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  1. HIRE A GOOD AGENT  A professional Realtor who knows your neighborhood and has a good track record in your community will go a long way in helping to find a buyer.
  2. CLEAN OUT THE CLUTTER  Open spaces look best. Clean, and clean some more to make a good first impression.
  3. SPIFF UP THE PROPERTY  Make any improvements that will improve the showing of your home. When possible, stick with the simpler (and less expensive) options to be sure the buying price covers your investment.
  4. DETERMINE THE WORTH  Know the fair market value of your home. Your Realtor can help you assess the cost. You may also want to have the home appraised.
  5. PRICE IT RIGHT  A Realtor can help you objectively set the price so that it reflects the value of your home and the trends of the surrounding community.
  6. COME UP WITH A PLAN  Are you set on your price or eager to move? How low are you willing to go to settlement?
  7. GET PRE-APPROVED FOR YOUR NEXT MOVE  If you're looking to buy another house, make sure you know your financial situation.
  8. FIGURE OUT YOUR SELLING COSTS  Commission, ad costs, attorney fees, taxes and prorated costs may all come into play. Realtors deal with transactions every day and can give you a very close estimate of seller closing costs.
  9. SET THE STAGE  Open the curtains, turn on the lights, display fresh flowers. A bright house is a welcoming house.
  10. IT'S SHOW TIME  Be ready and willing to have your home shown any day, even with short notice. Making it difficult to see will also make it difficult to sell.

    By Montana Association of REALTORS┬«

Printable version of 10 Rules For Selling


Tip #1 - First Impressions
When prospects drive up to your home, you want the first impression to be a good one. That will happen as long as they don't see anything that detracts from your home's appearance. The prospective buyer won't look for things that are "right", but will immediately notice things that are "wrong".
  • Keep your lawn trimmed, edged, watered, and fertilized. Beds around flowers and shrubs should be cultivated or mulched.
  • If you have no flowers, you may want to plant a few for some added color, or have a planter near the front door.
  • Bushers should be neatly trimmed.
  • Keep sidewalks swept.
  • Always keep the garage door closed.
  • Be sure garbage cans are not visible from the street, and that there is no rubbish anywhere on the grounds. Even children's toys on the lawn can give an unkempt appearance.
  • Keep your fences and gates in good repair.
  • During winter, keep snow and ice removed from driveways, sidewalks, and porch. Clean any dirt, mold, or mildew from exterior walls, windows, and eaves.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Most important, remember that the front door welcomes the prospect, so make sure it is freshly painted. Consider adding a seasonal decoration for a warm, inviting touch.
Tip #2 - Details Matter
Believe it or not, the kitchen and bath are the rooms that traditionally sell houses. Although most experts agree that it is not cost-effective to remodel a kitchen in anticipation of selling, there are ways to put the kitchen and baths in "show" condition.


  • Repair leaky faucets.
  • Remove stains from the kitchen sink, counters, and appliances.
  • Clean the interiors of the oven, dishwasher, and refrigerator. Dirty appliances can convey an impression that will extend to the rest of your house.
  • Clean cabinet doors and touch up any scratches or marks.
  • Make your kitchen seem roomy. Remove most items from the counters and pack away any unnecessary or extra items that were in the kitchen cabinets.
  • Make sure that dirty dishes are kept out of the sink and off the counters.
  • Be aware of cooking odors. This morning's fresh bread in the oven will smell great, but last night's cabbage might not be so appealing.
  • Clean out the cabinets and the pantry. Remove items you seldom use and organize what's left.
  • Replace stained or torn shower curtain.
  • Clean tile grout. Repair or replace caulking and grout in tubs and showers, if necessary.
  • Make sure that all fixtures are polished and free of water marks.
  • Clean out the inside of the medicine chest and any cabinets.
  • Organize the linen closet and remove unnecessary items.
Tip #3 - General Suggestions
How the rest of your home is presented to the buyer is also important. The buyer will be looking closely at every room, and probably in every closet, too!
  • Keep up with minor household repairs. Fix squeaking doors, tighten loose doorknobs, touch up chipped paint, replace missing hardware on cabinets and repair leaky faucets (inside and out).
  • Have all curtains, drapes and carpets cleaned.
  • Clean any blinds.
  • Dirty walls, or worn and scratched woodwork, will reduce the appeal of your house. A little liquid cleaner can work wonders on scratched and dry woodwork and paneling.
  • Consider cleaning your walls with liquid cleaner or applying touch-up paint where necessary.
  • Sparkling windows highlight your walls and ceilings and let more light into your rooms.
  • Repair ripped or torn screens.
  • Keep your curtains and draperies open to let prospective buyers see how cheerful your house can be.
  • Clean the fireplace.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor if they notice any unpleasant smells when they enter your home. Often we are unaware of cooking and pet odors in our own homes. Room fresheners and potpourri in various rooms will help give your house a welcoming, fresh smell.
  • Make sure your home is free of insects. Call an exterminator, if necessary.
  • Make sure all smoke detectors are operable. Install smoke detectors if you have none.
Tip #4 - Avoid Clutter


  • Make your closets look larger by removing or packing items that can be stored elsewhere. Donate old clothing to a local charity. Neat, well organized closets show that there is ample space.
  • Remove excess furniture and other items that you seldom use. It will give a feeling of more space in your home.
  • Packing away some of your collectibles, picture frames, or knick-knacks will also add to the feeling of space.
  • Keep newspapers, toys, and other articles picked up.
  • Sell, give away or toss unnecessary articles. Consider storing necessary items not being used.
  • Organize tools by hanging on peg boards and put items on shelves.
  • Clean the exterior of your water heater and furnace.
  • Make sure that the furnace, air conditioner, and any other major systems are accessible for easy inspection.
  • Sell, give away or toss unnecessary articles.
  • Clean any oil from cement floor
  • Install a strong overhead light, if necessary.
  • Straighten it up and throw or give away anything you aren't going to move.
  • Make sure it is well-lit and your energy-saving insulation is apparent.
Tip #5 - Sell It or Store It
Now that you have cleaned your home from top to bottom and decided what items can be removed to give a feeling of more space, what do you do with everything? Now might be a good time for a garage sale. Those items you are not going to sell or give away should be stored. Sometimes a friend or neighbor will loan you their basement for a few months. Or, you can consider renting a unit at a local storage facility. A month's or more rent for a local storage unit could easily be offset by a higher selling price.

Tip #6 - Investing In Quicker Sale
There are some home improvements that are more costly then the quick fixes listed above. Discuss the following suggestions with your Montana Westgate Realty agent to decide if they are necessary. Often, the money spent will be well worth it if your house sells quickly, or if it gets you a good price for your home. You may also want to check with your accountant to see how the expenses of fixing up your home before selling will affect your tax return, if at all.

  • Consider painting the exterior of your home, if it needs to be painted. If you don't paint it, you may lose some potential buyers who are unable to visualize what your home will look like if it is freshly painted. A neat and clean appearance outside will convince the buyers that the home is well maintained. If you are considering changing the color, take into account the colors of other homes in the neighborhood.
  • Clean, paint, or stain all exterior doors to your home.
  • Check your roof and replace it if in poor condition or if it leaks.
  • Consider painting any interior walls and ceilings for the same reason that you would paint the exterior. Keep prospective buyers in mind by choosing light, neutral colors.
  • If you decide to replace wallpaper, try not to choose unusual designs. Simple designs and neutral colors will appeal to a broader range of prospective buyers.
  • Buyers generally pay a lot of attention to carpeting and other floor coverings. If cleaning your carpets did not eliminate dirt, stains, or odors, consider
  • replacing all or part of the carpeting. New carpeting can make a tremendous difference in the way your house shows.
Printable version of Tips to Sell


Setting the right price from the start is among the most important steps toward successfully selling your home. This requires taking a close look at what other houses are selling for to judge the relative value of your home. No matter how priceless your home is to you, the market sets a value by the price a buyer is willing to pay.

One of the key ways to compare your house to others on the market is to look at a Broker Price Opinion (BPO). The BPO is used to help evaluate how your home will fare against the competition. It takes a look at both homes that are currently listed and those recently sold. The purpose of the BPO is to find the highest price that will still make your home competitive on the open market.

The BPO we compile gives you information (referred to as "comps") about houses similar to yours, in size, amenities, and location, that are either on the market, have sold, or were listed but expired within a recent time period. A good BPO can tell you what homes like yours are actually selling for, how long it's taking for them to sell, and what their sale prices were in relation to their list prices.

If you are interested in using one of our Realtors to sell your home, and need more information on obtaining a BPO give us a call on (406) 363-4700.


Myth #1: You should always price your home high and negotiate down.
Pricing too high can be as bad as pricing too low. If you list too high, you'll miss out on buyers looking in the price range where your home should be. Offers may not even come in, because buyers who are interested in your home are scared off by the price and won't even take the time to look at it. By the time you correct the price and list your home at its fair market value, you will have lost that window of opportunity when your home draws the most attention from the public and real estate agents; i.e. the first 30 days that it is on the market. A well-trained real estate agent who looks out for your best interests will consult with you on your home's fair market value and different pricing strategies for the current market.

Myth #2: Minor repairs can wait until later. There are more important things to be done.
Minor repairs make your house more marketable, allowing you to maximize your return (or minimize loss) on the sale. Most buyers are looking for homes that are ready for them to move into. If your home happens to attract a buyer who is willing to make repairs, he/she will begin asking for repair allowances that come out of your asking price. The amount of an allowance that you have to offer a buyer is usually more than what it would cost for you to make the repair (or hire someone to make the repair). Remember, buyers are comparing your home to other homes that are currently on the market. Your home should be inviting so that everyone who looks at it can see themselves living there.

Myth #3: Once a potential buyer sees the inside of your home, curb appeal won't matter.
Buyers probably won't make it to the inside of the home if the outside of your home does not appeal to them. Buyers and their agents often do drive-bys before deciding whether a home is worth their time to look inside. Your home's exterior must make a good first impression so that buyers are compelled to stop and come inside. All it takes is keeping the lawn mowed, shrubs and trees trimmed, gardens weeded and edged, and clutter put away.

Myth #4: Your home must be every home buyer's dream home.
If you get carried away with repairs and replacements to your home, you may end up over-improving the house. There is a point where improving your home doesn't pay off. The key is to consider what competing properties feature and look like. A highly-motivated real estate agent will consult with you on what competing properties have to offer - he/she can even show you competing properties so that you can make sound home improvement decisions.

Myth #5: You are better off selling your home on your own and saving money on the commission you would have paid to a real estate agent.
Statistically, many sellers who attempt to sell their homes on their own cannot consummate the sale without the service of a real estate agent. Homeowners who succeed in selling their home by themselves usually net less than if they had a real estate agent working for them. The National Association of REALTORS® surveys consumers every year, including homeowners who succeeded in selling their home without a real estate agent. Over 70% of these homeowners say that they would never do it again.

Myth #6: When you receive an offer, you should make the buyer wait. This gives you a better negotiating position.
You should reply immediately to an offer! When a buyer makes an offer, that buyer is, at that moment in time, ready to buy your home. Moods can change, and you don't want to lose the sale because you have stalled in replying.

    by Hank Bailey

Printable version of Selling Myths

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