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Getting Your Home Ready to Place on The Market. An Interview with Lorraine Valdes.

Move Out the Junk and Make Sure You Have a Dishwasher

"Getting your home ready to place on the market is a lot like hitting a factory reset button on your phone." Lorraine Valdes doesn't pull the punches when talking about how to get a home show worthy. Lorraine also goes into the importance of some key items for getting a good appraisal on your home.

As a Realtor do you give advice on how to make a home look more showy? Do you take a walk through the property and point out things that need to change to make the property market ready?

Always. I take a walk through at the listing appointment. I'll do a walk through and let them know what they need to do. When people want to list their house they call me for an evaluation. It’s something that is called a third market analysis. I go in and show them everything that's currently the competition on the market. I also show them everything that has sold that’s just like their house (square footage, size, and location). Then I do the walk through and do an evaluation of the physical condition of their home. At that point I tell them that if they want top dollar for their house then they will need to change what I point out. The seller has to basically do a factory reset on their home! Generally everyone will have to do some of the same basic things. Down scale everything. Take away family photos, show your home as a house and not your home. It is not about your personality anymore, but a home where someone else can see themselves living, not YOUR home. Take away everything that's related to you personally. Most importantly: clean out your closets! People want to see the space so they can use their imagination and mentally move themselves into your home. Free open spaces is best. Nothing unnecessary on the floor, especially in the closets! All fake or silk plants, get rid of them. I tell clients that they have to clean out the clutter, no personal papers laying around. Put all of your jewelry away, too, and don't leave any cash out. In the kitchen: don't leave dishes in the sink. Clean up, and organize your kitchen and bathroom cabinets, people will open them, they'll want to see how the space looks. Getting everything organized is very important when you want to sell your home. Potential buyers will not open up any furniture drawers, dressers and such, but they will open the dishwasher and the stove. They will open the fridge if that is included in the sale of the house, so clean that too. Sometimes, but very rarely, I recommended renting a storage unit. It is not the norm, but if your garage is packed full and you don't want to get rid of it then I would suggest renting a storage unit while you home is on the market. Also, I sometimes recommend professional services if its a task that is to much for someone. I have people I recommend: a handyman, professional cleaners, a professional organizer. If the seller need those services I can provide them with business cards of local professionals. But if they don't use those services the sellers have to fix up any issues they might have: fill in holes in the wall, then really clean the house (think steam clean the carpets and clean the fan blades), then organize their stuff. Get all of that in line after I do the walk through and then we can talk more.

How does appraisal work? Should a seller do renovations and fix ups before an appraisal or after one? Does a seller do an appraisal before they get a Realtor?

If it is a financed buyer, if it is a buyer who is going to take the mortgage, then it is required for the lender to give the mortgage. They want to be sure that the home appraises at as much as the amount of the mortgage. In that case the lender orders an appraisal on the home in question and the buyer pays for it. If the buyer is buying cash, sometime they want to have it appraised and they call in the appraisal, they pay for it. You don't appraise your house when you want to put it on the market, it is something that sometimes happens when you have a buyer. There are sometimes when I recommend a seller to appraise the property, and that is only when someone wants a ridiculous amount of money for their home. I promise to give them market worth of their home according to the data. If they are asking for it to be listed a lot higher than that then I recommend for them to get an appraisal. If they strongly believe that it is worth more then I encourage them to get an appraisal and go from there. Everyone is entitled to an appraisal. Then that gives the seller a more reasonable approach on how much they can sell their home. Stuff like carpeting does affect an appraisal. If it is a slab floor then you’ll get a knock down on the appraisal for sure. The house has to be habitable for the bank to give a loan for it. If your carpeting is old you’re not going to get a high value on that carpeting. But, you’re not going to get full value of the carpeting if you install brand new carpeting before you get an appraisal. Any kind of tile, terrazzo, wood flooring, and porcelain, would be worth more than carpeting on an appraisal. Linoleum is acceptable, but it’s not a preferred flooring. It’s just not going to appraise as high.

Any parting words of wisdom?

Things that really affect an appraisal are: location, home improvements, general condition, age, and add ons or upgrades.Things like a top of the line dishwasher doesn't really matter, the fact that it has a dishwasher matters. Just like it having a range stove, it doesn't have to be top of the line. Just make sure you have one that works installed. It’s not values for dollars, it’s just a check mark on a list of things. Flooring? Check. Dishwasher? Check. Et cetera. Like I said before, you’re going to have to do a factory reset on your home. You may not use a stove or dishwasher, but it’s considered part of the standard deal when you buy a house.