Some homes sell very quickly. Others take several months. Here are some guidelines that will help you sell your home within a reasonable timeline at a fair market value. As a homeowner, the FIRST STEP is to hire a strong real estate agent to sell your property. You’ll fare best with sound marketing exposure and a strong negotiator.
Whether you’re planning to sell your home in the next few months or just studying up for that eventuality, there’s no time like now to prepare. If buying a house seems complicated, selling involves even more responsibilities and expenses.
Here are some common steps to selling your home:
1. Find a Real Estate Professional
If you’ve been through the home-buying process, you already know how complicated the real estate business can be. Choose a professional that is highly ranked in the sale of homes in your market area. This is critical because this broker has many more potential homebuyers to bring to your home.
When interviewing a candidate, ask him or her to prepare a “comparative marketing analysis” for your house. This might include a demographic of the neighborhood, the quality of schools in the area and a suggested list price for the property.
Once you’ve chosen a real estate professional to help sell your home, you’ll have to sign a contract stating that you’ll work solely with this professional for a designated number of months, often between one and six months. This means no other real estate professional will be allowed to sell your home on your behalf during this time.
So put some thought into the professional you choose. The right agent will help you sell your home in a timely manner and at a price that benefits you.
2. Prepare Your Home for Sale
Well before you’re ready to plant that “For Sale” sign in your front yard, there is work to be done to prepare your home for sale. A good real estate broker will help you in this process. Sometimes it is very difficult as owners to see what we should do to prepare.
Remember how keen your eye was to every small detail and defect in the houses you saw as a buyer? Now that door to your bedroom that never quite closed properly or that leaky faucet that you never got around to fixing will be seen by a potential buyer with that same keen eye.
Start making the obvious repairs today – even if you don’t plan to sell until a year from now. These repairs can cost money and take time. Plus fixing it now will allow you to enjoy the results before it’s time to move out.
If you plan on doing some improvements before the sale, the best place to start is where the buyers start: at your curb. Potential buyers base a large part of their decision on a property’s “curb appeal,” so make yours say something positive. That means a tidy front yard, a house with well-painted trim, a tidy driveway and a clear, welcoming entryway.
Inside, the biggest return on your investment continues to be improvements to the kitchen, followed closely by improvements to the master bedroom. If you’re making these improvements shortly before selling the house, consider painting and decorating the rooms in neutral colors, the most appealing choice to the greatest number of potential buyers.
Inside and outside, start reducing the clutter. When it comes time to show your home, less will mean more. Potential buyers don’t want to see how your closets overflow with clothes, how every room feels cramped with furniture, or how the yard is difficult to maneuver with that rusty swing set in the way. So downsize now; it not only will make the preparation for showing your home easier, it also will make packing for your move faster.
3. Get Your Paperwork Together
When you meet with your new listing agent, he or she will need a lot of documents from you to prepare your home for sale. Among the things he or she will want to see are:
• Pay-off Notice: A letter to the lender stating intention to payoff the mortgage.
• Assessments or Easements: If there’s a tax assessment or easement on the property, documents stating such will have to be included in the purchase contract.
• Property Taxes: Proof of property taxes paid.
• Utilities: Provide a record of the past 12 months’ utility bills.
You’ll want to make it clear now which items in the home you want to take with you – the heirloom chandelier in the dining room, the washer and dryer set you just bought last month – and which can stay behind as part of the home sale. Your real estate professional can help show you which items you should put away or replace before your house goes on the market.
We highly recommend that you obtain a presale inspection for your home so that you are aware of all items that may need to be repaired prior to a buyer doing their own inspection with a licensed inspector.
In New Mexico, most homebuyer’s will request a Seller’s Disclosure Statement. You must be careful in preparing the statement and your broker will help you with the disclosure.
4. Price Your Home – Market Snapshot
There are a number of factors that will affect the success of your home sale. They include: location of the home, interest rates, economic conditions, time of year, condition of the home, marketing the home, terms of the sale and accessibility to the home.
Some of these are not within your or your selling agent’s control – location of the home, interest rates, economic conditions. The other factors are items you should discuss with your real estate professional to determine what would benefit the sale of this property most.
For example, marketing your property in more innovative ways, such as on an Internet site like this one, may broaden the pool of potential buyers. If you can, waiting for a good time to sell your home – spring or fall, the most popularly home buying times – also may help it sell faster. And pricing the home properly can make a huge difference in whether a house is snapped up within the first several weeks of listing or sits on the market for a longer period of time.
To price a home properly, you and your real estate professional will have to study the local market, research comparable properties and consider current market conditions. This is where the “comparative marketing analysis” you requested when interviewing us will give you guidance.
We definitely have the experience to help price your property at the right price for a sale that benefits you.
5. Market Your Home
Products that sell well usually have a good marketing strategy. The same can be said for your home. Will the house be advertised only with a yard sign? The broker and the broker’s company should have a multifaceted approach to marketing and preferably is #1 in your market area. Determine how the company ranks in the market and in internet exposure!
When a potential buyer arrives for an “open house” or drives by and sees the for sale sign, you’ll want to provide a home profile handout that they can take with them. Decide what information should be included in the description of your home that will make it a must-see – and hopefully, a must-buy. Include one or more photos of the home to showcase the most appealing features of your property and help remind potential buyers of what they saw as they visit home after home.
You may even want to include a few lines about benefits of moving to this property, such as good schools, convenience to mass transit and other desirable community features.
6. Prepare Your Home for Showing
You’ll be pleased that you prepared your home for sale now that there’s little time left to get your house ready for visitors.
Now is the time to put on the finishing touches, just like that quick housecleaning you do before company comes over for dinner.
Outside: Keep your lawn trimmed, the rose bushes pruned, the weeds tamed. Put away the garden hose and the tools. Make sure the bulbs in your home’s exterior lighting fixtures are all in working order. Be vigilant about removing flyers, handouts and newspapers left on your front doorstep or driveway.
Inside: Brighten the rooms by opening the drapes, turning on the lights, cleaning the windows. Clear the clutter on the kitchen counter, bathroom sink, coffee table and couches. Make all the beds. Clean all your bathroom and kitchen fixtures. Do a quick vacuuming of the entire house, being sure to catch any cobwebs in the corners along the ceiling. Finally, take out the garbage.
If you have pets, find a safe place to keep them during a house showing: in the garage, in the basement or at a friend’s house.
Now leave the work to your real estate professional. Try to be away from home during a showing, but if you happen to be home when the potential buyers arrive, greet them at the door then politely excuse yourself. Make yourself scarce or go take a walk. It’s easier for a buyer to picture himself or herself living in the house when you’re not there. This is your home’s time to shine.
7. Negotiate and Respond to an Offer
Depending on market conditions, you may receive one or more offers for your property from interested buyers. Each offer will include the sale price, proposed closing date, proposed move-in date, financing, and contingencies that may include an appraisal or sale of the buyers’ current home. Let your real estate professional help you sort through the variables to determine whether you should accept, counter-offer or reject the offer.
If there are multiple offers, each offer will be presented to you in the order registered. You don’t need to decide anything until after you’ve seen all the offers. If you do accept or counter more than one offer, you are required to establish an order of precedence noting which is the primary offer, followed by the backups in order. This will help you avoid selling the house to more than one buyer.
8. Complete the Settlement/Closing
Once you have accepted an offer to buy your house, expect to make your house available to a housing inspector, a termite inspector and an appraiser. After seeing the results of the inspections, the buyer may request additional work is completed before purchase, such as repairing a damaged roof or fixing a leaky faucet. You should consult with your real estate professional to determine whether to comply with the buyer’s request or risk losing this offer.
Even though your house is under contract, try to keep your home in show condition. The deal has not closed and still may fall through, which may mean showing your home to more potential buyers.
Usually, there will be a final walk-through before all signatures are collected and the transaction is considered done. The buyer will go room by room to check that everything is in working condition and, if you had agreed to do so, any additional work requested after inspection is completed. This inspection is done prior to closing.
Congratulations, you’ve sold your home!