EIGHT STEPS TO SELLING YOUR HOME
EIGHT STEPS TO SELLING YOUR HOME
1. Define your needs and goals
Write down all of the reasons for selling your home. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to sell and what do I expect to accomplish with the sale?”. For example, a growing family may prompt your need for a larger home, or a job opportunity in another city may necessitate a move. For your goals, write down if you’d like to sell your house within a certain time frame or make a particular profit margin. Work with your real estate agent to map out the best path to achieve your objectives and set a realistic time frame for the sale.
2. Name your price
Your next objective should be to determine the best possible selling price for your house. Setting a fair asking price from the outset will generate the most activity from other real estate agents and buyers. You will need to take into account the condition of your home, what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for, and the state of the overall market in your area. It’s often difficult to remain unbiased when putting a price on your home, so your real estate agent’s expertise is invaluable at this point. Your agent will know what comparable homes are selling for and the average time those homes are sitting on the market.
Remember: You’re always better off setting a fair market value price than setting your price too high. Studies show that homes priced higher than 3% of their market value take longer to sell. If your home sits on the market for too long, potential buyers may think there is something wrong with the property. Often, when this happens, the seller will be forced to drop the price below market value to catch up and compete with newer, correctly priced listings.
3. Prepare your home
Most of us don’t keep our homes in “showroom” condition. We tend to overlook piles of boxes in the garage, broken porch lights, and doors or windows that stick. It’s time to break out of that owner’s mindset and get your house in tip-top shape. The condition of your home will affect how quickly it sells and the price the buyer is willing to offer. First impressions are the most important. Your real estate agent can help you take a fresh look at your home and suggest ways to stage it and make it more appealing to buyers. A home with too much “personality” is harder to sell. Removing family photos, mementos and personalized decor will help buyers visualize the home as theirs.
Make minor repairs and replacements. Small defects, such as a leaky faucet, a torn screen or a worn doormat, can ruin the buyer’s first impression. Clutter is a big no-no when showing your home to potential buyers. Make sure you have removed all knick-knacks from your shelves and cleared off all of your bathroom and kitchen counters making every area seem as spacious as possible.
4. Get the word out
Now that you’re ready to sell, your real estate agent will set up a marketing strategy specifically for your home. There are many ways to get the word out, including: The Internet, Yard Signs, Open Houses, Media Advertising, Agent-to-Agent Referrals, Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns, etc. In addition to listing your home on the MLS, your agent will use a combination of these tactics to bring the most qualified buyers to your home. Your agent will structure the marketing plan so that the first three to six weeks are the busiest.
Receiving an offer
When you receive a written offer from a potential buyer, your real estate agent will first find out whether or not the individual is preapproved to buy your home. If so, then you and your agent will review the proposed contract, taking care to understand what is required of both parties and execute the transaction. The contract, though not limited to this list, should include the following:
- Legal description of the property
- Offer price
- Down payment
- Financing arrangements
- List of fees and who will pay them
- Deposit amount
- Inspection rights and possible repair allowances
- Method of conveying the title and who will handle the closing
- Appliances and furnishings that will stay with the home or move with you
- Settlement date
6. Negotiate to sell
Some negotiable items:
- Closing Costs
- Repairs and warranties
- Appliances and furniture
- Move-in date
7. Prepare to close
Once you accept an offer to sell your house, you will need to make a list of all of the things you must do before closing. The property may need to be formally appraised, surveyed, inspected or repaired. Your real estate agent can spearhead the effort and serve as your advocate when dealing with the buyer’s agent and service providers. Depending on the written contract, you may pay for all, some or none of these items. If each procedure returns acceptable results, as defined by the contract, then the sale may continue. If there are problems with the home, the terms set forth in the contract will dictate your next step. You or the buyer may decide to walk away, open a new round of negotiations or proceed to closing.
Important reminder: A few days before the closing, you will want to contact the entity that is closing the transaction and make sure the necessary documents will be ready to sign on the appropriate date. You may be able to sign early but remember the transaction is not finalized until signed by all parties and funds have changed hands (through the closing company). Also, begin to make arrangements for your upcoming move if you have not done so.
8. Close the deal
“Closing” refers to the meeting where ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer. Your agent will be present during the closing to guide you through the process and make sure everything goes as planned. By being present during the closing, he or she can mediate any last-minute issues that may arise. In some states, an attorney is required and you may wish to have one present. After the closing, you should make a “to do” list for turning the property over to the new owners. Here is a short checklist to get you stated:
- Cancel electricity, water, gas, lawncare, cable and other routine services
- Leave keys and garage remotes in a kitchen drawer
- Gather any owner’s manuals and warranties for included appliances and leave them in a drawer as well
- As a friendly touch, leave a note referencing favorite local restaurants or services you have used and trust