Selling a home - 1st timer

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BanditKing
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Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by BanditKing » Thu Jan 22, 2015 9:46 pm

I've pretty much decided I'm going to sell my current home and go condo/duplex/townhome, or at least something significantly smaller/cheaper than what I have. My current home (4bd, 1.75ba 1975 era ranch) is just too big for just me and a cat, and I've got an ever-growing list of work that should be done on it that doesn't really add a commensurate amount of value to it. Appraised a year ago at $171k (I purchased in 2005 for $220k - ouch), so I suspect it could probably go right now for about $175ish. I owe $128k on the mortgage.

I've been bachelor living for years, so honestly the house isn't very presentable from a staging perspective. Mismatched and old furnishings, carpeting and painting needs, that tacky wallpaper I've been too lazy to do anything about, etc. I half-finished the basement when I moved in, but the second room down there still has old paneling walls and drafty windows.

Anyways, here's the silly question. What do I do now? I haven't a clue how to find a good realtor, what I should do to properly maximize my return without significant investment in time, effort or money. I need to get a new place too. I have time to look, time to sell, no great crunch except that I don't want to drop a ton into this place if I don't have to.

Anyways, any general or specific starting advice would be appreciated. Happy to answer questions.

Rob Bertram
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by Rob Bertram » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:18 pm

If you have an appraisal from a year ago, give it a good read. It should list comparable homes that sold in your area and how they differ from yours. There is usually a section that details the major features of your home with a quality that increases or decreases the appraised value. See if there are some lower quality things that you can improve. Another thing that you can do is hire a home inspector. You'll want to know about any surprises. Again, there could be some things that could easily be fixed.

Go to your local library. There should be several books that can help you. One that came highly suggested to me when I was buying is called Holmes Inspection: The Essential Guide for Every Homeowner, Buyer and Seller.

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jfn111
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by jfn111 » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:24 pm

I'm a Realtor so take this from that perspective. If you have friends or relatives that have had a successful sale you can ask them for a referral.
You can also just call several of the companies that have a lot of listings in your area and interview a few agents and see who you feel comfortable with.
Once you have an agent you can discuss the must haves as far as the house meeting FHA or VA requirements.
The last thing you want to do is spend $20 grand to get an additional $10 grand in the sales price.
Cheap fixes are:
Decluttering
Paint
Fixing anything that is visibly broken especially windows and appliances (I'm chasing around for a broken microwave handle for a seller right now.) :oops:
Eliminate any pet smells. (you might be used to the cats litter box but that shouldn't be the first thing a perspective buyer smells when entering the house)
Make sure the outside of the house looks appealing. Cut the grass, trim the bushes and scrape and paint any peeling wood.

sport
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by sport » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:18 pm

As jfn111 advised, do all the cosmetic things that do not cost too much. Paint is not expensive. A few hundreds of dollars on appearance issues can get you thousands more when you sell. I would avoid any major renovations. They generally will not pay for themselves. The best way to find an agent is by referral. I found one by looking for a new house, and the selling agent favorably impressed me. I firmly believe that 20% of the agents make most of the sales. The other 80% are not the ones you want selling yours.
Jeff

dolphintraveler
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by dolphintraveler » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:48 pm

HGTV had (maybe still has) a few shows I used to see on occasion that cover this. Others do specific areas or rooms. Curb Appeal, Buying & Selling are the names of some I saw. Their online presence may give you ideas.

Also, consider looking at your house from the other side first. Be a "buyer of your own house" by going to a few open houses of similar traits (4bed, etc.) in the area and see what looks good and what doesn't. If you had need for that size house which would you buy and why?

I second fixing the smells - it is critical. When we sold our house we got relatives to take care of the cat for a few months, got rid of all the smells, and decluttered a lot. We bought a book (<$20) on what to do, and did it. Painted inside ourselves, hired to paint the front. Had new carpeting put in, removed pictures of ourselves, etc.

We listed it right and it sold quickly.

stan1
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by stan1 » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:55 pm

My criteria when selling a house is to get it sold quickly, hopefully to a well qualified buyer. If you are living in the house it is a hassle to have it shown. A well qualified buyer will be more likely to close escrow quickly than a marginal buyer whose credit issues can cause escrow to drag out. Don't take the sale personally; the house is worth what someone is willing to pay for it at the time of sale, not what it was worth 5 years ago or what you hope to get for it.

Find an agent who specializes in your neighborhood (meaning he/she spends the entire day nearby -- not 20 miles away). Look for agents who have represented the seller on many nearby sales. In many neighborhoods you will know who these agents are: you will see their names many times over a period of years on houses that have sold.

You might want to consider getting a seller's inspection report if you think there are a lot of items that need repair. By fixing items on this list (leaks, electrical/safety, smoke detectors, broken appliances) you can avoid negotiating over these items later or risk delays during escrow/inspection. The inspection report will also give you an idea if there are other major issues that will need to be addressed. If the house needs a new roof you'll probably want to put that on now as very few buyers would buy a house that needs a new one. If you live in a termite area you also might want to get that inspection done in advance.

Definitely paint the interior of the house (off white) and consider replacing carpeting if it is old, stained, or dated (use a neutral beige color). I found some very nice carpet for a house we sold last year in the $20/square foot range. Some buyers cannot see beyond a house that needs paint/new carpet, and others will try to lowball you if a house needs cosmetic work. If exterior paint is chipping you might have to scrape/repaint it to make the house eligible for a VA/FHA mortgage. I would not remodel a kitchen or bathroom or replace old appliances that are still operating. If you have remodeling projects that you've started but not finished you would want to finish them to a minimally complete level. If your furniture is old/dated the realtor may recommend removing most of it from the house. I would not pay to stage a house in your price range; price the house to sell quickly rather than spending money on staging.

A good realtor will have a handyman who works quickly and at a reasonable cost to tackle repairs if you don't want to do the work yourself.

As for pricing I would ask the agent to recommend a price based on comparables and then add $7500-10K (in your price range). Keep in mind that with VA loans the seller is asked to pay closing costs (and you are in the price range where a VA loan is a possibility). Successful realtors make money by selling houses quickly, not by listing them at a high price and having them sit on the market for months. A good realtor will usually give you a recommended price that will result in the house selling quickly, which is why I add about 5% to their recommendation for negotiation or buyers closing costs.

SDBoggled
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by SDBoggled » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:32 am

Hi,

Doesn't sound like you think the real estate market has moved much, but hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised by Spring sales (I don't think you are intending to sell immediately in any case).

I beseech you to address all the items you have already noted, they don't sound very time or $ intensive (don't need to necessarily buy new furniture, just get rid of old stuff... simultaneously achieve decluttering). If they offend your bachelor sensibilities, then I am pretty confident they will be noticed by a buyer :happy

Then get the realtor in to view and appraise.

As others have suggested, IMHO personal recommendations are the most valuable. In any case, I suggest you get 3 or 4 realtors to visit and give you advice and a market appraisal as if sold in Spring. Listen to them and see if you think their advice is sound... check out the local newspaper for listings.

Are online sites good for your area: Redfin, Ziprealty, etc are good for at least seeing prior sales for a given map area (but the Spring ones that matter will be year old values)... this will also let you know the brokers involved.

IMHO a good realtor won't suggest expensive renovations, but will get value from e.g. spring annuals lining the path; fresh paint, clean, declutter and highlight any feature. Definitely, don't scrimp or be slack about the $ or time to put into the sale... you want the buyer to fall in love with your home... the hourly payback could be enormous.

BanditKing
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by BanditKing » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:03 am

For what it's worth, it's difficult for me to put a lot of personal sweat equity into the house due both to lack of skills and health reasons, so most whatever I do, even simple painting, will probably have to be farmed out. Sucks I know.

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jfn111
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by jfn111 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:01 am

BanditKing wrote:For what it's worth, it's difficult for me to put a lot of personal sweat equity into the house due both to lack of skills and health reasons, so most whatever I do, even simple painting, will probably have to be farmed out. Sucks I know.
A good Realtor will help you out finding some people to do the minor repairs and painting. We usually have a "go to" list of local tradesmen that are reasonably priced. :sharebeer

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jfn111
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by jfn111 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:25 am

stan1 wrote:As for pricing I would ask the agent to recommend a price based on comparables and then add $7500-10K (in your price range). Keep in mind that with VA loans the seller is asked to pay closing costs (and you are in the price range where a VA loan is a possibility). Successful realtors make money by selling houses quickly, not by listing them at a high price and having them sit on the market for months. A good realtor will usually give you a recommended price that will result in the house selling quickly, which is why I add about 5% to their recommendation for negotiation or buyers closing costs.
A good Realtor will give the seller a range of prices. There is various reasons why some Sellers need a quick sale while others can wait it out for a higher price.
I have had sellers that took the top of my range and added the 5%. Unfortunately, I don't work in San Francisco so these properties tend to sit until the price is lowered.
Just for fun I just looked at the city of Minneapolis and there were 366 expired listings from Sept. 1st until Jan 19th. 1526 sold during the same time period.

tim1999
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by tim1999 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:27 am

For me, as both a buyer and a seller in the past, if I were in your shoes the most important thing would be to make sure it is CLEAN and clutter-free. Hire either a professional cleaning service or a freelancer to spend half a day there and clean the house from top to bottom. Sort out junk you don't want to take to your new place and get it on the curb for trash or donate it before the house goes on the market. You don't want people speculating as to what kind of sloppy person lives there, or what bugs/rodents are lurking. That turns retail homebuyers off. Perhaps consider hiring a painter if the current paint is an odd color (1970s lime green), cracking/flaking off, or stained. Fix anything that is obviously broken/messed up and that may look like someone was neglecting the place - broken window glass, holes in doors or walls, dead landscaping, etc.

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Cottons
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by Cottons » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:31 am

I made my first purchase last April, and I'm going to list some turn-offs from a buyer's prospective:

1. clutter - it is hard to see the bones/character of a residence through a mess.
2. Color - Bold colors threw me off. Dark purple walls? I'm thinking about what a pain it will be to cover that, instead of imagining how my furniture/things are going to fit well into your place
3. Personal Effects - similar to #1 - remove your touch on the place. Take down art and things hanging on the walls, roll up area rugs, take down pictures of yourself / friends.

I'm going to disagree with some others and say leave your furniture in the home. If necessary, rearrange so that the room feels bigger. When walking through places I didn't care what someone elses furniture looked like, it was the placement that was key. Is there enough room to move around the furniture without hassle? Can I picture my furniture of similar size going into this same location?

stan1
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by stan1 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:51 am

Cottons wrote:
I'm going to disagree with some others and say leave your furniture in the home. If necessary, rearrange so that the room feels bigger. When walking through places I didn't care what someone elses furniture looked like, it was the placement that was key. Is there enough room to move around the furniture without hassle? Can I picture my furniture of similar size going into this same location?
OP said he is a bachelor. I know what my furniture looked like when I lived by myself. Some of it might have been a distraction to a potential buyer. I'll admit I had an old sofa that a family friend gave me. It was badly torn underneath the blanket I'd thrown over it. My computer desk was a card table. In both cases nothing was better than what I had.

Go with the realtor's recommendation -- but I would not pay to rent furniture to stage a $170K house. A house that is freshly painted with new carpet will not turn people off.

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lthenderson
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by lthenderson » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:59 am

I haven't seen anyone comment on what to do about the old mismatched furniture so I will keep my comment to that but would also do some of the other good suggestions listed above.

Perhaps consider this a time to replace some of your old mismatched furniture. Get rid of the old stuff and put the new stuff in place before showing. If you don't have the funds, I do know that there are rental places that let you rent stuff by the month at fairly reasonable prices (short term). I have in the past rented a storage locker to help box up things and store temporarily before moving. It helps declutter the house and would give you a place to store some of the mismatched furniture until you sell it and it also helps when moving comes when half your stuff is already boxed up ready to go.

Personally I wouldn't worry about the condition of your furniture so much as how much furniture and clutter you have. It always seems to me as houses with spare furniture inside makes it feel bigger, lighter and thus sell faster than houses full of furniture to the point where you can't see any walls from floor to ceiling and it is hard to walk around.

Realtors are a good resource to use for all this information. When they come to do a walk through of your house before putting it for sale on the market, they usually will offer this kind of advice to you and welcome you asking them of their opinions. It is in their best interest as well to sell your place quickly so they maximize their cut of the house sale.

sesq
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by sesq » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:34 am

I'll pile on. If you have any clutter and/or too much stuff, rent a storage locker and move all that stuff there. Making your place not look like a dump makes a big difference. You should mostly empty closets and storage areas so people can see and navigate.

Second, get a magic eraser and deal with scuff marks through out the house. Cheap, easy.

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Kosmo
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by Kosmo » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:35 pm

I'm a first time seller also. House has been up for sale for 1 week.

We're using the realtor we used to buy the house. Their team has dedicated realtors who specialize in just selling. They had suggestions on staging the house, developed marketing plans, and do advertising (post cards, phone calls, etc.). We're using another realtor on the team as our buyer's agent.

As the others have said: removing clutter is very important. You want to show off the space, not what you fill it with. Take down pictures of family and friends and replace them with generic pictures of places and objects. People want to visualize their own photos, not yours. We put up pictures from all of our vacations (but not pictures of us!). Do the cheap fixes, but don't fix things cheaply. Patching holes/scratches/dings and repainting is easy and will make an old place look new. Don't have any burned out light bulbs. Clean the floors. Get rid of mismatched furniture (trash, donate, or storage). I don't mean all of it, but 2 pieces that don't match will look much better than 3 pieces that don't match. We had matching china cabinets, side tables, and a bench in our dining room and the realtor had us remove them all. Now the room has just the table/chairs and 1 china cabinet. Remove small kitchen appliances to show off the counter space.

Cleaning/preparing/staging the house ended up being pretty easy. The hard part (for us) is when you get showings or open houses and you need to go be somewhere else for a few hours while people are critiquing your home.

BanditKing
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by BanditKing » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:46 pm

Curious, what to do about the cat and showings? I'm assuming the advice would be to rehome the cat somewhere, get rid of litter boxes and such. May not be practical for me.

I could also concentrate on buying my new place before I put my current up on the market, so move most everything (including the cat) before and it'd make it easier to spif this place up with it emptied. Financially I can handle two payments without significant problem.

Logistics is where my brain starts to freeze up on this process.
Last edited by BanditKing on Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

davebarnes
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Some actions

Post by davebarnes » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:54 pm

1. Declutter. This usually means removing 2/3 of all the stuff in the house. Into storage or the dumpster.
2. Clean. Deep clean. Everything and then everything again. Never fry or sauté food in the house again. Clean the cat's litter box every day and immediately before every showing.
3. Hire a real estate agent.
a. My favorite questions are: How many sides have you done in the past 12 months? Buy side and sold side? Proof source, please. The best answers are: 20+ and at least 50% on the sell side. The 20 gets rid of the part timers.
b. You must feel comfortable with the agent.
4. Bring a stager in (for a $100 or so) to give you staging advice. How much of your stuff can you use? Will you have to rent (expensive) furniture? Ask your agent if you need to spend real money on staging. I noticed that on "Flip or Flop" on House Porn TV that Tarek and Cristina spend $3K on staging.
5. Clean.
6. The cat always leaves the house during showings.
7. Be ready to show the house on a few minutes notice. You will get the request showing call from the agent who is sitting in the car in front of your house.
8. Ask your agent about changing wall colors.
9. Fix all the noticeable items that will turn off a buyer. Be willing to spend some money to make it look pretty. Invite an anal-retentive friend over to critique your house. How old is your roof? Some buyers will make you replace it. We spent $27K getting our house ready (new roof, hot water heater, floor refinishing, painting, etc.) to sell for $634K.
10. Leave at least 6 minor items for their inspector to find. Be willing to fix those. Here is what an inspection report (for our new build) looks like: http://3968vrain.com/English/Collateral ... 110627.pdf
11. When it does not sell in the first month, be prepared to hear: "you need to lower the price" as it is the only action that is in the agent's control.
12. Start watching House Porn TV. Yes, the show are partially scripted, but it will give some idea about how buyers behave.
Last edited by davebarnes on Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:15 pm, edited 5 times in total.
A nerd living in Denver

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jfn111
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by jfn111 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:59 pm

BanditKing wrote:Curious, what to do about the cat and showings? I'm assuming the advice would be to rehome the cat somewhere, get rid of litter boxes and such. May not be practical for me.

I could also concentrate on buying my new place before I put my current up on the market, so move most everything (including the cat) before and it'd make it easier to spif this place up with it emptied. Financially I can handle two payments with significant problem.

Logistics is where my brain starts to freeze up on this process.
There is a couple of options with the cat. If the cat doesn't make a bee-line for the door every time it's open you can just leave the cat. The Realtor can just put in the showing instructions-"Owner has cat, don't let the cat get out". Another option is a pet transporter where you can put the cat in for a couple of hours.
As far as concentrating on the new home. If you have the ability to purchase a new house, before you sell this one, then you're golden. It is a lot less stressful to have painting and carpeting done in an empty house.

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Kosmo
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by Kosmo » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:38 pm

davebarnes wrote:9. Fix all the noticeable items that will turn off a buyer. Be willing to spend some money to make it look pretty. Invite an anal-retentive friend over to critique your house. How old is your roof? Some buyers will make you replace it. We spent $27K getting our house ready (new roof, hot water heater, floor refinishing, painting, etc.) to sell for $634K.
Curious how much you think it would have sold for if you hadn't done the work. Was it worth it

davebarnes
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by davebarnes » Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:06 am

Kosmo wrote:
davebarnes wrote:We spent $27K
Curious how much you think it would have sold for if you hadn't done the work. Was it worth it
It was a very strong buyers' market.
The roof was 24 years old and had hail damage. $10K
The water heater had a tiny leak. $1K
The floors were a 1980s' color (whitewash) and had 24 years of wear. $3.5K
The master bedroom carpet was 24 years old. $1.5K

Yes. Worth it. We love our new abode http://www.3968Vrain.com
Last edited by davebarnes on Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
A nerd living in Denver

TTBG
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by TTBG » Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:10 am

I've had good luck finding realtors just by going to open houses in the neighborhood. First I tell them that I'm just looking around to get an idea of market trends. If they get too aggressive about wanting my contact info right away, I know they're not a good match for me. Otherwise I let them show me around to see how well they present the house and if I like their sales style.

My house also has a lot of deferred maintenance. I agree with what others have said about needing at a minimum to de-clutter, clean and paint, but I'm not sure how much of the higher cost fixing up I should do (e.g., refinish a beat-up floor). When I get closer to selling time, I'm thinking I'll call my realtor first to get her opinion on what the tradeoff might be between spending money to fix things up versus selling 'as is' at a lower price and possibly a longer time on the market. In any case, I'm definitely hoping to to be moved out before all the cleaning and fixing gets happening!

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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by texasdiver » Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:38 pm

1. If you have any amount of clutter definitely rent a nearby storage locker and start packing and moving everything that isn't essential to your immediate life. I'd suggest buying a big stack of identical sized moving boxes from a moving company so that all your boxes stack and move nicely. If you are single you may not have near the clutter that a family of 5 develops.

2. Research your local competition. Buyers don't care what you paid or what you think it is worth. They only care how your house compares to the other houses they are looking at. If you list your home for $175,000 then the buyers in your area that are shopping for a home in that price range will probably look at every home in your zip code that is listed in that price range. If there are 10 houses in your area that are listed for $175,000 and yours is near the top of the list then it will sell. If the competition in your price range is nicer then you are overpriced. Your realtor should be able to do this intuitively. It is astonishing how many sellers make no effort to look at their competition.

muddlehead
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by muddlehead » Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:17 pm

Curious. Excuse my nosiness. If you don't want to answer, I understand. 220k down to 171k in 10 years? That's rough. Where do you live?

Carefreeap
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Re: Selling a home - 1st timer

Post by Carefreeap » Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:28 pm

Since you can afford it I think moving out is a great idea.

You won't have issues with the cat and showing it will be easy peasy with a lockbox.

Price it right, paint and clean it up. You'll have an offer with 30 days.

Greg17
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Re: Some actions

Post by Greg17 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 6:54 pm

davebarnes wrote: 10. Leave at least 6 minor items for their inspector to find. Be willing to fix those..
What is the purpose of this? To make them feel like their inspection report was worth it?

sport
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Re: Some actions

Post by sport » Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:50 pm

Greg17 wrote:
davebarnes wrote: 10. Leave at least 6 minor items for their inspector to find. Be willing to fix those..
What is the purpose of this? To make them feel like their inspection report was worth it?
The inspector will be looking for things that need to be fixed. If he does not find anything, he will keep looking until he does find something. The thing he finally finds may be expensive to correct. It is better to let him find something easy to fix. If he finds a few of these, hopefully he will stop looking.

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