8 Steps to Selling Your Home
- Define your needs. Why are you selling your home? Growing family? New job opportunity? Identify your goals, such as time frames and profit margins you hope to obtain.
- Name your price. Setting a fair price from the beginning will generate action from other agents and buyers. Take into account your home’s condition, comparable homes’ prices, and the overall market. Your real estate agent can help you determine a fair price. For a truly objective opinion, have your home appraised. This typically costs a few hundred dollars, but can affect the duration your home sits on the market. Studies show that the longer a house stays on the market, the less likely it is to sell for the original asking price. Therefore, if your goal is to make money, think about a price that will encourage buyer activity (fair market value).
- Prepare your home. As a seller, you can only control three factors of your home: its condition, asking price, and marketing strategy. Your agent can help you position your home on the market to overcome any downsides, like perhaps its location, size, or necessary renovations.
- First impressions are key! Make your home look its best. Fix things that are broken and remove clutter. Even a home with too much personality is hard to sell. Remove personal mementos and pictures. Buyers want to picture the home as theirs. Don’t confuse how much you value your home with what buyers are willing to pay for it, and don’t place too much emphasis on home improvements when calculating your price, because the buyer may not share your taste. Your agent can advise you on these matters.
- Get the word out. The internet, yard signs, open houses, media advertising, agent-to-agent referrals, direct mail marketing, listing on MLS, or a combination of these ideas can all be helpful. Your agent should structure marketing so the first 3-6 weeks are the busiest.
- Receive an offer. When you get a written offer from a potential buyer, your agent will determine if they are prequalified or preapproved to buy your home. Your agent will help you through the legalities of the proposed contract and answer any questions you may have.
- Negotiate to sell. Your agent can help you negotiate and come to a win-win agreement on items such as price, financing, closing costs, repairs, appliances and fixtures, landscaping, painting, and move-in date. Once both parties have come to agreement, your agent will prepare a contract. Remain flexible on agent showings and avoid putting contingencies on the sale. You may want a certain move-in date, but you shouldn’t lose a sale over it.
- Prepare to close. Your property may need to be formally appraised, surveyed, inspected, or repaired. Your agent can spearhead negotiations and legal issues with service providers. Depending on your contract, you may have to pay for all, some, or none of these items. You or the buyer may decide to walk away, open a new round of negotiations, or proceed to closing. A few days before closing, make sure the documents will be ready to sign on the appropriate date.
- Close the deal. This means the ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer. Your agent will guide you through the process and make sure everything goes as planned. Remember to cancel electricity, gas, lawn care, cable, and other routine services. gather owner’s manuals and warranties for all conveying appliances.
A Note on Seller Etiquette
As with any business transaction, there is an expected protocol to how sellers, buyers, and agents interact. Should you find yourself in a sticky situation, alert your agent.
- The Aggressive Agent. When your agent puts your house on the market, typically all promotional materials state clearly that they should be the primary contact for buyers and buyers’ agents. However, sometimes a buyer’s agent will contact a seller directly to win business or cut the seller’s agent out of the deal. This is not reputable behavior and you should report it to your agent immediately.
- The Unscrupulous Vendor. When your house is on the market, less-than-ethical vendors are aware and often try to fill your mailbox with junk mail. Though MLS organizations enforce rules on this, some companies have found ways to pull information into mass mailing lists. If you think this has happened to you, alert your agent.
- The Naive Buyer. Yard signs and internet listings can be so exciting for prospective buyers that they may simply stop by. If this happens, it’s best not to “lead them on” with impromptu tours or discussions. Instead, politely let them know that your agent is in charge of scheduling tours and give them your agent’s information. If you attempt to handle these situations on your own, you may end up disclosing the wrong information or possibly harming negotiations down the road. It’s always best to keep your professional agent in the loop!
10 Things to Know About Your Agent
- Experience. Are you a full-time professional agent? How long have you been in the business? What professional designations do you have?
- Team. Do you have a personal assistant, team, or staff to handle the various parts of the purchase? How do I communicate with them?
- Website. Will you list my home online? What is the URL? What is your email address?
- Communication. How will we communicate during this process- fax, email, phone, text message? How often will we touch base?
- Marketing. What is your average market time? How do I know I’m getting top dollar for my home?
- Referrals. Will you give me names of past clients?
- Performance. Do you have a performance guarantee or can you outline some expectations for me? If I’m not satisfied, can I terminate our listing agreement?
- Payment. How will you get paid? How are fees structured? May I have that in writing? What are all estimated costs?
- Pricing. How would you develop pricing strategies for our home?
- Selling. What will you do to sell my home? Who determines where and when my home is marketed? Who pays for your advertising?
Tips for Increasing your Home’s Appeal
Remember the 60-second rule: you only have about that long to create a winning first impression with a potential buyer! Here are some tips for maximizing your home’s appeal.
- Evaluate any furniture that disrupts a room’s “flow” or makes it appear smaller
- Consider renting a storage unit to eliminate unnecessary items
- Organize bookshelves, pantries, closets, and cabinets
- Clean light fixtures & fans
- Shampoo carpets
- Remove excess wall hangings & knick-knacks
- Repair all leaks or plumbing problems
- Make minor repairs to broken screens, sticking doors, cracked caulking, etc.
- Clean or paint walls/ceiling
- Replace worn cabinet and door knobs
- Fix or replace discolored grout
- Replace broken tiles
- Replace worn countertops
- Mow the lawn, remove weeds, mulch flower beds
- Remove yard clutter
- Apply fresh paint to wooden fences
- Tighten and clean door handles
- Clean windows inside & out
- Powerwash home’s exterior
- Ensure gutters and downspouts are firmly attached & working
- Paint the front door
- Buy a new welcome mat
- Place potted flowers near the front door
- Turn on all lights
- Open drapes/shutters in the daytime
- Keep pets secured outdoors
- Buy new towels for the 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 the home with a comforting scent like apple spice or vanilla
- Set the dining room table for a fancy dinner party
- Vacate the property while it is being shown