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Sellers should prepare their homes before listing them

Doing some small tasks can help pay off when it's time to list a home for sale.

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Jamestown currently has a low inventory for residential homes for sale but buyers are being more selective in their choices. There are steps that sellers can take to help sell their home sooner.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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If you’re planning to sell your home this year, there are steps to take that can help make that sale sooner, says Geni Holben, eXp Realtor with eXp Realty in Jamestown.

“Our current market in Jamestown is not necessarily a seller’s market but with our low inventory it is more known to be a seller’s market,” she said.

While that might sound ideal for sellers, the reality is that buyers are not purchasing anything on the market, she said. They are being more selective.

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Geni Holben, eXp Realtor
Courtesy / Geni Holben

People planning to sell their home should know that the low inventory doesn’t mean a seller will get 10 offers on the first day. And while the seller has the advantage because of low inventory, “they have to be sure that their property is in condition that people are going to want to make an offer on that property and fall in love with it the first time they step into that house for their showing” Holben said.

Holben advises that people who are thinking about selling consult a professional early on.

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“As soon as you get the thought that you’re thinking about selling, I would contact a Realtor and have them come over so you can discuss the process, discuss doing the market analysis and maybe discuss anything that should be done to the property before it is shown,” she said.

While Holben emphasized that it may vary from company to company, a Realtor will typically do the market analysis as part of its service to list a home and start being shown.

“If you do want that professional assistance, when you contact a Realtor, they're going to walk through and then they’re going to take away the information that they have gathered about your house, do a market analysis,” she said.

That market analysis will result in a price of what the house is expected to sell for based on the current market and other information. Based on that information and the walk through, the real estate agent can give hints on things to do to the house to prepare it to be listed and shown, Holben said.

If a seller has property that hasn’t had much work done in the last 10, 15 or 20 years and doesn’t know what issues may come up from a buyer, the seller could consider a prelisting home inspection, Holben said. That can alert the seller about small issues that should be taken care of before listing the property or while it is listed.

“Or maybe there’s a big ticket item that you know is going to be a problem when you get to the point of a buyer making an offer, so it takes out a little bit of the scary side on the seller side,” she said.

That prelisting inspection work is done by a home inspector for a fee.

“It could be well worth your money to do something like that if you have things that you’re just not sure of in your house,” Holben said.

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Outside curb appeal

If you’re thinking of selling your home this year, Holben says think spring cleaning now.

“You want to think about doing all of your spring cleaning that you would do if you were staying in your property,” she said. “Improve that curb appeal. Get the yard cleaned up, flowers planted, flower pots placed so it has that desirable look from the exterior. A lot of people are just driving up and down … looking for those yard signs, and so you want it to catch their eye when they drive by.” Other things that people can do include touching up chipped and peeling paint and washing windows.

Sprucing up the exterior is a way to grab attention from a buyer on the outside of the home.

Declutter inside the home

Holben says on the inside of your home, declutter to attract buyers. That means decluttering more than you normally might. You want people to step in and see how spacious those rooms are.

“So If you have an overload of furniture, maybe take out one or two of those chairs and store them in the garage while you’re showing the property,” she said.

In the kitchen, clear off counters. If the items are not small appliances and something used every day, put them away or in a pantry if possible.

“You really want the spaciousness in the kitchen as well,” Holben said. “Nice, clean, clear countertops.”

People should also think about the scent of their house.

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“If you have pets, be aware of that,” she said.

Maybe people will look at the property who don’t have cats and dogs.

“Think of all those things so when they step into that house it has that welcoming smell, look feel, that they want to buy your home,” she said.

The seller has to do their due diligence to make their house desirable, Holben said.

“Sometimes it just comes down to it takes the right person that’s going to love that house to walk in that door and that’s why you want to try to capture that interest,” she said, first with the outside curb appeal and then inside.

It’s also important to take the advice of the professional who is doing the market analysis of your property and price it correctly. For example, if a real estate agent says the property should sell for a certain price and the seller decides to add more money to that price, it could affect when the property will be sold.

“You hurt yourself if you overprice because you lose potential buyers that never walk in the door,” Holben said.

It’s better to price it right and then let the market do its job, Holben said.

“And if it is priced right, you will most likely get multiple offers and in the end may very well sell higher than your list price because the market will command that,” she said

Kathy Steiner has been the editor of The Jamestown Sun since 1995. She graduated from Valley City State College with a bachelor's degree in English and studied mass communications at North Dakota State University, Fargo. She reports on business, government and community topics in the Jamestown area. Reach her at 701-952-8449 or ksteiner@jamestownsun.com.
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