You’ve made the decision to sell your home. Even if you’ve sold a house before, this process can be daunting because it is a major financial transaction that involves many steps from selecting a sales professional and marketing the home, to negotiating with buyers and finally receiving funds at the closing. Yet, the home-selling process doesn’t have to be intimidating if you know what to expect. The process can be divided in nine steps.
Step 1: List your property with a real estate professional. Select someone who is knowledgeable, listens carefully, and with whom you feel comfortable. Interview at least three real estate professionals. Use their listing presentations to compare their preparation and professionalism. Don’t base your selection solely on selling price or commission. It’s probably best to avoid working with someone who promises you the moon—in this case, an unrealistically high price—then has to make price reductions until the property sells. Instead, focus on marketing plans, service and past results.
Step 2: Establish price and time frame. Determining a fair asking price is crucial in this market. Price the property too high and it could languish on the market. Of course you could always decrease the price later, yet you’ve lost potential buyers. Your real estate professional can help you determine true market value based on a comparable market analysis, which will include recent home sale transactions as well as homes currently on the market. Supply and demand, craftsmanship, amenities, condition and any special circumstances can also impact price. For instance, a relocation move might necessitate a quick sale.
Step 3: Develop and implement a marketing strategy. To get the most exposure for your home, you should have a marketing plan with clear objectives and an outline of specific resources to be used. Your plan should include a mixture of conventional and online marketing to optimize your reach to potential buyers.
Step 4: Get Your Home in Show Condition. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. So make sure your home is in tip-top shape inside and out. Eliminate clutter and remove personal items. Refresh the paint, clean the carpets and make minor repairs. Keep the grass trimmed and add color to your landscape. You may also want to consider hiring a professional to stage your home. A home in move-in condition is much more attractive to buyers in a competitive market.
Step 5: An offer is submitted. Once your home is on the market, a buyer will make an offer through his/her real estate sales professional. The buyer’s sales professional will present the offer to your representative, who will promptly relay it to you and help you evaluate the offer.
Step 6: The negotiation process begins and eventually an offer is accepted. One of the most critical roles played by your real estate professional is in the negotiation phase. Negotiations over the terms of a home-purchase contract can be extremely sensitive. The process of offer and counter-offer may go on until parties arrive at an acceptable contract, which can go very quickly or take days, even weeks.
Step 7: Buyers submit a loan application and home inspections are scheduled. Most often, the loan approval is contingent upon a satisfactory appraisal and various inspections.
Step 8: The loan is approved and the closing process begins. Once the buyer’s home loan has been approved, preparations begin for the closing. The closing, also referred to as settlement or close of escrow, is the final step toward completing the sales transaction between the buyer and seller. During this process, your sales professional will funnel all the necessary closing documents to the escrow agent. This may include the deed, mortgage, tax receipts, a Certificate of Occupancy and other documents. A final walk-through will also be scheduled. Once the escrow agent receives the paperwork and the funds pertaining to the sale of the property, the escrow is closed.
Step 9: Time to move!
Of course this is a simplification of what is otherwise a complex transaction. As you are going through each stage of the process, look to your real estate professional to provide guidance so that you feel comfortable every step of the way.