Seller FAQ’s

FAQ’S ON SELLING A HOME

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on Selling a Home (Seller’s FAQ’s):

Do I have to stage my home?
No you don’t have to stage your home. However, we have seen time and time again that staged homes sell quicker and for more money. Why would you not want to ensure more profit? We offer expert help with staging, most of which is complimentary.

When is the best time to sell your home?
When your life dictates a change we can assist you in determining the optimal time to sell given your specific set of circumstances. The best time to sell is definitely not a one size fits all answer.

Do I need a real estate agent to sell my house?
In Idaho, you do not have to hire an agent to help you. However if you don’t hire an agent you could be making some very costly mistakes! (We have personally seen this many times.)

Selling a home yourself is a lot of work. Beyond the obvious tasks normally provided by agents, such as advertising and marketing the house, preparing and showing up for open houses, and helping prepare documents and negotiate, good agents take care of a lot of behind-the-scenes tasks. Things like helping you decide which repairs need doing and getting recommendations on repair people, and responding to questions by other agents or even unrepresented home buyers about the property. Many people try to “save money” by not hiring an agent and in the long run their net profit is actually less than if they would’ve hired and experienced real estate agent.

Will I owe taxes when I sell my house?
Thanks to the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, many home sellers no longer owe taxes on the gain they make when they sell their houses. Married taxpayers who file jointly get to keep, tax-free, up to $500,000 in gain on the sale of their home, as long as they lived in it for two of the prior five years. Single folks and married taxpayers who file separately get to keep up to $250,000. If you’re lucky enough that your profits on the house exceed this amount, don’t panic quite yet — not all of it may be taxable gain, for example if you invested in home improvements.

When will I meet my prospective home buyers?
If you use a real estate agent to sell your home, you probably won’t meet your buyers until after the closing — if then. Your agent will handle visits to the house by potential buyers. However, you may be handed photos of the prospective buyers, and personal letters, if they’re in a competitive bidding situation. And, you can certainly find out their names from the purchase offer forms, in case you’d like to Google them later. But, that’s still not a personal meeting. Even closings are often done separately, with you meeting with the escrow agent on one day to sign documents and the buyer doing so on another day. It’s not that there’s any law against meeting the buyers — but you’ll probably appreciate, at various times along the way, having your agent serve as a buffer in any negotiations and be the bearer of bad news, if need be.

What will I need to leave behind in the house after it’s sold?
It’s important to prepare in advance for buyers’ expectations about what you’ll leave behind. As a general rule, you’ll be expected to leave behind all “fixtures,” defined in most states as things that are affixed, fastened to, or an integral part of the home or landscaping. For example, lights and their shades (the sort that can’t be unplugged and carried away), built-in dishwashers and other appliances, window shades, curtain rods (and sometimes the curtains), built-in bookshelves, and all trees, plants, and shrubs with their roots in the ground instead of in pots are all normally considered fixtures. No matter how good they make the house look, if you don’t want the buyer to keep them, replace them before you start showing the house. Also realize that buyers may associate some items that aren’t technically fixtures so strongly with your house that they won’t be happy at you carrying them off — for example, a backyard statue that’s so perfectly placed in the center of a brick circle that you’d think it was a permanent part of the landscaping. The buyer may name such items in the purchase offer to make sure you leave them behind (or to start negotiations over them) — or may assume they come with the house and raise a fuss on closing day when they’ve been moved. Take a good look at what you plan to move. If anything falls into the category of, “a buyer may fall in love with this and assume it comes with the house,” decide now whether to move it before the sale or to buy a replacement.

How much should I fix up the house before selling it?
Home buyers are increasingly looking for a home that’s move-in ready. So where does that leave you, as the home seller? Paying more money just to get money out of your home may be the last thing you were hoping to take on (or have the cash to complete). Nevertheless, some investment may be necessary in order to attract buyer attention and to sell for a higher price. At a minimum, you’ll want to fix obvious eyesores and danger spots, such as cracked windowpanes, tiles, and plaster. Correct high-priority issues like moisture leakage or rickety stairs. Walk around your house with a critical eye, noticing areas where you’ve always meant to deal with a problem, such as a light switch that doesn’t work or a window shade that’s lost its pull string — but haven’t gotten around to it. After that, a new paint job is one of the more affordable ways to give a house a fresh look. If painting the exterior is more than you can afford, consider at least painting the front door, and possibly the trim.

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