For most families, their home is their largest financial asset, and deciding to sell is a major decision that involves a lot of preparation and work. When you’re ready to sell it’s important to have an experienced real estate professional handle the details involved in the successful sale of your home for top dollar.
As experienced professionals who have helped many residents sell their homes, we take great care of every aspect of the sales process – from suggestions on how to showcase your home to strategic marketing and then to making sure everything’s signed, sealed and delivered by the closing date.
We can help you determine the value of your home and the local market conditions in your area.
Providing you with superior service and keeping you abreast of the market is our business.
8 Steps to Selling Your Home
1. Define your needs.
Write down all the reasons for selling your home. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to sell and what do I expect to accomplish with the sale?” For example, a growing family may prompt your need for a larger home, or a job opportunity in another city may necessitate a move. For your goals, write down if you’d like to sell your house within a certain time frame or make a particular profit margin. Work with your real estate agent to map out the best path to achieve your objectives and set a realistic time frame for the sale.
2. Name your price.
Your next objective should be to determine the best possible selling price for your house. Setting a fair asking price from the outset will generate the most activity from other real estate agents and buyers. You will need to take into account the condition of your home, what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for, and state of the overall market in your area. It’s often difficult to remain unbiased when putting a price on your home, so your real estate agent’s expertise is invaluable at this step. Your agent will know what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood and the average time those homes are sitting on the market. If you want a truly objective opinion about the price of your home, you could have an appraisal done. This typically costs a few hundred dollars. Remember: You’re always better off setting a fair market value price than setting your price too high. Studies show that homes priced higher than 3 percent of their market value take longer to sell. If your home sits on the market for too long, potential buyers may think there is something wrong with the property. Often, when this happens, the seller has to drop the price below market value to compete with newer, reasonably priced listings.
3. Prepare your home.
Most of us don’t keep our homes in “showroom” condition. We tend to overlook piles of boxes in the garage, broken porch lights, and doors or windows that stick. It’s time to break out of that owner’s mindset and get your house in tip-top shape. The condition of your home will affect how quickly it sells and the price the buyer is willing to offer. First impressions are the most important. Your real estate agent can help you take a fresh look at your home and suggest ways to stage it and make it more appealing to buyers. * A home with too much “personality” is harder to sell. Removing family photos, mementos and personalized will help buyers visualize the home as theirs. * Make minor repairs and replacements. Small defects, such as a leaky faucet, a torn screen or a worn doormat, can ruin the buyer’s first impression. * Clutter is a big no-no when showing your home to potential buyers. Make sure you have removed all knick-knacks from your shelves and cleared all your bathroom and kitchen counters to make every area seem as spacious as possible.
4. Get the word out.
Now that you’re ready to sell, your real estate agent will set up a marketing strategy specifically for your home. There are many ways to get the word out, including: * The Internet * Yard signs * Open houses * Media advertising * Agent-to-agent referrals * Direct mail marketing campaigns In addition to listing your home on the MLS, your agent will use a combination of these tactics to bring the most qualified buyers to your home. Your agent should structure the marketing plan so that the first three to six weeks are the busiest.
5. Receive an offer.
When you receive a written offer from a potential buyer, your real estate agent will first find out whether or not the individual is prequalified or preapproved to buy your home. If so, then you and your agent will review the proposed contract, taking care to understand what is required of both parties to execute the transaction. The contract, though not limited to this list, should include the following: * Legal description of the property * Offer price * Down payment * Financing arrangements * List of fees and who will pay them * Deposit amount * Inspection rights and possible repair allowances * Method of conveying the title and who will handle the closing * Appliances and furnishings that will stay with the home * Settlement date * Contingencies At this point, you have three options: accept the contract as is, accept it with changes (a counteroffer), or reject it. Remember: Once both parties have signed a written offer, the document becomes legally binding. If you have any questions or concerns, be certain to address them with your real estate agent right away.
6. Negotiate to sell.
Most offers to purchase your home will require some negotiating to come to a win-win agreement. Your real estate agent is well versed on the intricacies of the contracts used in your area and will protect your best interest throughout the bargaining. Your agent also knows what each contract clause means, what you will net from the sale and what areas are easiest to negotiate. Some negotiable items: * Price * Financing * Closing costs * Repairs * Appliances and fixtures * Landscaping * Painting * Move-in date Once both parties have agreed on the terms of the sale, your agent will prepare a contract.
7. Prepare to close.
Once you accept an offer to sell your house, you will need to make a list of all the things you and your buyer must do before closing. The property may need to be formally appraised, surveyed, inspected or repaired. Your real estate agent can spearhead the effort and serve as your advocate when dealing with the buyer’s agent and service providers. Depending on the written contract, you may pay for all, some or none of these items. If each procedure returns acceptable results as defined by the contract, then the sale may continue. If there are problems with the home, the terms set forth in the contract will dictate your next step. You or the buyer may decide to walk away, open a new round of negotiations or proceed to closing. Important reminder: A few days before the closing, you will want to contact the entity that is closing the transaction and make sure the necessary documents will be ready to sign on the appropriate date. Also, begin to make arrangements for your upcoming move if you have not done so.
8. Close the deal.
“Closing” refers to the meeting where ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer. Your agent will be present during the closing to guide you through the process 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. In some states, an attorney is required and you may wish to have one present. After the closing, you should make a “to do” list for turning the property over to the new owners. Here is a checklist to get you started. * Cancel electricity, gas, lawn care, cable and other routine services. * If the new owner is retaining any of the services, change the name on the account. * Gather owner’s manuals and warranties for all conveying appliances.
How to Increase Your Home’s AppealRemember the 60-second rule: That’s all the time you have to create a winning first impression. Here are some simple to significant ways to maximize your home’s appeal.
- Keep the grass cut and remove all yard clutter.
- Weed and apply fresh mulch to flower beds.
- Apply fresh paint to wooden fences.
- Tighten and clean all door handles.
- Clean windows inside and out.
- Powerwash home’s exterior.
- Ensure all gutters and downspouts are firmly attached and functioning.
- Paint the front door.
- Buy a new welcome mat.
- Place potted flowers near the front door.
- Evaluate the furniture in each room and remove anything that interrupts “the flow” or makes the room appear smaller. Consider renting a storage unit to move items off-site.
- Clean and organize cabinets, closets and bookshelves.
- Clean all light fixtures and ceiling fans.
- Shampoo carpets.
- Remove excessive wall hangings and knick-knacks.
- Repair all plumbing leaks, including faucets and drain traps.
- Make minor repairs (torn screens, sticking doors, cracked caulking).
- Clean or paint walls and ceilings.
- Replace worn cabinet and door knobs.
- Fix or replace discolored grout.
- Replace broken tiles.
- Replace worn countertops.
Special details for showings
- Turn on all the lights.
- Open all drapes and shutters in the daytime.
- Keep pets secured outdoors.
- Buy new towels for bathrooms.
- Buy new bedding for bedrooms.
- Replace old lamps or lampshades.
- Play quiet background music.
- Light the fireplace or clean out the ashes and light a candelabrum.
- Infuse home with a comforting scent, such as apple spice or vanilla.
- Set the dining room table for a fancy dinner party.
- Vacate the property while it is being shown.
Understanding The Buyer
As the seller, you can control three factors that will affect the sale of your home:
* The home’s condition
* Asking price
* Marketing strategy
However, it’s important to note that there are numerous other factors that influence a buyer, and you need to understand these consumer trends when you enter the sellers’ market. The more your home matches these qualifications, the more competitive it will be in the marketplace. Your real estate agent can advise you on how to best position and market your home to overcome any perceived downsides.
Unfortunately, the most influential factor in determining your home’s appeal to buyers is something you can’t control: its location. According to the National Association of REALTORS(r), neighborhood quality is the No. 1 reason buyers choose certain homes. The second most influential factor is commute times to work and school.
While some buyers want to simplify their lives and downsize to a smaller home, home sizes in general have continued to increase over the decades, nearly doubling in size since the 1950s. Smaller homes typically appeal to first-time home buyers and “empty nesters,” or couples whose children have grown up and moved out.
Preferences in floor plans and amenities go in and out of fashion, and your real estate agent can inform you of the “hot ticket” items that are selling homes in your market. If your home lacks certain features, you can renovate to increase its appeal, but be forewarned: That’s not always the right move. Using market conditions and activity in your neighborhood as a gauge, your agent can help you determine whether the investment is likely to help or hinder your profit margin and time on the market.
Top 10 Myths About Selling Your Home
1. Myth: You should always price your home high and gradually lower it if it doesn’t sell.
Truth: Pricing too high can be as bad as pricing too low.
You may think by listing high you can always accept a lower offer, but if you do, you’ll miss the buyers looking in the price range where your home should be. Offers may not even come in, because interested buyers are scared off by the price and won’t bother to look. By the time the listing price is corrected, you will have lost a large group of potential buyers. Your real estate agent will offer you a comparable market analysis. This is a document that compares your home to other similar homes in your area, with the goal of helping you to accurately assess your home’s true market value.
2. Myth: Minor repairs can wait until later. There are more important things to be done.
Truth: Minor repairs make your house more marketable, allowing you to maximize your return (or minimize loss) on the sale.
By and large, buyers are looking for an inviting home in move-in condition. Buyers who are willing to tackle the repairs after moving in automatically subtract the cost of needed fix-ups from the price they offer. You save nothing by putting off these items, and you may likely slow the sale of your home.
3. Myth: Once potential buyers see the inside of your home, curb appeal won’t matter.
Truth: Buyers probably won’t make it to the inside of the home if the outside of your home does not appeal to them.
Many buyers drive by a home before deciding whether or not to look inside. Your home’s exterior will have less than a minute to make a good first impression. Spruce up the lawn, trim shrubs and trees, and weed the garden. Clear the walkways and driveways of leaves and other debris. Repair gutters and eaves, touch up the exterior paint and repair or resurface cracked driveways and sidewalks. Place potted flowers out front, hang a wreath on the door and put out a pleasing welcome mat for added curb appeal.
4. Myth: Once potential buyers fall in love with the exterior look of your home, you put interior improvements on the back burner.
Truth: Buyers have no qualms about walking right out the front door within 60 seconds if the house doesn’t look like it could be theirs.
Remember that most buyers are looking for an inviting home in move-in condition. Spending a few thousand dollars for the right work on your home before you sell it, usually translates into a higher selling price and shorter marketing time. Your real estate agent will consult with you about the repairs and replacements that will benefit you most.
5. Myth: Your home must be every homebuyer’s dream home.
Truth: If you get carried away with repairs and replacements to your home, you may end up over-improving the house.
At some point, improvements that you make to your home can exceed what is customary for comparable homes in your area. For instance, there may not be another swimming pool in your entire subdivision. After spending $20,000 to install an in-ground swimming pool that you hope will lure buyers, you may find that it only raises the market value of your home by $10,000 because there are no other comparable properties to support the market value of the pool. As a rule of thumb, if your improvements push your home’s value higher than 20% above average neighboring home values, don’t expect to recoup the entire amount of improvements. Your real estate agent can advise you as to the scope of projects you might consider in preparing your house for sale.
6. Myth: Buyers are never swayed by sellers that offer creative financing options.
Truth: By offering flexibility in financing options, you may lure more prospective buyers.
You might consider offering seller financing, paying some of the buyer’s closing costs, including a one-year home warranty, or other buyer incentives. Your real estate agent, who has professional knowledge of local market activity, can help you decide what incentives, if any, to offer.
7. Myth: You are better off selling your home on your own, thus saving the commission you would have paid to a real estate agent.
Truth: Statistically, many sellers who attempt to sell their homes on their own cannot complete the sale without the service of a professional real estate agent.
Sellers who sell their home without a real estate agent often net less from the sale than sellers who use one. You visit a doctor when you’re sick and take your car to a mechanic when it needs repairs. It makes sense to contact a real estate professional when you are preparing to sell your biggest asset!
8. Myth: Good sellers should be available to guide prospective buyers through the home, giving the whole process a more personal touch.
Truth: Prospective buyers will feel more like the house could be theirs if the current owners are not there.
The presence of homeowners during a viewing can make buyers feel like they are intruding. They need to be able to visualize your house as their home, which can be difficult to do when they are acutely aware that it is still your home. Your real estate agent will be happy to look out for your home during open houses or showings.
9. Myth: Successful sellers insist that the terms of the sale happen their way or no way.
Truth: If you approach the sale of your home as the buyer’s adversary, you risk losing a perfectly solid buyer for no good reason.
Both you and the buyer have the same goal: for you to sell your home and for the buyer to buy it. Work with your real estate agent to approach negotiations positively and with a win-win frame of mind.
10. Myth: When you receive an offer, you should make the buyer wait. This gives you a better negotiating position.
Truth: You should reply immediately to an offer!
When a buyer makes an offer, that buyer is, at that moment in time, ready to buy your home. Moods can change, and you don’t want to lose the sale because you stalled in replying.