Before sale sign goes up

For Sale

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Once upon a time, when the housing market was cruising in overdrive, folks could sell their house even when it was in disrepair. Or dirty. Or even overpriced.

Those mile-a-minute days are a memory now. In their place stands a battle-toughened market, and a heightened sense that sellers must now do more, try more, work more to get a contract signed.

That’s especially true as peak season for home sales approaches; families typically work to find a springtime deal that will allow a summer move. Sellers who have done their homework — literally – will get out of the gate ahead of rivals, real estate professionals say.

Proper preparations demand far more than a coat of paint or a cleanup, but are also far more financially rewarding when the deal is done.

All brokers are not equal

How should you hire a broker? Very methodically, as it turns out.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends speaking with a minimum of two or three candidates from different agencies, asking each the same questions: How long have you sold homes, and for how long in this area? What’s your commission, and how would you market my house? Will you coordinate meetings with buyers? Can you give me some names and numbers of your past clients?

Consumer Reports recommends visiting candidates’ open houses to see how well they pull things together. How’s their manner? Their presentation? Even their breath?

Be realistic about asking price

Remember all those news stories about how real estate prices have fallen? So will potential buyers.
Be realistic about pricing your home, because if it’s listed too high, it very likely won’t sell — even if you lower the price later, Realtors say.

“The price that you introduce to the brokerage community initially is the one that’s going to stick in their head,” said Steve Storti, senior vice president of marketing for Prudential Fox & Roach. “It’s a killer, because it chills the agents from showing your house.”

Ask your Realtor for a market report showing what similar houses have sold for. Visit open houses in your price range to see what you’re up against. Check websites like Zillow and HomeGain for comparisons.

In the end, it will pay. Research by the Keller Williams real estate firm shows that sellers who listed their home at the price the agent originally recommended sold the home 38 days faster. Buyers don’t think solely about total price. Sellers can increase their deal’s appeal by offering to cover part of the closing costs — an especially attractive extra for first-time buyers.

Or, consider offering a warranty against problems with certain systems and appliances for the first year. Warranties range from from $250 to around $400, according to Consumer Reports, which recommends warranty firms such as American Home Shield and First American Home Buyers Protection Corp.

Inspection report can be a help

Buyers frequently hire home inspectors to check over homes before closing — but it’s something that can benefit sellers too.

With a home inspection report in hand, sellers can target key problem spots for repair. Later on, when open house days arrive, potential buyers will feel more at ease seeing that glowing inspection report — along with receipts for any repairs — on the dining room table.

It’s obvious things should be fixed up and cleaned up before those potential buyers start rolling in. It’s not always obvious to sellers how to “stage” their home so that it shows in the best light.

“I think people are very surprised when they hear all the things that need to be done,” said Theresa Vallier Minichiello, who owns Stage Right! Home Staging in Hockessin. “They can’t understand the necessity of making an investment in a house they’re getting ready to sell.”

Staging professionals are often willing to charge only for how much help you can afford — so long as you’re willing to take on the remainder of work yourself. “It doesn’t have to be this huge financial investment. If people will invest their time, they’re not going to have to invest their money,” she said.

A consultation with Minichiello is $199, and she says a full staging averages about $1,500. In her field, she said, one fact holds true: The cost of staging your home will always be less than the price reduction that would be needed without it.

Just because your house is listed doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait. Stay active in the sales process — promote the house through online social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

And keep an eye on the listing — a photo showing your home nestled in a foot of snow may imply it has languished on the market to buyers who see it in the summer.

Once you’ve managed the process as well as you can, go away — the last thing buyers will want to do is tour your house with you and your family in it.

Open Houses: Saturday and Sunday, August 3-4, 2013

There are many, many open houses this weekend!!! The following properties will be holding open houses in the Brandywine Hundred, North Wilmington, Newark, Hockessin, Pike Creek, Newark, Bear, and Middletown, Delaware areas on Saturday and Sunday, August 3-4, 2013:

Can’t make the open house? No problem! Contact Brian Doreste today at 302-753-6398 to schedule your own private showing.

The most current open house list for New Castle County, Delaware can always be found at:, and is usually published every Thursday morning.

6248408 $339,900 423 Terra Dr Newark DE Adams Run
6154020 $799,000 4607 Beechwold Ave Wilmington DE Beechwold
6255237 $325,000 1502 Spring Ln Wilmington DE Bellevue Manor
6254223 $121,500 3801 Haley Ct Wilmington DE Birch Pointe
6205820 $409,900 1603 Shipley Rd Wilmington DE Boulder Brook
6222988 $315,000 2642 Majestic Dr Wilmington DE Brandywood
6243686 $322,500 2616 Marhill Dr Wilmington DE Brandywood
6257427 $435,000 2406 Pennington Dr Wilmington DE Brandywood
6236240 $269,900 29 Kelly Dr Bear DE Brennan Estates
6240669 $169,900 10 Mercer Dr Newark DE Brookside
6241634 $358,853 8 Steffie Dr Bear DE Caravel Hunt
6256248 $214,900 2611 Madison Ave Claymont DE Claymont Hgts
6158976 $249,899 4 Pebble Pl Newark DE Cooches Bridge Far
6123584 $299,990 1307 W 10th St Wilmington DE Cool Spring
6252009 $195,000 212 Jefferson Ave Delaware City DE Delaware City
6204046 $209,900 2401 Pennsylvania Ave 802 Wilmington DE Devon
6228979 $309,900 3325 Rockfield Dr Wilmington DE Devonshire
6256936 $345,000 916 Benalli Dr Middletown DE Dove Run
6233271 $240,000 18 Holt Rd Newark DE Drummond Hill
6249807 $155,000 416 Anderson Dr New Castle DE Dunleith
6249818 $155,000 110 Bunche Blvd New Castle DE Dunleith
6194486 $164,900 221 Pavin Ct Newark DE Eagle Trace
6245142 $499,900 702 Mount Lebanon Rd Wilmington DE Edenridge
6256763 $229,000 28 Edgebrooke Way Newark DE Edgebrooke
6220274 $189,900 38 Millbrook Rd Newark DE Fireside Park
6256973 $289,750 234 E Flagstone Dr Newark DE Gray Acres
6244151 $172,000 20 E Green Valley Cir Newark DE Green Valley
6245691 $274,900 2515 Bryan Dr Wilmington DE Heritage Park
6239517 $220,000 26 Colefax Ct Wilmington DE Hershey Run
6257393 $298,310 537 Cabot Dr Hockessin DE Hickory Hill
6186356 $224,999 2403 Ivanhoe Ln Wilmington DE Limestone Acres
6222974 $240,000 2412 Twist Ln Wilmington DE Limestone Gardens
6215263 $75,000 409 N Scott St Wilmington DE Little Italy
6255737 $309,900 14 Carly Ct Bear DE Mansion Farms
6240369 $350,000 116 Portside Ct Bear DE Mariners Watch
6255308 $254,900 104 Mcdaniel Ave Wilmington DE McDaniel Heights
6249352 $259,900 9 Mcmechem Ct Newark DE Meeting House Hill
6150879 $220,000 717 Observatory Dr Bear DE Meridian Crossing
6257027 $329,800 12 Tennyson Ct Middletown DE Middletown Crossing
6212194 $350,000 2126 Old Kirkwood Rd Bear DE None Available
6213070 $399,900 215 Weldin Ln Wilmington DE North Hills
6177349 $299,900 38 E 5th St New Castle DE Old New Castle
6241868 $95,000 3121 W Court Ave Claymont DE Overlook Colony
6237225 $183,000 18 Hibiscus Dr Newark DE Perch Creek
6249964 $424,900 9 Loblolly Ct Hockessin DE Southwood
6251828 $249,900 34 Walker Dr New Castle DE Springfields
6256864 $439,000 1 Chase Ln Middletown DE Sugar Loaf Chase
6257806 $479,000 3308 Coachman Rd Wilmington DE Surrey Park
6248233 $384,900 211 Casper Way Middletown DE The Legends
6252018 $279,900 1911 N Franklin St Wilmington DE Triangle
6256610 $209,900 14 Casimir Ct New Castle DE Van Dyke Vill
6254284 $324,000 412 Cicero Cs Middletown DE Village of Bayberry
6253645 $300,000 301 N Twin Lakes Blvd Newark DE Village of Twin Lake
6142445 $189,900 721 W 12th St New Castle DE Washington Park
6247536 $97,000 511 W 9th St New Castle DE Washington Square
6252555 $148,000 1103 Gray Ct New Castle DE Washington Square
6162238 $439,900 1409 Belvoir Cir Wilmington DE Weldin Park
6250872 $334,900 815 Grande Ln Hockessin DE White Briar
6250701 $94,000 506 W 25th St Wilmington DE Wilm #03
6229330 $129,900 2400 Baynard Blvd 8 Wilmington DE Wilm #04
6201008 $412,000 1106 N Broom St Wilmington DE Wilm #14
6249446 $215,000 704 Woodlawn Ave Wilmington DE Wilm #24
6211578 $625,000 525 Black Gates Rd Wilmington DE Woodbrook
6129982 $214,900 1121 Wagoner Dr Wilmington DE Woodland Hts
6228068 $273,000 523 Saienni Blvd New Castle DE Wynthorpe

Come out and see these houses this weekend!