Below are answers to questions home sellers often ask. Click each question to see the answer.

When is the best time to sell?
    • Some realtors say there's no better time than another, but I disagree. If your home is right for a family, April or May is the best time to list. That's when families are starting to shop so they are in a new school district before August. If your home is a condo on multiple floors, you should avoid listing as the weather is getting bad. Snow on steps will not only deter buyers from coming but if they do come and slip on the steps, they'll not want to live there. If your property is a vacation spot, list when tourism season or lake life is picking up. Most other property can be listed at any time of year.
What will it cost me to sell my home?
    The costs associated with selling your home usually come out of the proceeds of the sale. First, the balance of your mortgage, any due property taxes, HOA unpaid dues, contractor liens, etc. get paid. If you're caught up on bills and don't have a mortgage, that category should cost you nothing. Next, the title company or attorney will charge a fee to do the title search and remove your name from the deed. That's usually around $300-500. Last is the agent commission. Real estate agents spend their own money to take photos of your home, create marketing materials, prepare legal documents, and advise you through the selling process. The typical commission charged by a listing agent is around 6% of the selling price. About half of that is shared with the buyers agent. All moneys go through the agents' brokers who also keep some of it.
How do I come up with a selling price?
    That’s where a good realtor agent comes in. Ask a couple agents to run a “comp report” comparing recently sold properties that have similar qualities, such as size, age, and location. With that information, you’ll feel confident about your sales price (and the agent you want to go with). Beware of agents who price your home much higher than other agents do. Overpriced homes hurt you as a seller because it reduces the number of buyers who book a showing.
Do I have to put money into my home before listing it?
    • There are some things that will significantly improve your ability to sell at the price you want. Items that negatively impact the quality of life, such as a broken dishwasher or a faulty light, should be addressed. Items that may mislead a buyer to think there is a bigger issue, such as spots on the ceiling or cracks in a wall, should be repaired. Cosmetic issues that are hard to overlook but aren't a big deal can be put off if you don't have the money. Outdated fixtures and colors will negatively impact your price but can be ignored if you understand the price has to reflect it. Deep cleaning is cheap and one of the biggest positives a seller can do. So it's all about prioritizing what you have the ability to do and if the reward outweighs the cost.
Can I sell a home with everything in it?
    That has been done before, for several different reasons. If your home is nicely decorated and you don't want to take the items with you, it can be sold with all the contents remaining and possibly net you a better price. If you inherited a property and the previous owner's stuff is still there, you have a few options. You can sell it as-is and expect the buyer to take it all as a package deal which may negatively impact the sales price. You can call companies that resell or auction items, charities that accept donations, others that haul away other items for free, and then pay another company to haul away the final pieces nobody would take. Whatever you choose, talk with your real estate agent about timelines before agreeing to anything. Sorting items in preparation for an auction can kill a showing, and delaying a close because the auction house can't sell soon enough may prevent you from selling at the best price.
Do I have to tell buyers about issues my home has had?
    The important ones, yes. You're better off being transparent and avoiding lawsuits down the road. Big items like foundation cracks, faulty septic system, or flooding basement should be disclosed on the Property Disclosure Form. Small cosmetic issues like age-related cracks in the driveway, chips in doorway trim or a mark on the wall are not things you need to mention. If you inherited a property or for any reason didn't live there, then you can use a Disclosure Exemption Form. If your garage freezer is hiding a big hole you cut in the drywall, you should probably mention it for good measure.
Should I be present when my home is shown?
    No. That's not advisable and in the cases where sellers were present while I showed a home, it has usually hurt my ability to show the home in the best light. If you want to stay home because you're afraid items will be taken, talk with your agent and address other ways to secure your home. If you want to stay home because you don't have any place to go, find a place. Go to a coffee shop. Read a book at McDonalds. Take your dog for a long walk, but don't stay home.
Do I have control over when people come to see my home?
    Yes. Wallace Real Estate uses a scheduling service that can send you a requested time for a showing. You have the ability to accept or deny it. Of course, if you deny it you should have some alternative days and times to offer. In cases where someone is visiting from out of town and cannot see your home the next day, you may get a phone call to see if there is any way you can accommodate a showing. Ultimately, you are in charge of when people can come.
What is a contingency?
    A contingency is something that is a condition of the contract. For example, a buyer may have a contingency saying they want to review and accept the subdivision restrictions before committing to buy. Or, you may want a contingency stipulating you find another place to live before going forward with a sale. Contingencies include a cutoff date, preventing them from going on forever.