Selling Your Home

Making Improvements to Your Montclair Home? Save Your Receipts!

I just came across this article the other day and wanted to share it. Clients (past, present and future) regularly consult with me on how much value they may see in a home improvement project when they go to sell their home. The answer is often a double-edged sword, as I remind them that improvements that increase the value of a home can also increase the owner's tax liability.  Your capital gains tax liability (based on how much more your sale price is than your buying price was) is complex, but can often be offset by the cost of the improvements you made to your home while you owned it. My advice -- always -- is, whatever you do, save receipts.

I love when a reputable news source like the New York Times runs a piece like this, mostly because the information is so comprehensive - containing valuable links and answering almost every question that may come up.

For example, simply the listing of what we can deduct is very helpful: "...decks and patios; landscaping, including sprinkler systems; pools; a new roof or siding; insulation; and kitchen remodeling. Some smaller and perhaps surprising things are there, too: installation of utility services, which could include any fiber charges from Verizon for FiOS or money you paid to the person who hard-wired your Apple TV to your cable modem. Each additional electrical outlet should count, too. Also, you can add in many legal, title and recording fees (plus transfer and certain other taxes) from your closing."

I especially like the suggestion to photocopy "thermal receipts," as they can fade over time.

I'm always happy to answer questions about improvements, so please feel free to call upon me -- for all your real estate needs! 973-809-5277

The Montclair Real Estate Agent: A Seller's Not-So-Secret Weapon

Whether you are selling due to a job transfer, a newly empty nest, or a new baby, it's crucial to list your home with a local Realtor. Every local real estate market has its own unique culture; a Realtor unfamiliar with your area's customs and quirks and will be at a disadvantage.

For example, I deal often with Glen Ridge and Montclair real estate, so I am thoroughly knowledgeable about the Montclair real estate culture. Standard practices here include delaying showing a property until after the Realtor Open House, and holding a Public Open House on the Sunday after the Realtor Open House. We also generally use GSMLS (Garden State Multiple Listing Service) lockboxes, so that the owner does not have to be home for each showing. If a property garners multiple offers, these offers are typically due on the Tuesday or Wednesday after the Public Open House, and they are delivered to the seller's agency in a sealed envelope.

In my years as a Realtor, I have seen numerous houses sit unsold for months on end. Often, the homeowner has listed the property with an agent from another town, or even another county. Don't make this  mistake; only a Realtor from your community can present your home to its best advantage.


Glen Ridge Home For Sale: 5 Things You Never Want to Say to a Buyer

Your agent told you not to be present when your house is being shown - but somehow you end up in the same room with the prospective buyer.  Maybe you went out for coffee to give the buyer some privacy but came back to find that they were still there.  Perhaps you were gonna leave when the buyer got there but it started to rain cats and dogs so you thought  "I'll just stay out of their way in the basement" instead.

Whatever the case - it happens.  Sometimes the buyer and seller meet face to face.  And here's where you can really screw things up by saying the wrong thing. The 5 things you should never say to a buyer:

"This is a great neighborhood for kids" You don't know what the buyers' circumstances are.  Maybe they don't like kids. Perhaps they aren't planning to have kids.  It's possible they would like to have kids but can't.  You run the risk of offending them, making them sad or simply turning them off to the house. You also run the risk of violating federal fair housing laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of familial status.

"Let me show you the house"  This seems innocent enough.  You think you might be able to point out a few things that the buyer's agent missed, like the extra long nails you used to construct the deck.   This is all just noise and distraction for the buyer.  Allow the buyers to take in the house in a visual way, imaginging their own belongings in the house.  By talking too much or giving too much detail you will interfere with their ability to fall in love with your house.

"If you buy the house we'll throw in the BMW" You may be thinking it's a great incentive, but actually it can mess up your potentail buyer's chances for getting a mortgage.  A mortgage is a loan that uses real estate as collateral. If the lender believes some thing other than real estate (for instance a BMW) is being wrapped in to the loan they may not approve it.

"This is a very safe area"  First of all, why give the buyer even the slightest notion that he should be concerned about safety (don't point out your deluxe alarm system either).  Second, "safe" is a subjective term. It's difficult  to define this for someone else. The better thing to do is hand the buyer a piece of paper with the local police telephone number and encourage him to call for himself.

"We already bought another house "  You will be showing your hand and encouraging low offers.  This is akin to saying "I'm desperate to sell- I don't want to end up with two mortgages"  As a seller, you need to disclose any physical defect that you may know about in your house, but you don't need to disclose your motivation to sell.

How Not to Sell Your Montclair Home

For all homeowners tired of advice  from realtors on how to sell your home, here is something different--a list on how not to do so.

Ten Things Not to Do When Selling Your Montclair Home

1. Price your home with "room to negotiate." Sellers think that the more they ask for, the more they will get; study after study has shown that this is not the case. It is ultimately the buyer, not the seller, who decides the price. Pricing your home "slightly higher than what it's worth" will only serve to keep potential buyers from even looking at your house.

2. Take too long to respond to an offer. Potential buyers read a lot into your actions; they will think you are not interested in their offer and thus turn their attention to other prospects.

3. Refuse to counter a low-ball offer. You can't take it personally; this is a business transaction. Come down a little bit in your asking price just to keep a dialogue going. And if another offer happens to come in, you now have some leverage on both ends.

4. Follow buyers around, pointing out your house's charms. Buyers need to be able to visualize themselves and their belongings in your house. They need to make an emotional connection first; your chatter is a distraction.

5. Contact buyers directly. There are too many opportunities for miscommunication and misunderstanding if you do so. This is what real estate agents and lawyers are for.

6. Convince yourself that it's not worth painting the house because the buyers will want their own colors. This is a classic case of being penny-wise, pound-foolish. If your goal is to sell your house, remember that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. A neutral color and a fresh coat of paint are always best.

7. Refuse to address home inspection issues because your house is "as-is." If  problems such as mold, asbestos or termites are discovered during an inspection, the buyers will expect you to fix them; In this market, with so much inventory to choose from, buyers do not have to accept a house with major a safety issue. Moreover, once a problem is discovered, you are legally required to disclose it to all potential buyers in the future.

8. List your house as an "office exclusive." Unscrupulous agents may try to convince you that only the agents in their particular office are trustworthy; this is an attempt to keep other agents from getting the sale (and the commission). Obviously, the more agents trying to sell your house, the better - go with an agent who will "multiple list" your house.

9. Make your house difficult to show. Many homeowners are conflicted about selling, so they limit the days/hours that agents can get into their home. If agents can't show your house, they can't sell it.  Your house must be competitive not only in price and condition but also in ease of showing.

10. Try to conceal problems you know exist. First of all, this is fraud. Secondly, whatever the problem is, it will ultimately be found. A freshly-painted basement, for example, immediately suggests to a home inspector an attempt to cover up water damage.