We’ve already written about What to Expect When You Are Buying and felt it was time to give sellers an idea about how the process works from their side of the table. There are a lot of factors which go into making the decision on whether it’s the right time for you and that’s probably another post. What we wanted to do here was talk about how the process goes after you’ve made that decision. Here it is:
Step 1: Talk to a Realtor
If you don’t have a personal referral for a Realtor, you should do some investigating and interview a few possible candidates to sell your home. Invite them to your home and ask the following questions:
1. Get to know them. This person is going to be responsible for working with you and negotiating on your behalf. You want to pick someone with whom you feel like you can work successfully.
2. Marketing plan. Does it include professional photos, a video tour, 3-D tour, and a single property website? Strong marketing plans should take into account where the likely buyer for your home is coming from, and use methods to reach out directly to that buyer (like targeted social advertising). The marketing plan should be in writing, and provided to you, not just discussed in general.
3. Ask for a value range on the price of your home. It should be supported with comparable homes on the market, homes under contract, and recent sales. Knowing the pulse of the market for your neighborhood also helps: average days on market, ratio of homes available versus homes under contract, etc.
4. What improvements should you make to help your home sell faster and for more money?
After you’ve met and had your questions answered it’s time to make your decision. The biggest factors should be your comfort level with the agent and the quality of their marketing plan. The last thing we would recommend is choosing an agent based on their estimation of the list price. You are in the driver’s seat where price is concerned and ultimately can list for whatever number you choose. If the agent doesn’t take the time to listen to what you are hoping for in the transaction (timing, terms, contract conditions, and price) then run the other way. A good agent will do their best to deliver exactly what you are looking for.
Step 2: Make improvements?
If you are looking to get the highest price for you home it needs to be in great shape and show well. New paint and carpet are almost always a good idea, and having an updated kitchen and bathrooms are a must. We don’t normally recommend building a deck or a patio, but if all of your competition has one, you should too. Generally speaking it is not a good thing to be the oddball home a neighborhood. Just remember, be careful about what you spend and make sure it’s going to pay off. It isn’t always necessary to renovate. A home doesn’t need to be completely upgraded/updated to sell, but if you have time and the increase in value to your home justifies it, you can consider having the work done.
Step 3: Picture time!
Once all of your improvements and repairs are done and it’s time for the photo shoot, you’ll want to make sure your home is clean, orderly, and clutter free. Some of our clients choose to hire a staging expert, and it can be a great investment. We cannot stress how important professional photography is. The photos, video walkthrough, and 3D tour are the online representation of your home and the first thing a potential buyer sees. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and bad photos can doom your home sale. As an example, take a look at a listing we recently sold, which included Fusion photography and a walk through video tour.
Step 4: Hit the market
Once your pictures are complete, it’s time to get this baby on the market! Your home will go live on the multiple listing service, ideally by Thursday morning, to allow for the maximum number of showings that first weekend. Part of listing with us is a single property website which will be up and running the day your home hits the market. The way that we handle it: the sign is placed in the ground, color brochures in the sign box, and we reach out to your neighbors to let them know the details about your home. We also provide weekly reports on web traffic from Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com as well as market condition updates which may affect your sale.
Step 5: Offer
All of the marketing has paid off and you have received an offer. This is where having an experienced agent can help take the emotions out of the process and focus on a successful negotiation. There is always more to consider than just the price. Does the buyer need closing cost assistance? What type of financing are they using, how does that affect the transaction, and is the lender reputable? When is the settlement date? How much earnest money are they offering, and what type of contingencies are they requesting? Once all parties agree to terms and signatures are in place, your contract is ratified and the inspection period begins. A ratified contract is a legally binding document, and your agent should give you a timeline for the deadlines for each of the contingencies.
Step 6: Inspections and contingencies
If there is any part of the process that can be a roller coaster, this is it. In our area, usually three inspections are done (home, radon, and well/septic, if needed), typically within the first 14 days after contract ratification. If there are issues that need to be remedied, the buyers will request repairs, and you can negotiate until all parties are in agreement. The next step is the appraisal contingency, which normally expires 21 days after ratification. It’s the job of your listing agent to meet the appraiser and provide documentation to justify the contract price. It doesn’t happen often, but any appraisal less than the sales price will mean more negotiations and possibly less money for you as the seller. The final contingency is financing. Once again, your agent should be communicating with the buyer’s agent and/or the lender to make sure everything is on schedule and that there are no last minute surprises. When the buyers remove the financing contingency, it’s time to pack up and get ready to settle.
Step 7: Settlement
On the closing date, the buyers will do a final walk through to make sure everything in the home is working and conveying as it should according to the contract. You get to say goodbye to your home, sign a few papers, and hand over the keys. If the buyers have chosen a different settlement company, you may not actually sit across the table from them, but your listing agent, the settlement companies, and the buyer’s agent will ensure that all the paperwork and money moves the way that it should. The settlement company will wire the fund forward to your mortgage company to satisfy the loan, and then wire the profit to you. In Virginia, the money doesn’t move until the transaction is recorded at the courthouse, so it may take a day or two for the funds to arrive.
Congratulations, you’ve sold your home!
If you are considering putting your house up for sale, check out our property valuation tool to get a general idea of what your home is worth, and then give us a call or schedule a consultation. We have a proven track record and would love the opportunity to help you achieve your goals.