Selling Your Home In Seven Steps
Not all agents are made equal. From excellent local connections to other real estate professionals to cutting edge marketing skills, from having a real eye for helping stage your home to being committed to being personally present at every meeting, each agent will have different strengths and weaknesses. Pick one whose style and approach you resonate with. Knowing also how long it takes your agent to usually move a home will give you an idea as to what to expect for yourself.
1. Define your needs
Begin by asking yourself: why do I want to sell my home, and what are my goals for this sale? Defining your expectations and hopes will help communicate to your real estate agent how best to go about achieving them, and also allow them to provide feedback based on their knowledge of the local market. These goals can be anything from desiring a larger home for a growing family or to find a home within a key price bracket. Also remember to include a realistic time frame – the urgency of your project will determine many of the factors that are explored below.
2. Name Your Price
Many people think selling a home is a chance to get rich, but there are factors at play that greatly influence what you can reasonably ask for. While anybody can ask for a million dollars, knowing what the fair market price is will help you sell your home sooner.
When setting your price, you need to take into account the condition of your home, how much other homes in your neighborhood of similar square footage and amenities have sold for, and how the overall market is doing in your local area. Your real estate agent’s experience and knowledge of all these elements will help guide you through this process and finding a good price to start with.
Your agent will have an awareness of how much similar homes are selling for in your market, and can guide you to a professional appraiser who can give you a truly objective evaluation. This normally costs a few hundred dollars.
Remember: setting an overly ambitious sales price can cause your property to sit still while more reasonably priced homes sell, leading to new buyers wondering what’s wrong with your property since it’s been available for so long. Studies show that properties priced over 3% of their fair market value can take longer to sell, ultimately leading to your having to reduce the value to under market price to compete with newer homes.
3. Prepare Your Home
Now that you have your fair market price, it’s time to ask buyers to come in and take a look. In order to make that a profitable encounter, however, you need to prepare your home to receive these new visitors and make a positive impression. This involves sprucing things up by making sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink, fixing broken lights, touching up scrapes on the walls, and checking that doors and windows don’t stick. You need to start viewing your home as your buyer will, and that means bringing it as close to “showroom” condition as you can.
Remember: first impressions are crucial. Your real estate agent can help you with preparing your home due to both their experience and objective eye. This can involve making your home a more neutral space so that buyers can imagine themselves living with your home’s walls. This can be achieved by taking down some family photos, personal mementos, and other items that might dominate the room.
Remember to make minor repairs where you can – everything from cleaning the shower curtain to fixing the leaky faucet can make a big difference in appealing to your buyers.
Finally, get rid of clutter wherever it may lurk, even if this means bagging and boxing and putting your stuff in the garage. Clean, expansive spaces appeal to people, whereas crowded, cluttered spaces might make them want to run!
4. Spread The Word
You are ready. Your home is beautiful, your price is set, now all you need is to let people know. Again, this is where your real estate agent is key. While you could plant a sign in your lawn and hope for the best, your agent will be able to enter your home’s information in the MLS® where every other agent can see it, as well as devise a marketing strategy to get word out.
Your agent might suggest the classic yard sign, but also organize open house showings, promotions on the internet, dedicated media advertising, email marketing, and work their own personal network of agents and professionals to get word out.
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 should take advantage of the first three to six weeks your house is on the market to generate as much interest and movement as possible, as that’s always the best time to sell.
5. Receive An Offer
Few things are as exciting as receiving your first offer from an interested buyer. However, before you celebrate you need to take a deep breath. The most important first step is for your agent to research your buyer a little and find out if they are prequalified or preapproved first. If they qualify, then you and your agent will carefully read their offer to make sure you understand every element involved.
An offer must contain 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
• Settlement date
Once you’ve read the offer carefully, you can either accept it, make a counteroffer, or reject it outright. Your agent will again guide you in this decision process. Remember, once you sign an offer it is legally binding.
Negotiate to sell
Very few sellers get offers for the exact amount they’re asking for. Usually an offer will come in anywhere from 10% to 30% under their listed price. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on the offer, but rather that you should take into account what’s happening to the local market and make a counter offer accordingly.
Your agent will also help you figure out what you can negotiate beyond just the asking price, such as financing, down payment, closing costs, repairs, appliances and fixtures, painting, move-in date, and much more. Once you and the buyer have agreed on all the details, your agent will prepare a contract.
6. Prepare To Close
Congratulations! You’ve accepted an offer to buy your house, and now you only need to close. Before you can do so, however, you need to make a list of all the things both parties must accomplish.
• The property may need to be formally surveyed, appraised, instructed, or repaired. Your agent can take care of these items and ensure they’re speedily done, and depending on the contract you may pay for some, all, or none of these items. Once these have been taken care of, the process may continue.
• If there are any problems with the home, the terms set in the contract must be followed. You or your buyer may walk away, start negotiating once more, or continue to closing.
• A few days before closing, contact the people responsible for the closing transaction and make sure they have all the necessary documents and paperwork.
• Being making arrangements for your move.
7. Close The Deal
The big day is here! “Closing” refers to the meeting where you meet with your buyer and legally transfer the property to them. Your real estate agent will be there to make sure everything proceeds smoothly, and to handle any problems that may arise. This is critical – having a calm, objective professional on hand at this meeting can help you navigate any last second issues with confidence.
In some states you will also need to have an attorney present. Finally, after the closing, you should make a ‘to-do’ list for turning the property over to the new owners:
• Cancel utilities, lawn care, cable and other regular services
• If the new owner wishes to continue some of these services, simply change the name instead
• Collect all the owner’s manuals and warranties for any appliances that are staying in the home