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Sell Your House Fast!

Table of Contents

Preparation Before You List Is Key

To sell your property fast you need to do some homework before listing. You want to get top dollar for your property. If you do these steps BEFORE you call a listing agent, you will be able to get qualified buyers that will be comfortable paying top dollar.

COMFORTABLE is the key word here. So, here’s a list of things your can do to make buyers feel comfortable, safe and secure in their offers to you.

Let’s skip the usual stuff like curb appeal (critical), fixing obvious flaws like broken outlets, old paint, clutter (critical), and smells. There is more on smell below.

Buyers Don't Like Surprises

Get a Termite Report

Yes, the SELLER should get a termite report before listing so the extent of the termite/water damage is known and the repair costs. If you accept an offer and the sellers get a termite report that shows damage with a hefty repair bill, it can kill your sale. So, know the facts first. You may choose to do any needed repairs or not. This termite report should be shared with your chosen agent, or any buyers if you are selling the property yourself. 

If Appropriate Hire A Home Inspector

If the termite report shows damage or there are other concerns, then get a qualified home inspection report. Before you hire check the qualifications, background, BBB reports, etc. In other words don’t waste money on unqualified reports. ALWAYS ask to see a sample report. You want a report that is specific and will impress buyers that all the areas of concern are addressed by the home inspection. Again, share this report.

Consider An Environmental Report

If your property was built before 1981 there is a high probability that asbestos is present. Nothing kills a sale like asbestos. Termite and home inspectors are not qualified to identify asbestos so do not reply on any statements other than asbestos MAY be present in all building built before 1981. 

We have worked with multiple sellers to prepare a preliminary asbestos report or a peace of mind asbestos report. To confirm of deny the presence of asbestos a small physical sample must be taken. You do not want holes in the bathroom tile or the bedroom walls, etc., so we identify and photograph all possible materials and prepare a report. We are experienced, licensed and insured to perform asbestos work in California. Your report will show our licenses, etc. We can also provide proof of insurance if requested.

If there is discoloration or moldy smell anywhere we can also do a mold inspection combined with asbestos. Mold is ALWAYS created by water or elevated humidity where it doesn’t belong. The sources of water intrusions must be identified for any meaningful cleanup/remediation to occur. This inspection will include air and/or swab testing sufficient to determine the extent of mold contamination. These tests are nondestructive.

Don’t hire a remediation company to do this inspection – they have a financial gain to find mold. We don’t. We do not perform any removal. We do provide toxic mold clearance documents that will satisfy any buyer/lender. So if you have done mold remediation or mold cleanup and don’t have a clearance/validation document, you may have a problem.

If you are selling a personal residence built before 1978-9, the probability that you have lead-based paint is great. If a family has small children it is critical for them to know if and where lead-based paint is present. This is a non destructive test and can be combined with toxic mold or asbestos. Don’t rely on your RRP painter’s opinion. Unfortunately the RRP certification leaves out a lot of important factors in determining the presence of lead-based paint. The “scratch tests” sold online and in hardware stores damage your paint and are notoriously unreliable, regardless of their advertising saying otherwise. You need a qualified  lead report from a California licensed inspector. We are also licensed to do this type of work.

Remember buyers don’t like surprises. Absolutely share all environmental reports.

Obtain An Insurance Claims Made Document or C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriters Exchange) Report

Nothing makes a buyer feel better than seeing this document. It’s a Lexis/Nexis product. Only the owner of the building may obtain this report. More info here: C.L.U.E. LexisNexis Report.

Offer this document to all interested parties. Nothing kills a sale faster than an expensive surprise.


Clutter, Staging, Tenants And Other Problems

Declutter First

Remove all personal items like photos of your family vacations, etc. Removed knick-knacks from tables, shelves, everywhere. Clean and then clean again. Professional cleaning is recommended. 


If possible, negotiate a move-out with your tenants. This is not always possible. This can become very expensive if not impossible without litigation. No one wants to increase the unhoused population, but it is your property. You may need the assistance of an attorney that specializes in property owners rights. If you are looking for representation or just need to chat and don’t have an attorney, contact the State Bar of California, but always check licenses and references on any attorney that you select. San Francisco, Berkeley, and Alameda counties have the strictest tenant-landlord rules in the nation. Don’t make a costly mistake with this one. You will usually get substantially more for your property if it is vacant, clean and correctly staged.

Perform Minor Repairs

A coat of paint inside and out will be money well spent. Fix the obvious items; things like broken outlet covers, windows that don’t close completely, change the filters in your HVAC/heating systems, clean all gutters, etc. Simple things that will tell buyers that you care and maintain the property.

Consider staging but do this after you have completed all relevant steps listed above. You should be ready to immediately list the property. As your real estate agent for staging referrals. Staging costs money, so use wisely.

  • Always get three quotes for all work. It’s amazing the price differences you will see. 
  • Always have a written agreement for all work done.
  • Always check licenses and insurance of all workers on your property.

Use a Notice of Non-Responsibility for all construction work done on your property. If you have questions about this, contact your attorney before positing. An unexpected lien on your property from an unpaid subcontractor can kill your sale at the last minute, or cause you to pay off the lien, regardless whether you have paid the general contractor.

Always get more than one opinion on the value of your property. Remember that online sites have a general value for your area that may not be relevant for your building.

Remember the companies that offer “cash in 3 days!” for “any condition” won’t usually give you the highest and best price or your property.


California Real Estate Licensing Board

Ask people you know that have recently bought or sold real estate. That is the best referral source.