You can assist your real estate Agent or Broker when you are showing your home to prospective buyers by remembering that first impressions are the most lasting and the most important to its sale.

Your major role as a seller will be to make your home as attractive as possible to potential buyers. The time, effort and limited financial investment involved can give you the competitive edge needed to sell your home when you want - at the price you want.

Since the exterior of your home is the first thing a prospective buyer sees, a little time and effort can make a big difference in the impression your home creates. And pay big dividends when the sale is made.

Use this check list to make sure your home's exterior looks its best:
Lawn is well cut and neatly trimmed around the walks and drive.
Flower garden is weeded.
Shrubs are trimmed and dead trees and branches are eliminated.
All debris is disposed of and toys and lawn equipment are neatly stored.
Fences and gates are repaired and repainted, if necessary.
The roof, gutters and downspout are in good repair.
Driveways and sidewalks are washed down and checked for cracking and crumbling.
Cracked windows and torn screens are replaced. Screens, windows and window sills are washed. Doorknobs are polished.
Doorbell and front lights are in good working order.

If you have planned to paint the house within the coming year, consider painting the house before showing it. A new paint job, well done, will normally enhance the sale value a good deal more than the cost of the paint.

If your home's exterior looks clean, orderly and in good repair, that's the impression your house will first convey.

Interior dirt and clutter can obscure your home's good points, so start with a full house cleaning from top to bottom. Store unused or unnecessary items in closets and storage areas or hold a garage sale. Eliminate clutter and your home will look more spacious - an important selling point.

Take an inspection tour of your home, observing it as a potential buyer would.

Walls are clean and free of smudges, fingerprints and dents.
Woodwork and wallpaper are inspected for problem areas; wallpaper is cleaned and woodwork is waxed.
Badly worn furniture is temporarily stored in family's or neighbor's attic or basement.
Curtains and drapes are freshly laundered or cleaned.
Rugs and carpets are shampooed. Floors are waxed.
Loose doorknobs, sticking doors, windows and warped drawers are repaired.
Leaky faucets are fixed. Water discoloration in sink is eliminated.
Loose stair banisters are tightened and steps are free of objects.
Light fixtures are in good working order. Discolored or cracked switchplates are replaced.
Closets, shelves and drawers are organized to display spaciousness.
Clothing is hung neatly and shoes and other objects are neatly arranged.
Bathrooms are sparkling clean. Tub and shower caulking is repaired.
Bedrooms are neat. Bedspreads and curtains are attractive.
The kitchen is clean and tidy, including cupboards, stove and oven.
The basement, attic and garage are clean and well organized.
Mirrors, picture frames and glasses covering pictures are clean.
Mirrors are strategically placed to create an impression of added space in problem areas.
Lamp shades are in good condition.
Electrical connections are plugged in.
Consider painting walls and replacing carpeting if cleaning doesn't do the trick.

It is also important to keep lighting in mind when you show your home. Good lighting will make your home seem more cheery and spacious.

Don't plan major improvements on your home. Most home buyers want to make their own major changes. You are usually wiser to sell them the potential - at a price they can afford.

You can do a lot to help your real estate agent show your home. Showing your home is all important to its sale, and there are many ways you can help your real estate professional do his or her job successfully.

The television and radio are turned off or low enough to allow the salesperson and buyer(s) to talk, free of disturbances.
Children and pets are sent outdoors to play or otherwise entertained to eliminate confusion and to keep the prospect's attention focused positively on your house.
Bad odors are eliminated. Air freshener is used before the potential buyer arrives, especially if you have pets or if the house has been closed up for some time.
The house has adequate lighting (during daytime drapes are open; at night plenty of lights are on, including the porch light).
Wood is stored next to the fireplace. In winter a fire is lit.
The kitchen sink is free of dishes.
Magazines and children's toys are in order.
Plants have been watered and look healthy.
Fresh flowers are arranged tastefully around the house.

Be courteous, but don't force conversation with the potential buyer(s).
Ask your real estate broker or agent if your presence is necessary.
Never apologize for the appearance of your home. Let your real estate broker or agent answer any objections.
Leave it to your real estate professional to emphasize the features of your home.
Make sure your agent or broker knows where you are so you may answer questions, but don't tag along.
Let your real estate professional discuss price, terms, possession and other factors with the potential buyer(s).

Your real estate broker or agent has the experience and training necessary to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion. And, if you've followed the guidelines provided, you'll know you've already done your part by making sure your home creates a good first impression.

Chicago Title has made a durable commitment to this community. We provide title insurance and related real estate services to homeowners, their professional advisors and lenders. Please, ask for us by name when you open escrow.



If You're Selling a Home... You probably know that working with a REALTOR® is an indispensable part of selling your home. For one thing, your REALTOR® can list your property in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), providing your home with incomparable exposure and ensuring you have as many REALTORS® as possible helping to find a buyer. But that's not all a REALTOR® does to market your home. He or she knows how to specifically target advertising to reach buyers for your home, and uses all the marketing tools available to ensure that your home is sold expediently. Additionally, a REALTOR® conducts a variety of other marketing efforts on your behalf, from holding open houses and handling phone inquiries to showing your home to the prospective buyers.

What does a REALTOR® do for you besides find buyers? Plenty. A REALTOR® provides information on local market conditions to help you price your property realistically and fairly, and keeps you abreast of changes in the market which may affect your property. And let's face it: buying or selling a home means paperwork, lots of it. When it comes to closing escrow, a REALTOR® can be invaluable, leading you through the paper trail with a steady hand, and familiarizing you with escrow, insurance, property disclosures and inspection procedures, to name a few.

So, Where Do You Find A REALTOR®? Like finding any good professional, the best way to locate a REALTOR® is through recommendations from friends or those who have bought or sold homes recently. Ask for references and check each thoroughly. Also, interview several REALTORS® before you decide on one.

It's important to find a professional who is a REALTOR®. Why? A REALTOR® is someone who, as a member of the local, state, and national trade associations, adheres to a strict code of ethics. Recently, the National Association of Realtors® commissioned a nationwide survey to determine whether REALTORS® were doing their job professionally. The results were impressive: 97 percent of respondents indicated they received "excellent" or "very good" service from their REALTOR®.