10 Steps to Selling a Home
1. Define needs to sell
It is important to set out in writing the reasons that are motivating
you to sell your current home. You might ask yourself, "Why am I
selling my home and what do I expect to accomplish?" If you have
a growing family and you need more space you may be under less pressure
to get your house ready to sell than if you were, let's say, moving to
a new city due to career opportunity.
Explore your short and long term goals and decide how selling your house
fits into those goals. Your agent will identify all of the variables within
your individual goals and how best to achieve them in your local real
estate market. Your real estate agent will apply his or her expert knowledge
to your particular needs and set a realistic time frame for the process
to proceed. This will help you to establish a time management path for
selling your home.
2. Pricing stategy
Your next objective is to consult with your real estate agent to determine
the best possible selling price of your home. You will need to take into
account the state of the local market, the condition of your home, and
sales of comparable homes in your neighborhood. He or she will create
a comparative market analysis by taking into consideration the type of
market you are in and recent sales of comparable properties. Your agent
will then guide you to the best fair market price that will help sell
your home within your desired time frame. Usually, real estate agents
have a clearer and more objective sense of market value than anyone else-
Often, it can be hard for you, as a seller, to also maintain objectivity,
so remember to be reasonable about the price you set. You will always
be better off setting a fair market value price than setting your price
high expecting that someone will come along and be willing to pay it.
If your home stays on the market too long because it is overpriced, potential
buyers may think that something is wrong with it and you may end up selling
it for less than what you could have gotten if you had started out with
a realistic asking price.
3. prepare your property
It's time to get your home in "showing and selling" condition.
Most of us don't keep our homes in the condition it would need to be in
to sell. Over the years those boxes in the corner of the garage just seem
to multiply on their own. Things have broken that we just never get around
to fixing and some things have just worn out. We just accept the fact
that they will always be this way. It is this frame of mind that you have
to break out of in order to get your house ready to show. How your home
looks will have an immense impact on how quickly it sells and whether
or not you get full market value for it.
First impressions are very important and you only get to make one. Your
real estate agent, who is interacting in the marketplace every day, can
assist you in approaching your home from the buyer's standpoint. What
needs to be changed to make a good first impression? This may mean that
all you do is prune the trees and shrubs. On the other hand, it may mean
that you completely repaint the house, inside and out. Do a "curb
to door" check. Give the potential buyers a clear path to enter the
home. The fewer obstacles between the buyer and the true appeal of your
home the better. Keep in mind that over time we become accustomed to our
surroundings. What's normal for you may be detrimental to the buyer.
Make your home look as spacious as possible. Organize your closets and
kitchen cabinets, and if you have things stored in the attic or basement,
make sure they are presentable. If you are showing during the day, pull
back your curtains and drapes to show how bright and cheery your home
is. If you are showing at night, turn on all of the lights to create a
warm and welcoming environment for the prospective buyers. A home that
is marked with your personality and style may be harder to sell. You might
even consider such things as removing obvious clues to your political
affiliation and tucking away any biased literature that may be visible.
This will reduce distractions and help the buyers to visualize the home
as their own.
4. Marketing Strategy
Now that your home is ready, it's time to put it up for sale and market
it. Establishing a marketing strategy with your real estate agent is a
must. Your agent will expose your home to the most potential buyers possible
using a marketing plan that will have the highest possibility of bringing
not only the most buyers, but also the most qualified buyers, to your
There are many different ways to get the word out there that your home
is for sale. A yard sign, flyers, and direct marketing are just a few
of the many options available. If you are in a buyer's market you will
have to be extra careful when choosing a plan. You don't want your home
to sit with no one showing interest. You and your agent should structure
your marketing strategy so that the first 3-6 weeks that your house is
on the market will be the busiest.
5. Receiving an offer
When a buyer decides to buy your home, an offer will be presented. Your
real estate agent will advise you as to whether or not the prospective
buyer is qualified to purchase your home.
After all, there is no reason to review an offer if the person(s) making
it will not be able to actually buy your home.
You and your real estate agent will then review the written document,
taking care to note what is required of both parties to execute the transaction.
The contract should protect the best interests of all parties involved
and should be comprehensive in nature.
Once you accept the contract, it may be too late to make any changes.
The contract, though not limited to this list, should include the following:
· A legal description of the property
· The offering price
· The down payment
· Financing arrangements
· A list of fees and who will pay them
· Amount of the deposit
· Inspection rights and possible repair allowances
· The method of conveying the title and who will handle the closing
· A list of appliances and furnishings which will stay with the
· The settlement date
· Any relevant contingencies
Remember that the legalities of this phase are very important. If you
have any questions or concerns, be certain to address them with your real
estate agent right away
6. Negotiate the offer
Most offers to purchase your home will require some level of negotiation
to come to a win-win agreement. Your real estate agent is well versed
on the legalities of the real estate contract used in your area and will
handle the responsibility of protecting your best interest throughout
these negotiations. In addition, your agent has a thorough understanding
of the contract itself, including what each contract clause means to you
and your buyer, what you will net from the sale of your home, and what
areas in the contract lend themselves easiest to negotiation. Your agent
will review the written offer with you to make sure that you thoroughly
understand what the buyers are offering and what they are asking in return.
Some of the items that you may have to negotiate are:
· The price
· Closing costs
· Repairs that need to be done
· Appliances and fixtures
· Occupancy time frame
To really gain some insight into why potential buyers are pursuing the
purchase of your home and how they might proceed in the negotiations,
it is also important to know as much about the buyer as possible, especially
their motivation for buying. Once both parties have reached a point where
the deal is acceptable, your agent will be certain that you have a legally
7. Vendors for sellers
Once you have accepted an offer to sell your home, your real estate agent
will inform you of all the procedures involved in order to proceed successfully
to closing, as well as the parties responsible for completing those procedures
and estimates of completion. For instance, the property may need to be
formally appraised, surveyed, inspected or repaired. Depending on the
specifics reached during the negotiations, you may pay for all, some,
or none of these items.
Your agent will then coordinate with all the parties and keep you informed
as to the results of the various procedures. If each procedure returns
acceptable results as defined by the contract, then the sale may continue.
If there are problems with the property the terms set forth in the contract
will dictate your next step. Depending on the contract, you or the buyer
may decide to walk away, open a new round of negotiations, or close. Your
agent will advise you throughout this process and will help you coordinate
any actions you must take to keep the sale moving forward.
There are some sales that go smoothly and some that require a lot of work
to get to the closing table. Until you get into it, you won't know which
one you have on your hands. Either way, your agent will be there with
you every step of the way.
8. Pre-close preparation
A few days before the closing, your real estate agent will contact the
entity closing the transaction to make sure that all of the necessary
forms and documents have been prepared and are going to be available for
you to sign on the appropriate date. Your agent will also contact each
party to the transaction to be certain that they have taken each action
necessary for closing, so that the entire closing can proceed on the date
and time planned.
Your agent will also prepare you in advance for the process of the closing,
advising you of any documents you must bring to the closing, how much
time to block off for the closing, and any other information that is pertinent
to the closing meeting itself.
9. Closing the sale
"Closing" refers to the meeting where ownership of the property
is legally transferred to the buyer. Your real estate agent will be present
during the closing to help explain the process and forms to you and make
sure everything goes as planned. By being present during the closing,
he or she can mediate any last minute issues that may arise.
As the seller, you will need to be prepared to give over any necessary
documentation regarding the property and, depending on the arrangements
made during negotiations, you may be required to have done something specific
in order to close. Be sure to read all the documents and ask any questions
you may have. It is important that you understand every document you are
Congratulations on the successful sale of your home!
Hopefully, everything went smoothly and you will be vacating your house
in the time frame that you had anticipated. Your real estate agent will
help you create a checklist of all the things you will need to do to turn
the property over to the new owners. You will need to make sure that all
of the local services (i.e. electricity, gas, lawn care, cable, etc.)
have been cancelled or, if the new owner is going to retain some of the
services, the name for the account should be changed. The property and
anything assigned to the buyer according to the contract should be prepared
appropriately for the new owners. This will make the transition as smooth
and effortless as possible.