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If you’re like many people, your home holds a special place in your heart. It’s where you spend time with your family and friends, and it’s probably where you feel the most relaxed and comfortable. Making the choice to sell is never easy, and selling can sometimes feel overwhelming with all the paperwork, planning and negotiation. Just like buying a home, selling is also a learning experience. We’ve created a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the sales journey.
Determine how you will sell your home
You have two options for selling your home: for sale by owner or with the help of a real estate agent. If you choose to sell it yourself, you’ll have more responsibilities on your shoulders — like setting a listing price, showing the house, and advertising — but you can keep the full purchase price of the house. If you hire a real estate agent, they will take care of everything in exchange for a commission on the sale, usually 6%.
There is no right or wrong way to sell your home. Many people choose to use a realtor, but if you have the time and are confident you can do the research, there’s nothing stopping you from selling it yourself.
Choose a price
Choosing the right price is essential to closing a transaction in a timely manner. Your real estate agent can help you by producing a report that uses the selling price of similar homes in the area. If there are no comparable homes, your agent will use their expertise to price accordingly. A good real estate agent will explain their reasoning to you and work with you to choose a price. Your home holds many memories and you know what work has been done over the years, but it’s important to be objective and stick to the facts when setting a price.
If you’re selling yourself, make sure your price is right. Use similar homes in your neighborhood that have sold in the past three months as a guide. You can even call agents to ask for the price of current sales, although they may not give you this information. When looking at these ads, pay attention to how long they have been on the market. This can give you an idea of how long it will take to sell yours.
After you’ve done your research, avoid the urge to overprice. You run the risk of turning away buyers who can find similar homes for less. And your home will lose the excitement factor of being new on the market within weeks, and that time is crucial in attracting buyers. Don’t be afraid to price a little lower; homes that are priced lower than expected tend to receive multiple offers, which can increase the price when multiple buyers compete.
Prepare your home
This step can take some time, so give yourself plenty of time before the first visit. Your goal is to make your home as neutral as possible, which means painting over walls in bright or bold colors, removing personal items, and cleaning from top to bottom. Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your home:
• Depersonalize – Buyers need to be able to imagine themselves living there, and that’s hard to do with family photos lining the mantle. You’ll also want to remove toys, dirty dishes, laundry, and even your pet’s toys and food dishes. The fewer personal items they see, the better they can imagine themselves in the house.
• Clean everything – Imagine that buyers are your most demanding guests and clean accordingly. Pay special attention to your kitchen and bathrooms, they are often the most watched. Make sure there are no signs of mold or stains in the house. You can also place a few air fresheners throughout the house to eliminate odors that you might not notice.
• Solve small problems – Review your house and try to see it as a potential buyer. We get used to our own living spaces, so we might not notice things like a loose step or a leaky faucet, but your buyers will. These things may seem small, but the little things add up when you decide to buy a home. Consider this your chance to finally take care of those home improvements you’ve been putting off. Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean your work won’t be appreciated by someone else.
• Clean up the yard – Don’t forget to take care of the exterior of your home. Curb appeal attracts potential buyers and can be the difference between closing a deal or not. Maintain your lawn and landscaping, and also remove your belongings from the yard.
• Show your home – Showings can be stressful for sellers. You want every part of your home to be perfect, and sometimes that’s just not possible. Especially for these improvised projections. Its good. Make a plan ahead of time so you have a guide to follow if things get hectic.
• Provide alternate spaces for children and pets – If you have children or pets, you’ll want to have a plan for where they can go when buyers see the house. Ask family members or neighbors, or go for a walk or drive. If that’s not possible, designate an area of the house they can stay in until it’s time for buyers to view that room. Then move them to an area already seen.
• Keep your house tidy – Once you’ve done a thorough cleaning, do whatever you can to keep it that way. When you’re done using something, put it away. It’s much easier to take a few seconds to clean up after an activity than to rush around the house and put things away just before potential buyers arrive.
• Be flexible – Showings won’t always be convenient, so if you want to sell your home, you need to be flexible. It can be uncomfortable at first to leave your home while potential buyers pass by or to get feedback on your home, but remember the end goal. Give buyers the freedom to fall in love with the home like you did.
Review offers and negotiate a contract
When a buyer makes a written offer, his agent submits it to you or to you if you are selling alone. In addition to the bid price, you should also consider the following:
• Seller Concessions – Seller concessions are incentives that sellers offer buyers to sweeten the deal, such as paying inspection or closing costs, paying a one-year warranty on the home, or coverage of homeowners association fees for the first year.
• Buyer’s Home Sales Quota – Many offers are conditional on the buyer selling their home before buying yours. If you have multiple offers, one with no home sale contingency would be more competitive since you are not relying on them to sell their home.
• Closing Date – Buyers may sometimes request an extended closing date due to a job search, their contingency clause or a scheduling conflict. Delays can occur when closing, so make sure the extension doesn’t interfere with your timeline.
• Cash or Financing – Although it doesn’t happen very often, it is possible to have a buyer who will pay cash. This would push back the closing date considerably, as they would not have to wait for a bank to provide them with financing. In this case, you’ll probably be expected to move out quickly, so think about where you’ll be staying and where to store your things if you’re still looking for a new home.
Accept and close
Once you accept the buyer’s offer, your home will be taken off the market. Buyers will schedule inspections, and their lender will order an appraisal and approve their financing. The last step in closing is to sign the documents that transfer the house to the new owners. Any proceeds from the sale will be sent to you, often by wire transfer directly to your bank.
Selling a home takes time and is worth celebrating. Congratulations!