Knowing the basics of selling a home can take the stress out of the process, and help you plan for each step ahead of time.
Know your local market
Learning about the current state of your local housing market can help you decide on when to sell and what price to ask. In general, you should read local real estate news and talk to local real estate agents to get a feel of the condition your local housing market is in. Typically, your house is more likely to sell quickly when the economy is doing well and the interest rates are still low.
Hire a local real estate agent
Selling a house is an exhausting process, which takes a substantive amount of time, energy, knowledge, and skills. Unless you have a background in finance, marketing and law, a thorough knowledge of your local housing market, plenty of spare time, and are organized and good at paperwork, you should hire a local real estate agent to do the job. Among many other things, a local real estate agent can help you determine pricing, get your home ready for sale by identifying the needs for repairs and staging, market your home using multiple channels, methods, and technologies, evaluate all offers with you, negotiate for you the best possible price and terms, coordinate among all parties involved, and handle all the paperwork.
When deciding the sale price for your home, ask your real estate agent for a comparative market analysis that includes both recently sold houses and currently for-sale houses in your area. This analysis should give a feel of how much your house is worth. Compare unique attributes of your home to those of the ones recently sold and the ones that are listed for sale in your area, to adjust your asking price. Be realistic and work in consent with your real estate agent to price your home based on the market, and what similar homes are averaging in your area.
Get your home ready for sale
This involves making necessary repairs, worthwhile upgrades, removing clutter, maximizing curb appeal, etc., to draw buyers in. Your real estate agent can help you identify the needs for repairs, upgrades, and home staging, based on their understanding of the likely buyers of your home. It is advisable to have a home inspection and recommended repairs done before you put your home on the market. Eventual buyers will have the home inspection done and ask you to do the repairs anyway.So make the repairs before you put your house up for sale, because existing problems with the house can reduce its value more than the actual cost of repair.
Market your home
Marketing includes the exposure of your property to other real estate agents and the public. Your real estate agent will take professional quality images (and a virtual tour, if appropriate) of your home, draw up floor plans, write an ad, etc., to advertise your home to other real estate agents by listing it in Multiple Listing Services, and to the public by advertising it on the agent’s own website, community websites, other heavily-trafficked real estate websites such as Trulia, Zillow, and Redfin, social media websites, local publications, etc. If needed, your real estate agent will arrange open houses and private showings.
Accept an offer
Entertain only written offers accompanied with a check for earnest money. The highest offer is not always the best offer. You must pay attention to not just the price offered, but also all the contingencies and other terms mentioned. Also, check with your real estate agent whether the buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage. Once you and the buyer agree on the offer in its entirety, the offer is considered to be accepted, and your home is considered “in contract.” The buyer will now move on to having your home inspected.
Home inspection and negotiations
Most offers have a home inspection contingency. A home inspection contingency gives the buyer the right to get your home inspected, and negotiate further if there are repair issues. If you’ve had a home inspection and recommended repairs done before putting your home on sale, the buyer’s home inspection report will most likely not have any recommendations for repairs, and you can move on to closing. If not, the buyer’s home inspection report may recommend making some repairs and the buyer will ask you to either cover the costs of certain repairs, or provide price concessions. Your real estate agent will help you negotiate the repairs you will pay for, or the amount of concessions you are willing to provide. Once the agreement is reached, you move on to closing the sale.
Close the deal
The closing is a formal process where all parties sign all of the necessary paperwork needed to complete the transaction. Your real estate agent will coordinate among various parties involved, to ensure the completion of all necessary paperwork, and monitor the escrow process until the transaction is complete. Title to the property is transferred from you to the buyer. The buyer receives the house keys and you receive payment for the house. Deeds, loan papers, and other documents are prepared, signed, and ultimately filed with the local property record office.