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Sellers Guide

Acomplete guide to selling your property.

Step 1: Price Your Home

Most sellers have an idea of what the home should list for, but the savviest sellers check comparable home values. Give yourself a quick refresher on your local market, as conditions have likely changed since you bought. Sometimes you will find conditions will be in your favor, and sometimes you may be disappointed with the current market. Regardless of what you discover, your research will help you and your agent create a realistic plan for selling your home.

It is helpful to look at recent comparable sales (known as "comps") in the neighborhood. You should be realistic, using homes with comparable square footage, the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a similar level of amenities.

How much is your home worth in today’s market?

To receive a free comparative market analysis of your home and market report of your neighborhood, please fill out the form below.

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Street Address
  • City
  • State
  • Zip Code
  • Square Feet
  • Year Built
  • Floor
  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom
  • Property Type (Condo, Co-op, House, Multi-family, Timeshare, Land, Other)
  • Comments

Step 2: Estimate What You Owe on Mortgage

You should have a rough idea of what you owe on the mortgage. Pull your loan documents and turn that estimate into a precise figure.

This calculator allows you to create a chart that shows how much you have paid and how much you still owe, based on the original loan amount, interest rate and when you got the loan. It's important to work with precise dollar amounts to help get a better estimate of what you stand to make from the sale.

Step 3: Hire a Real Estate Agent

Why you should hire a real estate agent?

Ture enough, you can sell your home by yourself, if you can do research and list your home on Multiple Listing Service (you need to pay fees), take professional photos, make floor plan, be available all the time to show your home and answer questions, hold open house on weekends, negotiate price, etc.

While doing the work yourself can save you commission rates many real estate agents command, for many, flying solo may not be the way to go–and could end up being more costly than a realtor’s commission in the long run. Buying or selling a home is a major financial and emotional undertaking. Find out why you shouldn’t discard the notion of hiring an agent just yet.

  1. Education & Experience
    When you hire people who are smarter than you are, it proves you are smarter than they are. The trick is to find the right person. Why not hire a person with more education and experience than you? Doctors have specialties, and so do real estate agents.
  2. Pricing
    The fastest and most affordable way to sell your house is to price it correctly. Price too high, and you risk your home’s becoming a stale listing. Price too low, and you lose money. Experienced agents know the nuances of your local market and how to price based on those specifics. Because of their access to the most recent market data, agents are able to give you advice on realistic listing prices. Plus, they can provide you with a report of comparable homes for sale and historic market data, so that you can ensure you’re getting the most for your money.
  3. Neighborhood and Market Condition Information
    Real estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will govern your selling process. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, and average days on market and ratios of list-to- sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do.
  4. Better Access/More Convenience
    When you are looking to sell your home yourself, you will have to solicit calls from interested parties, answer questions and make appointments. Keep in mind that potential buyers are likely to move on if you tend to be busy or don’t respond quickly enough. Alternatively, you may find yourself making an appointment and rushing home, only to find that no one shows up.
  5. Negotiation
    You may feel that direct negotiation between you and buyers is more transparent and allows the parties to better look after their own best interests. This is probably true–assuming that both the buyer and seller in a given transaction are reasonable people who are able to get along. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy relationship. Selling your home is a major business transaction. The sale process has three significant negotiations: the initial offer, the counteroffer, and the post-offer period, which includes inspections and requests for concessions. You need a skilled and objective negotiator on your side during these discussions.
  6. Exposure
    You want your home to get the maximum exposure to the greatest number of potential buyers. Your agent will prepare all the marketing materials, coordinate the Internet marketing, host open houses, and network regularly with other agents who may have interested buyers. A good agent also will market your home aggressively. That means recommending staging techniques to make the place look great, maximizing the listing with professional-quality photographs, and showing the house to prospective buyers.

Before skipping a full-service agent, think hard about the time and effort you want to spend, particularly if the process drags on. The average home takes about four months to sell (six in the slowest cities), according to National Association of Realtor statistics. If costs are a concern, you should feel comfortable having a frank up front conversation about how and how much the agent expects to be paid.

Step 4: Get Ready to Show

Your agent will take care of everything from here: get professional home photos and floor plan, market your home online, hold open houses, get feedback from potential buyers who toured your home, handle negotiations, monitor inspection and appraisal process, etc. Your work is to get your home ready for your agent to show.

First Impressions Are the Only Impressions

The first impressions will either make or break a buyer’s opinion of your home, so make sure you put your best foot forward. Take the time to make the home bright, clean and smelling great.

Depersonalization

The fewer things there are in the home, the larger it will look. Also take down family photos, religious items and political posters so prospective buyers can envision their own items, their family, and their life in the house. If they can't make the imaginative leap because the house is too cluttered, dirty, colorful, or quirky, you've probably lost their business.

Kitchen Sell

The kitchen is the heart of any home, so it’s worth it to spend some money on upgrades if necessary. Showcase how much space is in your closets and cabinets by clearing out old clothes, toys, pots and pans. Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of.

Maximize the light In Your Home

After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.

Step 5: Get a Bid Quickly

Give Yourself a Timeline

Give yourself a timeline to lower the asking price if no serious bids have come through. Many sellers price their homes too high. And then they keep them too high for too long, all while paying for maintenance, upgrades, and property taxes. Before you start in earnest, set a timeline for how you'll lower the price of your home if you're not getting any bids: "If I haven't gotten a bid within two months, I'll lower by $25k; and if I haven't gotten a bid within 6 months, I'll lower by another $75k," for example. Having a pre-determined outline of how you'll lower the price in the absence of bids will help take emotion out of the decision and ultimately help you sell your house more quickly.

Offer an incentive

Find a way to sweeten the pot a bit. Don't underestimate the power of a small rebate, a security blanket, or simply a kind gesture. Here are some things that you can do to make the deal more attractive:

  1. Offer a credit on the closing costs, or offer to pay them entirely. Closing costs can get expensive quickly (upwards of several thousand dollars), so this becomes a great incentive.
  2. Give a transferable home warranty to cover home appliance malfunction. These typically only cost $300 to $500, but give the potential buyer peace of mind that if anything goes wrong, they won't have to shell out extra for it.
  3. Offer expedited closing on the home. Many buyers who see their dream house want to live in it right away. If you can assure potential buyers that closing will only take 30 to 60 tops, this could swing the balance in your favor.

Step 6: Choosing Among Offers

You must be aggressive about weeding out unqualified buyers. If you accept an offer from an unqualified buyer, you'll delay the sale of your home and need to start the sale process over again. But you can prevent this by asking potential buyers to contact a lender and become prequalified before accepting their offer and taking your home off the market. If a potential buyer claims to be prequalified already, contact the lender and verify the terms of the approval.

When buyers already have letters of approval from lenders, determine if they're preapproved -- meaning a lender has examined their finances and believes they can secure a loan -- or prequalified, which means the lender has agreed to finance a certain amount.

Step 7: Hiring a Real Estate Attorney and Title Company

You need to pay for a real estate attorney or title company whether you sell you sell your home with an agent or not. Hire an attorney as soon as you move into the closing phase. An attorney will guide you through the paperwork, ensuring that you are complying with state law every step of the way. Your real estate attorney will also work closely with the title or settlement company and the buyer’s attorney to make sure that the transaction proceeds smoothly. A local real estate attorney is likely to have worked with the title company and opposing attorney on past transactions, making it even more likely that your deal will move forward without complications. The last place you want to be is at the closing table with a professional closer and your buyer’s attorney staring at you and expecting you to respond to a legal question that you are not prepared to answer. You need an experienced advocate on your side to be certain that your interests are always represented.

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