Among the various Boston area home selling tips are the usual recommendations such as decluttering your home, cleaning the carpets, sprucing up the landscaping and perhaps doing a little painting. While those are certainly good suggestions designed to maximize the curb appeal and presentation of your home to prospective buyers, here’s another important “to do” to add to the list.
Vital Statistics – Boston Area Home Selling Tips
Although we never work for sellers or list homes for sale, as exclusive buyer’s agents, we can help you by referring you to the most qualified listing agents in the Boston area marketplace, due to our experience in working with these agents over the years. Even though we always only work for buyers and never for sellers, we offer these tips to potential home sellers as assistance in the process of selling your Boston area home.
There is one thing we recommend you do before you sell your home: Check your home’s vital statistics. Consult your local government’s resources to ensure it has accurate information regarding your home.
You’ll find your local municipality has information on your home – regardless of its age, size or location. Your town’s building department and assessor’s office will both have records about your home. The reason to check those records prior to listing your home for sale is simple – often the information contained therein could be erroneous. If the records don’t match your home’s reality, any resulting issues that are unresolved could delay the sale or even squash it completely. For example, let’s say you’ve always been told your home contains 2,759 square feet. Armed with that information – without verification – you list your home at an asking price based on comparably-sized homes. When a buyer signs a contract to purchase your home he assumes, as you did, that the square footage is correct. However, at some point prior to the loan closing – either during the appraisal process or some other routine event – it was discovered the correct square footage is actually 2,579. A transposition error caused you to assume your home had 180 more square feet than it actually does. While 180 square feet isn’t a huge difference, if the sales prices was calculated at, say, $90 per square foot such a mistake could potentially mean a difference of $16,200. That’s enough to make the mortgage lender alter the amount they would be willing to finance and it could substantially change your prospective purchaser’s interest level in paying a higher than market asking price.
So, remember this one of many Boston area home selling tips: Consulting your municipality’s building department could have avoided the above-referenced discrepancy. The town or municipality keeps records of every construction permit issued and all buildings built. In addition, the building department is responsible for making sure that if any changes are made to the building they meet the current codes in force, and that the work is performed by licensed contractors. The primary concerns of the building department are home health and safety issues. Therefore, when an application is made for a new construction or home improvement permit, a building inspector from the code enforcement office must physically visit the property to review, approve and give written permission that the work done by the contractor, electrician or plumber is approved and meets the local codes.
When a purchaser agrees to buy your home and signs the contract, often they (or their representative) may go to the building department to perform due diligence. In the event there’s an open permit – a permit that was applied for, but never signed off on for final approval – that could raise a red flag. Even worse is if no record exists in the building department of work performed that should have been inspected and approved.
Sometimes home sellers discover a mistake was made. For example, permits weren’t approved or closed properly, but the seller assumed they were. The mistake could have been made by the building department, the former owner or the building contractor. In addition, it’s not unusual for homeowners to mistakenly assume that any type of renovation was performed as the building code requires, only to find out it wasn’t. Such a mistake can potentially present a problem when a seller tries to sell his home. The reason is that once the title to the property transfers to the new owner, he assumes responsibility of any illegal work not meeting the code requirements. That’s a liability few, if any, buyers want to inherit.
In addition to the building department, the town or county assessor maintains records on the local real estate market to ensure the assessed value of your home is correct and comparable to what the market reflects. The assessed value, of course, affects the real estate property taxes.
Before you put your property on the market for sale, add this to your list of Boston area home selling tips: Go to the town hall or county courthouse (the source varies from state to state) and check the property records. You’ll find that many times solving issues such as open construction permits or errors on a piece of real estate can be fairly easy. Remember, it’s better to tackle a potential problem ahead of time before it could jeopardize the sale of your home – especially if it causes delays and the proverbial “domino effect,” creating additional problems down the line.
If there’s a larger issue or more complex problem, real estate experts suggest holding off listing your home for sale until it can be cleared up. For example, lowering your property assessment may take time to appeal and plead your case to the property authorities. Because of that, it may be best to get the assessment lowered first, then put your home on the market. A lower tax bill will, no doubt, be an advantage to your prospective buyers.
See more Boston Area Home Selling Tips in the section of our site below Boston Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.