STEP 1 – Deciding to Sell
Thinking of selling your home? How do you decide if it’s the right time? Consider the following:
Timing Did your next-door neighbor’s house just go up for sale? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is there a new development going up down the street? Is it winter and new construction has slowed?
Finances What kind of taxes will you have to pay? Do you have cash to pay closing costs?
The X Factor Are you being transferred? Can you postpone your transfer? Called up for military duty?
Consider these things and get a feel for the market. The best thing you could do would be to talk to professionals. Certainly a Realtor would be able to talk about the market, especially a Realtor with experience in your specific neighborhood. A good tax attorney or accountant may also prove to be valuable.
STEP 2 – Find a Realtor
Hiring an agent when you sell your home means you have experience on your side. You gain a more powerful position on your side of the negotiating table by having someone who’s done it all many times before. When selling, your agent should:
- Help you decide if it’s the right time to sell
- Determine the fair market value of your home
- Help you set a price for your home
- Advise when and if price reductions would be beneficial Advise how to prepare your home for the market
- Create a marketing plan unique to your home
- Enlist your home on the Multiple Listing Service
- Provide information (electronic and print) to potential home buyers
- Schedule open houses and tours of your home
- Provide references to needed services (appraisers, lenders, inspectors)
- Receive and explain offers
- Write counter-offers
- Help finalize closing plans
So how do you choose the right Realtor? The most important factor is experience. Find a real estate agent who has extensive experience in your neighborhood. Don’t just sign up with anyone, ask questions! A few questions to consider:
- Do you work full time or part time?
- How long have you been selling homes in this area?
- Are you familiar with the areas I’m considering?
- What type of homes do you usually handle?
- What percentage of your business comes from referrals and repeat clients?
- How many sales have you closed?
- How many homes did you sell last year?
- What percentage of your listings sold during the listing period?
- How close to the asking price do your homes sell?
- On average, how many days do homes stay on the market?
- Will you guide us as we prepare the house to be shown?
- Will we receive a copy of the marketing plan?
- How will you advertise our home?
- In what publications and when will ads run?
- Will you employ an Internet marketing program?
- When do you plan to hold open houses?
- How will you advertise an open house?
- Do you plan to do anything else to get the word out?
- How often can we expect to be updated, even if there’s nothing to report?
STEP 3 – Set a Price
Your agent will help you set a price for the home that fits your needs with the market demands. They will search for homes in the area comparable to yours that have recently sold to ascertain the fair market value of your home. From there, you can generate a game plan to set the price based on your needs. Setting the price high can prolong your sales time and limit the number of people through your home, but setting it too prevents you from getting paid what your house is worth.
Make sure your agent knows your neighborhood. Often neighborhoods have “micro-trends” that aren’t prevalent in the overall market. One neighborhood might be “hot” and outside agents know nothing about it. Select the right agent for your neighborhood, and they’ll help you select the right price for your home.
STEP 4 – Make a Plan
You’ve got a great home with the right price. How are you going to get the word out? Your agent should create a custom plan for your home. In Robyn Foulger’s and Scott Steadman’s case, they prepare a tailor-made, proprietary 25-Point Marketing Plan for each home they list.
Your marketing plan should identify the agents’ responsibilities and commitments. How many open houses will they hold? How will they market online? How will they market in print?
And what will you do? What home repairs will you undertake? What needs to be replaced?
Working together with your agent you should find a plan that fits your needs and lifestyle, and one that will get your home’s information to the best buyers. Then it’s time to put it to work.
STEP 5 – The Offer
This is it! It’s time to receive offers. Together with your agent, you’ll review offers sent in by real estate agents. If there are multiple offers, you’ll have to decide which to accept. Do you take the high offer with several conditions, or the lower one with no conditions? Talk to your agent to determine what’s best for you.
Some things to consider when looking at offers:
Take Your Time
Don’t get in such a rush or panic that you settle for getting the offer terms by fax or phone. Make sure you sit down with your agent so that you understand the terms and what the offer really says.
Determine what your bottom dollar is and never share it with any one. Compare each offer to that amount and realize that your bottom price may change as you become more familiar with the market.
Don’t take any offer personally
Your house is just one house that is on the market. Buyers scour the market for great deals and sometimes present intentionally low offers. Do not take any offer as a personal insult.
Don’t hesitate to counter-offer
Even when you get a low offer or one that you are unwilling to accept, don’t hesitate to counter. Sometimes buyers will respond positively to a counter because they are encouraged you are willing to negotiate.
STEP 6 – Closing
There’s a lot to do between the time you accept an offer and the time the house is actually sold. The buyer will do inspections, you may have to meet some conditions delineated in the offer, and the title to your home must be proven to be free and clear (free from judgments, liens, other claims, etc.).
It is your responsibility to maintain your home in the same condition it was in when the buyers made their offer. If window treatments were included, don’t pack up the curtain rods. If you included the refrigerator in the sale and it breaks, you’re still responsible for it. Many real estate complaints and lawsuits result from sellers delivering a home decidedly different from the one the buyers believed they were getting.
Once all has been done, you’re ready for closing. This is the meeting where the buyer signs final documents for transfer of title. Usually the buyer will take possession of the home the day after closing, when their mortgage loan has funded and been recorded in the local government.
Congratulations! You’ve sold your home.