Common Q & A About Selling Your Home


Should I add on or buy a bigger home?

Consider these questions before making a choice between adding on to an existing home or moving up in the market to a bigger house:

- How much money is available, either from cash reserves or through a home improvement loan, to remodel the current house? 

- How much additional space is required? Can the foundation support a second floor? Does the lot have room to expand on the ground level? 

- What do local zoning and building ordinances permit? 

- How much equity already exists in the property? 

- Are there affordable properties for sale nearby that would satisfy your housing needs?

Ultimately, the decision should be based on individual needs, the extent of work involved and what will add the most value.

What do those real estate abbreviations in the ads mean? 

If you find yourself stumbling over weird abbreviations in a real estate listing, don't worry. There is method to the madness of this shorthand (which is mostly adopted by sellers to save money in advertising charges). Here are some abbreviations and the meaning of each, taken from a recent newspaper classified section: 

assum. fin.assumable financing
dkdeck
gargarage (garden is usually abbreviated "gard")
expansion pot'lmay be extra space on the lot, or possibly vertical potential for a top floor or room addition. Verify actual potential by checking local zoning restrictions prior to purchase
fab pentrmfabulous pentroom, a room on top, underneath the roof, that sometimes has views
FDRformal dining room
frplc, fplc, FPfireplace
grmet kitgourmet kitchen
HDW, HWF, Hdwdhardwood floors
hi ceilshigh ceilings
in-law potentialpotential for a separate apartment. Sometimes, local zoning codes restrict rentals of such units so be sure the conversion is legal first.
large E-2 planthis is one of several floor plans available in a specific building
lsd pkgleased parking area, may come with an additional cost
lo duesfind out just how low these homeowner's dues are, and in comparison to what?
nr bst schlsnear the best schools
pvtprivate
pwdr rmpowder room, or half-bath 
uprupper floor
vw, vu, vws, vusview(s)
Wow!Better check this one out!

Resources: "Real Estate's Ambiguous Language You Oughtta Understand," Glennon H. Neubauer, Ethos Group Publishing, Diamond Bar, CA; 1993.

How long do bankruptcies and foreclosures stay on my credit report?

Bankruptcies and foreclosures can remain on a credit report for seven to 10 years. Some lenders will consider an borrower earlier if they have reestablished good credit.  The circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy can also influence a lender's decision. 

For example, if you went through a bankruptcy because your employer had financial difficulties, a lender may be more sympathetic. If, however, you went through bankruptcy because you overextended personal credit lines and lived beyond your means, the lender may be less inclined to be flexible.

What are some tips to help me with negotiation?

The more you know about a seller's motivation, the stronger a negotiating position you are in. For example, a seller who must move quickly due to a job transfer may be amenable to a lower price with a speedy escrow. Other so-called "motivated sellers" include people going through a divorce or who have already purchased another home.  

Remember, that the listing price is what the seller would like to receive but is not necessarily what they will settle for. Before making an offer, check the recent sales prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood to see how the seller's asking price stacks up. 

Some experts discourage making deliberate low-ball offers. While such an offer can be presented, it can also sour the sale and discourage the seller from negotiating at all.

Do sellers have to disclose the terms of other offers?

Sellers are not legally obligated to disclose the terms of other offers to prospective buyers.

How do I prepare my house for sale?

First and foremost, put it in the best condition possible, especially if you are in a market with few buyers and lots of homes for sale. That means taking care of any major repairs that could deter a buyer (such as replacing broken windows or a leaky roof) if you can afford it. 

Next, work on your home's curb appeal. Make sure your landscape is pristine. Mow the grass, clean up any debris and weed the garden beds. Plant a few annual flowers near the entrance or in pots to be placed by the door.  Other quick fixes that don't cost a lot of money but can help you get top dollar for your home:

- Clean the windows and make sure no paint is chipped or flaking.
- Be sure the doorbell works.
- Clean and freshen up rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. Make sure that bathrooms and kitchens are spotless. A "listing clean," professional cleaning prior to putting the house on the market, can be an excellent, relatively low-budget investment.
- Organize closets.
- Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Replace leaky faucets and frayed cords.
- Eliminate the source of any bad smells, such as the kitty box. Use air freshener or bake a batch of cookies before your open house to make sure the house smells inviting.
- Invest in a few fresh flowers to place on tabletops around the house.
Rebekah Kleinman
Rebekah Kleinman
REALTOR®
5850 Waterloo Road Suite 140 Columbia MD 21045