The end of the summer is the time to think ahead about preparing your home for the fall market. If you are planning to sell your home in the Maplewood, NJ, Millburn, NJ, Short Hills, NJ and South Orange, NJ areas, here are some steps you should take before actually listing it:

-Select a realistic price: Select a real estate agent who is honest with you about a realistic price for your home. The only thing that can determine the market price for your property is what a buyer is willing to pay for it. By looking at recent sales of comparable properties you will get a clear picture of what buyers might be willing to pay for yours. Being overly ambitious in your pricing may be tempting but will often result in your home sitting on the market and netting you less for your sale in the end.

-Do A Pre-Sale Home Inspection: Particularly if you have been in your home for a long time, I would recommend hiring a licensed home inspector to do a pre-sale home inspection. The inspector can identify any items that might come up in your future buyer’s home inspection. Buyers can ask you to make repairs or credit them for repairs when they do an inspection and this can often leave sellers in a vulnerable position and de-rail transactions. Make any repairs prior to listing your home or at least get an estimate of what the repairs would cost so you are armed with that information. I am happy to recommend a home inspector to you who can help you pre-empt problems in your transaction.

-Close Any Open Permits: Phone up your town’s building department and make sure you don’t have any “open permits”. If you do, schedule an inspector to come and re-inspect the work so the permit can be closed out. Open permits may come up in your buyer’s title search or prevent your town from issuing you an inspection certificate that you will need at your closing.

-Remove Underground Tanks: If you have an abandoned, in-ground oil tank you should have it removed prior to marketing your home. I recommend that all of my buyers do an oil tank sweep and, unfortunately, these sometimes turn up tanks that sellers were unaware of or that have leaked and require costly clean up- even if they were “properly” filled a few years back.  I don’t know of any real estate attorney who would let a buyer close on a property in today’s market with such a potential liability so it would be difficult to sell a property with an abandoned tank on site. I know a number of excellent, licensed companies with which you can discuss the process of detecting and removing oil tanks. Feel free to contact me if you need their names.

-Consider Home Staging: Discuss with your realtor what preparations your home needs to make it more attractive to buyers. “Staging” a home for sale can help you sell for about 2.3% more than “un-staged homes” and in half the time. Staging is not about the way we live. It’s about showcasing your home so that potential buyers will find it more attractive in online photos and in person. Whether it’s removing old carpeting or wallpaper, landscaping, eliminating pet odors, de-cluttering closets and bookshelves or removing oversized pieces of furniture—your realtor can help you focus on making your home the best in its price category. The staging process is also helpful in making the emotional transition away from your current home.