Author Archives: Dennis Robitaille

How to Sell Your House in 2020

By Emily Huddleston Updated on January 22nd, 2020.

how to sell your house

So, you’ve evaluated your finances, thought about your lifestyle, and made the big decision to sell your home. Maybe you’re downsizing because the kids have finally left the nest, or you’ve gotten a job in a new city and need to relocate, or maybe you’ve just retired and want to head south to warmer climates. Whatever your reason, you’re ready to sell. Luckily, for you, we put together a comprehensive guide for first-time and seasoned home sellers. Continue reading to find out how to sell your house this year.

1) Hire a Home Inspector

You’re probably thinking, wait, isn’t that the buyer’s responsibility? You’re not wrong. When you’ve accepted an offer, the buyer will most likely request a home inspection of their own. So, why would you have one? First, if a home inspection turns up something that’s in need of repair, wouldn’t you prefer to resolve it before entering into negotiations?

In fact, if you end up needing to make repairs that take weeks to fix, you may lose that buyer altogether. Having a home inspection is a proactive approach to getting your home ready to sell. Known as a pre-listing home inspection, you can find out the exact condition of your property, what issues and repairs need to be addressed beforehand, fix them, and then focus on the next task to sell your home fast.

Also, knowing the condition of your property will further assist you during the negotiation phase with potential buyers. As you may already be aware, buyers often use their home inspection as a way of getting concessions from sellers, such as asking you to drop your list price. If you’ve already addressed these repairs, it is less likely that anything new will come up and impact your negotiation.

2) Make Repairs and Small Upgrades to Your House

After you receive a comprehensive list of repairs you should make, it’s time to get started either making the repairs yourself or contracting the right person to do them. This may also be a great time to make small upgrades to your home.

Understand Your Home’s Selling Points

First, try understanding your home’s selling points and then highlight those features to make them really stand out. Not sure what those features are? Just think about what sold you on your home when you first toured it. Was it the kitchen, the open floor plan, or that personal studio space? These are the features you’ll want to concentrate on because they are most likely to sell your house again.

Enhance Your Outdoor Space

When you are selling your house, you want to find ways to make it stand out and what better way than having the most beautiful entrance and lawn on the block. You don’t necessarily have to paint the exterior of your house to impress homebuyers. Simple things like trimming your hedges and a freshly mowed lawn will go a long way. Even freshly laid beauty bark and newly planted flowers can really make your yard pop! If these improvements seem like too much to handle while you’re trying to prepare your home to sell, look into hiring a landscaper to assist.

Brighten Your Home

Simple ways to brighten your home include painting your ceilings white and choosing a wall color that is brighter and more neutral. 

3) Declutter and Prep Your House to Sell

Decluttering and prepping your house are steps you should make a priority. Renting storage units is becoming an increasingly popular method of decluttering one’s house before selling it. The idea is to limit the amount of stuff in your house so that potential future owners can envision themselves (and their stuff) in that space. Even removing photos is a great way to allow potential buyers to think about what they would hang on those walls. If you’re looking for a quick turnaround, bring in a professional organizer. They can help get your house in order, while also preparing you for a stress-free move.

4) Find a Real Estate Agent

Finding a real estate agent is easy, finding a great real estate agent can be more of a challenge. Getting referrals and reading online reviews is a great way to start narrowing down your options. You’ll want to understand what you’re looking for when hiring a real estate agent to represent your best interests. Here are some questions to consider asking any potential candidate:

  • How many clients have you served this year?
  • Has a client ever filed a complaint against you?
  • What is your fee? 
  • What services do you offer beyond negotiations and escrow?

After you decide on a real estate agent, you and your agent should come up with a plan of action. It should include a timeline, from the pricing of your house and getting it listed on MLS to open houses. You and your agent should be on the same page at all times and a plan of action will help ensure that.

5) How to Price Your House to Sell

Now is the time to find out what price you should list your home. You can start by using online tools to help you get an idea of what your home is worth. However, you should never set your sights on a single number and expect it to happen. Market conditions change all the time and so too does buyer behavior. 

Another option is to conduct an appraisal. Home appraisers are licensed professionals that will assess the value of your house based on the state of your property and overall housing market conditions. They will look at the size of your property, the interior and exterior conditions of your house, any upgrades, additions or home improvements you’ve done, and then calculate your home’s worth based on the local market conditions.

Looking at comparables of recently sold homes in your area will also help you settle on a price. These homes should be similar in size, location, and sold within the last few months. Furthermore, you want to be strategic about your pricing. Instead of lumping the price of your house in with others in the area, strategize your pricing based on your home’s selling features. In other words, if there are three houses for sale in you’re area and they are priced at $350,000, you might be able to justify $360,000 or more because you have a larger lot size or maybe you’re located in a popular neighborhood.

6) Get Professional Photos Taken of Your Home

Nothing sells a house faster than professional photos. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They are searching online, looking at every home that comes up for sale within their filtered interests the moment it’s listed. If your house is represented online by poorly shot photography, your listing will see very little traffic. Not to mention, it’s widely observed that houses with professionally shot photos, on average, sell for more money than other listings.

Furthermore, 3D walking tours along with aerial photography that show a bird’s eye view of one’s home and its surrounding area have become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. Many agencies include some or all of these services as a component of their overall services to you as a seller. Just remember, the better you represent your house online, the faster it will sell.

7) List Your Home to Sell

Your real estate agent will list your home online on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), in order for it to start showing up on real estate search platforms to potential buyers.

You may be wondering, when is the best time to list your home? If you’re thinking about waiting for a specific season, then you might be waiting for nothing. In 2016, Redfin analyzed more than 7 million home sales to identify specific seasonal trends. It was determined that while spring was slightly better for homes that sold within 30 days and for above-asking price, winter was surprisingly a close second. What plays a bigger role in a house being sold quickly and/or above-asking price has more to do with current market conditions than the season a house is sold.

Also, don’t limit the marketing of your house to your real estate agent and online search. Market your house yourself! Spread the word through your family and friends. Share your listing on social media and send out emails asking people to share your listing with others. 

row of houses

8) Have Open Houses and Personal Showings

Your first open house is what you’ve been working towards and now it’s about to happen. It’s time to step up your game and stage your home to sell. If you don’t deem yourself a design-minded individual, consider hiring a professional home stager to help. Here is a list of things to consider that will really help you make your house shine:

  • Clear the clutter: You may have already transferred most of your belongings to a storage unit by this point. Now is the time to focus on cleaning up the clutter on countertops and tables. Put away newspapers, mail or magazines, or if you have children, help them pick up their toys.
  • Deep clean your house: Nothing turns off buyers more than an unclean bathroom. That is also true for the rest of your house. Now more than ever is the time to wash your windows, windowsills, and scrub your grimy glass shower doors.
  • Add white accents: White accents such as flowers or towels in the bathroom create a sense of welcome cleanliness.
  • Arrange furniture: You don’t have to necessarily rent furniture to stage your home. You can most likely use what you have. The key is to limit the number of furniture pieces in any one room. Then arrange them in a way that’s inviting to people as they enter the room.
  • Bring in light: Think about removing your curtains or keeping them drawn back to allow as much light into your house as possible. If you have rather large elaborate curtains, consider storing them away until you get to your next home.
  • Highlight your floors: Floors are a key feature homebuyers are looking at, especially if you have wood floors. Show them off by removing any rugs or unneeded furniture so that more of your flooring can be seen. If you have wood floors, think about polishing them to really make them pop.
  • Organize all closets and drawers: Homebuyers touring your home will most likely look in your closets to determine space and, frankly, to see if their stuff will fit in there. They will also likely open kitchen drawers and cabinets as well, so make sure everything is nice and tidy.
  • Dust: Concentrate on all the areas that you’ve most likely have turned a blind eye to for some time, like ceiling fans, baseboards, on top of doorways, appliances, etc.

9) Have a Plan in Case your Home Doesn’t Sell Quick Enough

You and your real estate agent should have already gone over this beforehand, but not every house sells after the first open house. There are many factors at play and depending on the condition of the housing market for your area, your real estate agent may have to use some other strategies in their arsenal to get your house sold. If it’s lowering the price of your home or holding more open houses, you’ll want to agree on what the next steps should be in case your house isn’t seeing any offers.

10) Negotiate the Sale Price of Your Home

One thing to consider is that the buyer is trying to get the absolute best price they can, while you’re doing the exact same. There will be multiple factors to consider, as each home sold and purchased is different. For example, if it’s a buyer’s market, that means the buyer has the upper hand because there are multiple listings with fewer offers being made. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make huge concessions in order to sell your house.

This is where your agent really steps up. They will help you navigate the negotiation process, and will give you their advice on how to proceed when offers are being made. Luckily, you interviewed and hired the right agent, so you know they have your best interests in mind.

11) Sign and Close

You and your agent have been working towards this moment. You’ve agreed on a price with the buyers, all inspections and appraisals of your home have been completed, and you are now signing the papers to sell your house. Congratulations, you’ve done it!Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on linkedinShare on pinterest

Emily Huddleston

Emily is part of the content marketing team and enjoys writing about real estate trends and home improvement. Her dream home would be a charming Tudor-style house with large windows to let in lots of natural light. Email Emily

Water, Water Everywhere

What is the number one concern home buyers have about their potential future home? What is the number one issue that home inspectors find in a house? The answer to both questions is water.
The inspectors at Able Home Inspection find evidence of water issues in almost every house inspected. At the upper portion of the house it could be due to a worn out roof surface, ice dam caused roof leakage, chimney, vent pipe or skywindow flashing leakage. At the lower portion and basement, it could be due to poor yard grading & drainage, high ground water, faulty sump pump, or plumbing issues.

Ice dam

Ice dams are a big problem in the New England region. They can allow water into the structure which causes damage and supports mold growth. Sometimes these leakage issue go undetected for years behind finished walls and ceilings. Hire an inspector who understands the how a roof system should function. Make sure your inspector has the experience to spot ice dam evidence even in the warmer months when there is no snow on the roof.

Aside from causing rot and insects, water is the main ingredient for mold. Although in the case of many basements, actual water infiltration is not needed, because mold can also develop and thrive at certain humidity levels. This is why we recommend the use of a dehumidifier set at a relative humidity level of 50% in most basements.

The inspectors at Able Home Inspection are trained and experienced to find all the various types of water issues that can adversely affect a home and its occupants.

Dennis Robitaille
Inspector since 1983

Buying A Condo? Is An Inspection Necessary?

Go Ahead Skip The Condo Inspection Or Should You?

Over the past 37 years, I’ve been asked this question over a hundred times. Biggest reason this question is asked is because potential condo buyers have been told by friends and real estate agents that an inspection is not necessary because the condo association takes care of the common property. This is true, but only to a limited extent. Most potential condo buyers fail to realize that they will own part of the building or buildings and share in the common property expenses.

Speaking from over 3 decades of experience inspecting condos, I can testify that the majority of major defects and deficiencies uncovered during a condo inspection are not found within the confines of the condo unit itself, but at or within the common property areas. If a condo association is not well managed, ignored maintenance issues can go on to become huge financial problems for the individual owners. One of the most notable cases was several years ago in Boston, Massachusetts at the Harbor Towers. A special assessment was levied on the owners that varied from $90,000 to over $300,000. These assessments were required to be paid in a very short amount of time. Click the link below for important condo buying advice from a prominent Boston Attorney.

Buying Advice

Monitoring well cover

Other than the actual condo buildings themselves, there have been cases where I have discovered evidence of undisclosed underground fuel oil tanks or have uncovered evidence of leaking underground fuel oil tanks. The cost of removing such tanks and contaminated soil and monitoring the surrounding ground can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Insurance usually does not cover this type of issue.

One condo building I had the privilege of inspecting several units in many years ago was Seal Harbor in Winthrop, Massachusetts. In addition to numerous window leaks, I found water leakage and corrosion issues at their underground garage. The owners faced multi-million dollar repairs.

Another issue that has plagued many condo developments, is termite damage. Although the condo unit you’re contemplating might not have a termite issue, you will be contributing to the treatment cost and repairs elsewhere in the condo complex. Although common property areas usually are not part of any state standards of practice for home inspections, most good inspectors will look beyond the individual condo unit for evidence of termite issues and other potential common property issues.

Dennis Robitaille
Home inspector since 1983.

Waving The Home Inspection

Waving The Home Inspection: For past few years, I’ve seen a disturbing trend, just like I did back in 2005 & 2006, the last time the home selling market was on fire. Home sales in the metro Boston area have been brisk and in many cases selling for more than the listing price. The adverse side of this is that inspection demand is down because real estate agents are advising buyers to waive the inspection so that their offer stands a better chance of being accepted. I hear this first hand from potential buyers who call me in a confused state. The sad part is that these are “buyers” agents giving out this advice. These agents claim they are working in the best interest of their home buying client by getting their buyer to waive the inspection because having an inspection will jeopardize the deal.

Well, those home buyers back in 2005 & 2006 overpaid for those houses and some of them who had to sell in 2009 & 2010, took a double beating. One, the market values crashed after their purchases in 2005 & 2006. Two, the potential buyers for their homes in 2009 & 2010 were having home inspections and finding issues further eroding the selling price.

I’m pretty sure history is repeating itself.

Waving Home Inspections

Dennis Robitaille
Professional Home Inspector Since 1983

Inspection – Quote Form

Why A True Independent Inspector Is Critical

Like most home inspectors who have been around a while

We have encountered real estate agents who have tried to either undermine, down play, minimize or argue away many of the defects or issues found during an inspection. The more issues found, the more negotiations that may be required to finalize a sale or worst the sale may fall through. Many inspectors, especially new ones, find themselves perplexed when finding serious defects, for fear future inspection client referrals from the agent may be in jeopardy. As a result many inspectors learn to approach the home inspection with “kid gloves”, using calm and non-alarming language to explain away serious issues.

As independent home inspectors our job is to uncover and disclose defects, safety issues and other items that could cause harm or present the client with unanticipated expenses. We should be educating our clients to the best of our ability about the property condition. We should not be minimizing issues by making statements like; “a lot of homes have this issue”, nor should we be; “blowing stuff” out of proportion. Inspectors should clearly and accurately convey to the client the actual observed property conditions. Dealing with the findings is up to the parties involved with the sale, not the inspector. If the buyer, seller and agent can’t come to agreeable terms for the sale, it’s not the fault of the inspector.

So do you want an inspector who’s more concerned about future agent referrals than one who reports, without reservation, the actual property conditions? Hiring a “real” independent home inspector is one way to insure you will receive such an inspection and report.

Dennis Robitaille   MA License #007     NH License #111
Evan Robitaille      MA License #801      NH License #405
Inspecting homes in MA, NH & ME since 1983.

Independent home inspector