I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately thanks to Green Chef and in the calming moments of preparing my meals, I found my thoughts wandering (as they always do) to how to help our agents better prepare you for selling your home. As the office manager, I spend a lot of time advising our agents and talking to them about their various listings and transactions, so I get a varied glimpse into the daily life of sellers and what it takes to sell their home. We’ve talked before about the preparations between the listing appointment and your home going on the market, but what about the preparations you can be doing before ever deciding which agent you’ll be selling your home with? Enter the French phrase mise en place.
Selling Your Home – Mise en Place
Mise en place is a French phrase used to describe the act of preparing all of the ingredients for a meal before you start cooking. You’ve seen the photos before – the tiny bowls or plates filled with chopped ingredients, the various spices at the ready, utensils laid out, and all the pieces that will make the meal prepped so that the act of cooking is almost artful in its smooth, fluid movements instead of the haphazard method where you usually find yourself digging in the pantry for something as the water in a pot boils over and something starts to send smoke signals skyward as you leave it unattended. Mise en place means to “set in place” and it’s all about the act of getting prepared so that once you start cooking, everything is in its place and ready to go. It’s like the Boy Scouts motto – be prepared.
Selling your home is a bit different than cooking a meal, but in essence, the same rules apply. Prepare, take action, and enjoy the final outcome. It’s the preparation that sets the stage for everything that follows and a little work now, goes a long way in the future.
Before Your Listing Appointment
Before you meet with a real estate agent, there are some items you should prepare – the mise en place to selling your home. Having these items ready before your place your home on the market will help you sell your home fast and assist the agent during the appointment and once the home is listed for sale. Here are the items you should start preparing now, so that your agent can get your home on the market and sold.
Mortgage statement – You should actually pull this one out the moment you think about selling your home. Why? How much you have left on your mortgage until it’s paid off is an important number. Most mortgage statements don’t have a mortgage payoff amount on them, but they always have a number to call to receive one. Usually an automated system, calling this number will give you a loan payoff amount and a date that it’s good through. If you give this number to your real estate agent, they can calculate out a net sheet that will help you see how much you will make when you sell the house. Don’t forget that if you have a second mortgage or any home equity credit lines or loans, you’ll need the payoff numbers for those as well.
Documents from when you bought the house – When you bought the house, you were given a lot of documents and now is a great time to go digging in the attic or garage to find where you put those. Finding these can help you save money on the sale of your home as well as help in the process of buyers making a decision about buying your home.
- Survey – If you have a prior survey from when you bought the home, you may be able to use it again (which could save you money). This document, along with a T-47, can be provided to satisfy the survey requirement in the contract. It is up to the title company and lender to accept it, but as long as they do, you can avoid having to pay for a new one (on a typical house in San Antonio they cost between $400-500, but with larger homes or acreage, they can cost thousands of dollars).
- HOA documents – If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, you should have a large stack of paperwork collectively known as the HOA docs. While these expire over time and you’ll need to get new ones when the home is under contract, these documents can have some important information in them. The section we are looking for is the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (often simply called the CCRs). Many prospective buyers will ask about these documents because they want to know what they can or can’t do on the property. If you live in a neighborhood without an HOA, you should still have a copy of any of these documents relative to the neighborhood or area you live in. These are especially important if your selling land as potential buyers will want to know what they can build on the land.
Power of attorney – If you have power of attorney related to the home, you’ll want to find your copy of these documents as they serve as proof that you are the one who can sign any documents pertaining to the listing or sale of the home. We see these often here in San Antonio because of the military, where the spouse is deployed, leaving the other spouse to sign for the military member. These also apply to you if you are an executor of an estate.
Inspections and insurance claims – If you’ve had any inspections on the home or made a claim on your homeowners insurance, you’ll want to have those handy as well. These will help document any issues with the home and what you’ve done to rectify them.
Invoices, receipts, and upgrades – If you’ve done any work on the home, dig up those receipts and invoices so that you’ll be able to document the work and the money you put into it. You rarely get a dollar for dollar return on the investment for upgrades and remodeling, but it will go a long way to help justify your asking price.
Now that you have your mise en place, you’re ready to list your home. There may be some additional documents you have or need, so it’s always a good idea to have all the paperwork you’ve pulled out of the closet somewhere handy during your listing appointment. Your real estate agent will advise you on what else might be needed or helpful. Preparing everything before selling your home will make the process flow much smoother as well as help you and your agent answer any questions potential buyers might have. Being able to answer those questions can be the difference between a buyer making an offer or not, so being prepared goes a long way.