Helpful tools and tips on selling your house

Is it time to sell your home? Your home is probably the largest asset that you will sell. Don't leave it up to chance to get it sold. There are many things you can do to make the process easier and get the results you are looking for. We will discuss ideas on getting your home ready for sale and the steps leading up to and when an offer comes in.

The first step

When getting ready to sell your home it is important to evaluate thewhy-use-a-realtor

property for market value. We all have expectations when it comes to the value of our properties. Like many homeowners, we have spent years living in the house and made changes and improvements to it to fit our taste and lifestyle.

Market value is defined as what a buyer is willing to pay for a home in an open market.  It is important to know what is reasonable to expect from the sale of your home.

The best way to determine the potential value of your house is to consult a professional that is trained and has experience with selling properties. A Realtor is trained to perform a market analysis on your home using data from various sources on what has sold in recent months, what is active and what has expired. The information is compiled to present a market range on value. This information is used to effectively market the property to help get it sold in the best time possible.


preparing your home for sale is important to the sale of the property. Everything requires maintenance over time. We all have the list of things we know needed to get done, just never got a chance to get to it. Here is your chance to do it.

find-a-professionalIt is highly recommended to do the following things to take a proactive approach rather than be reactive when a buyer comes with a laundry list of repairs that can cost you thousands of dollars or even worse, walks away from the property.

Heating system cleaning: Have your heating system cleaned and inspected by a qualified heating technician if it hasn't been performed within the last 6 months. The heating technician can give the system a clean bill of health or identify potential problems that can be repaired prior to a buyer coming in. All heating systems should be checked including boilers, furnaces, woodstoves, pellet stoves, gas fireplaces and woodstoves, heat pumps and any other systems used to heat the home. It is also recommended to have the chimneys inspected as well since they are prone to wear over time. This can be a costly repair. better to know now rather than after you have negotiated a price with a buyer.

Water Testing: Many homes in Vermont are on private wells and are not part of the public water system. Many mortgage companies require water tests as part of the mortgage approval process especially if the buyers are using FHA, RD or VA loans for financing. For this reason, it is important to have the water tested to make sure the water is potable to Vermont EPA standards. Performing the test will allow the homeowner to identify if there is a problem. If there is a problem, there are several avenues that can be taken to remedy the issue from shocking the well to installing water treatment systems. Better to address the issue now rather than after the buyer has already come along.

Septic pumping and inspection: Having the septic system pumped and inspected is very important. Many homes in Vermont are not part of the public sewer system and have private septic systems that need periodic maintenance. Having the system pumped and inspected, if it hasn't been done within the last few years, is a good idea since most buyers will request it as part of the contact.  It can be difficult or impossible to pump in the winter months due to the ground freezing. It is recommended to have it done prior to the cold months to prevent complications.

Radon Testing: Radon is a natural occurring environmental condition. It is present everywhere and comes from the ground from decaying uranium. It can be higher in certain places and can have a heath effect over time. The EPA has a limit on what is considered safe before recommending a mitigation system to be installed. Testing is easy and can tell you if there is a potential issue that needs to be corrected. Costs are moderate to install and retest. Best to know at the beginning rather than after a negotiated offer that will reduce your bottom line.

Building inspection: Most buyers will want to perform a building inspection as a part of the contact. This is where most of the costs to the sellers come from when the buyers come back with a list of repairs or ask for a credit from the sellers. Have a building inspector come when first placing the home on the market can be very beneficial. The building inspector can inspect the home and provide a report showing items that need addressing or repairs. In many cases, the items can be repaired with minimal cost before the buyers demand the highest costing professionals. Better to know upfront the condition of your property so you have a better understanding of your expenses when negotiating a price with a buyer.

This looks like work and expense for the seller. It is, however it will pay itself back on the backside of the transaction with less time and aggravation spent on negotiating repairs and finding suitable trained technicians to perform the work in a limited amount of time. Most of the items are going to be requested anyways, the only difference is it's on your terms rather than the buyer's terms. Not to mention, you know the expenses paid out before any negotiations begin.

Staging the house: Staging the home is very important. Most home owners have spent years decorating to their own taste. That is great until it comes time to sell your house. From the moment you decide to sell your property, the mindset needs to change from owning the home to selling the house. This means changing how the potential buyer sees your property.

The first step is to reduce clutter inside the house. Pack all the small knickknacks and excess pictures lining the shelves and walls. If there is a lot of furniture, consider removing the items and placing them in storage. Less is more when it comes to staging. The buyer(s) need to be able to vision themselves and their belongings in the house. Clutter tends to distract them from that.

The second step is paint rooms that have bright or unusual colors or if the walls look tired or worn. Going neutral or earth tone colors will serve the house well. A fresh coat of paint will breathe new life into the place.

The third step is to replace worn or outdated flooring in the house. A good example would be the shag carpet from the 70s or extremely worn out carpet with holes and stains. Carpet is fairly inexpensive and will give the house a fresh new feel.

The fourth step is to set the mood for showings. It is always pleasant to have fresh baked goods on the counter with the smells still in the room. Soothing music in the background adds to the ambience.

Checking for open permits on the house: Checking for open permits on the house can save a lot of time and last minute running around with the town when it's getting close to the closing.

As part of the mortgage process, the mortgage company requires the buyer to hire an attorney to perform a title search on the property. This often includes searching for any zoning violations or open permits that were not closed out from that home improvement project completed  years ago that you forgot about. It doesn't take long and can save time, money and stress when the buyer's attorney sends you an notification a week before the closing that it needs to be done in order to close. If your town has a certificate of compliance, it would be good to obtain that as well when visiting town hall.

Packing your personal belongings:  Giving yourself proper time to pack is important. Often time sellers will wait until a week before the closing to start to pack. Having moved several times, I can personally say it takes longer than you anticipate. Start when the house goes under contact with one box a day and you will find it will be far less stressful. Often it gives you time to separate out items that may no longer have value or use and dispose of them properly. At the end you can focus on doing the polite thing and clean the house for the new owners. they will love you for it!

Make sure to contact the utility companies in advance to notify them of your move. Special note with propane tanks. If the propane supplier owns the tank, and they often do, you are required to contact them several weeks in advance. CP111 states the propane supplier most come out and read the tank and refund the seller directly. The propane supplier then bills the new owners. Propane no longer is placed on the closing statement.

If the seller owns the propane tank, they are allowed to place the remaining propane cost on the closing statement for reimbursement from the buyers.Oil and wood pellets are still prorated and are credited back to the seller on the closing statement.

If you do all this, you are on your way to selling your house and moving on to your next adventure. If you would like more information, give us a call at 802-658-3210. We will be happy to sit down with you and help personalize a plan to sell your house.

Need some help to find a building inspector? here are the websites of a few building inspectors we've had good experiences with. They can perform the building inspection, water tests, radon tests and more.