There’s no experience quite like that of selling your home. If you’ve taken care of your property, you have an asset that you stand to make a substantial profit from selling. Unless you are a professional, selling a house is something that you’ll do once, maybe twice, in your lifetime. With such a big decision at hand, you’ll want expert help along the way. A real estate agent, a home stager, a handyman, and a professional tax appraiser are all people who make their living getting homes ready to sell. Here is a guide to the steps you will need from listing to closing.
Find the Right Real Estate Agent
Your real estate agent should be someone that works for you. They work to help you make a quick sale that keeps your home from sitting on the market for too many months. Not only will your real estate agent help you sell your home, he or she may also have recommendations for other vendors you may need in the sales process. Select your agent the way you would a job candidate – interview them, ask for references, and talk about their experience in selling homes like yours.
Don’t forget to ask about digital marketing – in the digital age, online shopping is the norm for many people, and this includes home buyers! Your real estate agent will list your home on the MLS (multiple listing service) with an attractive description and photographs. Because so many buyers browse online before setting appointments to tour a house, you’ll want to make sure that the photos show your home at its best. If you can, hire a professional photographer to take these. A professional can make your home look larger and take advantage of the natural light your home offers. They may make suggestions to arrange the interior of the home to make it more appealing to buyers.
Creating a “Buzz” When Your Home Hits the Market
With the increase in digital media over the last ten years, methods of presenting your home have changed over time. Your agent takes advantage of alternate marketing streams, such as social media and multiple advertising sources, to reach as many people as possible. Talk to your real estate agent about using Facebook, Instagram, and other outlets to show your home and photographs.
The more exposure you give your home, the greater your buyer pool will be. Even if your friends and followers aren’t in the market for a home themselves, they may know someone who is – or your neighbors may have someone in mind that they’d like living close by.
Your buyer pool is more than likely using social media. Make sure that your home details are positive and enticing. Finally, make sure that the pictures that are optimized for the web. Most photo editing software platforms have this capability – or your professional photographer can also ensure that they are digitally optimized.
Remember That This is a Business Transaction
You are saying goodbye to the house you’ve lived in, created memories inside, and maybe raised a family. It’s an emotional time for you and your household. When you open your house up to sell, you will have strangers coming in, examining your home, and deciding whether this is a purchase they want to make. Keep in mind that buying a house is a huge investment for most people, and each person is looking for the perfect home for them. Their unique needs may mean that your home doesn’t suit them, or that there are things that they just don’t like about the property. Try to keep your emotions out of the selling process. If possible, avoid being home when your real estate agent is giving a tour. You may hear things you don’t like from potential buyers, and they may think that your asking price is too high for what the home offers.
Staging Your Home for Buyers
Potential buyers want to imagine themselves living in a house – many buyers say that a home that is messy or filled with the personal décor of the owners (photos, trophies, etc.) makes a house less appealing, as they aren’t able to picture their family in that space. Staging a home simply refers to preparing a house to sell. It can involve a simple makeover, adding or removing furniture, and sometimes a paint job. It can also entail taking care of the routine maintenance – fixing doorknobs, patching nail holes – as well as preventative maintenance. Staging is a good time to have the air conditioning unit serviced, have the home checked for pests, and increase curb appeal with some lawn maintenance.
The more opportunities that your real estate agent has to show your home to potential buyers, the more likely you’ll find a buyer quickly. Make your home show-ready at all times – clean, neat, and organized. If you are packing to move, try to avoid that “in process” look of boxes and belongings scattered around. Consider hiring a service to do light cleaning every few days – toilets, sinks, and floors should be clean and sparkling. If you are a pet owner, discuss the placement of your pets with your real estate agent. A fish tank probably won’t deter a potential buyer, but if you have an active dog or a skittish cat, make arrangements for kenneling them, or taking them out of the home during a buyer walk through.
Setting the Right Asking Price
Price too low, and you may leave money on the table. Price too high, and your home sits empty, priced out of the market. A savvy real estate agent can help you determine the appropriate asking price for your home by preparing a Comparative Market Analysis of comparable homes that details the original listing price, how much the home sold for, and how long it was on the market. Home prices tend to trend over a shorter period – think the trends for the past three months, and not the last two years. Your price should be attractive enough to buyers, but not so low that you don’t realize the maximum return on your investment. Remember – you may not get your full asking price. After the housing bubble burst, many buyers are leery of a potentially overpriced house.
As you determine the asking price, ask your real estate agent for advice on boosting your home’s value. Things like fresh paint, a new roof, or attractive landscaping may take a few thousand dollars to complete but can add another ten thousand dollars to your asking price. Part of the staging of your home is getting it ready to entice buyers – the more you can make your house “move in ready,” the more you can ask for the price of your home. Many buyers stretch their budget when home shopping and will appreciate a home that doesn’t need extensive repairs, or fine-tuning. Another thing to consider is a quick “facelift” in your house: upgrade the hardware on your cabinetry and faucets. A luxury finish to a kitchen or bathroom can improve the entire image of the room.
Accepting an Offer
Receiving an offer can be exciting. You’ve found a family that wants to make your house their home. Often, that first offer is the product of hours of study, and may, in fact, reflect the true current value of your home. It’s a good idea to consult with your real estate agent before deciding to accept the first offer.
You may be fortunate to have multiple offers on your house. While the highest offer is very enticing, it’s important to review each offer and contract with your real estate agent. Some buyers may have stretched themselves to make that offer on your home, and there may be trouble during the closing and underwriting process. There could be stipulations with a higher priced contract that you, the seller, aren’t willing or able to meet. Finally, look at the funding from the buyer. If they are paying cash for your home, or if there is a substantial amount of cash (and thus a smaller home loan), it might make it easier to close on a slightly lower offer, than a higher offer that is entirely loan dependent.
After You Accept the Offer
There are a few things that happen in between accepting an offer and handing over the keys. A sale can fall through at this point, so it’s important to avoid some common mistakes home sellers make. While your buyer is securing financing, the mortgage provider is making sure that their collateral is sound. Your house will be professionally appraised and inspected. Expect this process to take about two to three weeks. Some states may have regulations about the length of the inspection, approval, and appraisal timeline. Ask your real estate agent for the specific dates of completion for each step.
Then, the buyers will have the opportunity for a final walk-through of your home. At this point, they may still request changes to the condition of the home or the contract. If the results of the appraisal do not meet the agreed upon sale price, you will need to complete any repairs or maintenance to bring the home up to the settled price, or you and the buyers will have to renegotiate the sales price of the home to fall in line with the appraisal. Again, let your real estate agent guide you through this process. Once the buyers have completed the final walk-through, then its time to sign those closing papers.
What to Expect on Closing Day
Closing on the house refers to “closed escrow”: the buyer has satisfied all the conditions of the purchase contract to the satisfaction of the seller, allowing for the recording of the deed to the property in the buyer’s name. The period is called being “Clear to Close.” The paperwork is typically facilitated by a Settlement Agent, and your real estate agent should be able to recommend one for you. Expect to spend at least an hour, sometimes up to three, completing the contract for sale. The title paperwork on your house will be examined, and then a lengthy contract will be signed. Finally, you will receive a check for the payment of your house, minus the closing costs, if applicable.
There are a few things to remember before transferring the home title deed. Remember to have the utilities removed from your name. Schedule a final gas, electric, and water reading, as well as any “big pickup” of trash before the closing date. Make sure that you’ve taken care of changing your homeowners’ insurance. If you took out extra insurance during the selling process (to protect against having the home shown, and damages that may have happened in that process), speak with your insurance agent about removing that extra bit. If you are part of a homeowners association, you may need to stop the payment of dues and make the HOA board aware of the new homeowners. But – congratulations! You’ve sold your home.
This information is provided courtesy of The Eastside Real Estate Team. Keep us in mind for all your real estate needs. Call us today at 425-200-4093.