Choose a listing agent
Selling your house is a HUGE deal so hire an agent who is not only capable, with a proven track record, but also kind enough to make sure you have a full understanding of the process. The agent you hire has many responsibilities including determining your house’s market value, driving traffic to the property through marketing and advertising, handling stacks of paperwork, scheduling inspections and/or repairs, and negotiating contracts to get you the most favorable terms and conditions.
Make sure the Realtor you choose pays attention to the little details in the transaction. Today’s purchase agreements can run up to 20 pages or more and your agent should be well-versed in what the conditions of a contract mean for you.
Establish the value of your house
Pricing a house involves comparing similar properties, making adjustments for the differences among them, tracking market movements and taking stock of present inventory, all in an attempt to come up with a range of values. A good agent will do this homework for you and then share that information with you as a part of their Comparative Market Analysis.
Do not allow an agent to tell you what your house is “worth” without showing you any evidence of the research they did. Your home is too valuable to be sold based on guess work. It’s important to price a home near its market value to entice the most amount of buyers to write you the most favorable offers. Please don’t hire an agent because they agree to a high list price. Houses that are priced too high, don’t sell. When they sit on the market for long periods of time, buyers think something is wrong with them and end up writing low offers that reflect that opinion. Don’t let that happen to you.
Get the house ready to sell
90% of buyers shop for homes online and that number increases every day. Buyers are attracted to the homes that look and photograph the best. In order to produce the most showing activity for your house, clean thoroughly, including carpets, appliances and windows. Ask your real estate agent for help in staging. Get rid of any excess clutter. Repair obvious deficiencies like missing trim or torn carpet. Paint worn areas. And clean (again!). You want to communicate that your house has been well maintained.
An important piece of preparing your house for sale is conducting a pre-inspection. Discovering problems during a pre-inspection allows you to have more control over how to handle them, and it also takes some negotiation power away from a buyer. If you know what the issues are prior to putting your house on the market, you can either make the repairs or price the house accordingly to avoid heavy negotiations when you receive an offer.
Market your house
Wherever buyers are, there your house should be also. Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to predict exactly where a buyer will come from so it’s essential to market a new listing in a variety of ways. Depend on your Realtor to create an effective marketing plan for your house. Ask your agent for specifics on how they will advertise your house.
Their plan should include print material, internet presence and social media marketing. Steer clear of Realtors who only market your home through open houses. Though it’s a popular method used in home sales, its usefulness is actually far overrated. According to the National Association of Realtors, only 3 percent of houses are sold this way. Hire a creative agent who will really market your house.
Show your house
To make your house look the best it can for showings, follow these guidelines.
Lighting – Open all drapes and blinds. If there is an unpleasant view, close the sheers. Turn on all overhead lights and lamps for a bright and cheerful look. If some wall switches operate wall outlets, plug in a lamp. When a buyer flips a switch and nothing happens, they think “problem”. Clean or replace all switch plates.
Utility bills – If your monthly MUD or OPPD bill is especially brag-worthy, have copies available so buyers can see how low their bills will be.
Pets – SEE NO PETS, HEAR NO PETS, SMELL NO PETS! Kennel all pets during a showing. Better yet, make arrangements to remove your pets during all showings. Your puppies are cute but I want buyers gawking at your house instead of your pets
Pick up – Make your bed! Put away clothes, straighten up newspapers, and wash dishes. Clear anything you can off of the kitchen counter top.
Leave the house– Most buyers will not relax and inspect a home if the owners are present.
Receive an offer and negotiate
Anytime you receive an offer on your house, it’s a good thing. Even if you receive a stinky offer, negotiate by issuing a counter offer. Some buyers have developed bad habits and think first offers should be written extra low. Annoying (I know), but workable. A bad offer is better than no offer. Don’t be afraid to make a full-price counter offer, if you are priced competitively. If you are priced right, prepare yourself for multiple offers.
Prepare for closing
Congratulations! You’ve found a buyer, agreed to a sale price and are ready to sell your house. Now it’s time to close the deal, so how is that done?
Over the next few weeks while you’re packing boxes, a few key events happen. The buyer’s agent will schedule a home inspection within 10 business days. The inspector will spend 3-4 hours in the home preparing an inspection report. Once complete, the buyers will join the inspector for a walkthrough to see all the items that were discovered. Within 3 business days, a second round of negotiations begin as buyers make requests for certain items to be prepared.
When a buyer and seller come to an agreement on repairs, the sale moves forward and the buyer’s lender sends out an appraiser to make sure the house is worth the amount of the purchase price. Depending on the type of loan the buyer uses, the appraiser will also make sure the house is free of certain deficiencies. Simultaneously the title company examines the title deed, the document that gives someone ownership of the property, to make sure it is free of any liens or encumbrances. The title company may request documentation from you to ensure a clean title is handed over to the buyer.
About a week before closing, you’ll go into the title company’s office to sign closing paperwork to prepare it for the buyer. Don’t forget to bring a valid picture ID.
Hug your Realtor, it’s closing day!
On the day of closing, the buyer will sign the required loan and title documents. Once the signing is complete, the buyers will take the keys to their new home, so make sure that the house is thoroughly cleaned with no personal items remaining. My favorite part is delivering your proceeds check to you. Fingers crossed it’s a big one! Done! You just sold your house!