They real estate market may be starting to cool, but many people are considering selling their home.  While this may still be a good time to do so, consider these important factors before getting swept up in the market.

First, answer the question of where to go. It’s one thing to get your price, but you may be surprised at what you find when searching for a new home. Inventory is tight and banks are still not liberally lending.  Before signing the listing contract, be sure you are clear about your next move.

Have an attorney review the real estate listing agreement.  It may be a moot point if your house sells quickly, but if the house is priced incorrectly and sits for longer than the original listing period, many standard forms realtors use contain an automatic renewal provision.  I’d get the auto renewal stricken and sign a listing agreement for no longer than 90 days. If the home can’t get sold in 90 days in today’s market, something is wrong and you may need to change firms.

Setting a realistic price is just as important as ever.  Contrary to the stories we’ve all heard about homes selling above asking price at the open house; this only happens when a house is fairly priced.  Do not get greedy.  If you get your full price or more in one day, it would be fair to say you priced the home properly. Avoid the agent who gives a dream number.  If it sounds too good to be true… you know the rest of that line.

Carefully evaluate fix up or home repairs that are necessary.  Bring these topics into the discussions with any prospective realtors and evaluate the responses you receive. If pricing the home low is painful, wait for the dumpster to show up the day after the closing to remove all of the expensive fix up dollars you invested in the sale.

Don’t rush into the sale.  Making sure the home shows well. If the interior furnishings are appealing and clutter is cleared from spare room(s), basement, shed and garage, your home will show well. A good showing always fetches the best offers.  Select a professional who can be open and blunt about what needs to be done to clear out and stage the home, and get started immediately.  If you can’t decide what to toss, save, donate, or rent a storage unit and clear out the stuff sooner than later.

As a courtesy, consider alerting neighbors about the plans to sell.  They may give valuable insight, or as was the case in my neighborhood recently, the home sold privately to a friend with no sales commission.

By John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST Founder & Chairman Read More