Team Up with a Top-Notch Agent
Choosing the right real estate agent will have a significant impact on how quickly your home sells and for what price. Good agents know their markets inside and out, can strategize to get you top dollar for your home, help with negotiations, provide staging advice when needed, coordinate tradespeople—pretty much anything that has to do with selling your house.
To find the best agent, ask the people you know if they’ve recently worked with or know of an agent they can recommend. Ask for recommendations on social media. Read ratings and reviews online. You can also check your neighborhood for “for sale” signs to see which agents are already working in your area and make a special note if you see the same agent on multiple signs.
Price it Right
If you price your home too high, it’ll be on the market for a long time without drawing any offers. In that case, you may have to drop the price, which may have negative consequences. When a house stays listed for too long, when the price is reduced multiple times, or if the original price is too low, people begin to suspect that something might be wrong with the property.
To price your home competitively, your real estate agent will give you a CMA, or Comparative Market Analysis, which includes recent home sales in your area, considering only homes that are similar to yours in age, size, and other features. The data in the report includes each recently sold property’s original list price, how many times the owner dropped the price, how long the house was on the market, the final sales price, and the date of closing.
This information will give you an ideal snapshot of what’s currently going on in the real estate market in your community.
Prepare Your Home for Sale
Before listing your home, you’ll want to clean it from top to bottom. If possible, remove personal items such as family photos or kids’ toys that convey a lived-in look. Make any repairs that are necessary, such as replacing broken light fixtures or fixing squeaky doors. Also, make sure all appliances are in good working order and check the roof, air conditioning unit, furnace, and other major systems to ensure everything is up to current standards.
Staging a home also includes decluttering, de-personalizing, and possibly even redesigning. You can hire someone to do this for you if you’d like or opt to use the services of a professional organizer, house cleaning business, or professional staging company.
Don’t forget the outside. Curb appeal carries a lot of weight in creating a buyer’s first impression of your property.
Showing Your Home
Your agent, known as a sellers’ agent, will place a secure lockbox on your front door that contains your housekey. When a buyer wants to see your home, it’s their agent, known as the buyers’ agent, who accesses the key with a code and escorts their client on the tour. When finished, that agent will place a business card in plain view for you to give to your agent.
It’s best that you are not home during showings, and it’s a good idea to make arrangements for your pets. Animals could become stressed with strangers moving throughout the house, or they may be bothersome to homebuyers who either don’t like pets, are afraid of them, or may have allergies.
You’ll get about an hour’s notice before someone wants to view your home, so make sure to keep the place tidy at all times. There should be no dirty dishes in the sink, towels hanging over the shower, or other personal elements that make the house look lived in.
Offers and Negotiations
In a perfect world, you’ll get several offers on your house for sale. Then, it’s your agent’s job to help you understand the differences between each one. Don’t get caught up in the dollar signs. Even if a buyer makes a full-price offer, there could be contingencies in the contract that may be deal-breakers.
A contingency is a term in a sales contract that allows the buyer to back out of the deal if something happens, such as failing to get financing or needing to sell their existing home first. It’s important to go over each offer with your agent, so you understand exactly what it entails before accepting or rejecting an offer.
Once there is an agreement on price and terms, you’ll need to sign a sales contract and enter the closing process.
The Closing Process
During the closing process, there’s a title check, appraisal, and inspection ordered by the buyer’s lender to ensure that the home and property are in good condition and worth the amount of the loan.
The title check verifies that you, as the seller, have a right to give full ownership of the house to the buyer.
The appraisal process evaluates your home’s worth based on comparable properties in the area.
Inspection checks for things such as electrical wiring, plumbing, foundation strength, and walls for termite damage or other issues that may not be visible to the naked eye.
This is also when the loan documents are prepared and other clerical work completed.
By closing day, all of your belongings should be out of the home. You’ll be signing final documents, paying closing costs, and turning over the keys to the new homeowner.
Selling a home can be a grueling process, but there are many steps you can take to make the process easier. A good listing agent will coach you through each step of the selling process. Price the house to sell. Stage the home to create the best impression. Be prepared for showings, keeping the house tidy and pets tended to.
Review offers carefully, looking at not just the price but also contingencies. Sign your contract and move through the process of having the house appraised and inspected. Take this time also to prepare for your own upcoming move because, on closing day, the buyers take full ownership of the house.
Ask your real estate agent for more information about the steps to successfully selling your house.