What Does it Take to Sell Your Home?
Selling your home can be overwhelming and, at times, complicated experience…but it doesn’t have to be! Most people dread the idea of listing their home. Selling your home with Hillcreek Real Estate Group is an experience you’ll want to tell your friends about. Part of our job as your agent is to provide you with enough information to allow you to make an honest and informed decision about selling your home while eliminating all the stress involved in the process. Check out these easy to follow steps on what it takes to sell your home.
No. 1: Choose a Listing Agent
Once you’ve made the decision it’s time to sell, one of the most important decisions in the process is deciding on an agent to represent you. Listing agents have a fiduciary duty to look after your best interest. These days, it seems almost everybody is or knows a Realtor – but that’s not always a good thing. We recommend you interview at least 3 real estate agents to be sure you’re choosing the best person to represent you. Especially if you have a friend who is an agent. Here are a few important questions to cover:
- How do they plan to market the property?
- What experience do they have in handling negotiation?
- How did they decide on a price point for the house?
- How long do they expect the house to be on the market?
The real estate agent you chose is your personal selling concierge and should make the experience enjoyable and rewarding. At Hillcreek Real Estate Group, you start with a Seller’s Consultation where we’ll discuss the following
- Discuss your goals, needs, and priorities along with our responsibilities in selling your home
- Create and analyze our custom Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This includes information on similar properties in your area with the most recent activity.
- Provide marketing trends
- Review and discuss current inventory, Days on Market (DOM), and how those will impact your listing
- Develop a competitive pricing strategy
- Preview a preliminary marketing plan for your property
No. 2: Find out How Much Your Home Is Worth
One of the biggest struggle’s homeowners face is deciding how much to sell their home for. A costly mistake you can make is over-pricing the home. When a home is over-priced, you limit the number of buyers who may be interested in your home. The best way to assure the highest price for your home is to have many buyers competing against each other.
It is important not to price it too low either, as you will attract the wrong pool of buyers, leaving money on the table. It is the listing agent’s job to provide you with an accurate Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This report analyzes houses like yours that are currently on the market, have a sale pending or have recently sold. The agent should also provide you with local market insight including how many days houses are sitting on the market, which can help determine the price.
No. 3: Setup a Post-Sale Plan
Once you’ve made the decision to sell your current home and you have chosen your real estate agent, it’s time to consider the plan after you sell your home! Do you know where you are going or how you’ll get there? If not, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Each seller’s situation is unique and every sales process is different. Some people sell their home before it goes on the market and others need more time. Make sure you discuss your needs with your agent so they know how to coordinate the selling strategy.
For example, after the sale of your current home is complete you may need what’s called a “leaseback”. This provides you with a few extra days to stay in your house before turning it over to the new owners. This can be used for many reasons including:
- More time to close on your new home
- More time to coordinate your move
Finally, it’s important to make sure you have your financials in order if you plan on purchasing a home while your current home is listed. It’s important to know whether you need the funds from your current sale to go towards the new home.
No. 4: Get Your Home Ready for Sale
First impressions are EVERYTHING. Remember, you only get one chance and often times only 3 seconds to make a great first impression. Prepare your home by cleaning, decluttering, depersonalizing and improving curb appeal. Discuss with your real estate agent about staging your home. This is usually when your agent will coordinate with you when they’ll be taking pictures of your home. Make any necessary repairs now to prevent future problems once getting under contract. If you own pets, you may consider making temporary plans for them to stay at a friends or family member’s home during the listing process.
No. 5: Market Your Home
Your home is unique and so is your marketing strategy. Your agent should sit down and discuss all the selling points of your house and neighborhood so they can put together a targeted approach to selling the best parts of your home. Start thinking about the reasons you bought the house so your agent can explain and identify the sizzling points about your home to prospective buyers. Discuss and approve the marketing plan your agent has put together. Here at Hillcreek Real Estate Group, we utilize the latest technology and strategies when it comes to marketing your home including
- A stunning for sale sign with pictures of the house and a text-in code linked to property website
- Custom property website with the latest information about your listing
- Beautiful photography on your home including drone video AND a twilight shoot
- The latest digital marketing strategies taking advantage of Facebook pixels and retargeting ads
- Weekly re-evaluations on the listings marketing progress with specific steps to boost activity
There are many more ways to market your home and it’s important you discuss all those possibilities with your agent to help draw up an impactful plan to get your property sold!
No. 6: Show Your Home
Once your listing is active, you should expect potential buyers to come to see your home with their buyer’s agents. We use the Centralized Showing Service (CSS) to coordinate these showings. When a licensed buyer’s agent wants to show your home to their client, they will inform CSS who will verify the time works with your schedule. We can take steps in advance to let CSS know when you are not able to show your home and create “schedule blocks” so you are not bothered. We recommend leaving your schedule as open as possible to get to the highest amount of showings you can.
Licensed and registered agents will have access to your home through a “Blue iBox”. This is a great security measure to know exactly who is entering your home, and it also allows us to get feedback from the potential buyer. Other licensed real estate professionals (like inspectors and appraisers) can use CSS and this lock box to enter the house when they complete their part of the sales process. Make sure you put all valuable items in a secure place during all showings.
No. 7: Receive Purchase Offers and Negotiate
If everything has gone to plan, you’ll start to receive offers from buyers. If things have gone well, you’ll even receive multiple offers. Some will be low and others will be high. You may get two offers of the same price but different terms. It’s your agent’s job to explain each of the offers and which ones are most like to close.
Once you’ve received at least one offer, you have two options:
- Counteroffer: When a buyer submits an offer you’re interested in, but not 100% on terms with, you can create a counteroffer. This is a new offer with new terms acceptable to you as the seller. The buyer can either accept, decline or continue the negotiation.
- Accept: Once you’re happy with the final offer, you’ll move forward to signing a sale agreement.
Do not ignore any offer, even if you receive an “insulting” low-ball offer. When making counteroffers, it’s important to think about your post-sale plan. This would be the time to ask for a few days to lease back your home after it’s sold; or even make the offer contingent on you buying a home if market conditions warrant it. Don’t be afraid to make a full-price counteroffer if your price is competitive and it’s warranted.
No. 8: Open Escrow and Order Title
There are a few transactions and dates to be aware of once an offer has been accepted by all parties signing the sales contract. In a typical contract, you’ll have an option fee and earnest money along with several key dates.
- What is the option fee? An option fee is an amount the buyer pays to the seller for the buyer to have a period of time to inspect the house and decide if they’d like to move further into the contract. It also gives the right for the buyer to cancel out of the contract for any reason. It’s during this period the buyer will complete inspections and due diligence on the house. The option fee check can be deposited as soon as the seller receives it. If the buyer decides to back out of the contract during the negotiated time period, the seller keeps the option fee. If the buyer decides to continue into the contract and closes on the house, the fee can be refunded at closing, depending on how the contract is written.
- What is earnest money? Earnest money is the amount paid towards the buyer’s down payment when the transaction finalizes. This is usually after the inspections are complete and the buyer secures a mortgage. This is the buyer’s good faith payment, allowing the buyer extra time to secure financing. This money is held in a Trust or Escrow account, being a neutral third party. If the deal falls through, the buyer may reclaim this deposit depending on how the contract is written.
Your agent will open escrow and order a title policy for you with the title company to help the buyer sending the earnest money,
- What is “opening escrow”? Opening escrow involves a neutral third party who holds the money until the house closes and help the logistics of paying all parties involved.
- What is ordering title? Title is the legal ownership to a piece of property. It’s important for sellers to guarantee their right to sell to future When title is ordered, real estate professionals search the title records to determine if there are any liens, judgments or other clouds on title. After review of all documents on the title, the title company will issue a title policy, giving the buyer peace of mind on the property they are purchasing.
No. 9: Delivery of Seller Disclosures and Survey
As a seller, you are required to give a “Seller’s Disclosure”. This is a form, completed by you alone, disclosing any problems and material facts you are aware of. This disclosure is delivered to the buyer within the stated time frame noted in the contract. This is also a good time to provide an existing survey of the property. The lender will want a copy of the survey and at times will accept a previous survey. Talk to your agent if you do not have a previous survey as the cost can be addressed in the contract.
No. 10: Cooperate With the Home Inspection
As soon as the contract is executed the buyer will be hurrying to have an inspection done on the house within the time frame given in the contract. They will usually hire a licensed home inspector to look for potential problems with the house. The inspector will examine things like the roof, foundation, HVAC, and many other areas. They will then give the buyer a report on their findings and go over any problems or concerns they found. You do not need to be present for this and we recommend that you leave the house during this period of time.
No. 11: Negotiate Requests For Repairs
The buyer will request a list of repairs they would like to see made to the house before closing after they receive the inspection report. You as the seller have zero obligation to agree to these requests; but, the buyer has every right to cancel the contract for any reason (as long as it’s within the stated time in the contract) if the two parties can’t agree. The buyer could request a credit at closing if you choose not to repair a certain request. You are entitled to a copy of the home inspection report if the buyer requests a repair.
No. 12: Appraisal
More than likely – the buyer will be financing the house by obtaining a mortgage. Part of the responsibility of the lender is to make sure the loan amount is appropriate for the house the buyer is trying to buy. The lender will order a third-party appraisal, determining the value of other homes and comparing to the subject house. The appraiser, like the real estate agent and home inspector, is licensed and will use the same lock box as the other professionals to enter the home.
As a seller, you do not want the appraisal to come back low. One of the ways to prevent a low appraisal is to make sure your house looks clean and immaculate. You’re not entitled to receive a copy of the appraisal because you didn’t pay for it. If the buyer decides to opt out of the contract based on the appraisal, ask your agent or lawyer about your rights.
No. 13: Contingencies
The contract has many built-in contingencies, so what is a contingency?
A contingency provision gives the buyer the opportunity to walk away from the contract if a certain event doesn’t happen. For example, the contract may state if the buyer isn’t able to get financing from a lender by a certain date before closing, they can walk away from the contract with no penalty. In this case, the contract is “contingent” on the buyer obtaining financing.
There are many other contingencies with deadlines throughout the contract. It’s important to talk with your agent about what contingencies are in place and when their deadlines are. Once all contingencies have been removed, completed, or past the deadline, it’s a very positive sign the house is ready to close.
No. 14: Closing
The last step in the sales process is actually closing on the house. Before closing, the buyer may want to do a final walk-through to make sure all negotiated repairs have been completed. The time for the final walk-through is then scheduled with your agent. Before signing any paperwork, the title company will issue a Closing Disclosure explaining all charges and flow of money. This disclosure should be reviewed by you and your agent to make sure it is accurate. This will tell you not only what the final expenses are, but also what money is paid to you (or in certain circumstances, what money you’ll need to bring to closing). After you have reviewed the closing paperwork and the buyer has done their final walk-through, it’s time to sign the documents! This can be done either at the title company where escrow was opened or it can be done separately (if you are out of town as an example).
Make sure you bring a valid photo ID to closing. Also, give all keys to the house, instructions on electronics, garage door opener, warranty information and any other information about the house to your agent to give to the new buyer. After both parties sign the paperwork (the actual deed to sell the house), the title company will facilitate logistics of receiving the funds from the buyer, paying off your lender, and depositing whatever proceeds left over after fees of the sale to you.
CONGRATULATIONS, you’ve just sold your house!! This process can be either stressful and overwhelming or smooth and fun depending on which real estate professional you decide to use.