homes, and the process will be smoother and more profitable in the long run.

You have put your home up for sale and done everything your agent has advised you to do to prepare your property for sale, but still no offers have come in.  If you suspect your neighbor’s property is preventing your home from appealing to potential buyers, there are a few things you can do to remedy this situation.  Here are some tips for dealing with problem neighbors while selling your home.

Are Your Neighbors The Problem?

Before banging down the neighbor’s door and blaming them for your home’s lack of appeal, you’ll first want to make sure that is really the problem.  Ask your agent what they think the problem is, and whether they agree that the neighbors may be preventing the sale.  Also ask other homeowners in the area what they think of any problem neighbors to get perspective before making that visit.

Use Tact When Approaching Neighbors

If you have determined that a particular neighbor is creating a problem that is affecting your home’s value and marketability, your best bet in getting them to agree to make the required changes is to be nice about it.  Offer to help them with the cleanup and explain that it is not only for your benefit, but will also increase their home’s value as well.  Planning a neighborhood cleanup and renting a junk removal service for the community may encourage them to clean up without even being asked.

Last Resort

If you have asked nicely and your neighbor still refuses to clean their property, there are steps you can take to force the situation.  Many municipalities have bylaws concerning the upkeep of property, and getting your local officials involved may be necessary.  Also getting other homeowners in the area on your side can make this easier.  Remember though, you should always approach the individuals first and ask nicely before reporting them to the authorities.

Messy neighbors can be an obstacle to selling your home, but in most cases a little diplomacy and an offer to help will get the task accomplished.