7 Steps to a
Step 1: Fix It First
Unless you don’t mind getting a lower price for your home, you’re going to need to address any wear and tear on your property. Doing so will notonly help increase your home’s appearance, but alsoit’s appeal and therefore value.
Carefully examine your home and take note of issues you can easily handle on your own such as fresh paint, landscaping, updating lighting, new doorknobs, etc. Then take stock of the more significant fixes such as heating, cooling, plumbing, mold, foundation, gutters, wood rot, and roof as problems with any of these can make the difference between “deal” or “deal-breaker”.
Once you have a clear assessment of what improvements are needed, tackle the ones of highest priority. While this will cost you both time and money, it can help generate a faster sale at a higher price.
Step 2: Go Pro
If confusion, mistakes, and headaches are to your liking, then go it alone. If you want to help sell your home faster, for more money, and with less hassle, then you’re going to want to hire a real estate professional.
When finding an agent, asking friends and family for referrals is smart, but be sure to narrow it down by location. You’ll want an agent with experience and expertise in your particular market.
In working for you, a professional agent should:
- Outline their professional responsibilities to you, including complete disclosure, loyalty, confidentiality and accountability
- Help you determine the best asking price
- Extensively market your home
- Offer expert advice on ways to prepare and show your property
- Assist you, if necessary, in finding any home-related services you need
- Provide feedback from all showings and open houses
- Update you on market changes that could affect your property’s sale
- Be available to help potential buyers
- Promptly present and evaluate each offer with you
- Negotiate the highest possible price and best terms in partnership with you
- Manage contractual, title and transaction details ◦ Ensure that mandatory items are signed, sealed and delivered on closing day
Step 3: Price it to Please
Pricing your home right is all about finding the right balance between pleasing yourself and any potential buyers. Ask for too much and buyers won’t even look twice, ask for too little and you could miss out on a better return on investment.
Research comparative homes
You’ll want to obtain a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This is a document drawn from a local Multiple Listings Service (MLS) database that presents pricing information, property details, and photos of homes similar toyours that recently sold, failed to sell, or are currently on the market in your area. Generally, your real estate professional will provide you with a CMA and include a suggested price range for your listing.
Gaining a good understanding of what has worked and what hasn’t in your area will help you to strategically price, position, and present your property to sell at top dollar in a reasonable time frame.
Allow room to negotiate
When pricing your home, it can be a good idea to add a bit of a cushion. Most buyers come to the table expecting a little back and forth negotiating, and providing a cushion allows for this. Your agent can help you determine the right amount of wiggle room. Another way to help seal the deal is offering to cover closing costs, while sticking to a higher asking price.
Step 4: Market Your Home
Nice job! You’ve followed steps 1 through 3 and are well on your way to selling your home. But it takes more than improvements and strategic pricing to have a successful sale. You need to reach the maximum number of potentials buyers with your home listing.
Home buyers rely heavily on the Internet, mobile apps, and real estate professionals for information on properties. Other sources include yard signs, open houses, newspaper and real estate magazine ads, homebuilders and television.
Be where the buyers are
95% of all home buyers use the Internet at some point during the search process while 44% start their search online. Simply put, you’ll want a real estate agent with a robust online marketing strategy.
When searching online buyers want to see:
- Property photos
- Detailed property information
- Virtual tours
- Neighborhood information
- Real estate agent contact
Showcase your community
The look and condition of your home is critical, but don’t discount the importance of where you live. Most buyers usually “buy” an area first, so the quality of a neighborhood is actually oneof the most important factors.
Be sure to talk up what makes your community great –proximity to quality schools, parks, restaurants, shopping and other attractions. These are the type of things that impact quality of life and potential buyers will be interested in. Your agent has access to the kinds of detailed neighborhood and school information that buyers want and is skilled at selling the relationship between community and home.
A comprehensive approach to showcasing your home and community
When selling your home the name of the game is “more”. You want more serious buyers. More showings. More offers. Therefore, it’s essential that you don’t rely solely on the Internet but rather a comprehensive advertising strategy to maximize your property’s exposure. Some ideas include:
- Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
- Open houses
- Direct mail and email campaigns
- Company website(s)
- Highlight info to all agents in their company’s local offices
- Personal website(s)
- Notifying the area’s top real estate professionals
- Social media sites like Facebook® and Twitter
- Real estate professional tours
- For sale sign
- Local real estate papers and magazines -Networking within the local community
- Television -Realtor.com® real estate search mobile applications
Step 5: Dress To Impress
It’s true that looks aren’t everything, except when you’re trying to sell your home. When you put your home on the market youneed it to look its best and set the stage for an appealing first-impression.
Cut the clutter
Go through each and everyroom of your home and rid them of clutter, extraneous objects, and general messiness. You want each room to look organized and cared for.
Remove personal items such as framed photos, your kid’s drawings, or even your collection of ceramic frogs. It’s important that home buyers can picture themselves living in what will hopefully become their home.
But don’t just stuff those things in the closet
Potential buyers will definitely bechecking out the closet space and you don’t want it crammed with ceramic frogs. Store those items neatly in the attic, basement or rent a locker at a storage facility.
Tips for showing your home:
- Add touches of color with accessories if you’ve painted in neutral touches.
- Place fresh flowers where they’ll stand out.
- Open all doors and windows beforehand to circulate fresh air.
- Pick up toys, remove all clutter, ensure beds are made, put clothes away.
- Clean pet areas and make sure they are odor-free. Better yet, pets should be unseen.
- Make your kitchen and bathrooms sparkle
- Clean all the floors and vacuum carpets and rugs
- Remove all cash, jewelry and small valuables from view
- Ensure trash and recycling bins are tidy and odor-free
- Bake cookies or put a pan of cinnamon in the oven to create a warm and inviting aroma
Step 6: To the negotiating table
It’s happened! You’ve got a buyer. This is the point where negotiations between the buyer and you, the seller, begin. Often, thenegotiating process is relatively painless, but should things get sticky, your agent should be your strongest ally and best resource for solutions.
The basic process
Generally, the buyer will make an offer on your home using a contract developed by your local real estate association. In this contract the buyer will set a sale price and include conditions for terms of purchase called “clauses.” These clauses may include specificclosing and possession dates, deposit amounts, home improvements, and a variety of other conditions.
When your agent delivers you the offer you have the option to accept it, reject it, or counter it. If you choose to counter, thenegotiating process begins. This may include several rounds of successive counter offers, each with deadlines for responding and meeting various conditions set forth by either the seller or buyer. This will continue until either both sides reach a mutually satisfactory pending agreement or the negotiations collapse.
Basic principles for successful negotiation:
- Disclose everything –Smart sellers proactively disclose all known defects to their buyers. Most states have property disclosure forms. Use them.
- Ask questions –Offers may contain complicated terminology, sometimes three or more addenda. Your real estate agent can help to clarify.
- Respond quickly –When buyers make an offer, they are in the mood to buy. But moods change, and buyers are known to get buyers’ remorse.
Don’t delay if you want the sale.
- Stay calm and be patient –At all times keep communication civil and agreeable.
Meet halfway –If there are disagreements about relatively small expenses, consider splitting the difference.
- Be cautious with contingencies –When you’ve landed your buyer, your signed acceptance of a written offer becomes a sales contract.
Except for removing any contingencies, this document is the binding basis for the sale.
- Rely on your real estate professional –It’s your agent’s responsibility to represent your best interests every step of the way.
Your success is their success.
Step 7: Closing Time
The negotiations have ended amiably, and you and the buyer have followed through with your respective contractual obligations associated with finalizing the sale. Perfect!
The various contingencies and special conditions stipulated by the seller and buyer in the pending sales agreement must be met by the closing day which usually falls within 60 days after both parties have signed the agreement.
Common contingencies and conditions:
- The buyer’s securing of financing
- A title search –a historical review of all legal documents relating to ownership of the property to ensure that there are no claims against the title of the property
- The purchasing of title insurance in case the records contain errors or there are mistakes in the review process
- A professional appraisal of the home, requested by the lender to ensure that the home’s actual value justifies the loan amount
- Any additional contractual promises you have made in connection with buyer incentives, home improvements, etc.
- An independent inspection of the home’s structural and functional condition (foundation, roof, electrical, heating, plumbing,etc.)
- An independent termite inspection
- A final walk-through by the buyer to verify that the home is in the same condition as when the sale agreement was signed
- Carefully review the sales agreement with your agent to have a clear understanding of your obligations. Any shortfalls or mistakes at this point can be costly.