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You’ve made the decision to sell your home. Even if you’ve sold a house before, this process can be daunting because it is a major financial transaction that involves many steps from selecting a sales professional and marketing the home, to negotiating with buyers and finally receiving funds at the closing. Yet, the home-selling process doesn’t have to be intimidating if you know what to expect. The process can be divided in nine steps.
Step 1: List your property with a real estate professional. Select someone who is knowledgeable, listens carefully, and with whom you feel comfortable. If you are interviewing multiple agents, use their listing presentations to compare their preparation and professionalism. Don’t base your selection solely on selling price or commission. It’s probably best to avoid working with someone who promises you the moon—in this case, an unrealistically high price—then has to make price reductions until the property sells. Instead, focus on marketing plans, service and past results.
Step 2: Establish price and time frame. Determining a fair asking price is crucial in this market. Price the property too high and it could languish on the market. Of course you could always decrease the price later, yet you’ve lost potential buyers. Your real estate professional can help you determine true market value based on a comparable market analysis, which will include recent home sale transactions as well as homes currently on the market. Supply and demand, craftsmanship, amenities, condition and any special circumstances can also impact price. For instance, a relocation move might necessitate a quick sale.
Step 3: Develop and implement a marketing strategy. To get the most exposure for your home, you should have a marketing plan with clear objectives and an outline of specific resources to be used. Your plan should include a mixture of conventional and online marketing to optimize your reach to potential buyers.
Step 4: Get Your Home in Show Condition. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. So make sure your home is in tip-top shape inside and out. Eliminate clutter and remove personal items. Refresh the paint, clean the carpets and make minor repairs. Keep the grass trimmed or the snow shoveled and in warmer months add color to your landscape. You may also want to consider hiring a professional to stage your home. A home in move-in condition is much more attractive to buyers in a competitive market.
Step 5: An offer is submitted. Once your home is on the market, a buyer will make an offer through his/her real estate sales professional. The buyer’s sales professional will present the offer to your representative, who will promptly relay it to you and help you evaluate the offer.
Step 6: The negotiation process begins and eventually an offer is accepted.One of the most critical roles played by your real estate professional is in the negotiation phase. Negotiations over the terms of a home-purchase contract can be extremely sensitive. The process of offer and counter-offer may go on until parties arrive at an acceptable contract, which can go very quickly or take days, even weeks.
Step 7: Buyers contact their mortgage agent to secure financing and home inspections are scheduled. The buyers should already have been pre-approved for the mortgage however, an accepted offer is necessary for them to finalize their financing. A home inspection is paid for by the buyers and is for the buyers benefit to ensure there are unexpected defects with the home.
Step 8: The offer is firm and the closing process begins. Once the buyer has waived all their conditions the offer is a firm and binding agreement. You will need to choose a lawyer to represent you in the closing of the sale. Your agent should provide you with a list of local lawyers. Once you have choosen a laywer, you may give them a call to let them know that your agent will be faxing all the necessary documents to them. Prior to closing, you will need to meet with the lawyer to sign documents and provide them with your house keys. The laywers office will set up this final appointment. A final walk through for the buyers will also take place and a mutually agreed upon time.
Step 9: Time to move!
Of course this is a simplification of what is otherwise a complex transaction. As you are going through each stage of the process, look to your real estate professional to provide guidance so that you feel comfortable every step of the way.