Christina T. Allen
Real Estate Broker
408.234.3306 Mobile
Signature Realty
20440 Town Center Lane, 4D1
Cupertino, CA 95014
408.253.5151   FAX

Christina Allen 





Los Gatos Weekly-Times

    July 28, 2004  Los Gatos, California Since 1881

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Clean house, disclosure keys for home sellers

By Jean Newton

Selling a home is a multifaceted process that goes beyond just getting the property in shape, holding an open house or placing advertising in the newspaper. When it comes to marketing and important disclosure information, Realtors provide the behind-the-scenes skills and knowledge to ensure a seamless transaction.

Real estate professionals agree one of the first steps in marketing a home is to make sure the property is in the best shape possible. Broker/owner Francine Nelson of Realty World RESA in Cupertino offers several tips to sellers to make a property shine.

"The most important thing is clean. Clean everything, including the windows and screens. Replace screens and cracked windows if necessary. All closets and cabinets should be clean and well-organized, leaving some space. Clean all light fixtures and replace bulbs as needed. Don't forget to clean the water-heater closet," Nelson said.

Nelson advises her clients to get rid of clutter by clearing crowded spaces, putting away all personal photos and taking everything off the refrigerator and counters. The garage should be empty even if getting it that way means renting a storage place.

Nelson also recommends new carpet, linoleum, new plugs, switches, wall plates, doorknobs and paint. The front door should be cleaned and painted or varnished and have new hardware. The exterior of the house and patios and walkways should be power washed. Bathrooms, bathtubs and the kitchen sink may need grouting and new faucets.

"Make sure every system and appliance works and have the heater and air conditioner serviced. It is amazing the difference that a few repairs will make, and your home will sell fast," Nelson said.

In addition to getting the property ready, Christina Allen, broker/owner of Signature Realty in Cupertino, views the disclosure process as an integral part of marketing a home for sale.

"While most people don't think of disclosures as marketing, we think that anything that promotes the sale of our client's property constitutes marketing. We advise our clients on their responsibilities for disclosures and work with them to provide all the necessary disclosers up front. We strongly recommend our clients perform inspections ahead of time and set the selling price correctly to reflect the condition of the house," Allen said.

A full and complete disclosure package answers buyers' questions and sometimes prevents unnecessary and irrelevant questions and concerns from reducing a buyer's interest in a property, said Allen. Since disclosure is required by law, Allen encourages her clients to provide it upfront, because it demonstrates a forthright attitude to buyers and their agent.

"Having the disclosure available at the beginning means that the known issues will be addressed. This allows the seller to confidently explain that the price reflects the condition of the house including the conditions in the disclosure. Buyers appreciate having the disclosure before they make an offer because they are more comfortable knowing what they are making an offer on. If they desire to have additional inspections, they still can," Allen said.

Realtor Susan Tilling with Coldwell Banker in Menlo Park said many sellers do not understand the many facets of the real estate transaction or know what to expect from an agent.

"My guess is that the average seller doesn't know half of what a thorough, conscientious agent does for them by enhancing their liability protection in the process of getting the home exposed to the market and sold at the highest price," Tilling said. "Misrepresentation of facts, whether inadvertent or deliberate, can cause problems during a transaction or escrow, or worse yet, can cause legal problems down the line."

Tilling said sellers should expect but don't often know about the following tasks provided by a Realtor:

Assistance in completely and honestly filling out the disclosure. In the long run, disclosures that omit nothing serve as a legal protection for the seller. Instead of handing the disclosure over to the seller and telling the seller to fill out the forms, the agent should sit down and really discuss the issues.

Follow-up and understanding of issues raised in various reports. For instance, what does the zoning really mean and what does it allow? If a property is identified as "in a flood zone," perhaps only a tiny portion of the land is in the flood zone. The agent should make the phone calls to the right agencies to clarify any questions.

Thoroughness at all times. Agents read the preliminary title report when it arrives and sellers rarely do. They look for title issues that could cause trouble later on. If it's a condominium purchase, the agent will review the condo development papers. As a result, an agent may find an amendment that, for example, may have disallowed pets, which were initially allowed.

Taking the time and trouble to independently verify facts. Although the MLS printout of recent sales provides some useful information, an agent should check the facts. With school districts, for instance, it may be assumed that a house across the street in the same block belongs to the same school district. Even the owners may not know because their children may have gone to a different school than the one now assigned to the property. A prudent agent will take the time to call the school district to check.

Professional Realtors provide extensive services to their clients when marketing a home. Many of these services may not be apparent at first glance, but understanding what to expect will help sellers choose the right agent to work for them.

Copyright SVCN, LLC.



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