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The Home Selling Process

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

I like to break the home selling process down to 9 predictable steps so my clients know what to expect and won't be overwhelmed. These are the steps that are necessary to have an efficient and smooth sale...and hopefully get you the most amount of money for your house.


#1 Choose a Listing Agent


A listing agent represents you and has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests in this transaction...they are your person. You want to work with an agent that you feel comfortable and confident with, you may have a lot of questions along the way and you want to be able to talk easily with your agent. It is a normal practice to interview agents to find the one that is right for you, so if necessary, meet with at least three agents to help you make a decision on the best person for you.


Ask questions about your listing agreement, including the length of time the home will be listed and the commission you will pay for the agent’s services. Will you also be paying the buyer’s agent commissions? (Most traditional agreements require it).


> What questions to ask? Check out 10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing an Agent.


#2 Find out How Much Your Home Is Worth


A seller's greatest mistake is often overpricing their home. Keep your price in line with sold homes that have been identified in a comparative market analysis report. Consider whether your market is hot, cold, or neutral and price the home accordingly.


Your agent will do this market analysis for you and then discuss with you what is the optimal price range for your home considering the current market. In the end it is your decision what price to list your home at, but remember, it is in your best interest to consider your agents advice and guidance...that is why you hired them.


> What is a Comparative Market Analysis? Check out What is My Home Worth?


#3 Get Your Home Ready for Sale

Prepare your home for sale by cleaning and decluttering it and improving curb appeal. You might want to consider hiring a professional stager to stage your home for showings or ask your real estate agent for help or ideas. (Yes, staging helps improve sale success in both time on the market and dollars)


TIP **Remember, you only get one chance—and sometimes only three seconds or so—to make a great first impression. Make it count.


Make any necessary repairs and consider a pre-listing, seller’s inspection to identify any potential problem areas.



#4 Market Your Home

In today's market your home's first showing is on the internet, that is where the buyers are. That means that your photos and marketing strategy needs to be digital too. Your best money spent will be to have professional quality photographs done and have a professional virtual tour walkthrough video created that you can put online as part of your listing and marketing strategy. (Our agency has these professionals in-house for us to utilize)


Next, your agent should saturate the internet and social media with photographs and descriptions of your property. Along with that, traditional marketing tools are employed like a sign in your yard, open houses, and networking and promoting your house to other realtors with buyer clients.


> The Power of Virtual Tours during COVID? Check out Virtual Tours


#5 Show Your Home

Be as flexible and accommodating as possible. Allow your agent to use a lockbox for showings of your home. Agents will always call to see if a showing is possible and they will never enter your home without an appointment. Some buyers will want to see the home on weeknights (after work) and all across the weekend. Be as accommodating as possible.


TIP** By doing Step #3, and maintaining your home's cleanliness while it is being marketed, showings do not need to become episodes of panic each time someone wants to see your house.


If you're selling a home with pets, you might want to make temporary living arrangements while you show the house, if possible. If you have small kids, make your agent aware of their schedule and your agent will do their best to manage showings to not disrupt their routines.


Your agent will always be (should be) asking for feedback from the showing agent so you can address concerns, and if necessary revisit the listing price.


#6 Receive Purchase Offers and Negotiate


YAY, we got an offer! This is just the beginning of the buying/selling negotiation, this is the time to be clear headed and strategic. Negotiating is a bit like a chess match, one side makes a move and then it is the other sides turn to counter. It is easy to become emotional and even offended by offers, try not to be, remember chess, there are multiple moves that can be made to get you to where you want to be.


Offers almost always come with conditions, which are things that need to happen in order for the contract to go final. This is normal, quite often these conditions are based around financing approval, home inspections, and the unique needs and requests of the buyer.


READ the offer carefully! Make sure that everything that is to be included, or excluded, is written in the contract. It doesn't matter what was discussed, it matters what is written in the contract. Ask questions, if something seems to be missing or unclear, ask your agent...at this moment, no question is a stupid question, this is your largest asset we are dealing with - speak up.


Remember, you don't have to accept their offer, you are in control, but be sure you are being realistic in your expectations.


#7 Schedule an Appraisal


As mentioned above, the request for an Appraisal is almost always requested by the bank or the buyer to ensure the homes value is reflective of the price being requested. This is something your agent will coordinate with the buyers agent to get scheduled.


Clean the house the day before the appraiser arrives. Do not try to hide any imperfections and defects. You should not be in the house at the time of the appraisal. You're typically not entitled to receive a copy of the appraisal because you didn't pay for it, the buyer did.


If the buyer decides to cancel the contract based on an appraisal, ask your agent or lawyer about your rights. They’ll need an appraisal contingency in the contract to pull out. These were the important contract details we included in Step #6.


#8 Cooperate With the Home Inspection


Now get ready for the home inspector. If you are confused, an Appraisal (Step #7) determines value and a Home Inspection (Step #8) determines the condition of the homes vital systems, like the roof, electrical, plumbing, etc.


Ask your agent to provide you with a home inspection checklist, so you'll know in advance what the inspector will want to see. Prepare the attic and basement for inspection, too. Move stuff away from the walls in the garage, and make sure there’s a clear path for the inspector to get through.


IMPORTANT - Seller Disclosures- If you are aware of any damage or problems with the property that make the home unfit, or would require significant cost to repair, that may not be obvious by simple observation, it is your LEGAL obligation to disclose this to your agent. Examples could be past flood damage or seasonal flood damage, mold that's been painted over but not remedied, hidden electrical issues in the walls by DIY renovations. You MUST disclose these types of issues to your agent, or risk being sued after the fact. (Yes, they can sue you even after you no longer own the house.)


#9 Closing, Possession Dates, & Key Release


Assuming all of the inspections have been satisfactory, and both sides have come to a final agreement in the negotiations, the deal is almost done. Any conditions that were stipulated in the offer must be satisfied AND WAIVED in writing before the deadline date set. Once the last condition is waived by the buyers and the seller has been notified, now the sale is officially done and legally binding.


From here the contract is sent to each party's lawyers to conduct the legal transfer of funds and property title from the seller to the buyer. Know what lawyer you will be using before this point and contact them to inform them that you are in the process of selling your home, this makes sure they are prepared to assist you when needed.


As you approach the possession date set in the contract, you want to make sure that you are going to be out on time and that the property is properly cleaned for the new owners. If you do not vacate on time you will be required to pay penalties.



NOTE **Expect a final walkthrough by the new owners and their agent a day or two before the final possession date. This final walkthrough does not require showhome appearances, it should be relatively empty or packed in preparation for moving day. This final walkthrough is to ensure the home is in the same condition as when they made the offer to purchase and that their has been no significant damages or change in the property from when they first saw it.


Key release will happen on the day of possession when all of the legal documents and funds have transferred. You should have turned over all keys (and garage door openers, if applicable) to the property, to your agent the morning of possession, or earlier, so they may provide them to the buyer's agent for key release.



CONGRATULATIONS!!!


You have successfully sold your home, I hope it served you well and you enjoyed many memories you can take with you...now onto your new home and new adventures.


I hope this was helpful and you feel more informed and comfortable about what to expect when choosing to sell your home. If I can be of assistance in listing and selling your home I would love the opportunity to work with you...give me a call.


PS** How far ahead should you contact a listing agent? You should contact a listing agent as soon as you start thinking about selling...even if that is 3-6 months in advance. There are alot of things that you can do to get prepared ahead of time...like searching for your new home so that your transition and transaction go as smoothly as possible.


Want to go look at houses together? Call me >


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