You are ready for a change, you need a bigger space, or you need to downsize. Whatever the reason, you have decided you need to sell your home and you want to make sure you know what you are getting into. While we always suggest working with an experienced realtor like the realtors on our team, we thought we’d provide you with what the process looks like and what to expect so you can come to your own conclusion.
Step 1: Get an Assessment by an Expert
Whether you go with a local realtor, sell the home yourself, sell to a home flipper or similar service, or use a virtual system it is important to be equipped with the facts first. Your best bet is to use a local realtor to give you a free home assessment, as we do, in order for you to understand what the current value of the home is. You can also get some recommendations on improving that value if you would like those sorts of tips.
Simply put, pricing your own home is difficult to do accurately and the price you initially list the home for is absolutely essential for a good seller experience. Whether you want to go with the agent or not, we beg you not to get your home assessed by a home flipper or investor. While there are many trustworthy individuals in that industry, their assessment will be influenced by what works best for them and is good for you, not what is best for you ultimately.
Using a virtual system is also not particularly recommended because even though they do partner with realtors from the area, in truth most are not very acquainted with the neighborhoods like a local expert is. Regardless of whether you take our advice, make sure to get an assessment BEFORE you do any work on your home from someone that is knowledgable of the various areas of the city. Doing this before you do any repairs can help you save money and not waste your time on projects that will offer you little return.
You now know how much you can make from the sale of your home. Based on this you must make a decision on how you want to list it. Schedule meetings with the groups you are interested in working with and allow them to give you a presentation on why you should choose them. Go with whoever works best for your needs.
Step 2: Prepare your Home for Sale
The realtor you choose to list your home with, or if you list it yourself after listening to their advice and feel you can take on the task, will have answered your inquiries with some tips on how you can improve your chances for getting the most money out of your house as quickly as possible. What that process looks like will be unique to each homeowner but there are a few things that are true for all sellers.
- Declutter – Cleaning out all the excess furniture, knick-knacks, and personal photos help create a more neutral space where buyers can visualize themselves moving in. Lots of clutter can make your home appear small and make it seem like there isn’t enough storage space. The bonus of this process is it will help you begin packing for the eventual move!
- Decor- It is fine to leave your decor up but keep it simple. If you like to decorate in bright colors, make sure they are just pops of color that will catch the eye in the listing photos. Having too much decor crowds a room and also may turn people off if it is a bit more niche.
- Address possible deal breakers BEFORE you list – unless you plan on listing an as-is sale, which you can do, you are going to have your home inspected by an expert. As many realtors know, this is where deals can fall apart. Either the buyer is in love with the home and will negotiate further which means you will end up repairing the issues or offering a credit OR the buyer will drop out, as is their right. The big red flags are; mold, pest infestations, foundation/structural issues, or roof leaks/damage/age. If you are aware of any of these issues, you can avoid a lot of drama and heartbreak by addressing them up front. Again, consult with an agent before beginning any repairs, but knowing exactly what you are getting into is essential for a smooth home selling process, especially if you are waiting to use the money from the sale of your home to buy a home. A realtor can also help you with the roof of your home. Knowing the age of the roof can help the buyer move the contingency process along more quickly.
Step 3: List your Home
Again, depending on who you go with to list your home, whether a realtor or yourself, the process will be different. Our process is a bit different from other companies but in general, it should follow the same basic principles.
- A professional will take photos of your home to post on listing sites. Most photographers will do interior, exterior, and drone images. Again, this is dependant on who you list with but this is something that buyers have come to expect and will help sell your home faster and for more money.
- A “For Sale” sign or “Coming Soon” sign will be placed in your yard.
- Depending on the price of the home, an open house will occur. Sometimes sellers in the higher price range of their home will choose not to have an open house and this is normal. A realtor can advise you on this but if you are listing the home yourself it will be up to your own discretion.
- The home will be listed on MLS services as well as social media and online portals. If you are working with a realtor you should expect them to use all MLS sites that are in the area as well as portals. Personally we list on 4 MLS sites and 90 portals, just to give you an idea of what to expect. If the agent works for a larger broker group than they will also probably share with their pool of agents looking for homes for their buyer as well as their own social media page. Obviously, if this is the case, the agent with the larger following on Facebook can be beneficial to you.
- Many agents will advertise on social media, but it is still good to work with those who use traditional advertising methods such as tv, radio, and print. Our team uses ads in the Saturday and Sunday paper as well as advertising on radio and tv, but it isn’t necessarily something all agents still do.
- If you are holding an open house, having directionals, open house signs, and lead capture signs are also good ways to encourage multiple offers and a quick sale.
- Other tailored advertising pieces like postcards and newsletters are also incredibly beneficial and if your realtor has a good inside sales team that works too.
Step 4: Open House
The Open House will be hosted by an experienced Buyer’s Specialist and are almost always on Sunday. The agent should handle the advertising and organization of the open house, ideally through newspaper ads, online ads, and signs. You, the seller, should ensure your home is optimized to impress.
- Freshen Up the Home – You have hopefully already cleaned your home up for the photos and to prepare for private showings so all that is left is to freshen the space up. Small touches like ensuring there is no debris hiding anywhere will help as well as vacuuming any cobwebs and rugs/carpets.
- Remove any pets from the premises- Dogs, cats, or other pets should be removed from the area to ensure a relaxing viewing process. Not everyone will be a fan of your furry friend so taking them for an extended journey while the open house is going on is advised.
- Open all the curtains and blinds and turn on every single light, even if it is sunny out. Doing so makes a house feel cheerful and welcoming.
- If you are not hosting the open house yourself, go out. We know that sounds counter-intuitive, but trust the realtor to handle your guests. Visitors want to envision themselves as the homeowners and if you are present they may feel uncomfortable doing so.
- Talk with your realtor about feedback. After the open house is done, realtors of the buyers or the buyers themselves should have provided feedback. The realtor will go over this feedback with you to see where you are in the scheme of things. Hopefully, they will be sharing offers with you over feedback but be prepared for either.
If you plan on not going with a realtor this process is a bit more complicated. You may want to check out this guide to prepare yourself for the process.
Step 5: Offers!
Getting an offer is the most exciting part of the seller process, however, it is also the most stressful for both buyers and sellers. What is a good offer? Should you accept your first offer? Which offer do you choose if there are multiple? Knowing what you are getting into before it occurs can help alleviate the stress of making a major financial decision. While your agent will be guiding you through this process, if you are working with one, it is good to keep a few tips in mind.
- Know what you need from your offers. If you need to sell because you are relocating, have an upcoming divorce, or you have already closed on another home, you are probably looking for offers that give you a speeding closing. If you are worried about repairs or can’t do any upfront costs for closing, you will be looking for buyers who aren’t requesting as many contingencies or repairs. Whatever your specific needs are, share them with your realtor so they can help you structure the listing to optimize for those outcomes.
- Not all contingencies are created equal. While it is pretty typical for contingencies to be placed on the home inspection, financing, and property appraisals, it isn’t always the case. There may also be contingencies such as the offer is contingent upon the selling of the buyer’s home. Regardless of what the contingency is, there are different risks and benefits in dealing with them and ways to evaluate how likely an offer will fall through based on that contingency.
- First offers are sometimes the best offer. Sellers often get cold feet with a first offer because they are worried a better one might come along, this is something agents are familiar with. Listening to your agent is important but also knowing why they are suggesting accepting the first offer can help you not have remorse later on. A cash offer as a first offer involves one less contingency to overcome and would encourage your agent to recommend you to accept it. You may also have a home with a limited target group due to price point or house specific features and therefore a first offer will have more weight in being considered. If you have expressed that speed is of the utmost importance to you than a first offer is better than possibly not having another for some time. Regardless, keep in mind you don’t have to accept the first offer, you can try to negotiate with the buyer and if you don’t get what you need from the offer, perhaps it suits you best to wait.
- In the event you have multiple offers, you will want to evaluate them not just based on how much money they can net you, but also the contingencies in place and the strength of the buyer’s financial power to follow through with the offer. Again, your agent will help you with this, but it is easy to get blinded by dollar signs and ignore warning signs. A solid offer with a financially secure buyer will always be better than a high offer with shaky financing.
Step 6: The Closing Process
You made it! The inspection is over, the house is appraised, the financing is secure, and you are at the closing table. You might remember this from when you bought your house the first time but now you are on the other side of the transaction. What to expect:
You will go to a settlement agent or escrowee with the buyer and each other’s representatives and sign all the documents, disburse any money due to the mortgage or other parties, payout the money necessary to clear the title and pay the sales agents and other service providers. It is not always required to attend the closing personally but this will need to be a conversation you have with your attorney and escrowee as well as your agent. Regardless, after the closing you are no longer the homeowner. The deed has been transferred and the keys and other devices and systems of the home should be given to the buyer. You are now free of the home and have successfully sold your house. Huzzah!
As you can see, the selling of a home isn’t a simple process. Having experienced people working on your behalf can be a huge benefit and saves you time and money. Whatever direction you choose, know that the Mark Hite Team is here to help! If you have a question about the selling process, please feel free to reach out to us for assistance!