How do I sell my home?

The Selling Process

When you are thinking about selling, look at your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer and determine what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired or tossed out.

Ask yourself: If you were buying this home what would you want to see? The goal is to show a home which looks good, maximizes space and attracts as many buyers – and as much demand – as possible.

While part of the “getting ready” phase relates to repairs, painting and other home improvements, this is also a good time to ask why you really want to sell.

Step 1: Get a REALTOR®

Whether you’re a first-time seller or someone who has sold many homes, there are several ways to find a local REALTOR®:

  • Use our “Find a REALTOR®” feature to find individuals who actively sell in your community.
  • Get recommendations from other sellers, friends, colleagues, and family.
  • Look for REALTOR® signs in your community.
  • Search online for REALTORS® in your community.

In some cases, sellers elect to meet only with one REALTOR® while other owners elect to meet with several. Whatever your preference, there will be a several steps to follow, including:

Step 2: Set the Price

Every seller wants the best possible price and terms for his or her home. Several factors, including market conditions and interest rates, will determine how much you can get for your home. The idea is to get the maximum price and the best terms during the window of time when your home is being marketed.

In considering home values, here are several factors that are important:

The value of your home relates to local sale prices. The same home, located elsewhere, would likely have a different value. Sale prices are a product of supply and demand.

Because all transactions are unique there is flexibility in the marketplace. The amount of flexibility depends on local conditions.

Step 3: Market Your Home

Each home is unique, the marketplace is always in flux, interest rates constantly change and new buyers search for homes each day. With such fluidity, a REALTOR® can craft marketing plans specific to individual homes and market conditions. Experienced REALTORS® base their marketing efforts on previous transactions and ongoing research.

Selling entails a variety of marketing strategies. Once listed, it’s likely that the home will be quickly entered into the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service). REALTORS® routinely market by mail, email, websites, flyers, and by word-of-mouth with listing announcements and regular newsletters. Open houses, access to the home with a lock box and networking with both local and out-of-town agents are also common.

In a typical transaction there are five general areas where REALTORS® can assist in the home-selling process.

  1. Preparation
  2. Pricing
  3. Marketing
  4. Negotiation
  5. Closing

Open House

In the case of an open house, a REALTOR® typically advertises that the home will be open for a given period (2-5 p.m. on Sunday). During the open period, the REALTOR® hosts the home while the owners leave for a few hours. the REALTOR® will provide literature, maintain a visitor log and answer questions. By interacting with visitors, the REALTOR® will seek feedback regarding the home and opportunities to follow up with prospective purchasers.

Step 4: Sell It

Because a home sale involves an array of both personal and business concerns, it’s important to get it done right. You need to carefully prepare your home, understand the market and see what alternatives are available. A number of factors determine whether a buyer’s offer is acceptable. They include:

  • Is the offer at or near the asking price? Is the offer above the asking price?
  • Has the buyer accepted the asking price or something close?
  • What is the alternative to the buyer’s offer?
  • Does the owner have enough time to wait for other offers?
  • What if no other offers are received?
  • What if several offers are received? Do you choose the high offer from the purchaser with questionable finances who may not be able to close, or a somewhat lesser offer from a buyer with preapproved financing?

In each case, owners — with assistance from REALTORS® — will need to carefully review offers, consider marketplace options and then determine whether an offer is acceptable.

What is a counter-offer?

A counter-offer is simply a new offer. And just as the buyer had options in response to the owner’s original price and terms, the seller can now choose one of three reactions: accept the offer, decline the offer or make a fresh counter-offer.

Offers and counter-offers reflect the back-and-forth activity of the marketplace. It’s an efficient and practical process — but also one that may contain tricky clauses and hidden costs. The REALTOR® who lists your home can explain the local bargaining process in detail and assist in the actual negotiations

How do you negotiate? Negotiating should be seen as a natural business process; buyers should be treated with respect; and owners should never lose sight of either their best interests or their baseline transaction requirements. These are the standards unique to each owner, which must be met before the home can be sold.

Step 5: Close

Closing occurs escrow company engaged in the transaction takes in money from the buyers, pays out money to the owner and makes sure that the purchaser’s title is properly recorded in local records along with any mortgage liens.

How do you prepare to close escrow? It’s important to look at the sale agreement and review your obligations. For instance, if you have agreed to paint a room or replace the dishwasher, such work must be completed before closing. Your REALTOR® can discuss your agreement and the steps which must be taken to complete the transaction.

Step 6: 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 a professional mover.

How do you plan a move? The time to plan your move begins once you’ve decided to sell your home. Some of the activities required to sell the home can actually help with the moving process. For example, cleaning out closets, basements and attics means there will be less to do once the home is under contract.

Movers

There are a number of factors to consider. A mover, no matter how large or small, should be able to provide recent references for sellers with a similar volume of goods to transport. Always confirm mover credentials. Movers should be licensed and bonded as required in your state, and employees should have workman’s comp insurance.

Moving is a big job and checklists can make it more organized and easier. Here are some of the major items to consider:

  • Money. If you’re moving more than a few miles then you should have enough cash or credit to cover travel, food, transportation and lodging.
  • Number boxes so that all items can be counted on arrival. Make a list of boxes by number and indicate their contents.
  • If moving with children, make sure that each has a favorite toy or toys, blankets, games, music and other goods.
  • Moving historic, breakable or valued items? Such goods routinely require special handling and packaging.
  • Have address books readily available in case you need help.
  • If you have a laptop computer with a modem, make it accessible during your trip to pick up business and personal e-mail.
  • Medicine. Keep medicines and related prescriptions in a place where they will be available during the move.
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