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October 23, 2010

If you are thinking of selling your Los Gatos, Monte Sereno or Silicon Valley area home sometime in the new year, how soon should you really start to address this project? A real estate agent can have listing paperwork signed by a homeowner and put the house on the market (and on the MLS) within a couple of hours. But that’s not usually the best way to proceed.

It’s ideal if you can “hit the ground running” so that the day your home goes onto the multiple listing service, everything is in place and you’ve arrived at that day in an unhurried way if at all possible. When your home goes “live” and “on the market”, ideally the lockbox is on the house, the color flyers are ready, the disclosures are completed, the pre-sale inspections are done (and any corrections or improvements finished), the virtual tour online, etc. And perhaps most importantly, when your home is exposed to the pool of buyers, it needs to be staged – decluttered and spotless above all.

Getting Your Los Gatos or Silicon Valley Home Ready to Sell

(1) Decluttering is job # 1

Because few of us in Santa Clara County have basements, a lot of times our extra stuff ends up in the garage. It can be a magnet for not only holiday decorations, but boxes of unopened items from the last move and things that are on the “to deal with” list. Closets and cabinets can be similarly stuffed and all of these need to be fairly well thinned out for the purposes of showing and selling your house, townhouse or condo.

The weeding out process can take quite a while for some people. Take a look at your garage and then your closets and start a plan for what to do with all the items you seldom or never use. If you haven’t touched something in several years, it may be time to part with it.

Each situation is different, but some sellers need months to do this difficult process of thinning out possessions in the garage and closets. For some, it’s more acute and there are too many possessions everywhere (countertops, tables, desks – home offices can also attract too many items for the space).

Many people interview and hire their Realtor (ideally a Realtor since members of NAR adhere to a code of ethics that goes beyond what the law requires). before even beginning to declutter so that they can have some help in deciding what to keep available for showing. Sometimes, an item you seldom use might be good for staging – so it can be good to have the staging advice while going through things, too.

(2) Begin interviewing at least 6 – 8 weeks ahead of time

At least six or eight weeks ahead of when you’d like to be on the market, begin to interview for your real estate professional if you haven’t already done so before beginning to declutter. Allow enough time to meet, check the Dept of Real Estate’s website for the license status and check the agent’s marketing materials, web exposure, experience etc.

(3) Sign a listing agreement about a month ahead of time

About four weeks ahead of your desired to-market date is a good amount of time, an unhurried and comfortable amount of time, to sign the listing paperwork, order inspections, complete disclosures, finish staging, and get the photos and virtual tour and marketing & advertising pieces ready. (An exception is if you plan to do remodeling as part of the staging process. In that case, hire your agent sooner.) This allows you enough time to address any surprises that might come up in the pre-sale inspections so that you can better control the outcome of your sale.

Some people contact me years ahead of when they actually decide to sell. I once got a call from a woman who asked me to come right over and list her house (I had never met her before but she was close friends with a past client). These are the extremes. More often, people aren’t sure how their timetable will exactly pan out and they may start a dialogue with me about selling their home in Los Gatos, San Jose or Saratoga or elsewhere in Silicon Valley several months ahead of when they will actually do it. And that’s fine. Most real estate professionals will be happy to speak with you well in advance of when you actually sell because they want to establish a relationship with you so that when you do sell, they are “top of mind”. That’s certainly how I view it: I would like to be the go-to resource for home selling in Silicon Valley (especially in Los Gatos).

If you think that selling your home is years off, it’s not a bad idea to do research and start formulating a plan so you can do some of what’s needed at a relaxed pace.  On my Valley of Hearts Delight blog (Silicon Valley real estate blog), I have a lot of articles or posts which are “Selling Tips“. I invite you to read them!

Please call or email me if I can help you with your selling questions, whether for now or in the distant future. If you are planning to sell in early 2011, it is not to early to begin preparing now!  Home owners who chat with me also receive a complimentary copy of my book, “Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley“.

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