Perhaps one of the most daunting decisions you will make in your life is to sell your home. Whether this will be your first time being on the seller’s end of the settlement table or you have done this a long time ago, you will surely have some questions about the whole selling process, and how to find a buyer as fast as you can.
This is why we are here to help. We have prepared this extensive guide to selling your home, so, use it as a resource and you will know what you can expect as you step into the real estate market and toward something we hope it will be a quick and easy sell.
Before You Place Your Home on the Market
- Hire Professional Help
Selling your home is a transaction that is legally binding, and if you are not sure what are you doing, it can lead to liability issues. Even though this is optional, hiring a real estate agent who will help you and guide you through the sale will make this whole stressful process a lot easier. So, when you are hiring professional help, make sure to interview several realtors before you make your decision.
Ask about their experience in the industry, their marketing process, and their honest opinions about your home, including any potential obstacles. Always trust your instincts and hire a realtor who will provide you with the most realistic answers, and not a realtor who is just telling you what they think you are interested in hearing.
- Decide On The Sale Price
The sale price here always represents a hurdle for any seller out there to overcome when they are preparing to put their home on the market. Unfortunately for you, variables like how much you have paid for the home, how much money you have spent on the upgrades and how much money you need from this sale in order to make your next home purchase are not factors that affect the sale price.
If you want to sell your home quickly, you need to focus on pricing it fairly and according to the current market value. Qualified real estate agents will help you determine the market value of your property by following a two-step process.
They need to pay a visit to your home to see in what condition it is, upgrades, size or other extra amenities. Then a realtor needs to perform a comparative market analysis or CMA, where they will look at similar homes located in your area that were recently sold or are on the market and see how your home stacks up.
- Seller’s Property Disclosure
Before you place your home on the market, your realtor will ask you to fill out a Seller’s Property Disclosure or SPD, which is a form that asks a series of questions regarding the current condition of your property. For instance, the age of the roof or whether your home has been flooded in the past. A copy of SPD will be given to prospective buyers and, as the seller, it is in your best interest to fill out SPD as completely and as honestly as you can.
It is completely acceptable to confess that you are not sure of a certain timeframe, or simply do not know the answer to some questions. Do not lie or leave out an issue to make your home look like it is in a good condition. By doing this you could use an offer or even put yourself at risk and face legal action.
Marketing Your Home
Boost curb appeal
Think of curb appeal the same way you would a job interview or a date, it is that first impression that potential buyers will have about your home. Whether they will be doing a drive-by to see if they like that they see, or they have already scheduled a showing, you want your home to look its best. While your property is on the market, keep your lawn maintained, and add some flowers in a planter or bed.
Provide a clearly marked pathway to the front door and make sure that there will be enough lighting to accommodate evening showings. You can even warm up the entrance by adding some fresh paint to the front door, or just get a new welcome mat.
- Stage The Home
Staging your home means arranging the rooms in the clearest and most aesthetically pleasing way. There are companies that you can hire to help you out with this, but you can also do it on your own by following several simple steps:
- Create a focal point – every room needs to have one piece as a focus that will also clearly define the function of that space.
- Depersonalize – take all of your personal items like photographs and memorabilia and pack it away so that your home will appeal to all possible buyers.
- Remain neutral – when it comes to details like furniture styles and paint colors, always go with neutral tones. Your goal is to appeal to the majority of buyers, rather than just show them the latest trends in interior design.
- De-Clutter – do not make it a struggle for your buyers to see how much your home is worth. Pare down everything possible and invest in some stylish storage solutions that will provide space for all of your belongings.
- Add some homey touches – fresh flowers and scented candles can add a welcoming and warm feel to the space.
- Make Amazing Photographs
The average buyer only spends less than one minute when looking at property listings online before they decide to see the home in person. Because of this tight time frame, it is crucial that your home needs to be represented in the best possible way through amazing photos. Your realtor may have a process for this, but there are a couple of things you can do to make this task go smoothly.
First, you need to clean your home because dust particles and other microscopic materials will show up on photographs and be a distraction. You can minimize that risk and give your rooms a good scrub before the photoshoot. Right before the photographs are taken, walk through your home and put away any clutter.
- Show Your Property
The showing is the most important step in the process of selling your home. This is how your prospective buyers will get a feel for the property and have a chance to envision themselves living in your home. The best thing you can do to ensure a positive showing is to be flexible.
The buyers might only be able to see your home on your day off or during a busy weekend, and it is important to accommodate their requests whenever possible. You need to keep in mind that every showing has the potential to lead to an offer.
Pay Attention To The Agreement Of Sale
If a buyer is interested in purchasing your property, they will submit their offer through a legally binding document called Agreement of Sale. In this document, the buyer and seller will negotiate various parts of the transaction and that includes sale price, the type of financing the buyer will be using, settlement date, time frames for performing inspections and clearing title and the amount of closing costs.
For negotiations to be successful a compromise from both sides is required. As you will be reading through an offer, you need to make sure that it meets the criteria which is most important to you and also rely on the expertise of your real estate agent. Be willing to make a compromise on some less important details to foster a good relationship between you and your buyers. If the offer is not quite what you wanted, you are well within your rights to refuse that offer and wait for a better one.
It is important to have in mind that after the Agreement of Sale has been signed by both you and the buyer, everyone must adhere to the terms outlined in the document. If the buyer misses the deadline, the seller can walk away from the sale and keep the buyer’s deposit money. Also, if the seller has falsified information about the property or fails to complete an agreed-upon improvement, the buyer can cancel the sale and take some legal action.
- Professionals Should Handle All Repairs
The buyer can elect an inspection of your home that they will pay for themselves to get another opinion of the repairs that need to be made to the property. When the inspection is completed both parties will negotiate who will pay for what, and whether those repairs need to be done before the settlement or factored into the closing costs.
If the work falls on your shoulders, it can be tempting to call over a handy friend to do the repairs under the table for you, but this is one trap you need to avoid. You will need to present a written proof at the settlement table that all the repairs have been made. So, hire professionals and make sure to find the best ones by looking at third-part reviews, and always have several copies of any work receipts and invoices.
- Get the Valuation from the Appraiser
If the buyer will be using financing to buy the property, the bank will acquire an appraisal. In this process, a third-party appraiser will come to your home to verify the property value. Like the realtor in the CMA, the appraiser will take into account the condition of your home, upgrades and recent sales in your area to determine the market value of your home.
In an ideal scenario, that figure will match the sale price, and this is another reason to offer a reasonable price from the start. If there is a difference between your sale price and the appraised value of your home, both your agent and the buyer’s agent can appeal the decision by providing their comparable properties. But there is a possibility that you may need to alter your sale price based on the appraised value.
- The Title
The title report is a document that will outline any restrictions that will interfere with the ability to pass the deed for your home to the buyer. Some of these restrictions include:
- Unpaid property taxes
- Legal boundaries on the property
- Mortgages or liens against your property
- Historic oversights, planning requirements and restrictions
- Association documents on condos or other housing communities
Satisfying all of these requirements is simple, you just need to provide the buyer with written documentation, but it is also the seller’s responsibility to clear the title report before the settlement. You will need to work with your realtor and the title company to determine what needs to be done so that you can provide a clear deed for your property.
- Preparation for the Settlement
Once the appraisal and the inspection are done, and you have cleared the title, you as the seller only have one job left before the settlement – move. On the day of closing, you need to completely move out of the home, except for some items that you have previously agreed to leave behind in the Agreement of Sale.
Selling your home can seem overwhelming, but you can make this whole process easier if you gather enough knowledge about the whole process. Use this extensive home selling guide as an overview of what you can expect when you decide to put your property on the market. We hope that we have made this process as simple as possible. Good luck!