Other Common Questions


Do sellers have to disclose the terms of other offers?
Sellers are not legally obligated to disclose the terms of other offers to prospective buyers.
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How do I prepare the house for sale?
First and foremost, put it in the best condition possible, especially if you are in a market with few buyers and lots of homes for sale. That means taking care of any major repairs that could deter a buyer (such as replacing any broken windows or replacing a leaky roof) if you can afford it. Next, work on your home's curb appeal. Make sure your landscape is pristine. Mow the grass, clean up any debris and weed the garden beds. Plant a few annual flowers near the entrance or in pots to be placed by the door. Other quick fixes that don't cost a lot of money but can help you get top dollar for your home:

  • Clean the windows and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking.
  • Be sure that the doorbell works.
  • Clean and freshen up rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. Make sure that bathrooms and kitchens are spotless.
  • Organize closets.
  • Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Replace leaky faucets and frayed cords.
  • Eliminate the source of any bad smells, such as the kitty box. Use air freshener or bake a batch of cookies before your open house to ensure that the house smells inviting.
  • Invest in a couple of vases of fresh flowers to place around the house and next to any information about the house you have prepared for buyers.
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Should I add on or buy a bigger home?
Consider these questions before making a choice between adding on to an existing home or moving up in the market to a bigger house:

  • How much money is available, either from cash reserves or through a home improvement loan, to remodel the current house?
  • How much additional space is required? Would the foundation support a second floor or does the lot have room to expand on the ground level?
  • What do local zoning and building ordinances permit?
  • How much equity already exists in the property?
  • Are there affordable properties for sale that would satisfy housing needs?

Ultimately, the decision should be based on individual needs, the extent of work involved and what will add the most value.
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What do all of those real estate acronyms in the ads mean?
If you find yourself stumbling over weird acronyms in a real estate listing, don't be alarmed. There is method to the madness of this shorthand (which is mostly adopted by sellers to save money in advertising charges). Here are some abbreviations and the meaning of each, taken from a recent newspaper classified section:

  • assum. fin. -- assumable financing
  • dk -- deck
  • gar -- garage (garden is usually abbreviated "gard")
  • expansion pot'l -- may be extra space on the lot, or possibly vertical potential for a top floor or room addition. Verify actual potential by checking local zoning restrictions prior to purchase.
  • fab pentrm -- fabulous pentroom, a room on top, underneath the roof, that sometimes has views
  • FDR -- formal dining room (not the former president)
  • frplc, fplc, FP -- fireplace
  • grmet kit -- gourmet kitchen
  • HDW, HWF, Hdwd -- hardwood floors
  • hi ceils -- high ceilings
  • In-law potential -- potential for a separate apartment. Sometimes, local zoning codes restrict rentals of such units so be sure the conversion is legal first.
  • large E-2 plan -- this is one of several floor plans available in a specific building
  • lsd pkg. -- leased parking area, may come with an additional cost
  • lo dues -- find out just how low these homeowner's dues are, and in comparison to what?
  • nr bst schls -- near the best schools
  • pvt -- private
  • pwdr rm -- powder room, or half-bath
  • upr- upper floor
  • vw, vu, vws, vus -- view(s)
  • Wow! -- better check this one out.

Resources: "Real Estate's Ambiguous Language You Oughtta Understand," Glennon H. Neubauer, Ethos Group Publishing, Diamond Bar, CA; 1993.

How long does it usually take for a home to sell?
The time frame is usually three to four months.
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Where do I get information about finding a real estate attorney?
To find a real estate attorney, contact your local bar association, which may offer local referral services. You may also ask friends or your real estate agent for their recommendations. When you have several names, call each to find out about fees and their level of experience.
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