Eight Things to know before Selling your Mountain Home

By: Gary Ward

For most markets the Spring and Summer are the hottest home shopping times, but that's not exactly true in the mountains. We may get many lookers in the spring and fall because of the many art festivals going on in the Blue Ridge Mountains. but many times those lookers may not contract till the next season. In fact smart buyers buy in the winter when the summer foliage is not an issue and you don't end up surprised by that junk yard past the kudzu. But in return summer issues such as flies from a nearby chicken or horse farms is something a buyer will want to know about an area before a big purchase too. So don't think one season or another is a better time to sell plan on it taking on average a year for your vacation home to sell especially if your pricing is above "real " market value.

Here are some things you should know before putting your vacation home on the market.

1. Know what your home is worth.
A real estate agent can run comparable's to find out what you might be able to get for your home. Be aware of agents who promise to get you a significantly higher price; agents may tell you you can get more than you actually can just to get your business. Going with one of the agents will mean a longer period your house sits on the market, and could even mean no sale at all. You may also want to get a licensed appraiser to give you an appraisal of your home, although sometimes even that may not be an accurate account as many appraisers seem to set prices high or low depending on who they are working for. You should also check with neighbors on any recent home sales. Remember that, a home's price is tied to square footage, condition and location of the home. Views, privacy and acreage can also effect mountain home values.

2. Know the costs.
Selling one home for another can cost you about 10-15% of the price.You may pay about $20,000 to sell a $200,000 house,if you consider moving expenses and loan costs for another home. If this is a second home you are not replacing with another consider if it's better to sell it furnished then moving and storing extra furniture you may not want or have room to store.

3. Decide whether to hire an agent or sell on your own.
Sales commissions can take a big bite out of your profits:about 5-8%. While you may put more money in your pocket by selling it on your own as a "for sale by owner" remember that it may take up a chunk of your time. Not only that but you could open yourself up for a lawsuit? Every state has certain laws about real estate sells real estate brokers have to take hours and hours or courses to get their licenses. Every year they have to take refresher courses coving new laws and changes in the real estate codes. Not working with a realtor could get you into a situation that could end up costing you much more then the 8% a broker may charge. The National Association of Realtors reports that more than half of the people who do sell their own home say they would not do it again. If you choose to sell on your own be seller in research,and use a good attorney.

4. Hire a good agent
If you do hire an agent, check them out. You will be required to enter into a contract, usually lasting anywhere from one year to six months. Talk to friends for good recommendations in the area and look for an agent who works full-time rather than as a side job. Have your prospective agent create a comparative marketing analysis, a marketing profile, and a suggested list price for your home. Ask them how they plan to find buyers and advertise your property.

5. Add "curb appeal."
Give your home those little touches that will bring passers-by walking up your doorway. Trim the lawn and shrubs, keep your gardens neat and healthy, put out a few potted flowers if you don't have many plantings. Pressure wash the exterior and repair any visible damage. Always keep clutter, including children's toys, trash barrels,and yard equipment out of sight.

6. Make inexpensive but important inside improvements.
One of the best ways to add inside appeal is to spend a few hundred dollars on paint and new carpet. A fresh coat of paint on interior walls will do wonders in presentation. Also make sure the house looks clean and organized and get rid of any stains, marks or odors. Un-clutter closets and storage, not only will it make them look bigger it will give you a head start on your move once the home does sell.

7. Tell the truth - Disclose
Most realtors will tell you it is best that you leave the home while it's being shown that way you are not put into an uncomfortable situation. However, if you are asked questions from a buyer, be sure to tell the truth. Misrepresentations could lead to trouble down the road, including possible lawsuits. Discloser's are filled out when you sign a selling contract with your realtor, you should disclose things like a leaky roof or traffic noise and what items are taking with you or leaving.

8. Use an attorney.
If you're at all in doubt about the documentation, there are complications in the sale and/or you do multiple transactions, get an attorney. The fact is it is foolish not to use an attorney in a real estate closing. The few hundred dollars you spent may well be worth it for both peace-of-mind and protection of your assets.

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