Originally posted on The Balance
Learn important steps to selling your home
The home selling process is the same whether you are selling for sale by owner or hiring a listing agent. Certain details may vary slightly among the states, but I will use California as the example since the state usually sets the standard for much of the country. Some jurisdictional differences include the seller hiring a real estate lawyer rather than an agent and the buyer submitting an “intent offer” prior to executing a purchase contract.
To sell your home:
1) Choose a Listing Agent
- A listing agent will represent you and have a fiduciary responsible for looking out for your best interests.
- Interview agents and meet with at least three real estate agents. Try to hire experience.
- Ask questions about your listing agreement, including the length of time the home will be listed.
2) Find Out How Much Your Home Is Worth
- A seller’s biggest mistake is to overprice a home.
- Price your home in line with sold homes identified in a comparative market analysis report.
- Consider whether your market is hot, cold or neutral, and price according to the market temperature.
3) Get Home Ready for Sale
- Prepare your home for sale by cleaning, decluttering and improving curb appeal.
- Hire a professional stager to stage your home, or ask your real estate agent for help with staging. Sometimes you can use your own furniture.
- Make repairs before selling.
- Protect your privacy while your home is on the market.
- If you’re selling a home where pets live, make alternate plans for your pets.
4) Market Your Home
- You or your agent should identify the sizzling selling points and choose advertising wordsto sell.
- Approve your agent’s marketing campaign or figure out how to advertise your house for sale yourself.
- Follow the top 10 home marketing tips for selling your home.
- Hire a virtual tour company to take quality photographs and put a virtual tour online.
- Tweak marketing to increase traffic and showings.
- Confirm that your listing is posted online. Your agent or you should saturate the Internet with photographs and descriptions of your home.
5) Show Your Home
- If you’re wondering about lockbox vs. appointments, you’ll get more showings if you let agents use a lockbox.
- Your home will show better if you sell in spring than sell in winter.
- Selling during the holidays could likely result in a lower sales price, regardless of what agents tell you.
- Follow the top 10 home showing tips. You’ve got only one chance — and sometimes only 3 seconds — to make a good first impression.
- Prepare for an open house and use the approach sparingly.
- Ask for buyer feedback so you can adjust your price, condition or marketing campaigns accordingly.
6) Receive Purchase Offers and Negotiate
- Make certain that buyers use the right form for writing a purchase offer.
- Even if you receive a lowball offer, negotiate by issuing a counter offer. Don’t ignore offers.
- Ask for a kickout clause or first right of refusal if the buyer’s offer is contingent on selling a home.
- Consider making a counter offer contingent on buying a home, if market conditions warrant.
- Don’t be afraid to make a full-price counter offer, if the price is competitive and warranted.
- If your home is priced right, prepare yourself for multiple offers.
7) Open Escrow and Order Title
- Your agent or transaction coordinator will open escrow and order a title policy.
- Write down the contact information for the closing agent.
- Select a date to close based on when the buyer’s loan will fund.
- Ask for a receipt for the buyer’s earnest money deposit.
8) Schedule Appraiser Appointment
- Clean the house the day before the appraiser arrives.
- If you receive a low appraisal, ask your agent about alternatives.
- You are not entitled to receive a copy of the appraisal because you did not pay for it.
- If the buyer decides to cancel the contract based on an appraisal, ask your agent or lawyer about your rights.
9) Cooperate with Home Inspection
- Ask your agent to provide you with a home inspection checklist so you will know which items an inspector will want to see.
- Prepare the attic and basement for inspection, too. Move stuff away from the walls in the garage.
- Also, prepare for the final walk-through inspection which takes place a few days before, or the morning of, closing.
10) Obtain Seller-Required Inspections
- If your contract calls for a roof certification, hire a reputable company to conduct the inspection.
- States that allow for termite or pest inspections make these reports public records.
- The fees for all inspection reports, even if seller-mandated, are negotiable.
- If your home was built before 1950, a sewer inspection might call for a new sewer line, but trenchless sewers are less expensive to install.
11) Delivery Seller Disclosures
- All homes in the United States are subject to lead-based paint disclosures, not just those built before 1978.
- If you are aware of material facts, disclose them.
- Your title company should provide CC&Rs, but if you belong to a homeowner association, additional documentation will be required.
12) Negotiate Request for Repair
- Ordinarily, sellers do not need to accept a buyer’s request for repair; however, buyers can also cancel the contract.
- You are entitled to a copy of the home inspection report if the buyers request repairs.
- If you do not choose to make repairs, a buyer might instead accept a closing cost credit.
13) Ask Buyer to Release Contingencies
- In California, for example, contracts default to 17 days, at which time, the buyer must release contingencies.
- If you do not demand a release, buyers are not obligated to provide it.
- If buyers do not provide a release, in California, sellers have the right to cancel the contract.
14) Sign Title and Escrow Documents
- In southern California, you will sign escrow documents shortly after opening escrow.
- In northern California, you will sign escrow documents near closing.
- In other states, it is common for everybody to sit around the table, all buyers and sellers, so ask your agent for the norm in your state.
- Bring a valid picture identification.
15) Close Escrow
- Your property deed, reconveyance and deed of trust will record in the public records.
- The title company will notify you and your agent when it records the deeds.
- Depending on buyer’s possession rights specified in the contract, you may be required to move on the day the home closes or prior.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.