Selling your home in Atlanta, GA can be an emotional experience, regardless of your reasons for selling. While you are dealing with mixed feelings over the expenses you will incur, friends you may be leaving behind, school changes for your children, and the opportunity to choose new floor and window coverings, you will want to make sure you are getting the best deal in the most efficient manner for your current home.
Some of the factors you will want to consider in selling your old home are:
Is price or speed of sale more important to you? Do you want to handle all of the details yourself or do you want to have someone else handle them? How much money are you able to spend to market your home?
You may find this booklet to be valuable in evaluating all of your options before deciding on the best course of action to satisfy your priorities.
When might selling your home quickly make more sense than getting the highest price for it?
How fast your home will sell depends on a number of factors including how many other houses are on the market and at what price, the desirability of your neighborhood, and the size, condition, and amenities available with your house when compared to other houses for sale in the same community.
For a variety of reasons, sometimes it makes more sense to get a home sold as quickly as possible, rather than holding out for the asking price. For homeowners in any of the following situations, a quick sale might be the most important factor to consider.
- People who have bought a vacation home or a larger-than-necessary home and then suffered an economic downturn. The payments that once seemed so affordable have now become an anchor, dragging you down the financial drain.
- People who have bought a fixer-upper because the mortgage payment was so affordable, but then find that repair expenses are more than they can handle.
- People who have inherited a home and are having a hard time paying for the taxes and upkeep. A second home to use for vacations or as rental property sounds like a great idea until you realize how much time it takes out of your busy schedule. This is especially important if the home is not located in the same Atlanta, GA as you are.
- People who own rental property and have gotten fed up with tenants who don’t pay the rent on time or who destroy the property.
- People who have been hit with large repair bills following a natural disaster for which their insurance policy didn’t provide full coverage.
- People who have been transferred for their current job or who have accepted a new position in another town.
- People who are getting divorced and need to cash out the equity in their home to reach a settlement.
- People who have gotten behind on their payments and are in danger of foreclosure.
- People who have found or built the home of their dreams and must sell the old one to afford the new payments.
If you find yourself in any of these situations, or if for whatever reason you wish to sell your home quickly, you may find the quick sale tips below to be helpful. All are designed to make your home more appealing to potential buyers. A good way to decide what you need to spruce up is to look at your home as if you were considering buying it.
How does it look as you approach from the sidewalk? Is the paint peeling? Shutters falling off? Gutters clogged and overflowing? Simple cosmetic repairs to the exterior don’t have to be expensive and can make a big difference in whether potential buyers drive on past or stop to see the inside of the house. Any expenses you incur to fix up your home before selling it may even be tax-deductible!
Next, take a look at the inside of your house. One universal desire of all home buyers is space. A quick way to make your home look more spacious is to get rid of all the clutter. Whether you donate it to charity, sell it on e-bay, or store it at your mother-in-law’s house, you need to make sure buyers see the beauty of your home, not your junk.
This includes cleaning out the closets, the kitchen cupboards, the basement, the attic, and the garage.
You probably already understand the importance of keeping your house neat and picked up when potential buyers may be walking through it, but have you thought about the stains, pet hair, and dust that may have accumulated in out-of-the-way spots that you never seem to have time to clean?
Before you announce that your house is for sale, take one room each day and clean it thoroughly – wash the windows, move the furniture so you can vacuum all the way into the corners, vacuum upholstered furniture, wipe down wood furniture, dust the ceiling fans, and make sure all of the light bulbs work. You may even consider having the carpets and furniture professionally steam-cleaned.
Before you begin showing your house to prospective buyers, remember that you want them to picture it as their home, not yours. To encourage this, begin the task of packing your stuff by removing all personal items such as family photos, your child’s artwork, and wall posters.
During a showing, take your kids and pets to Grandma’s. It can be stressful for your children to see someone looking at their “stuff”, and you never know who is going to be allergic to an animal or, even worse, scared of it. You want the buyers to focus on the house, not on the inhabitants.
Last, but not least, consider how your home in Atlanta, GA smells. With all of the cleaning you have been doing, you likely have gotten rid of any unpleasant odors, but does your home have a pleasant scent to make it feel homey? Consider baking a batch of cookies or a loaf of bread just before the showing.
If you don’t have time for that, light some scented candles or simmer some potpourri on the stove.
Keep your emotions out of the deal
If you have lived in your house for any period of time, you likely have special memories in every room: the time your son spent with you building a birdhouse in the basement workshop, the rom antic weekends in front of the fireplace, or the wall “art” your daughter created in her bedroom with finger paints. When a family comes through your home with the intention of buying it, they are likely to point out to each other the things they don’t like or the things they envision changing.
It can be devastating to think that they plan on changing the very things you love about your house. You must remember that your goal is to sell the house, not to protect your feelings. Yes, you are letting go of a part of your family history, but you will soon begin building a new chapter of your history in your new home, just as the family buying your home will now be adding to their own history.
Keep the negotiations professional and focused on the business at hand. The more buyers talk about their plans for your home, the more they are convincing themselves that yours is the home they want to buy! Their plans and dreams are actually your ticket to selling at the highest possible price.
If you are selling your house yourself, plan to show the potential buyers through the home, pointing out all of its great features, then allow them to walk through it a second time without you, so they can talk freely.
Be prepared to negotiate terms of the sale including price, financing, closing costs, repairs, move-in date, earnest money, and special stipulations such as whether or not the window coverings stay or go. You may want to take the time to read a book on negotiating tactics. This does not have to be a situation where one party wins and one party loses. It is much better to find common ground and work out a solution that keeps everyone feeling as if they got the best part of the deal.
Methods of Selling
There are four basic routes you can follow to get your home sold. Which method you choose will depend on the profit you hope to keep, the knowledge you have of the process, how quickly you need to sell, and the current condition of your home.
Make sure you consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type of sale to find the one that most closely matches your needs. Selling your home is likely to be the largest financial transaction you ever make. You should be comfortable with the way you choose to go about it.
The first method can be to hire a real estate agent. These professionally trained people will help you with each step of the sale, charging a fee somewhere between 5% and 7% of the sales price.
You are typically locked into a listing contract for a certain period of time, during which you cannot avoid the agent fees by selling your home yourself. The agent gets his or her fee only when the house sells, but they get paid regardless of if you sell to a stranger or to your closest friend during the listing contract period.
The agent will list your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which makes it available for all real estate agents to review with their clients. An agent may list several homes on the MLS, hoping to sell a few of them and not worrying about the ones that are harder to sell or those that are lower-priced, meaning that (s)he will make less of a commission. A good real estate agent will give you personal service, promoting your house in alternative ways, rather than just listing it.
Some popular marketing techniques include open houses, ads in home magazines, and inviting other agents to preview the house. The agent pays for marketing your house out of his or her own pocket, hoping (s)he will make the money back when your home sells and the commission is paid. If the agent feels that your house will not bring much money into his or her pocket, (s)he may not put much money or effort into marketing.
The major advantage to using a professional real estate agent to sell your house is that you have someone with experience in your corner during negotiations and closing. Keep in m ind, however, that the agent is looking out for his or her best interests. A s long as this does not conflict with your best interests, this can be a big benefit.
Another advantage is that the agent will place a lockbox on your door, allowing any real estate agent to show your house without your being home. You should always be notified before any showing, but the agent’s lockbox system means you can continue with your life, or even move into your new home, without having to worry about scheduling appointments.
The second method is For Sale By Owner (FSBO). When you sell your house by yourself, you stay in control of the process and you save the commission you would otherwise pay an agent. However, you must attend to all of the details of the sale yourself. You must choose and pay for advertising that will reach the people who might be interested in buying your home.
You must schedule showings, be available during the showings, negotiate terms, and complete a sales contract. In addition, you will want to follow up on the loan application of your buyer so there are no delays when you try to close.
Combining the best (and worst) of both worlds is the flat fee listing service. These services, such as BuyOwner.com, ListByOwnerOnMLS.com, or Owners.com, charge an upfront fee to guide you through the process of selling your home yourself. They do some of the marketing for you and suggest other ways you can advertise your home. They also advise you on negotiating the sale and writing a contract.
The first three methods presented above have one major flaw: none of them guarantee that a buyer will be found for your home. When you deal with a real estate investor, you are talking to a buyer. The investor doesn’t want to help you find a buyer, (s)he wants to be the buyer. You can expect an investor to ask you some questions about your home, such as why you are selling and what condition your home is in.
The investor will then come up with an offer to buy that works for you, as well as for them. An investor typically can be very flexible in setting a closing date, as (s)he already has the money and doesn’t need to wait for loan approval. If you need a quick sale for one of the reasons outlined at the beginning of this booklet, some investors can close in as little as three days. If you need more time to pack or to find your new home, an investor can stretch out the closing date to meet your needs.
Using a real estate investor eliminates the need for you to market your home, and you won’t have strangers walking through telling you about all the things that are wrong with the house. Investors typically buy the property “as is”, meaning you will not have to make any repairs in order to attract a buyer. Because an investor does this for a living, (s)he has all of the necessary forms and can handle all of the paperwork for the sale.
There are no up-front fees in dealing with a real estate investor. You simply call them and ask them to give you an offer on your home. Then, you decide if it meets your needs. If it does, you arrange a closing date, and show up to collect the money.
Unfortunately, not all investors are interested in giving you what you want. Shop around until you find an investor who is interested in your personal situation and can structure the deal to meet your needs.