Seller Guide

Selling your property involves a seemingly endless number of details. This guide is designed to make the process easier to navigate and understand. We hope it serves as a valuable reference, from hiring a realtor® to handing over the keys.
2. PREPARING YOUR PROPERTY

 
Thank you for listing your property with Lance Vermeulen Real Estate. We appreciate your entrusting us with your most precious asset. Now it’s time to prepare it for market.
 
Our goal is clear: To sell your property as quickly as possible, and at the best possible price. We’ve designed a process that gives us the best chance of doing just that. The time and attention required are not insignificant, but we have found it’s well worth the effort. It can take a few days to a few weeks to complete this process. Selling your property is a collaborative effort—let’s do this!

 

 

EVALUATING & STAGING

We begin by evaluating your property—inside and out—with fresh eyes. Let’s evaluate it the way a buyer would. Buyers make a gut judgement within seconds of seeing a property—even if they’re seeing it online! Trite but true: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Below are a few crucial steps to prepare your property for market.

 

CURB APPEAL

Give your home as much curb appeal as you can. Is it as welcoming as it can be? Consider the following:

  • Front door – Front door is a key focus. Make sure there’s a clear path to it. Repair or repaint if needed. Ditto for all doors—the front of the house is typically highlighted in photographs, while at showings buyers will scrutinize every entry.
  • Siding – Does it need paint, repair, power washing?
  • Gutters – Do they need cleaning or repair?
  • Landscaping – Trim trees/bushes (inspectors don’t like contact between trees/bushes and the house); weed, plant and mulch flower beds; mow lawn.
  • Hardscaping – Make sure driveway, walkways, steps, porches, decks and patios are in good repair.
  • Details – Do lampposts/lighting, fences, mailboxes and house numbers need attention?

 

STAGING INTERIORS

Whether you’re living in your home or it is empty, carefully preparing your property for sale pays off. Research shows that a well-staged home sells more quickly and for a higher price. Also, buyers tend to overlook imperfections when the home is staged. Which of the following do you need to do?

  • Make repairs and updates, including painting
  • Neutralize – make it easy for buyers to imagine themselves living in the home
  • Declutter. Sort, throw out or donate unwanted items, begin to pack. (Get a jump on your move; consider renting a storage unit if needed.)
  • Clean house and wash windows
  • Arrange furniture, define spaces, create optimal flow
  • Remove and replace any fixtures you wish to exclude from the sale

Remember, staging principles don’t only apply to living spaces—they apply to closets, pantries, attics, basements and garages, too. All these spaces will need to be empty and broom clean at closing, so make sure they’re on your radar.
 
We are happy to get together and create a list of staging suggestions. If the home is empty, consider hiring a professional to stage at least a couple of primary spaces. We can refer you to one of the professional stagers in our portfolio.

 

 

STAGING OUTDOOR SPACES

Don’t underestimate the impact staging your outdoor spaces can have on the sale of your home. Porches, decks and patios are living spaces, too. Staging them creates appeal, extends your home and connects it to the outdoors. Here’s a to-do list for staging outdoor spaces:

  • Ask yourself: Is the area best used for relaxing, entertaining or dining?
  • Prune any bushes or overhanging branches.
  • Sweep, power wash and re-stain any decking if needed.
  • Weed and mulch surrounding flower beds.
  • Assess the condition of your outdoor furniture, and replace if needed.
  • Use area rugs, pillows, flower pots and hanging plants to soften and accent the space.
  • Consider string lights, hurricane lamps, candles, or other decorative lighting to create night-time appeal.
  • Water features can create serenity and mask unwanted sounds.
 Fire features can add drama, ambiance, and warmth.
  • Finally, make sure you can easily move through the space.

 

PREPARING THE BASEMENT

With all the attention on upstairs and outside, it’s easy to forget the basement. Is your basement clean and passable or is it a hazardous dungeon? When you anticipate what buyers will find and make repairs accordingly, you will not only impress your buyer but also avoid difficult negotiations that can derail a deal. Plus, you’ll probably save money in the long run. Here’s a list to guide you in preparing the basement:

  • Make sure all lightbulbs work.
  • Sweep away cobwebs, so buyers can walk through easily.
  • Clear out as much stuff as you can.
  • Secure falling insulation. Remove/replace if it’s deteriorated or mouse-infested.
  • Repair or replace broken or leaky windows.
  • Consider insulating doors between the bulkhead stairs and the basement. (It improves energy efficiency and adds value.)
  • Attend to any water infiltration issues. Buyers are most squeamish about water issues, or any trace of them. If you have a sump pump, make sure it is functioning well. Downspouts should be intact, and direct water 6 feet away from the foundation. Make sure bulkhead doors are leak-free and in good condition. If there are any foundation cracks or grading issues that support water infiltration, it pays to attend to them before you list the property.
  • Utilize a dehumidifier to keep moisture levels in check.
  • Wipe down your boiler/furnace and other mechanicals.
  • For dirt basements, consider installing gravel and vapor barrier.
  • For basements with asbestos-wrapped pipes, consider having asbestos professionally removed.
  • Consider pest management, including sealing your home from critters.

 

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

Here are some additional details we recommend you consider as you prepare to list your property.
 

INCLUDING PERSONAL PROPERTY IN THE SALE

If you are interested in selling furnishings, lawn mowers, etc. to a potential buyer, we can communicate that. However, personal property must be distinguished from real estate. It should not be mentioned in the P&S contract, particularly if the buyer is getting financing, because the buyer’s loan is being approved for real property only. Any items will be listed in a separate agreement.

 

TITLE 5

Title 5 is the part of the Massachusetts State Environmental Code that regulates private septic systems. A Title 5 or a Certificate of Compliance for a newly installed septic system is required for most closings. If you don’t already have a passing Title 5 report on hand, you will need to hire a licensed excavator to inspect the septic system. Typical cost for the inspection is between $800-1000.

You can wait until you have an offer, but we recommend you get your septic system inspected when you list, if possible. Why? First, a passing Title 5 is a selling point to buyers. Second, septic issues are more difficult to deal with in the winter. You don’t want to lose or postpone your sale due to weather-related septic delays. Third, mentally and emotionally, it’s ideal to know whether a costly new septic system is required before you’re faced with an offer, so you can thoughtfully negotiate the sale. Negotiations are tricky enough without septic system issues!
 
The system will either pass, pass with conditions, or fail. If the system is given a conditional pass, this means it requires some relatively minor repairs. You will receive the passing report after you complete the repairs.
 
If the system fails, you can try to sell the property as is. But it is very unlikely a buyer will be willing or able to purchase the property without a new system. Few banks will approve a mortgage on a property with a failed Title 5. That said, in some rare cases, careful provisions can be put in the contract for the buyer to install a new system, usually involving an escrow of 150% of the estimated cost.
 
Whether or not you sell the property, the law requires you to bring the septic system into compliance within two years.
 
If you are unable or unwilling to install a new septic system, we suggest you at least begin the process. Get perc tests, engage an engineer to design a new system, and get bids for the installation. At minimum, this gives you the information you need to give a potential buyer, increasing your chance of a successful sale.

 

TOWN SEWER

If you are in an older home on town sewer, you may want to have the sewer lines scoped to make sure your pipes are not deteriorated, and have not been damaged by tree roots. Again, this gives you the chance to eliminate this potential deal breaker before it comes to the buyer’s attention.

 

SELLER’S INSPECTION

You may choose to get a home inspection prior to listing your property. This gives you the opportunity to repair or improve defects, so they don’t derail the deal when a buyer discovers them. Even if you decide not to take action, it prepares you for the buyer’s inspection. Be aware, the buyer’s inspector may find different issues than yours did and that your REALTOR® must disclose known defects to potential buyers.
 
A positive byproduct of a preemptory inspection is that if you discover health or safety hazards that are currently affecting you and your family, you can address them.

 

ELEVATION CERTIFICATE

An Elevation Certificate (EC) determines flood risk and the cost of flood insurance. It documents the elevation of a dwelling compared to the estimated height floodwaters will reach in a major flood. Do you currently carry flood insurance? Is your property in a high-risk area for flooding? Because FEMA flood maps are periodically updated, even if you don’t currently have coverage, your buyer may be required to. The buyer’s insurance agent will likely need an EC to determine their flood insurance premium. It can cost hundreds of dollars, and take weeks to acquire, so by commissioning an EC now, you avoid potential delays once you have a buyer. Here is a link to more information >>

 

BURIED OIL TANKS

Are you aware of any buried oil tanks on your property? If there is one, any buyer will request that you have it professionally removed, and test the soil to ensure no contamination occurred (as per Massachusetts regulations). Of course, if listing the property has brought a buried oil tank to your attention, for your own safety, and to safeguard the value of your property, you’ll want to attend to this immediately.

 

WOOD/PELLET STOVE PERMITS

At closing you will be asked to deliver permits for any wood, gas, pellet stove and/or outdoor wood-burning furnace. If you don’t have a permit, consult the building inspector to see whether your installation can be permitted. (Stoves that are not UL-listed are simply too old to be permitted.) If you can’t get a permit, we will disclose this to potential buyers, and you will disconnect the unit before closing. This puts the liability for connecting and operating the stove on the buyer.

 

Guides written by Barney Stein,

LVRE agent since 2007

2. PREPARING YOUR PROPERTY

 
Thank you for listing your property with Lance Vermeulen Real Estate. We appreciate your entrusting us with your most precious asset. Now it’s time to prepare it for market.
 
Our goal is clear: To sell your property as quickly as possible, and at the best possible price. We’ve designed a process that gives us the best chance of doing just that. The time and attention required are not insignificant, but we have found it’s well worth the effort. It can take a few days to a few weeks to complete this process. Selling your property is a collaborative effort—let’s do this!

 

 

EVALUATING & STAGING

We begin by evaluating your property—inside and out—with fresh eyes. Let’s evaluate it the way a buyer would. Buyers make a gut judgement within seconds of seeing a property—even if they’re seeing it online! Trite but true: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Below are a few crucial steps to prepare your property for market.

 

CURB APPEAL

Give your home as much curb appeal as you can. Is it as welcoming as it can be? Consider the following:

  • Front door – Front door is a key focus. Make sure there’s a clear path to it. Repair or repaint if needed. Ditto for all doors—the front of the house is typically highlighted in photographs, while at showings buyers will scrutinize every entry.
  • Siding – Does it need paint, repair, power washing?
  • Gutters – Do they need cleaning or repair?
  • Landscaping – Trim trees/bushes (inspectors don’t like contact between trees/bushes and the house); weed, plant and mulch flower beds; mow lawn.
  • Hardscaping – Make sure driveway, walkways, steps, porches, decks and patios are in good repair.
  • Details – Do lampposts/lighting, fences, mailboxes and house numbers need attention?

 

STAGING INTERIORS

Whether you’re living in your home or it is empty, carefully preparing your property for sale pays off. Research shows that a well-staged home sells more quickly and for a higher price. Also, buyers tend to overlook imperfections when the home is staged. Which of the following do you need to do?

  • Make repairs and updates, including painting
  • Neutralize – make it easy for buyers to imagine themselves living in the home
  • Declutter. Sort, throw out or donate unwanted items, begin to pack. (Get a jump on your move; consider renting a storage unit if needed.)
  • Clean house and wash windows
  • Arrange furniture, define spaces, create optimal flow
  • Remove and replace any fixtures you wish to exclude from the sale

Remember, staging principles don’t only apply to living spaces—they apply to closets, pantries, attics, basements and garages, too. All these spaces will need to be empty and broom clean at closing, so make sure they’re on your radar.
 
We are happy to get together and create a list of staging suggestions. If the home is empty, consider hiring a professional to stage at least a couple of primary spaces. We can refer you to one of the professional stagers in our portfolio.

 

 

STAGING OUTDOOR SPACES

Don’t underestimate the impact staging your outdoor spaces can have on the sale of your home. Porches, decks and patios are living spaces, too. Staging them creates appeal, extends your home and connects it to the outdoors. Here’s a to-do list for staging outdoor spaces:

  • Ask yourself: Is the area best used for relaxing, entertaining or dining?
  • Prune any bushes or overhanging branches.
  • Sweep, power wash and re-stain any decking if needed.
  • Weed and mulch surrounding flower beds.
  • Assess the condition of your outdoor furniture, and replace if needed.
  • Use area rugs, pillows, flower pots and hanging plants to soften and accent the space.
  • Consider string lights, hurricane lamps, candles, or other decorative lighting to create night-time appeal.
  • Water features can create serenity and mask unwanted sounds.
 Fire features can add drama, ambiance, and warmth.
  • Finally, make sure you can easily move through the space.

 

PREPARING THE BASEMENT

With all the attention on upstairs and outside, it’s easy to forget the basement. Is your basement clean and passable or is it a hazardous dungeon? When you anticipate what buyers will find and make repairs accordingly, you will not only impress your buyer but also avoid difficult negotiations that can derail a deal. Plus, you’ll probably save money in the long run. Here’s a list to guide you in preparing the basement:

  • Make sure all lightbulbs work.
  • Sweep away cobwebs, so buyers can walk through easily.
  • Clear out as much stuff as you can.
  • Secure falling insulation. Remove/replace if it’s deteriorated or mouse-infested.
  • Repair or replace broken or leaky windows.
  • Consider insulating doors between the bulkhead stairs and the basement. (It improves energy efficiency and adds value.)
  • Attend to any water infiltration issues. Buyers are most squeamish about water issues, or any trace of them. If you have a sump pump, make sure it is functioning well. Downspouts should be intact, and direct water 6 feet away from the foundation. Make sure bulkhead doors are leak-free and in good condition. If there are any foundation cracks or grading issues that support water infiltration, it pays to attend to them before you list the property.
  • Utilize a dehumidifier to keep moisture levels in check.
  • Wipe down your boiler/furnace and other mechanicals.
  • For dirt basements, consider installing gravel and vapor barrier.
  • For basements with asbestos-wrapped pipes, consider having asbestos professionally removed.
  • Consider pest management, including sealing your home from critters.

 

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

Here are some additional details we recommend you consider as you prepare to list your property.
 

INCLUDING PERSONAL PROPERTY IN THE SALE

If you are interested in selling furnishings, lawn mowers, etc. to a potential buyer, we can communicate that. However, personal property must be distinguished from real estate. It should not be mentioned in the P&S contract, particularly if the buyer is getting financing, because the buyer’s loan is being approved for real property only. Any items will be listed in a separate agreement.

 

TITLE 5

Title 5 is the part of the Massachusetts State Environmental Code that regulates private septic systems. A Title 5 or a Certificate of Compliance for a newly installed septic system is required for most closings. If you don’t already have a passing Title 5 report on hand, you will need to hire a licensed excavator to inspect the septic system. Typical cost for the inspection is between $800-1000.

You can wait until you have an offer, but we recommend you get your septic system inspected when you list, if possible. Why? First, a passing Title 5 is a selling point to buyers. Second, septic issues are more difficult to deal with in the winter. You don’t want to lose or postpone your sale due to weather-related septic delays. Third, mentally and emotionally, it’s ideal to know whether a costly new septic system is required before you’re faced with an offer, so you can thoughtfully negotiate the sale. Negotiations are tricky enough without septic system issues!
 
The system will either pass, pass with conditions, or fail. If the system is given a conditional pass, this means it requires some relatively minor repairs. You will receive the passing report after you complete the repairs.
 
If the system fails, you can try to sell the property as is. But it is very unlikely a buyer will be willing or able to purchase the property without a new system. Few banks will approve a mortgage on a property with a failed Title 5. That said, in some rare cases, careful provisions can be put in the contract for the buyer to install a new system, usually involving an escrow of 150% of the estimated cost.
 
Whether or not you sell the property, the law requires you to bring the septic system into compliance within two years.
 
If you are unable or unwilling to install a new septic system, we suggest you at least begin the process. Get perc tests, engage an engineer to design a new system, and get bids for the installation. At minimum, this gives you the information you need to give a potential buyer, increasing your chance of a successful sale.

 

TOWN SEWER

If you are in an older home on town sewer, you may want to have the sewer lines scoped to make sure your pipes are not deteriorated, and have not been damaged by tree roots. Again, this gives you the chance to eliminate this potential deal breaker before it comes to the buyer’s attention.

 

SELLER’S INSPECTION

You may choose to get a home inspection prior to listing your property. This gives you the opportunity to repair or improve defects, so they don’t derail the deal when a buyer discovers them. Even if you decide not to take action, it prepares you for the buyer’s inspection. Be aware, the buyer’s inspector may find different issues than yours did and that your REALTOR® must disclose known defects to potential buyers.
 
A positive byproduct of a preemptory inspection is that if you discover health or safety hazards that are currently affecting you and your family, you can address them.

 

ELEVATION CERTIFICATE

An Elevation Certificate (EC) determines flood risk and the cost of flood insurance. It documents the elevation of a dwelling compared to the estimated height floodwaters will reach in a major flood. Do you currently carry flood insurance? Is your property in a high-risk area for flooding? Because FEMA flood maps are periodically updated, even if you don’t currently have coverage, your buyer may be required to. The buyer’s insurance agent will likely need an EC to determine their flood insurance premium. It can cost hundreds of dollars, and take weeks to acquire, so by commissioning an EC now, you avoid potential delays once you have a buyer. Here is a link to more information >>

 

BURIED OIL TANKS

Are you aware of any buried oil tanks on your property? If there is one, any buyer will request that you have it professionally removed, and test the soil to ensure no contamination occurred (as per Massachusetts regulations). Of course, if listing the property has brought a buried oil tank to your attention, for your own safety, and to safeguard the value of your property, you’ll want to attend to this immediately.

 

WOOD/PELLET STOVE PERMITS

At closing you will be asked to deliver permits for any wood, gas, pellet stove and/or outdoor wood-burning furnace. If you don’t have a permit, consult the building inspector to see whether your installation can be permitted. (Stoves that are not UL-listed are simply too old to be permitted.) If you can’t get a permit, we will disclose this to potential buyers, and you will disconnect the unit before closing. This puts the liability for connecting and operating the stove on the buyer.

 

Guides written by Barney Stein,

LVRE agent since 2007

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