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Calm, cool, collected, and ready to sell

Real estate specialists weigh in on preparing your house for the market

Created date

February 22nd, 2011

You re about to put your house on the market, but you haven t sold a house in 40 years. The market has changed; the economy has changed; you don t know where to start. Erickson Realty and Moving Services specialists Margaret Semezko and Angela Garofolo shed light on how to put your house on the market, select an agent, and stay stress-free during the process. What are the most important things to do before you put your house on the market? Semezko: Make any repairs that will show the house is well-maintained, declutter, and make sure each room in the house looks its best by removing all unnecessary furniture. For example, in a dining room you should leave a table and a hutch or server but remove extra chairs, plant stands, and all other items you do not need to show the purpose of the room. This will make the room look much larger. Garofolo: Staging, downsizing, decluttering, and depersonalizing your house are all important and help give it curb appeal. Curb appeal is the first impression of real estate. How should you prioritize downsizing, staging, and refurbishing? Semezko: Start small with one room at a time. Clean out closets and remove unnecessary furniture and clutter. Kitchens, bathrooms, and the main living area are most important, but the potential buyer will look at everything. Remember, you can only make one first impression. Make sure it is a positive, lasting impression. Garofolo: Start with rooms that you don t use frequently, such as the basement, attic, and laundry room. These are usually just storage areas, so they have less sentimental attachment. Next, use the 30-minute rule: empty a drawer, dresser, or closet for just 30 minutes at a time. This will help keep you from becoming overwhelmed. Finally, consult with a senior move manager or personal moving consultant if one is available in your area. How important is a good real estate agent? Semezko: Our statistics show that by using one of Erickson Living s preferred real estate agents, your house will sell an average of 60 days more quickly than using an agent not recommended by Erickson Living. This is because we use only the best, and they are focused on selling your house. You want an agent who has a successful record and is following the market to make sure your house is keeping up with the competition. Garofolo: A good agent can stage the house and knows how to price it to sell. In today s market, your house should be priced 10% below fair market value in order to sell. A good agent will have an aggressive marketing campaign to sell the house; not just put it on the Multiple Listing Service. How do you choose a real estate agent? What questions should you ask? Semezko: How many years of success do you have in the current market? How many listings do you currently have? What is your average number of days on market for your listings over the last year? What is your marketing plan for my property? What do I need to do to prepare my house for the market? Garofolo: Ask the agent how many listings they ve had and how many houses they ve sold in the last six months. The agent has to be active in your area. Ask the agent how they arrived at the listing price, for example, what criteria they used to set the price. What services are available at Seabrook and Cedar Crest to help people prepare their house for the market? Semezko: When you move to an Erickson Living community like Cedar Crest, we can help you with all aspects of your move, from selecting the right agent to preparing the house for sale to downsizing and home repairs to staging, packing, moving, and unpacking. We can recommend stagers, contractors, auctioneers, and even help with issues like buried oil tanks, failed septic systems, and home inspection problems. These issues can be handled without you and your children worrying. And if you use one of our preferred real estate agents, we will reimburse a portion of your moving expenses. Garofolo: Seabrook works closely with Senior Move Managers, a local company that helps people downsize, declutter, prepare their house for sale, and move into their new home. And if you use one of our preferred real estate agents to sell your property, we will also reimburse a portion of your moving expenses. To talk with Margaret Semezko at Cedar Crest, call 1-800-989-0957. You can reach Angela Garofolo at Seabrook by calling 1-800-978-9285.