Listing your home with a licensed real estate professional is the first step on the path to a successful closing. Possessing a wealth of knowledge, your agent is well prepared to assist you from beginning to end, helping you feel at ease throughout the selling process. To start, your agent will suggest specific improvements and modifications to enhance your home's salability, create a customized marketing plan that best highlights your property's features in the current market and present you with a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA), which helps determine the best listing price and probable sales price.
Marketing real estate has evolved over the last several years. Your agent will work behind-the-scenes to ensure that your home is visible to potential buyers in a variety of ways. Upon listing your home, it will be entered into the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), placed on the company website and on several local and national websites. The Internet, social media and several real estate websites put your home in the public eye much more than in years past.
Your agent will also use some tried and true methods to sell your home at the best price and in the optimum length of time. Making phone calls, contacting potential buyers, alerting other area agents, planning open houses and following up with respondents to ads, signs and inquiries from the web all play a part in marketing your home. A unique marketing plan will help set apart your home from the others in your market, drawing in potential buyers.
Establishing the list price that will attract the most buyers at the best price is the first step in developing a marketing plan. You want your home at a listing price that is not too low or too high, but just right, based on numbers and facts. When a home is priced too low, you will not maximize your profit, and buyers may perceive that something is wrong with it. However, if the price is too high, buyers may avoid viewing your home because it's not in their price range. Interestingly enough, asking too much might ultimately be more costly than asking too little for a property.
Your agent will prepare a CMA by analyzing the prices of homes that have recently sold and that are similar to yours in size, features and location. A review of homes that are currently listed for sale will help your agent to assess the competition. Your agent's knowledge of current trends in the market is the final determinant of your home's listing price. Make sure to ask your agent about any issues or situations unique to your home that could help it sell.
The next step in selling your home is to prepare it for showings. First impressions count. You want to allow potential buyers the opportunity to envision themselves as homeowners. Talk to your agent about specifics pertaining to your home. Some general guidelines do exist.
Cleanliness. A clean home will impress. Aside from the obvious—making sure that your home, including the yard, is orderly and clean—remove all clutter and unneeded items that take away from your home's best features.
Paint. Freshly painted walls and décor in in a neutral shade can go a long way in the overall appearance of your home.
Curb Appeal. Take an objective look at your home's curb appeal and make adjustments as needed.
Odors. If you have pets, make sure to eliminate damage or odor associated with them. And, be aware that if you smoke in your home, the lingering smell can turn buyers away.
You may love your home and have many happy memories associated with it. Perhaps you have lived there for several years and raised your family in it. Sellers most often have emotional attachments to their homes. Though you may feel that you are the most qualified to show a buyer your home, your real estate agent will advise you to leave the home while it is being shown. To ensure the best showing possible, make your home inviting and welcoming by creating mood lighting, adjusting the temperature and adding decorative touches.
Your patience and hard work has paid off—your agent has informed you of an offer on your home. You can count on your agent's expertise again—this time in the art of negotiation. Your agent will guide you toward arriving at a price that both you and your buyer agree upon. A formal contract—written by the buyer's agent and signed by the buyer—will be submitted to you for review and consideration.
As the seller, you can help facilitate moving the offer to a final sales agreement. Remove any emotion on your side from the negotiating table. If you are truly motivated to sell, allow your agent to negotiate on your behalf and move things in the right direction—often that means one or more counteroffers. Compromise is vital. You want to arrive at a fair price where all parties are happy.
Once you and the buyer have agreed upon price, you are ready for a formal inspection of your home to detect defects or problems. Typically, a clause in the sales contract states that the offer is contingent upon a home inspection. A home inspection typically takes between 2-4 hours depending upon the size of the home and the number of rooms, features and amenities. Your home will be evaluated from the foundation to the rooftop and will include, where appropriate, the functionality of the heating and air conditioning systems, electrical, plumbing and all appliances. The inspector will look at the home's structure including the foundation, basement, roof, chimney, walls, doors and windows.
The inspector provides a report to the buyer usually within 24 to 48 hours of completion of the inspection. At that point the buyer may either remove the contingency for the home inspection if the report is satisfactory to them, or provide a written request to the seller listing repairs they would like the seller to make, accompanied by a copy of the inspection report. If the buyer chooses the latter, then there may be estimates involved, repairs, and additional negotiation between the parties. Generally the issues get resolved and the parties move on to the closing.
The day has arrived for the final step in selling your home—the closing. The closing, also known as the settlement or escrow, in simplest terms is when money is taken in from the buyer and paid out to the seller.
Your agent will help you with the final documentation needed at the closing of your home. Generally the title company/escrow agent will prepare the title search, title guarantee, deed, title policy, and other documents that will require your signature. They are flexible and can either meet you at their office for the signing and notarizing of the documents, or can overnight them to you ahead of time for you to sign in the presence of a Notary and return to them.