This section includes information and real estate services for selling a home in the Westchester area. Knowing the value of your home in relation to your local real estate market and recent sales is very important. I would be happy to send you an online market analysis of your home.
The decision to sell a home can be frightening and heartbreaking for some but exciting and rewarding for others. How do you know if it’s the right move for you? And if it is the right move, how do you make sure you get the most from your decision? To help answer these questions, I have gathered several resources below. Please click on the links to access this information. For additional resources, please visit the Free reports section. The Resource Center page has important real estate related information from sites that I have researched for you. There are sections devoted to relocation needs, schools, real estate tax information, home and garden, maps and weather, whether you are staying in the Westchester area or relocating.
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The answers to these questions will help you decide:
Make your home more appealing for yourself and for potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:
When you sell a stock, you owe taxes on your gain-the difference between what you paid for the stock and what you sold it for. The same is true with selling a home (or a second home), but there are some special considerations.
How to Calculate Gain
In real estate, capital gains are based not on what you paid for the home, but on its adjusted cost basis. To calculate this:
A Special Real Estate Exemption for Capital Gains
Since 1997, up to $250,000 in capital gains ($500,000 for a married couple) on the sale of a home is exempt from taxation if you meet the following criteria.
In preparing your house to sell, ask yourself over and over if your house looks like someone else’s dream house. Houses in tip-top condition tend to be inviting to buyers; houses that are like new typically sell the fastest and procure the best price.
With that in mind, here are a few things to consider when getting ready to sell:
Remember the 60-second rule: that’s all the time you have to create a good first impression! Mow the lawn, rake leaves, trim trees and shrubs that keep light out of the house and remove dead plants. Pick up tools, garbage cans, hoses, toys, and building materials and store them neatly in a storage area. Replace broken or missing roof shingles and straighten and clean the gutters and downspouts. Clean all windows and mend torn screens. Painting your house helps improve curb appeal more than any other fix-up! If you decide against painting the entire house, consider painting the front door, window frames and shutters. Seal or resurface the driveway and repair broken steps and walkways. Paint or replace your mailbox and post. Put up a new light fixture. Dress up the front yard with some simple landscaping.
Clean, Clean, Clean
Step back for a moment and look at your home as if you were seeing it for the first time. Every room should be spotlessly clean, dusted and uncluttered. Steam clean the carpets and wax the floors. Wash the walls, windows and light fixtures. Tighten loose stair railings and clean all woodwork. In the event that you feel a project of this magnitude is better left to a professional, ask your real estate agent to recommend a cleaning service.
Use bright light bulbs in the foyer and throughout the house. Fill the house with a pleasant aroma, such as fresh flowers in the summer or cinnamon or candles in the winter.
Replace the carpet if it’s worn. Show off the hardwood floors if you have them – buyers prefer wood floors! It costs money, but you may find that you will more than recoup that cost when the home sells. Patch cracks and nail holes in the walls, and repaint walls in neutral colors, such as white or ivory. Nail down creaking boards and stair treads. Lubricate any sticking or squeaking doors. Open all curtains, and replace them if they are getting old. Add lamps and lighting if the house is dark. Set out fresh flowers.
Rearrange or remove furniture to make your rooms look more spacious. Too much furniture and too many knick-knacks make rooms look cluttered and small. One or two decorative items per surface are plenty, so pack the rest away. Great way to start packing away those things you do not need day-to-day.
Kitchen and Baths
These rooms should sparkle! Clear off counters, and clean all appliances and fixtures. Scrub the floors and walls. Re-caulk tubs and showers. Clean these rooms thoroughly, and be sure they smell fresh. Never leave dishes in the sink, and run the dishwasher often!
Take those things to Goodwill that you’ll have to discard anyway when you move. Organize shelves and straighten shoes. Be sure that sliding doors operate smoothly and knobs on drawers are secure.
Dust and wash the washer, dryer and water heater.
Light and Bright
Do everything you can to brighten the interior. Replace wallpaper with white or off-white paint, and repaint shabby or dark walls. Open the blinds, and replace broken windows and window seals. Always maintain a comfortable temperature inside the house, even if you are away for an extended period of time. Keep the heat on in the winter, and the air conditioning on in the summer!
Selling a house can be a bit like having a baby — everyone gives you advice that may or may not be true for you. Here are ten myths uncovered:
Can’t I get a better deal by buying through the listing agent?
No! The listing agent has loyalty to the seller and not to you. Even if they get approval from both parties to be a dual agent they cannot give you advice on what to offer, nor can they give you a market analysis on the property. Of course they can advise you to make an offer and they will deal honestly and fairly with you, but they cannot advise you in the same way a buyers agent can.
If I attend an open house, and am interested in the house, who is that agent representing?
You don’t know unless you ask or they tell you. By law, the agent has to discuss agency disclosure at the “first substantive contact” with the buyer, which usually occurs if you show an interest in the house. They may be representing the seller, or may be a dual agent with both parties permission. Perhaps they are standing in for the listing agent, and they are then considering a “designated dual agent.” You really should have this discussion before it is too late and you say something you may regret later.
How much do I put down with the contract? Where does that money go?
The standard amount is 10% of the selling price i.e. $50,000 on a $500,000 house. You can write a personal check and the money is held in a non-interest bearing account by the seller’s attorney. This amount is sometimes negotiable to 5%, or less on a lower down payment deal.
Once I put down the down payment, in what situations would I get my money back?
You usually have 30 days to obtain financing, and if you are turned down by your lender and you show proof, you can work with your attorney to get your money back, but this is highly unusual as we will have you pre-approved for a loan before you go to contract.
What does the seller usually pay for if there are issues after an inspection?
The seller pays for termites and leaking underground oil tanks. Anything else would be negotiable, but if there is a leaking roof or leaky pipes, or a structural problem, they are often responsible for that as well.
Does the inspection get done before or after the contract is signed?
The inspection is done within 48-72 hours of the accepted offer, before the contact is signed.
Do I have to hire an attorney?
In this area, yes, both the seller and buyer hire attorneys to represent their best interests. The seller’s attorney will draft the contracts and overnight them or fax/email them to the buyer’s attorney, usually in 1-2 days. The attorney will negotiate the contract and represent you at the closing.
How long does it take to get a mortgage?
Anywhere from a few days up to 30 days depending on the bank and how quickly you give the bank all the documentation they require. The bank appraisal should happen right after you apply and that usually takes about a week.
Why should I use the vendors and contacts you recommend?
Not everyone is responsive and does a good job. The people I recommend do a great job and I have influence with them so the job will get done efficiently and quickly. If you hire someone I do not know and they are slow or unresponsive they probably will not respond to me either!
How often will you follow up with us?
Sometimes it will be several times a week, and sometimes just once a week. We have systems in place to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, and good followup is a primary focus of ours. Our team uses Blackberries for email and even when someone is out of the office there is always good coverage.
How many homes will I need to look at before I find the right house?
Usually no more than 8-10 houses. We will not waste your time and show you houses that don’t fit your wants and needs. That would not be a good use of your time or ours. We have considerable expertise so will zero in on the right homes and it will be easy to make a decision!
Is the closing usually on the date shown in the contract?
The closing is rarely on the exact date in the contract unfortunately. It is meant to be approximate but don’t take it literally. There is actually up to a 30 day period which is considered reasonable for both the buyer and seller to adjourn the closing. So it is Important to pay attention to when your bank commitment expires so you don’t need an extension which is costly and somewhat complicated.
What can hold up a closing?
Lots of things: the property survey, missing CO’s on the home, lawyers, banks. There are many things that can hold up a closing but our job is to keep these to a minimum so you don’t become anxious.
What are the three most important things I should do to prepare my home for sale?
Remove clutter, paint and remove wallpaper, and remove old carpet. Also, of course the home should be sparkling clean. We will introduce you to a home staging service which will more than pay for itself. If you want to get “top dollar” for your home, this is a must!
I need a first floor master bedroom, or a first floor bedroom. How would I search for this in a home?
I can do that for you! We now have the ability to search our MLS for a first floor bedroom. So just let us know and we will set up a search for you!
I have a dog. How can I find a pet friendly building?
We have a list of pet friendly buildings on Cloud9Condos but they do change regularly, so just email me if you need an accurate list, or what to know what is available. We will need to know your dog’s weight, and the breed, as some buildings are restrictive by weight and particular breeds.
I am interested in buying a bank owned foreclosure property. Aren’t they usually the best deals?
Not necessarily. Foreclosures are best suitable for sophisticated buyers who are handy and have a lot of cash. The banks as sellers can be difficult to deal with and are generally not willing to make repairs or any disclosures as to a property’s condition. The contracts are “as is” and are usually non-negotiable. You need to hire an agent and an attorney who is familiar with the process and you must be prepared to act quickly! For most buyers, I recommend they hire a buyer’s agent and go with a less risky purchase. Most foreclosure properties need a lot of fixing up and might have hidden defects, so buyer beware! We do have expertise in this area and are always willing to help buyers make the right decision.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HELP WITH ANY OTHER QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE. JUST EMAIL OR CALL US AND WE WILL GIVE YOU OUR OPINION AS HONESTLY AS WE CAN!
All reports reprinted from REALTOR Magazine Online by permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. www.REALTOR.org/realtormag