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Eliminating the negatives: Confront condition issues now

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With all the recent focus on home prices and pricing in the real estate market, I thought I would take a moment to point out something that should be obvious to those considering selling property but which is often the most-neglected aspect of the process of selling: correcting condition issues.

There are two sides to the “coin” of condition: the idea of accentuating positives in a property vis-a-vis hiring a stager to dress up the look or freshening up paint, etc., and the idea of working to eliminate the negatives that are going to inevitably cause trouble for the sale. Today I am looking at the second idea -- heading off trouble before it gets started.

Almost every property has issues, from misaligned downspouts to driveways that allow water to run into the basement; I know I’ve seen a lot in a decade. It’s important to devote some serious discussion time to correcting the correctables. Unfortunately, there is often real money involved, but we must keep things in perspective – the money spent up front will definitely pay off later in easier negotiations and happier property inspections, which means happier buyers.

So what to do? I recommend taking a sober-minded inventory of the things that are broken, don’t otherwise work or are significantly worn. Talk to your agent about the things that will rise to the surface in negotiations. Get some quotes from contractors and see what items can be bundled into one or two visits from the contractor (like tightening up spouting nails while adding a chimney cap on the roof).

If some things are going to cost a lot, take them into consideration in the price and be up front about it in the seller disclosure. Hiding issues is NEVER a good option and can get everyone in hot legal water down the road, so just say no to that.

Buyers today expect a good-condition property at a fair market price; arrange your sales plan to accomplish that. Pricing low to sell? Make it clear what condition issues are off the table to avoid “double dipping” by buyers. While folks daydream about the elusive “as is” sale, it never works that way in reality.

By focusing on the condition issues that could adversely affect your sale and planning carefully to disclose everything and eliminate negatives, you’ll be on track to a smooth sale after price is set.

Jeff Geoghan

Jeff Geoghan

Jeff Geoghan is vice president of marketing and communications for Coldwell Banker Select Professionals and Select Services. Jeff lives in East Petersburg, where he also serves as mayor.

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