The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law. Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances.
Despite the doom and gloom you hear on the national news each day, the real estate market in Texas is doing just great. If you are in the process of listing your home or thinking about it, there are some things you can do to help increase its value. Therefore, in this week’s column I will give some pointers on what you might do to improve the value of your home. These will be beneficial if you are thinking of selling it soon or just want to increase its eye appeal.
Other than the price, the first impression your home makes is the most important attribute of a sale. When you place your home for sale, you will make more money if it looks its best.
Look at your house as though you are seeing it for the first time. See its good points and its not-so-good points. Take steps to add to the good points and to fix the not-so-good points. The list below will assist you in reviewing the attributes of your home so that it will show to its best advantage.
Before you spend any significant amount of money, consult your broker. The broker can tell you whether the expense will pay off in an increased sales price or a decreased selling time.
• Mow the lawn
• Trim trees and shrubs
• Weed flower beds and yard
• Clean or repair walks, driveway, steps, and porches
• Paint trim and front of house
• Clean and repair roof, gutters, and downspouts
• Paint front door, mailbox, and back door
• Repair or replace storm doors
• Clean and repair screens and storm windows
• Clean, paint, and repair garage – throw away anything you don’t intend to keep.
• Paint, if necessary
• Clean windows
• Clean and polish floors
• Make sure all light bulbs are working
• Make sure all doors and windows are working properly
• Make sure light switches work
• Repair and paint cracked walls and ceilings
• Fix dripping faucets
• Clear clogged drains
• Clean fireplace
• Straighten all closets
• Use potpourri or other pleasant smells
• Vacuum or shampoo rugs as needed
• Clean heating and air conditioning system, furnace, boiler, etc.
• Throw away what you’re not going to move
• Paint or polish cabinets
• Clean ventilating hood and fan
• Repair, clean, and wax floors
• Clear off counter tops
• Make sure drawers work properly
• Put appliances out of sight; stack items neatly in cabinets.
• Make beds
• Vacuum floorLiving Room/Den
• Play “Middle of the road” music in the background
• Stack newspapers/magazines
• Clean and dust shelves and appliances, TV, and stereoDining Room
• Polish furnitureLaundry Area
• Remove hanging clothes
• Put away supplies• Clean/polish appliances
If you are home when a prospect arrives, relax, stay out of the way, and let your broker show your home. Answer questions truthfully. If you have helped your home make a good first impression by carefully going over this list, your home will sell itself.
If you’re selling this home, you’re probably buying another one. In order to protect your investment in your new home, you should protect yourself with an owner’s policy of title insurance. Claims against previous owners can be filed against the property and the current owner. That means you, the new buyer.
Title problems such as fraud, forgery, missing heirs, old liens, and errors in the records can endanger your investment or even cause you to lose your home. But an owner’s title insurance policy can insure you against covered risks.
For only a small, one-time premium, the insurance coverage lasts as long as you or your heirs have an interest in the property or you have liability under warranties you may give. So when you buy a home or other real estate, be sure to protect your investment with an owner policy of title insurance.
Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C. He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. www.moakandmoak.com