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How to Sell an Inherited Property

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Losing a relative is hard enough, but there are many headaches when settling an estate. The biggest of these is deciding what to do with an inherited property. You can move into it, rent it out, or sell it. If you choose to sell, these steps can help you avoid pitfalls and other surprises.

Step 1: Get Through Probate

Probate is the official proving of a Will to verify it’s genuine. During probate, the estate is administered, and beneficiaries are named. If you are the sole inheritor of the property, you can sell it while in probate. You may want to discuss your options with your probate attorney first.

Step 2: Sort Through the Deceased’s Financing

Sadly, when you inherit a property, you inherit its debt as well. Run a title search to discover if the property still has a mortgage, owes taxes, has liens or bills. All these need to be satisfied, some before selling and others with proceeds from the sale.

Step 3: Hire a Real Estate Agent (Optional)

There is a lot to do when someone passes away. If you don’t have the time or ability to sell a property FSBO, you might hire an agent. An agent can list and market the property, schedule appointments, and handle buyer negotiations on your behalf. In return, you pay them 3% to 6% of the sale price.

The agent must reside in the same city as the property. This way, they can access the local MLS and are licensed to operate in that market.

Step 4: Clean Out Personal Belongings

It is an emotional challenge to sort through a loved one’s belongings. It takes time and often involves other family members. Set aside cherished mementos, then organize the remainder of stuff into piles – what to keep, what to sell, and what to toss.

By removing clutter and depersonalizing living spaces, you improve buyer impressions during a walkthrough. Buyers want to envision themselves living in the house but cannot do so with another owner’s belongings in sight.

Step 5: Perform Maintenance and Clean Often

Consider hiring a professional home inspector to identify issues with the property. Decide with your agent which problems cannot be overlooked and make repairs.

For as long as the property is on the market, it is good to perform monthly maintenance and cleaning. This keeps the property functional and appealing to visiting buyers.

Step 6: Review Insurance Policy

A vacant property is more susceptible to vandalism and break-ins. For this reason, the recommendation is for the beneficiary of the property to get a vacant home insurance policy. The policy stays in place till the property sells and covers most incidents.

Step 7: Set the Price

After repairs and cleaning, schedule an appraiser to value the property. They will give you a fair, more accurate idea of how much the property is worth than an online search.

Skip the Stress, Sell to an Investor

The loss of a relative is not easy. There is enough emotional stress without adding the sale of an inherited property. For this reason, you might consider selling it to an investor.

Most investors offer cash for properties “AS-IS”. You can forgo repairs, maintenance and cleaning, and even leave behind those belongings with less sentimental value. The investor will close on a date that is most convenient for you, giving you time to adjust and make arrangements.

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How to Sell a House in Probate?

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Are you going to inherit a property you cannot afford to keep? Is it in probate? Probate is a legal process by which the estate’s debts are settled. It also ensures all beneficiaries receive what is promised to them in the will.

You can reject your claim by signing a disclaimer of interest, but a property is not something you just set aside. It has value, and you can sell it, even in probate. There are strict sale procedures outlined by the probate court and real estate law in your area. You may want to check with these first, but here are the basic steps to sell a house in probate.

Step 1: Hire a Probate Attorney

A probate attorney advises you and helps prepare legal documents. They can represent you in probate court, sparing you the stress, and handle important matters involving title, insurance, and tax returns.

If you hope to sell, and the house is in good shape, a real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of probate can also help. They can evaluate the condition of the property and assess what needs to be done to make it sellable. They also recruit appraisers and inspectors and navigate buyer negotiations on your behalf.

Steps 2 and 3: Appraise Property, and File a Petition with Probate Court

To sell a property in probate, you must file a petition with the probate court. With your petition, you must also provide an appraisal that estimates the current value of the property. It is only with the court’s approval can you list the house on the market or auction it off.

Step 4: List for Sale

If you decide on an open market sale, offer buyers disclosure. You must disclose the house is in probate, all material issues, and that the purchase agreement is dependent on approval from the court. Waiting for court approval can add a month or more to the sale timeline; so will repairs and necessary upgrades.

If a buyer makes an offer, collect a 10% deposit from them.

Steps 5 and 6: Petition Court for a Hearing, and Advertise the Sale

Petition the court to confirm the sale. The court (or you) publicizes the date in local news to give others a chance to bid on the property. This is to get the best price for the estate, which helps if there are debts to pay.

Should someone outbid your prior prospective buyer, you will refund them their 10% deposit. The winner will present a cashier’s check for a deposit to the court. If the court accepts a buyer’s bid, their deposit applies to the purchase price.

Step 7: Close on the Sale

Only the executor or the court-appointed representative can sign real estate documents. This is on behalf of the deceased. Check the legal description of the property before the deed is recorded with the county.

Make sure the buyer’s financing is sufficient. The full amount goes into the estate fund, and once the debts are paid, the remainder of the funds is divided among the beneficiaries.

Step 8: Report Sale to IRS

You must pay capital gains taxes from the sale of an inherited property. The IRS taxes the difference between the fair market value and the price at sale.

For example, if the house is valued at $200,000, but you sell it for $250,000, you pay capital gains taxes on the $50,000.

There are ways around paying taxes, and you can ask your probate attorney for solutions.

Need to Sell Fast? Skip the Hassle

You can forgo some of these steps by selling the inherited property to an investor. Our investors have knowledge and experience buying real estate in probate. They will buy the house “as-is,” whether it is degraded, vacant, or mid-renovation, for cash.

They also pay all closing costs and fees associated with the sale. You choose the closing date, which can be as soon as you have the court’s approval of the investor’s offer.

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How to Improve Curb Appeal Before Selling a House

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Curb appeal makes the first impression as a buyer pulls up to your house. A beautiful outside accomplishes four things:

  • It sets the mood;
  • Invites people to see the inside of the house;
  • Increases home value; and
  • Makes it easier to sell.

Here are seven ways you can improve curb appeal before selling your house.

1. Upgrade Your Mailbox

If your mailbox is on the road, it loses appeal after so many years of direct sunlight, bad weather, and slow degradation. You can replace your mailbox for as little as $20. Just be mindful of city and community regulations when you put in a new mailbox.

2. Paint the Front Door

Painting your front door can add brightness and a pop of personality. A gallon of paint starts at $30. Choose a bold color that makes your house stand out and compliments the rest of the house colors.

3. Dress Up the Front Porch

The front stoop or porch connects your interior to the exterior and provides an additional living space. For this reason, you want to create a welcoming, functional entryway. Keep things symmetrical by placing identical lanterns or potted plants on both sides of the front steps. Install a porch swing or add outdoor furniture, which you can find cheap at antique or second-hand stores. Be sure to put out the “Welcome” mat too.

4. Replace Lighting

Lights make an entryway safe and appealing. When choosing light fixtures, make sure they match the style of your house and provide adequate brightness. You can also add accent lighting to trees or a walking path to increase curb appeal at night.

5. Landscape

Your front yard creates the bulk of curb appeal. Depending on the season you’re in, you may do more or less work. Springtime is often the best time to do serious landscaping, including pruning the bushes, weeding the beds, laying fresh mulch, and mowing the grass. Spring is also the best time to plant flowers to add some color to an otherwise green yard.

6. Pressure-wash

Power-wash the house siding, walkways, and driveway to remove dirt, grime, and mold. You will be delighted, maybe even surprised, to see the actual color of these surfaces once the stains are gone. Be mindful of caulking and the roof, though, since pressure-washing can cause damage.

7. Perform Maintenance

The outside of your house takes a beating. Storms and age make it deteriorate. Be sure to:

  • Replace broken fencing, railings, and cracked siding;
  • Stain the porch, clean windows, window screens, and gutters;
  • Inspect the roof too, and make repairs.

Instead of All This Work, Sell As-Is to an Investor

If you do not have the time to spruce, landscape, or make repairs, consider selling to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a house as-is. They do not mind if the front yard is overgrown or brown and dying. You can enjoy a quick closing and focus your time and energy on the curb appeal of your next house.

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How Much Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid? Fees House Sellers Should Know

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Real estate agent commissions take the biggest cut of your house sale. Is it worth it then to even hire an agent or realtor? Or should you sell your house for sale by owner (FSBO)? Here is a rundown of real estate agent fees to help you decide.

What Are You Paying a Real Estate Agent to Do?

Seller agents may do the following:

  • Assign a fair, accurate price to your house.
  • Market your house across the MLS, social media, and print marketing.
  • Schedule walkthroughs.
  • Advocate for you when dealing with house inspectors and appraisers.
  • Help negotiate terms of sale between you, the buyer, and buyer’s agent.

How Much Does a Real Estate Agent Get Paid?

An agent earns commission upon sale of the house. Typically, their cut is 6% of the sale price, though a recent survey shows the national average is 5.45%. This downward trend is attributable to competition and a shortage of houses for sale in certain markets.

You can negotiate agent fees by arguing these points:

  • Time it takes to sell: if the house sells fast (in less than a month).
  • Anticipated sales price: if your house is priced high (e.g., $500,000s and up), a low rate is still a good chunk of change.
  • Buyer’s agent: if there is no buyer agent for the commission to be split with.
  • Agent’s workload: if you take on some responsibilities in the home sale process.

 An Agent Does Not Keep What They Earn

An agent does not keep all of the commission because they do not act alone. Most agents work under a real estate broker. The broker, then, takes half of the agent’s commission.

The seller agent then splits the commission with the buyer agent, and they with their brokerage. If we do a quick calculation, as an example, here is how it might play out:

  • Your house sells for $250,000;
  • 6% of the sale price is $15,000;
  • each brokerage gets $7,500; and
  • the brokers each pay their agents $3,750.

Once paid, your agent has to cover expenses. These include membership dues to real estate institutions and technology, but also money spent to market your house. You can see then that an agent does not make a huge profit. That is why they handle multiple house sales at a time.

Who Pays the Real Estate Agent?

You, the seller, pays both the buyer and seller agents. True, the buyer is purchasing your house, but it is out of your profit that the 6% is paid to these agents.

Instead of an Agent, Sell to an Investor

If you want to forgo agents and commission rates, consider selling to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a house, regardless of how it looks and without a buyer agent. You, then, only pay your share of closing costs. You enjoy a quick closing and a profit which you then use as a down payment on your next house.

girl with checklist how to prepare your house for sale in the spring

How to Prepare Your House For Sale in the Spring

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Springtime is often the best time to sell a house. The real estate market sees a rise in inventory and more buyers search for a new home. To stand out from the competition, here are six tips to prepare your house for sale in the spring.

Spruce Up the Front Yard

When buyers pull up to your house, the outside is their first impression of the property. You want that impression to be good, so take the time to landscape. Prune the bushes, weed the garden, rake leaves, lay fresh mulch, and mow the grass. Also, add a pop of color with bright perennials.

Transform the Front Door

The front door is an extension of the landscape. Make it clean, elegant, and inviting. Paint the door, replace faded door numbers, and power wash the front stoop. If it rains, put out an umbrella stand so buyers keep umbrellas outside, and not drip on your floors. Finally, put out the “Welcome” mat.

Perform Seasonal Maintenance

Buyers want to see a well-kept house. If they see overgrowth, stains and dust, the notion to buy will deter them. For this reason, real estate agents rank these five items as must-fixes in the spring:

  • Clean rain gutters
  • Test the HVAC unit and change filters
  • Inspect the roof
  • Clean siding
  • Power wash driveway and walking paths

Additional items to consider include washing the windows and wiping down all shelves and cabinets. You might also polish hardwood floors and add fresh coats of paint to the walls and outside of the house.

Declutter Spaces

Buyers want to envision themselves in your house, but junked-up spaces prevent this. Remove the leaning tower of moving boxes. Throw out unopened mail and scattered papers. Put away toiletries, medicine, and other personal items. Go through every room with a donation box and fill it with excess clothing and knick-knacks. This not only frees up spaces, but also makes moving easy with less stuff to pack.

Note: your house must stay clean for every showing. Make sure new clutter does not accumulate, and every space stays immaculate. If you are busy, you can hire professional cleaning services.

Eliminate Odors

The only thing worse than touring a messy home is smelling it. Funky odors deter everyone. Rather than go overboard with scented sprays, take the time to deep clean. Steam carpets and draperies, furniture too. Scrub counters, clean dishes, and remove laundry piles.

The toughest odors to eliminate include pets and cigarette smoke. As you clean, open windows and turn on fans to increase airflow. Add a few drops of essential oils, like lemon or orange, to a mister and spray each room. Till you sell, concentrate smoking habits outside. Stow litter boxes outside, or ask a friend or family member to keep your pet for a while.

Take Photos

Over 95% of buyers search for their next home online. In case your house does not sell right away, but remains listed through the summer to the end of the year, take photos. Photograph the lovely interior, but more importantly the exterior and landscaping. Your yard looks its best in the spring, and you want online shoppers to see this.

Rather Than Do All This Work, Sell to an Investor

If you want to forgo these efforts and sell your house as-is, consider selling it to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a house, regardless of how it looks or smells. They do not care about clutter or messes. You can enjoy a quick closing and spend the spring moving into your new home.

pros and cons of selling a house in the spring

The Pros and Cons of Selling a House in the Spring

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It is often said that spring is the best time to sell a house. Indeed, March, April, and May are the most profitable and speediest months to sell property, in most markets. Every season has its pros and cons though. Keep these factors in mind if you intend to sell this spring or next.

Positives

1. Bidding Wars

In spring, buyers flood the market and competition is fierce. When several buyers are interested in a property, this sparks a bidding war. You then evaluate and choose the safest, sweetest, and fastest deal. Better still, if buyers continue to outbid each other, you stand a better chance of selling your house at or above its asking price.

2. Quick Sales

Spring sees a lot of action in real estate, and houses do not stay on the market long. Buyers want to close before the end of the season. This gives them the summer to move, when the kids are out of school and the weather is still decent. Their desire to close fast increases the likelihood that your house will sell sooner than later.

3. Curb Appeal

The sunny days and longer evenings trigger buyers to schedule several walkthroughs a day. When they drive up, the first thing they see is the exterior of the home. Assuming you take good care of the yard, spring brings lush grass, fresh foliage, and flowers in bloom. This enhances the look of the house and makes a great first impression on buyers.

Negatives

1. Competition

Competition in the spring market is fierce for sellers too. You compete with all the other houses for sale on the market. Thoughtful staging and constant cleaning helps your house stand out during walkthroughs. However, a house that needs repairs or is behind in maintenance, or maybe outdated, is often passed up by buyers.

2. Everyone is Busy

You are in a rush to sell. The buyer is in a rush to close. Any professional involved in real estate is going to be busy. This means there are tight windows for inspections, appraisals, and mortgage dealings. There is no time to drag your feet. If you get three offers on your house, choose a deal quickly and get the ball rolling.

3. Picky Buyers

Buyers are aware of the competition and how desperate sellers are to sell a house. They can, therefore, afford to be picky and make demands. They can ask you to make repairs or provide other incentives. Incentives include paying a portion of the closing costs, or the first year of a home warranty.

Sell to an Investor

If you want to forgo buyer negotiations, repairs and incentives, consider selling to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a house regardless of its conditions. There are also fewer steps when selling to an investor. You can enjoy a quick closing and move out before the spring season is over.

red clock is it time to sell your house

Is Now the Best Time to Sell a House?

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Timing is crucial in the real estate market. If you sell at the wrong time, you suffer the consequences, like less money or a bad buyer’s market. To decide if you should sell your house now or wait, consider the following factors.

Market Conditions

If you bought low and hope to sell high, get a sense of the health of the housing market. Determine how the value of your home fits in the market inventory. The National Association of Realtors releases a monthly existing-home sales report which reflects the state of inventory across the nation. It breaks this down by region. If inventory in your market is low, you have the advantage of asking for a higher price on your house.

Seasonal Trends

Buyer behavior fluctuates with local seasonal trends. Popular opinion says spring is the best time to sell. Buyers come out of winter hibernation to shop the market. However, seasonal trends differ between cities and regions. Your best time to sell could be summer, fall, or winter. Consider where you live: are you at a popular tourist destination? Do you live where it is quiet? Or are you in the suburbs where houses for sale trend all year round? Research trends for your area, and weigh factors like the weather and holidays which dissuade buyers from shopping the market.

Maintenance

If your house is not up to snuff, you can miss out on a great sale opportunity. Say it is the height of spring, and buyers are aggressively shopping the market. An eager buyer walks through your home, but wait – the pipes are bad or there is damage from a recent disaster. The buyer is on a tight deadline to close and cannot wait for you to make repairs. They find another house to purchase, and you miss a sale.

Consider also that a house depreciates in value over time if it is not properly maintained or cared for. Surely you do not want to miss out on more money. Take advantage of a slow season to make renovations. This way, your house will be ready to show at its best, at the height of another high-volume season.

Are You in a Rush to Sell?

Maybe there is no time to make repairs. Maybe you need to sell fast to avoid foreclosure, or so you can relocate for a job in another state. Things happen, and when they do, you are put in a tight spot. Rather than stress or worry over market conditions and selling trends, consider the alternative: sell to an investor. Most times, an investor will make a cash offer for a property any time of the year, regardless of its condition. You can enjoy a quick closing and offload your old house without any trouble.

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How to Sell Your House After a Natural Disaster

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Selling a house is difficult enough without damage from a storm, hurricane, flood, or fire. Most homebuyers are dissuaded by the house’s poor state and insist on repairs, or you likely have to sell to a flipping investor.
Follow these steps to sell your house after a natural disaster.

  • Sell “As Is” or Restore

Ask yourself if you really want to make repairs to the property. Doing so improves your chances of making a sale. However, the restoration process will be expensive. If you sell the house “As-Is,” you are guaranteed to earn less money. Buyers will insist on a lower purchase price for a property they have to pay to fix up themselves.

  • File an Insurance Claim

File a homeowners insurance claim with your insurance company. Find out what is covered under your policy and how much damage it covers. Photograph and inventory damages, and keep a record of estimated repair costs. Once you file your claim, you will have a better idea of what your insurance will pay out and decide if it is worth restoring the property.

  • Decide How Much to Fix

The bottom line, you need to make the house safe. If damages force you to live someplace else temporarily, renovations are necessary. Avoid drastic changes because buyers may not share your taste in remodeling. Your repairs must make the home livable and might go so far as to increase its value.

  • Make Repairs

Depending on how extensive the damages are, repairs can take several months. This delays you in listing the home on the market. During that time, you may lose prospective buyers or miss out on a trending time to sell.

  • Determine Area Value

Consider this: if you live in a high-risk area for flooding or fires, does your property value dip? Buyers lose enthusiasm for a property if it is in a hot spot for natural disasters. Even if you restore the house state, be prepared to negotiate with buyers over lowering the price.

  • Prevent Damage from Future Disasters

If the property is in an area prone to disaster, prevent future losses and damage, if possible. For example, if you make repairs after a big freeze, but are still in the height of winter, take precautions. These include the addition of extra insulation, cleaning gutters, and guarding water pipes. It would be unfortunate to invest in repairs after one disaster, to then pay new repairs after a second calamity.

Skips These Steps

If you would like to sell your house “as is,” consider selling it to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer regardless of a property’s condition, location, or state of livability. You can forgo repairs, save money, and enjoy a quick closing on a property that would take months to fix and sell.

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How to Sell a House with Pets at Home

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Pet owners love their pets, but Fido or Fluffy could make selling your house a challenge. Buyers want to envision themselves and their own pets living in your home. Your furry friend could stifle that vision. Follow these steps to show and sell a house with pets.

Remove Evidence

Your home must be staged for photos and walkthroughs. Remove evidence of your pets. Put away the chew toys, scratch posts, food and water dishes—store cages and crates. Clean litter boxes and keep them out of sight.

Deodorize

You are accustomed to the smell of your dog or cat, but buyers will notice odors right away. Scented candles and perfumed sprays will not mask these odors but often make them worse. Try pet-specific deodorizers on carpets and fabrics, or get all textiles professionally steamed.

Mass Cleaning

This is important even if you have no pets. Your home must be clean to make a good impression. Sweep floors, clean carpets, and vacuum furniture to remove pet hair and dander. Clean windows of paw prints and drool marks. Mop up pet stains. If you have a fish tank or other animal enclosure that cannot be easily moved, make sure the glass is squeaky clean.

Repair Pet Damage

Remember when your puppy or kitten chewed on posts or clawed the curtains? Even fully grown, they can scratch up the floors or dig up the carpets. These damages must be addressed if you are to sell a home.

Spruce Up the Yard

Dogs love to play, run, dig, and roll around in the yard. They also do their business outside. This leaves your lawn less green and less pleasant to walk across. It helps if you clean up after your dog and spruce up the landscape. If your pooch was in the front yard, keep in mind that curb appeal matters in a sale. If buyers do not like what they see when they pull up, they may not care to see inside the home.

Relocate Your Pet

The best way to keep your house clean and make a sale is to relocate your pet with a close friend or family member. This will be a temporary arrangement till the house is sold. It also spares you problems with buyers who are afraid of dogs or allergic to pet hair.

If you want to keep your pet with you and avoid the hassle of the aforementioned activities, consider selling your home to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a home regardless of animal tenants, pet damage, or odors. You can enjoy a quick closing and get you and your pet into your next home right away.

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What Makes Your House Unsellable

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Most things can sell at the right price, but a home is a big investment, so buyers are more scrupulous. This is where they are going to live, so it needs to be “just right.” Here are 7 items that can make a house unsellable.

Undesirable Location

Location, location, location! It matters. Few buyers are willing to live near an airport, railway, or busy highway because of noise. Living next door to loud neighbors is a turnoff, and a dicey neighborhood with a high crime rate is unnerving. High-risk disaster areas and flood zones scare many buyers away. Most times, a house in a bad location can only be sold at a low price.

Outdated Home Style or Décor

Would you want to live in a home that looked like the set of “That ‘70s Show”? Most buyers want a home with the latest interior trends and new materials. If you want to sell, you may have to fork over the money for renovations.

Mold and Dampness

Visible signs of a leak concern most buyers. They worry if a home has a dampness issue, this could present later problems, like harmful mold. Dampness could be due to bad plumbing or a leaky exterior, and no one wants to buy a home that needs immediate repairs.

Neglected Maintenance

It is one thing to be busy or short on funds, but if you neglect maintenance – your house deteriorates. Buyers often have enough money to buy a home but not enough left over to make repairs. You will have to invest the time and money to make these repairs yourself, or with the help of a professional, to pass a home inspection. If the cost in time and money is too high, your best option is to sell to an investor. Investors look specifically for properties in need of repair, so you can sell quickly and easily without spending any money on it.

Bad Odors

Have you ever entered a space and been offended by a bad smell? Imagine how your buyers feel if your home smells like a vet office, with so many animals, cages, and litter boxes. Or what if you or another member of the house smokes? Cigarette smoke is a major turnoff, as its odor becomes trapped in materials like carpeting.

Lack of Natural Light

No one wants to feel like they live in a cave. Windows and natural light make spaces feel open and bigger than they really are. You can paint a room white to make it seem brighter or add windows or skylights to let in light.

Cluttered, Not Staged Home

Buyers want to envision themselves in a home when they visit for a walkthrough. If your rooms are cluttered with belongings, this becomes difficult and makes rooms appear smaller. You must throw stuff out or donate it, then clean and stage your home, so it makes a good impression.

If you do not have the time, funds, or ability to address the aforementioned items, consider selling your house to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer despite location, damages, or outdated designs, and most times without a walkthrough. You can enjoy a quick closing and offload your problem house.