When you are ready to sell your house or property, the Experience and Knowledge that a qualified real estate professional can provide, is a valuable tool. We have put together a few important notes to consider when selling your home:
1) Clean up the Clutter
Before you call your real estate agent get your house de-cluttered. Some sellers find the word “clutter” used flippantly about their “beloved treasures” to be insulting. However, in order to sell, you need to be able to look at your house through a buyer’s eyes. Buyers prefer to see a home with as little of the seller’s personality as possible. That way, the buyer can visualize their own clutter in this case beloved treasures in your house, which is soon to be their home.
As difficult as it sounds, as a seller, you need to get into the mindset that it is not your house any longer, it is just the place you will be staying while it gets sold.
2) Ask for a Comparative Market Analysis
Most agents, including us, will offer to put together a CMA or market analysis on your home for free. A CMA will look at how your property compares to the most similar properties available that have sold within the previous 6 month period or less to come up with a realistic value and price for your home or land. It’s important to have an agent who not only knows the area well enough to choose the most “like” properties, but who also has the experience to make the necessary adjustments to come up with value. While an agent doesn’t have to necessarily visit your home to come up with a preliminary CMA based on your honest description of the amenities and condition, it’s always ideal for an agent to visit and get a feel for the home.
Mimi and I work with local and national banks and lending institutions by providing them price analysis on their properties, performing over 300 Price Opinions over the last few years alone. We have experience and you benefit from that experience.
3) React to the type of Market you are in
We will only accept your listing if we believe they can sell it. In a buyer’s market, it is a BIG mistake to list a property too high. If you are adamant about listing it high to “test the market” keep in mind that the real estate agent(s) that provide you with a CMA used factual data to arrive at the numbers they give to you.
Buyers are smart – they have their own agent giving them the information about what is available and what price their future home should be. There are so many houses for sale that buyers weed out the overpriced ones and simply use the Principle of Substitution – that means if there are 5 houses in a neighborhood, and 4 of them are $30,000 more than the last 1 – if they all have the same bedrooms and baths, even if they need painting and carpet, a buyer will substitute a house that is slightly better to save $30,000. They will not just offer $30,000 less on one of the higher priced houses. They just won’t look at them.
If you price the house too high, you end up chasing the market down. You don’t have to price with a huge cushion for negotiations. Just don’t accept an offer that is unacceptable. It is better to have many showings at the right price to spur interest than to price it out of the buyer pool you are trying to attract.
4) Staging your home
Ask your real estate professional about staging. We can recommend a staging company to get your house ready for selling and it can cost as little as a couple hundred dollars for a simple light clean up and re-arranging of furniture to several thousand for thorough cleaning and furniture rental for the term of the listing agreement. Staging will not make your house sell for more than the market value – but it will get it sold sooner than homes that are not staged and otherwise the same as yours.
If you’re barely breaking even and don’t have the money to spend on a professional stager, listen closely to your agent when they give you tips and advice about how to properly showcase your home’s features. It is a good idea to pack up the items you won’t be needing while in the process of selling your house. Put them in storage. You will be glad you did.
5) Pre-Sale Home Inspection Certification
Some Inspection companies will offer a Pre-Sale Home Certification. The seller has a home inspection before listing the property for sale. The inspector goes over the areas of concern. If the seller corrects the issues the inspector pointed out, then the inspector will certify the house. This is a valuable tool in a buyer’s market. All else being equal, a buyer is apt to choose the house with the Pre-Sale Home Inspection.
6) Sign the Listing Paperwork
Once your house is clean, certified, and staged, the real estate agent you selected will have you sign an Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement and a Seller’s Property Condition Disclosure. Make sure you disclose any adverse material defects. It is much better to let people know the issues you know about before they write an offer, than to have to terminate the deal because they found out something that could have been disclosed.
7) Keep the house clean and free of clutter and ready for showings
Sometimes an agent will call to show your house right after they have left another house down the street and saw your sign. Every morning, make the beds. Pick up clothes and towels that may have fallen on the floor. Put dishes in the dishwasher after every meal so you don’t have to do a speed cleaning on a moment’s notice.
8) Leave the house during showings (weather permitting)
Buyer’s are usually pretty polite and would not want to hurt your feelings. But they are there for one purpose. That is to see if your house can be their home. It makes many buyers uncomfortable when the seller is present for the showings. The buyer feels obligated to talk or be friendly. It takes their mind off seeing your house.
If the weather causes you to stay at the house during a showing, refrain from following the buyer and their agent around. Explain the reason that you will be staying when they enter your house. In the same breath, let them know you will stay out of their way and to take as long as they like.
9) Once an offer is received
As your real estate agent, we will keep in contact with you throughout the listing process, and then when an offer comes in, we will notify you and go over the offer with you to make sure you understand the contract. If you don’t understand the legally binding contract, we will suggest you speak with an attorney to understand that you will be bound by the terms of the written contract once you sign.
We will discuss the terms offered, and your options. You will have the option to either Accept, Not Accept, or Counter Offer (that means accepting the offer subject to a few changes that you stipulate). If you decide to ACCEPT the offer as written with NO changes, then the offer becomes binding upon the parties. If you choose to NOT ACCEPT, then the offer is no longer valid, and the only way to get back with that buyer is if THAT buyer decides they want to write a new offer. If you Counter Offer, then you are Not Accepting the contract the way it was written. However, you are attached a counter offer form that says “all the other terms are o.k., except for…” The buyer then has the option to Accept, Not Accept, or Counter Offer. Until all parties are in total agreement of all terms, there is no contract and the seller may receive and accept other offers from other buyers.
Your agent will make sure that escrow is opened. It will have to be at the location of the buyer’s choice. Your real estate agent will be helping to make sure all deadlines are met and the transaction runs smoothly. When slight issues arise, you agent will determine the best to way to handle them without alarming you. Your real estate agent will use their experience and expertise to make sure the transaction comes to a successful close.
In the event of problems, your real estate agent will do what is in your best interest acting in good faith and fair dealing to accommodate a successful transaction.
11) Final Walkthrough and Giving Possession to the Buyer
Anytime between 1 and 5 days before the close of escrow, your buyer will need one last look at the house to make sure it is in substantially condition as when the buyer wrote their offer. The included items from the purchase and sale agreement must remain in place. Basically, if you need a screwdriver to remove something from a wall, the you need to leave that item – it is an attached item that is real property. It is also customary to leave all warranty information and instruction booklets for any appliances remaining with the property.
After the buyer has completed the walkthrough and signed off, it is time for everyone to sign documents at the title company. The title company (or closing attorney if desired by buyer) will have an accounting of all the costs to the buyer and the seller and will show a settlement statement showing what each party is to bring or receive back at the closing table. Bring your extra keys and garage door remote controls, or leave them on the kitchen counter.