Quick Reference Guide To Selling Your Home
STEPS TO SELLING YOUR HOMEPrint
- Plan and Prepare
- Get a Real Estate Agent
- Set the Price
- Contract Negotiations
The most important of these steps is the first one, and you, as the homeowner, are in complete control. Since the most activity occurs on a listing within the first couple of weeks, it’s important to have your home ready BEFORE the sign is placed in the yard!
Step 1 : Plan and Prepare. Getting Your Home Ready for the Market
In today’s real estate market, it’s important to ensure that your home is ready for sale. Buyers have surprisingly little imagination and want to be able to move in their clothes and furniture and declare their new home “perfect.” Look at your home as a stranger would and clean, repair or replace anything that even remotely would turn a buyer away. Here are some inexpensive suggestions to help prepare your home for sale:
Clean, clean, clean.....and then clean some more! Wash windows inside and out, clean cobwebs and dust bunnies out of corners, dust baseboards, wash curtains and bed skirts, power wash driveways, porches and decks, perform basic spring/fall housecleaning duties.
Replace cracked tiles, repair holes in sheetrock, fix leaky faucets, repair doors and drawers that don’t close properly.
Keep room décor subtle and neutral. Use select accessories to add punch and color.
Pack up personal items like family photos. Most buyers can’t see past your personal stuff. It’s important to depersonalize your home so the buyers can see their own belongings in the home.
If you have an heirloom light fixture or mirror and don’t want to sell it with the home, take it down and replace it. Deals can be soured by buyers seeing something they want that they can’t have.
To cover scratches on stained or varnished woodwork, pick up a can of Restore-N-Finish at Home Depot. Just wipe it on for a permanent fix. Magic Erasers work well for scuffs on enameled woodwork.
Paint has a high return on investment. If you have to choose a room or rooms to paint, start with a living room or great room, then master bedroom. Use a neutral color.
Odors in your home will turn off a buyer quicker than anything. Request that smokers light up outside and toilet your pets often. Don’t overuse air freshener.
Make sure your thermostat is set at a reasonable temperature. Buyers won’t linger and look for long if they’re uncomfortable.
Bathrooms and kitchens help sell homes, so make these rooms sparkle! Buy fresh decorative towels for bathrooms and don’t use them. Replace caulk around tubs, and clean grout between tiles with Comet and a scrub brush.
Clear the kitchen counters off to create the impression of more counter space, pack away appliances and items that are not used frequently, face canned goods and spice jars in your cabinets and pantry. Clean out that junk drawer! Replace the crusty stove burner plates for showings, but keep the old ones and switch them out for daily use.
For smudges on a wall with flat paint, either paint over the smudge with the same paint or apply a little baking soda with a wet white cloth and very gently rub off the smudge. (Test first on a hidden spot.) Rinse off the powdery residue. If you have an eggshell or semigloss painted wall, try simply a clean cloth and cold water. If that doesn’t work, try a Magic Eraser.
To clean dusty silk trees and greenery, take them outside, turn the leaf blower on them; or turn it over onto the lawn and drag it back and forth a few times. (Your neighbors will think you’re nuts!)
LOOK UP in every room of your home! Dust your blinds and ceiling fans. Make sure you don’t have any “cobweb gobbies” stuck to your ceiling or in the corners.
Your front door gives a vital first impression while a prospective buyer waits at least 30-60 seconds for the door to be opened. Make sure the paint is fresh and the porch has been recently swept. Keep the eaves free of cobwebs and wasp nests. If you have vinyl or metal siding, power wash your exterior so it doesn’t appear dirty.
Tidy up the grounds, the porches and garage. Weed flower beds, put down fresh mulch and keep the lawn trimmed and edged.
If you have old, dingy light fixtures, especially on the exterior of your home, consider taking them down and spray-painting them. It is an inexpensive way to freshen them up.
If you have photos of your home while in a different season or during the construction, put them in an album and leave them out for buyers to see. If you have utility bills for an entire year, ask your realtor for a utility sheet to record the payments. This helps prospective buyers know exactly how much their monthly bills will be.
Step 2: Get a Real Estate Agent
How to Select an Agent
Best services and marketing plan OR highest listing price?
An agent does not control or set the market. Never select an agent based only upon their valuation of your property!
“But they’re only going to charge me a 5% commission.”
Ask about that agent’s marketing plan. Will their broker list your home on websites like Zillow, Realtor and Trulia? Do they have Open House Celebration weekends with advertising? Make sure you understand what you’re getting....or not getting....for that discounted commission.
There are many factors to consider in choosing an agent...like experience, knowledge of the market and good marketing skills. The most important factor, however, is to choose someone you trust. This is a period of adjustment for you and your family, and it’s best to be working with someone that you are comfortable with and can communicate with, someone who is going to do whatever it takes to get your home sold and get you moving toward the future.
Step 3: Set the Price
Value of Improvements
“What about the value of my improvements? I’ve got X number of dollars in it.”
- When were the improvements made?
- At that time were you planning to stay or move?
- If you’d known you were going to move, would you still have made the improvements?
- If the improvements were removed, what percent of today’s buyers would put them back and pay what you did for those improvements?
Unfortunately, many times, buyers don’t see the same value in these improvements.
How Buyers Determine Value
When you bought your home, how did you establish value.....by comparing it to others for sale at the time?
Buyers still determine the value of a home by comparison shopping. You need to be as good or better than the competition!
Advantages of Proper Pricing
When you first put your home on the market, there are buyers just sitting out there, waiting for the right home to come on the market. If you overprice your home to “test the market,” buyers are immediately turned off and won’t make an offer....even if you come down in price a couple of months later. Here are some other advantages to pricing your home right from the get-go:
- Faster Sale
- Less inconvenience
- Increased agent response
- Better response from advertising and sign calls
- Attracts “cleaner” financing
- Attracts higher offers
- Avoids being “shopworn”
Criteria that Determine Value
Location and size account for the majority of value.
Amenities contribute less.
Step 4: Marketing Your Home
Here are just a few of the things I will do to market your home:
- List your home in MLS
- Create flyers
- Provide light home staging or staging advice
- Create feature cards
- Conduct reverse prospecting
- Create a personalized home book
- Conduct open houses
- Provide feedback
- Provide tips to inexpensively freshen home
- Invite ReeceNichols agents to tour home
- Be open to any suggestions you may have about your particular location, subdivision or local amenities
Step 5: Selling Your Home
There is no question that selling a home is a significant event. A home sale represents transition, movement and change. A lot of money is involved. Households move from the known and comfortable to the unknown and a period of adjustment. There may be job changes, new schools and distance from old friends. There will be strangers looking at your home, complicated documents to sign and issues to be negotiated. It can be an emotionally charged time for sellers and their families, but it’s important to keep an eye on the ultimate goal....selling and moving on to a new future.
In addition to keeping your home clean and your yard well-kept, here are a few tips for successful showings:
Keep pets out of the way when showing. One type of prospective buyer is annoyed; the other has their attention diverted with pets. Dogs especially can be upset by strangers in your home without you present. Take Fido for a ride during a showing. Those favorite ratty chew toys should be tucked away out of sight during showings. Litter boxes should be on a uncarpeted surface and preferably in the basement. (Leave a note to keep the door open so kitty has access.) If possible, put away pet beds and food/water dishes for showings.
Using too much air freshener only causes buyers to ask, “What are they trying to cover up?” If you use a freshener, stick to small amounts of Febreeze.
Avoid being present during showings. The buyers will feel like intruders and will hurry through the house. Take a walk or go get ice cream.
Leave showing the house up to the realtor. It is his or her business to sell. The realtor knows the buyers’ requirements and can best emphasize the features of your home.
Don’t discuss anything concerning the sale with the buyers. Let the realtor discuss price, terms, possession and other factors with the buyer. He/she is qualified and experienced to bring negotiations to a favorable conclusion.
Never try to sell furniture or possessions to a prospective buyer before the contracts are signed by all parties.
The smell of freshly baked cookies or a delicious meal cooking in the oven or crock pot during a showing never hurts!
Step 6: Contract Negotiations
It’s always a good day when an offer comes in. Don’t be surprised if the offer is low. After all, who doesn’t like to get a “good deal”? Think back to when you bought your home. I’ll bet you did the same thing. There are many parts to a contract. You have to take the offer in its entirety....are the buyers asking for closing costs? do they want a home warranty? are they asking you to leave all of the appliances? An offer sets out not only a purchase price for the home, it also sets out a series of terms, conditions and deadlines. There may be some of the following items included in the purchase contract:
- Details about a buyer’s financing
- Inclusions and exclusions like appliances or fixtures
- Home Inspections and the remedies for issues found
- Home warranty information
- Closing date
- Possession date
It’s important to be flexible during the negotiation process. You may have to compromise on certain items. Remain focused on the important part, which is getting you moving on, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Step 7: Inspections/Appraisal
Once you’ve got signatures of all parties on the contracts, the inspection period begins. A buyer typically will get a whole home inspection and a termite inspection. Radon inspections have become more common the past few years as well. Understand that an inspector will find problems with your home. That’s their job! When issues are found, a buyer has several options. They can:
- Request seller to make repairs
- Request seller to reduce the purchase price
- A combination of the above
- Walk away and cancel the contract
If the contract cancels as a result of the inspection, your agent must provide the inspection report to all future buyers upon request, so it’s best to make the deal work, if possible.
Once the inspection phase is over, the buyer’s agent will request that the lender order the appraisal. You will need to have your home ready the same as you would for a showing. The appraiser will take pictures, measure your home and make note of all updating which affects the value of your home. There may be conditions that the appraiser requires to be met to protect the lender’s interests. Some common items are GFCI outlets near a water source, adding a hand rail or repairing peeling paint. Once the appraisal is complete and all conditions have been met, it’s just a waiting game to get the buyer’s loan through final underwriting.
Step 8: Closing
Once inspections and the appraisal have been performed, it’s usually a waiting game for the title companies to run their title checks and the lender underwriting departments to get the loan finalized. During this time, you should be doing many things:
- Pack and set up movers
- Call the utility companies to have utilities turned off in your name - don’t forget trash pickup and newspaper delivery!
- Cancel your homeowners insurance - give yourself an extra couple of days after close
- Have your mail forwarded
- Check out the new schools and get the kids registered
- Ensure your driver’s license is current. You will need this in order to sign closing papers.
When you arrive at closing, you may need to have a voided check. This is for the title company to wire you the proceeds from the sale of your home. You can also request a check be cut and sent to you, but then you need to wait several days for the check to clear before you can use the funds. It’s easier and more expedient to have the proceeds wired directly to you.
Sometimes you will have already moved by closing day, but more often you will be moving after the sale has closed. This is a very stressful part of the process, so you have hopefully done a good job of sorting and packing.
Step 9: Moving
Even the smallest home contains a lot of furniture, clothes, kitchen equipment, pictures and other items. For a short move, it may be worthwhile to transport small goods by yourself, but larger items will likely require renting a truck or a professional mover. Hopefully, the process of putting your home on the market has helped in the sorting process. Closets, basements and garages get cleaned out, old clothes are donated to charity and broken items have been discarded. Have a supply of packing tape, Magic markers and newspaper or packing peanuts available for last minute packing.
Here are a few things to keep in mind for moving day:
- Have cash in your pocket. You may need money for pizza, ice or to send someone to Home Depot for a washer hookup hose, etc.
- Keep medicines in a known, handy location
- Have your children’s favorite toys, games or blankets in a known location
- Keep your pet food out
- Carry with you a list of phone numbers you may need quickly
Now that you’ve made it through the process, don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions about the sale of your old home, the purchase of your new home, property taxes or homeowners insurance. I want to be your go-to person for all of your real estate needs. I’m never too busy for your questions or your referrals.