Follow This Step-by-Step Guide to Sell Your Home
Selling a home may seem like a daunting task. But it’s not as difficult as some may think.
Yes, it’s mission-critical, especially when it concerns what is probably the biggest asset in your portfolio. But the path is well-worn and documented. If you simply follow the steps outlined here, the entire trip will be much easier.
Here is a step-by-step guide to move you from start to finish:
1. Get Help
The statistics are clear: “For Sale by Owner” properties sell on average for 20 percent less than those marketed and shepherded by a Realtor. With broker commissions factored in, that’s still a net loss for the seller. And don’t forget the additional legal liability and headaches that could result.
Many sellers opt for a relative or friend who has a real estate license. Savvy homeowners seek out a Certified Homeowner Advocate, who is specially trained and committed to put your financial interests ahead of their own. Because they know not all agents are alike.
- Is your agent a Homeowner Advocate?
- Questions you should ask during your listing agent interviews.
- Everything’s negotiable, including the listing contract term and broker commission.
- Every agent should provide a “net sheet” that shows you the cost of selling your home and the bottom line you can expect to receive.
2. Price Your Home
- Agents use current market data and the economic climate to accurately value your home.
- Price your home correctly, or pay the price.
- Automated valuations like those provided by Zillow and Trulia can be inaccurate by as much as 40 percent.
3. Prepare for the Market
- You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Clean up, spruce up and pack up.
- You may need to make some repairs before hitting the market. Even little things can signal big problems in the mind of a buyer.
- Some homeowners may want to hire a home-staging professional. At the very least, your agent can help.
- Secure valuables and private information before letting a buyer into your home.
- Have pets? You may need to make other arrangements.
4. Pre-Listing Reports: Title, Termite
Before you negotiate with a buyer, you need to know if there are any unforeseen problems that could affect your bottom line.
- Your agent will order a preliminary title report from a reputable title insurance company (We use Ticor Title), to check for liens on the property.
- Your agent will also schedule a termite inspection to determine if your home has an infestation, dryrot or any other wood damage.
5. Seller Disclosures
- Before your home goes on the market, your agent will provide a packet of legally mandated disclosure forms. Complete them right away so they can be delivered to the buyer within days after agreement. (These disclosures are not provided by For Sale By Owner escrow services.)
- A homeowner is required by law to disclose material facts about their house to a buyer.
- Your agent will also order a Natural Hazard Disclosure, which details fire, earthquake and flood zones, among other issues.
6. Market Your Home
- Marketing is about attracting buyers. The only way to get the highest price in the shortest period of time is to market your home to as many buyers as possible.
- The most effective marketing always includes the maximum number of professionally shot photos.
- Real 3D tours, not slide shows, will get you more showings.
- A great property description is an overlooked and underutilized tool to help sell the lifestyle of your home.
7. Show Your Home
- A secure real estate Lockbox will get you more showings than restricting showings to only appointments.
- Keep your home looking (and smelling) presentable until the sale is closed.
- Strangers are going to be walking through your house. But not everyone gets to come in. Trust your gut.
- Open houses are a great marketing tool.
- Here are the top tips to make your home show well.
- Always ask for buyer and buyer agent feedback after a showing.
- If you try to sell during the holidays, you’ll find fewer buyers, which could translate to a lower sales price.
- Spring and summer are real estate season. Your home will show better and you’ll have more buyer competition.
8. Negotiate Offers
- If your home is priced right, you could receive multiple offers.
- Not all offers are viable. Evaluate an offer to make sure the buyer has been preapproved and is committed to your home.
- Expect low-ball offers from investors. But don’t ignore them. Counter them – just in case.
- Your buyer may need to sell a home. Know how to handle a “contingent” offer.
9. Open Escrow
- After you and your buyer have agreed on sale terms, your agent will open an escrow to oversee the transaction.
- The escrow officer will send you “instructions” and documents to sign, including a grant deed that must be notarized.
- Your buyer will send their earnest money deposit to escrow within the first few days.
- If your home is in a homeowner’s association, the escrow officer will order HOA documents, after the buyer and seller return signed escrow instructions.
10. Prepare for Inspections
- Your buyer typically has up to 17 days to complete their due dilligence, including a physical home inspection.
- A professional home inspector will usually target specific areas of the home.
- Your buyer may want a roof inspection and certification.
- If the property has a septic system, a septic certification may be required.
- Buyers also have the right, and responsibility, to inspect any other systems or issues, including seller disclosures, crime statistics, property taxes, mold, foundation, commercial development, zoning ordinances, etc.
11. Schedule an Appraisal
- If the buyer is applying for a mortgage, the bank will require an appraisal to confirm the home value meets the sales price.
- If the appraisal comes in lower than the sales price, there are four alternatives.
12. Repair Requests
- After inspections, a buyer may make a request for repairs. Sellers are not required to acquiesce, but the buyer can also cancel their purchase.
- The buyer should provide a copy of the inspection report, along with any repair request.
- Instead of repairs, a buyer and seller might agree on a price reduction or buyer closing cost credit.
- Sometimes the buyer’s appraiser will call out items for repair as a condition of funding the loan. Those repairs must be completed (by seller or buyer) and photographed by the appraiser.
13. Remove Contingencies
- Most contracts call for a 17-day contingency period for all inspections, appraisal and loan approvals.
- Contingencies typically must be removed in writing by the buyer. Until the contingency-removal form is signed, the buyer still has an escape route.
- Sellers can demand in writing that a buyer remove contingencies, or cancel them if they refuse.
14. Buyer Loan Docs
- With appraisal in hand and all documentation satisfied, the lender will issue loan documents for the buyer to sign.
- Buyers can sign loan docs at the escrow office, or a mobile notary can be dispatched to sign them at another location.
- The buyer must immediately wire to escrow/title the remaining balance of their down payment.
15. Escrow Closes
- Within a few days, the lender will wire the mortgage funds to the escrow/title company.
- When all funds have been received, the escrow officer will release the file to be recorded with the county, signaling a closed escrow.
- The buyer will take possession of their new home that day, or perhaps as many as three days later, depending on the contract terms.
Thinking about selling a home? Want to know the best strategies to sell your home today? Call us today at 951-778-9700 for a 10-minute consultation.
illustration courtesy of vectorolie, Stuart Miles, FrameAngel, phasinphoto, David Castillo Dominici, smarnad | freedigitalphotos.net (Hover over photo for credit and link).
Home-Selling Process | Selling a Home in Riverside | Home-Selling Process | How To Sell Your Riverside Home | Brian Bean and Tim Hardin Dream Big