We have an extensive library of literature on every aspect of selling a home that we would be happy to e-mail, mail, or fax to you. If you would like additional information, please describe what aspects of selling that you are interested in and contact us.
We specialize in helping sellers get the highest price for their homes. We do this not only through our skillful negotiation and proactive marketing, but by listening to your situation and helping you decide what can be done to prepare your home to get the highest price possible. Before you spend money preparing your house for sale, have the Tahoe Dream Team come over and help you decide what you should and should not do in order to get the highest price and return on the sale of your home.
Tax Implications of Selling a Home
Selling a home can have a major impact on your federal and state tax returns. We recommend that you consult your accountant prior to selling your home to make sure that you are taking advantage of any beneficial tax laws and that you are achieving your long range financial goals. The Federal Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 says that when you sell your home you can keep, tax free, capital gains of up to $500,000 if you are married filing jointly or $250,000 for single taxpayers or married taxpayers who file separately. To qualify for the exclusion, you must have used the home as your principle residence for at least two of the prior five years. It is not a one time tax exclusion. You can use the exclusion as often as you meet the qualifications.
How Much Is Your Home Really Worth?
Your home’s market value is an important factor in a long list of financial decisions, including but not limited to; selling the home, refinancing your mortgage, borrowing against your equity, buying homeowner’s insurance, calculating the expected return on remodeling costs, managing your other investments, estate planning and so on. The trick is figuring out how much your home is worth and remembering that how much you paid for it months or even years ago, is not relevant to its current market value. Pricing decisions should be grounded in reality rather than wishful thinking.
Even if you’re not planning to sell your home right away, the Tahoe Dream Team is willing to prepare a free Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) for you as a marketing service with the goal of getting your business whenever you do decide to sell. A CMA shows the prices of recently sold homes that are comparable to yours and the prices of comparable homes currently for sale on the market. As market savvy Realtors, the Tahoe Dream Team can give you a rough idea of what your home would be worth, given its size and condition and local market conditions.
Four strategies to help you determine how much your home is worth:
- Abandon your personal point of view.
How much will a ready, willing and able buyer be willing to pay for your home? Buyers don’t care how much you paid for the home, how many memorable moments you and your family shared in the home, how much cash you need for the down payment on your next home or how much time and money you’ve invested in your home’s hardwood floors, fresh paint, lush landscaping or other improvements.
- Do your own market research.
Go to the Tahoe Dream Team’s Search All Listings page and put yourself in the buyers’ shoes. What home could you buy similar to yours and at what price? Try to make an impartial assessment of how other homes compare to yours in terms of location, size, amenities, and condition. Assuming all the asking prices were the same, would you buy your home or someone else’s?
- Calculate the price per square foot.
The average price per square foot for homes in your neighborhood shouldn’t be the sole determinant for the asking price for your home, but it can be a useful starting point. Keep in mind that various methodologies can be used to calculate square footage. TIP: Price per square foot is a time-honored method of real estate valuation and not a bad rule of thumb. However, it doesn’t account for a choice location, a good view, a move-in-ready home, or personal criteria. You should factor in how the property was measured and whether the square footage includes the garage or other detached buildings on the property. Typically the square feet listed in our Multiple Listing Service does not include the garage.
- Consider market conditions.
Are home prices in your area trending upwards or downwards? Are homes selling quickly or languishing? Will your home be on the market in the spring home buying season or the dead of winter? Are interest rates attractive? Is the economy hot or cold? Will you be selling in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market?
Getting the House Ready
A house that “sparkles” on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well-maintained. From experience, the Tahoe Dream Team knows that a “well-polished” house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster and for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home. If what they can see is well maintained, what they can’t see has also probably been maintained.
How much should you spend? Be sure to consult with the Tahoe Dream Team before spending money to improve your house. The Tahoe Dream Team can help you analyze cost and return of home improvements prior to sale to help you get the highest dollar for your house with the least money out of pocket. We can help you decide repair priorities for every budget.
Before you put your home on the market, there are some things you can do to differentiate your house among the competitors. When preparing to put your home up for sale, your first concern is the home’s exterior. If the outside, or “curb appeal” looks good, people will more than likely want to see what’s on the inside. Keep the lawn and landscape nicely manicured. Trim the bushes and season permitting, plant some flowers. Be sure your front door area has a “Welcome” feeling. A fresh coat of paint on the front door looks great. Sweep the porch and the front walkway.
Remember, whether it be carpet, paint, or tile, neutral colors are best. There will always be certain people who don’t like certain colors and once buyers see things they don’t like, they often have a difficult time looking past these items to the rest of the house. We can help you choose colors and fixtures that are popular with today’s buyers.
Of all the rooms inside your home, pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. They should look as modern, bright and fresh as possible. It is essential for them to be clean and odor free. A fresh coat of paint just may do the trick. Have any leaky faucets taken care of.
Clear out the clutter. Real estate agents say buyers won’t purchase a home they can’t see. If your home has too much furniture, overflowing closets, crowded kitchen and bathroom countertops or lots of family photos or collectibles on display, potential buyers won’t be able to see your home. Get rid of anything you don’t need or use. Clear out personal items, such as pictures, and keep things as neutral as possible. This will help potential buyers to imagine themselves in your home. Since you want your home to look as spacious as possible, remove any excess or very large furniture. Make sure that table tops, dressers and closets are free of clutter. Don’t use your garage, attic, or basement to store these extra things. These areas also need to have the impression of space. Instead, put them into storage. Make sure walls and doors are free of smudges and look for anything that might indicate a maintenance problem, such as cracked windows, holes in the wall or stained ceilings.
Make all necessary repairs. Buyers expect everything in their new home to operate safely and properly. Picky buyers definitely will notice and likely magnify minor maintenance problems you’ve ignored for months or even years. Leaky faucets, burned-out light bulbs, painted-shut or broken windows, inoperable appliances and the like should be fixed before you put your home on the market. These repairs may seem small, but left undone they can lead buyers to question whether you’ve taken good care of your home.
Always look at your home from the buyer’s point of view. Be objective and be honest. Get a buyer’s-eye view. Walk up to your home and pretend you’ve never seen it before. What do you notice? How do you feel about what you see? Does the home seem inviting? Well-maintained? Would you want to buy this home? Your answer should be an enthusiastic “Yes!”