Preparing Your Home For Sale - Avoiding a Case of the "Gotchas!"

Real Estate Agent with Remax Town & Country 280313

"The Time to Repair the Roof is When the Sun is Shining"

-- John F. Kennedy

Sold in West ChesterIf you are thinking of listing your home this year, take a look around and see your home through the eyes of a buyer. 

It almost goes without saying that your home and yard should be spotlessly clean and in good repair. There are checklists for every part of your home from cleaning windows to changing light bulbs to make your home appear in its best light. With buyers doing more and more of their own legwork, I am a huge advocate of anything that will improve the quality of the photos. This means a clean house, a tidy house and in a perfect world, a staged house.

While great photographs, super curb appeal plus a catchy description will attract buyers to your home, you need something more to hold their interest and, more importantly, generate an offer. Make sure your home is not just another pretty face!  Alot can happen between the time your offer is accepted and the moment you hand over the keys. Most of it revolves around home inspection items for the seller and mortgage issues for the buyer.

They say experience is the best teacher. Since most sellers don't have the luxury of "learning from experience," let me save you the trouble. The repair or replacement of certain items may exceed the escrow period of a typical real estate transaction. For that reason I recommend getting a jump start on these items as soon as you've made the decision to sell your home:

Listing ChecklistFailed Windows: This is an item that inspectors and buyers are becoming more picky about. To you, that fog may be nothing more than a cosmetic issue but to the buyer and their home inspector the windows may be deemed as "failed." Solution: if you are the original owner, there is a good chance your windows are covered under warranty. Warranties are typically not transferrable, so its good to get this done while you can. Ordering and delivery of the windows can take weeks and getting them installed can take even longer. Some warrantees cover the windows and the installation, some not. This is good for you to know. If the windows are not covered under warranty, find out their replacement cost to avoid being pressured during the inspection period.

Listing ChecklistRepairs Covered by the Homeowner's or Condo Association: damaged siding, roof, woodwork or termite damage. Some homeowner's associations do the repairs only when the seller submits a work order. If you wait until a problem is discovered by the buyer, while the repair may be covered by the HOA, there may not be enough time to repair it. The buyer and their lender usually want proof that it has been done before settlement. If not complete, the buyer may ask for a credit or depending on the repair, the lender may hold up settlment. Solution: While you can address these repairs during the escrow period, why not get them taken care of now? Go through your homeowner's association documents to find out what is covered and submit a request of needed repairs now.

Listing ChecklistHOA and Condos Documents: Get a current copy of the rules & regulations, by-laws, restrictive covenants or other important documents pertaining to your development. Your listing agent, future buyer and their agent will be thankful to have this information up front. It's no fun for a buyer to find out they can't bring their dog or install a fence  three weeks into a transaction or worse, after the sale.

Listing ChecklistSeptic System: knowing whether your septic system will pass a test can only be known by having it tested. If your system is older, if you are a one or two person home being sold to a four+ person home or if your home is vacant, the buyer will likely have a septic inspection. A failed system is costly to replace and the process of replacement could take more than 45 days. Solution: If you suspect that your system may fail, even if you cannot afford to replace it, determine its condition and the potential cost to replace it. This will give you a head start and avoid headaches during the inspection period. Septic contractors vary in their pricing, so it's good to get several quotes. For more information, read my full article on septic systems.

  • Roof: Inspect the roof for leaks or repairs. Get estimates for replacement or repairs. Winter schedules can be affected by weather so again, its best to address any roof issues while you are off-market.
  • Furnace & Air Conditioning: have these components serviced and any necessary repairs done.

Listing ChecklistTownship Use & Occupancy Requirements: these can be as minor as replacing house numbers to a large investment such as installing new sidewalks. U&O certificates have a limited shelf life, so they are typically ordered when most of the other contingengies have cleared, not leaving you much time for a fix. After you've agreed to other repairs or credits is not a good time to find out there is even more costly work to be done. Solution: The good news is that you don't have to wait to find out what is on that list. Call your township or contact me for a list of township requirements for your Pennsylvania home and have them addressed now.

If you want to be completely thorough, you could get a pre-listing home inspection. For about $400-$500, you can have a licensed inspector comb through the entire house and provide you with a written report. You can then decide what action to take.

prepare your home for saleBefore your list your home, it's a good idea to have an experienced Realtor do a walk-through and make some notes about what they think are the most critical items to address from cleaning to staging to repairs. Not all sellers can afford to have everything fixed, but having the information is useful to help you prioritize repairs, help you price your home and determine what types of buyers you should market to.

Sellers who take the time to prepare their homes for sale have a better understanding of what their home is worth, face fewer surprises during the inspection period, have less to negotiate and experience a smoother transaction overall.  

If you are thinking of listing your home and need expert guidance in any of these areas, please contact me.


Are you reading this from a mobile device? See what the competition is in your immediate area. Download my FREE Keller Williams REAL ESTATE SEARCH APP!  With this app, you can see every home in the MLS by your GPS location or do a traditional search. Through my app, you can connect with easily by emaiil, text or phone if you have any questions.


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Are you loooking to buy a home, sell a home or invest in real estate in Delaware or Chester counties?   

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Pamela Cloud

Office: 610-675-1000

Cell: 484-883-8231

                                   RE/MAX Town & Country                              


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Gina Tufano
Ask Gina & Company with Pearson Smith Realty - Sterling, VA
Ask Gina & Company, Northern Virginia Real Estate

Thank you for the reminders, all great point. Especially non-transferable waranties! 

Dec 31, 2013 06:29 AM #1
Pamela Cloud
Remax Town & Country - West Chester, PA
Serving the southwestern suburbs of Philadelphia

Gina, thank you and you are welcome! Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2013 11:04 PM #2
Jeffrey Molloy
Check Mark - Westchester Home Inspections - Mount Kisco, NY


It's amazing how may "dumps" we inspect that could be "fixed" for almost nothing!

i.e. Clean this place up a bit!

Oh, and don't try the "Inspector is being too picky" excuse. Its the buyer who chooses what items to bring to the sellers attention.

If the buyer mentions it, it is important to them. Be graceful and "do what you can" to move your sale along.

When a home is a mess an Inspector assumes that it isn't well cared for...when it appears neat and clean we always comment on it and tell our clients that it appears well cared for.

It's human nature to make judgments and bad impressions are often difficult to over come.

A Good Agent will point these things out...a Great Agent gets the seller to act on them!

You sound like one of the Great Ones!

Jan 22, 2014 06:30 AM #3
Pamela Cloud
Remax Town & Country - West Chester, PA
Serving the southwestern suburbs of Philadelphia

Hi Jeff, thanks for the compliment. Please don't take offense about the word "picky." I'm letting the sting of an experience show-especially when it comes to windows. I now look at everything that much more closely when listing a property. I like to let the sellers know "this could become a problem" and you can decide in advance how you might handle it (ie; get estimates or just get it fixed).

And I agree, when I show a clean home with pride of ownership it is typically an indicator of the type of people you are dealing with and anticipate an easy inspeciton.

Jan 22, 2014 09:04 AM #4
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Pamela Cloud

Serving the southwestern suburbs of Philadelphia
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