There’s an art to the process of preparing a home listing. What to include and what to leave out affects not just the level of buyer interest, but also whether disputes crop up down the road.
When your agent comes over to have you sign the 84-plus pages of the listing agreement and all the required seller disclosures, she will make a note of all of the features of your house for the multiple listing service post.
This includes the basics like number of bedrooms and bathrooms, size, number of stories, the year the house was built, the type of flooring and counter materials, and so on.
I’m a huge advocate for using all the fields provided in the Multiple Listing Service system to describe your house, even though it can make this a somewhat tedious process. On the flip side, you don’t want to claim you have something when you don’t.
A colleague once told me she listed a house and included “central air conditioning” in the listing details. The buyers discovered there was no AC, and it had to be installed before the close of escrow. Guess who got to pay for that?
When you are listing all the features of your house, don’t claim you have copper plumbing if you’re not sure what’s inside your walls.
Once you’ve nailed down all the features, then come the disclosures.
The main categories include things that are not in working order, things that have been repaired or remodeled, any recent homeowners’ insurance claims, any repairs done for water intrusion and any neighborhood noise issues or other problems.
Sellers are asked to explain any of these conditions and to provide any documentation or reports they have to the buyers. The purpose is to give buyers more information about “known material and significant items affecting the value or desirability of the property,” the disclosure documents say. They also help eliminate misunderstandings about the condition of the property.
Something that may be material or significant to a buyer may not be perceived the same way by the seller.
Buyers should wait for the sellers’ disclosures before they conduct their home inspection. Based on what’s in the disclosures, buyers may ask the home inspector to scrutinize a particular area or system in the house more closely.
Getting this done early in the purchase process will give you more time to “eliminate misunderstandings about the condition of the property.” Which may result in negotiations on a different sales price, a credit to the buyers or repairs the seller might agree to make.
Leslie Sargent Eskildsen is an agent with RealtyOne Group West and a member of the California Association of Realtors’ board of directors. She can be reached at 949-678-3373 or [email protected]