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Handyman: There’s home work before you sell your house

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

As I reviewed the latest February 2015 report from Realcomp, (866) 553-3003, realcomp.moveinmichigan.com, the real estate multiple listing service, I noticed that the median selling price for homes in the Metro Detroit area rose 20.6 percent versus February of 2014, a clear sign that the housing market is continuing to improve. So it is not surprising that more people are seriously considering putting their home up for sale and moving. But the sales process often takes a lot longer than people think, because there is more to selling a home than just pounding the “For Sale” sign in your front lawn. Here are some things for your to do list to make sure you are ready and to help establish your time frame:

Assess your home’s salability — If you read my last two articles, you know that to make your home saleable you may need to do some maintenance and improvements. And while you don’t want to go overboard with any big renovations before you sell, even basic maintenance and cleaning will take time. That has to be factored into your selling time frame.

Declutter — Before you can even think about selling and moving, one of the first things you need to do is get rid of the clutter. That can especially be true for the empty nesters.

“One of the first things I tell older sellers is to have their grown children get their stuff out of the house,” said Chris Courtney, a Realtor with Remerica Hometown in Plymouth, (734) 459-6222, remerica.com. “For many, that is the first step towards getting rid of the clutter.”

Once you identify what you can sell or donate, it will take some time to have the garage sale, estate sale or getting things organized for pickup by a nonprofit organization. For some, this decluttering can be accomplished in a few months; for others, it could take much longer.

Determine where you want to move — If you don’t have any idea where you are planning to live next, it is not a good idea to put your home on the market until you do. So first take the time to think about the area you want to live and the style and size of house you want before you list your home. By doing some prior planning regarding your new location before you list your home, you can make the selling and buying process a win-win situation, not a disaster. Otherwise, there’s always that chance you will get an offer from someone who wants to move into the home right away and you have nowhere to go or buy a home that you don’t really want.

Set a realistic time frame – When you add up all the things you need to do to prepare for selling your home, you will have a much more realistic time frame regarding the selling and moving process. That time frame should also include the time it takes to sell your home and actually move.

According to the recent Realcomp report, homes were on the market for an average of 52 days in Metro Detroit before they sold. Add to that the date your new home will be available and you can actually develop a realistic schedule for the sales process.

“If someone wants to move to a hot area like South Lyon, they need to be prepared that the home they want to buy may receive multiple offers,” Courtney said. “So they need to factor that in to their buying process and time line.”

Don’t procrastinate – It is never too early to declutter or fix things that need repairs, even if you aren’t planning to move for a year or two. That way you are ahead of the selling game when you are ready to move. Plus you will get the satisfaction of living in a clean, well-maintained home. And that could lead you to decide you actually don’t need to move, but would rather stay and make some renovations instead.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail askglenn@masterhandyman.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.