The Property Chef's Seller's Guide
DECIDE TO SELL
So you’ve decided to sell your house. Before anything else it’s a good idea to sit down and clarify your motivations and draw up a basic time frame for the selling process.
1.1 Why Sell? Why do you want to sell your house? Do you intend to simply find a larger home, or do you plan on moving to another neighborhood, school district, city or state? You might think your reasons are obvious, but it would do well to consider the implications of each option for your family’s lifestyle, opportunities and finances. Being clear about your intentions for selling will make it easier for an agent to determine the most appropriate option for your specified financial, lifestyle and real estate goals.
1.2 When Should I Sell? You should immediately establish your time frame for selling. If you need to sell quickly, you can speed up the process by hiring an experienced agent as opposed to selling it yourself. If there’s no pressing need to sell immediately, you can sit down with an expert real estate agent to thoroughly review the current market conditions and find the most favorable time to sell.
1.3 What’s The Market Like? When you work with me, you can be sure that you’ll have agent knowledge, expertise and negotiating skills at work for you to arrive at the best market prices and terms. I’ll keep you up-to-date on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and conditions of competing properties. With me, you’ll know exactly how to price and when to sell your home.
1.4 How Do I Optimize My Finances? Deciding to sell your home demands a serious consideration of your current financial situation and future possibilities. With the help of a qualified agent, you’ll be able to effectively assess the cumulative impact of these changes, estimate potential proceeds of selling your home, and plan effective tax savings and estate planning strategies. I will ensure that you not only take control of your finances, but use them to their fullest potential.
SELECT AN AGENT
2.1 What To Look For In An Agent. Here are a couple of factors to keep in mind when looking for a listing agent:
Experience and Expertise. You want a full-time agent who’s familiar with our area and with the type of property you intend to sell. Does he or she employ a diverse range of marketing and advertising strategies? How tech-savvy is your agent?
Availability and Commitment. Your agent should be capable of prompt and decisive action during the course of selling your home. Do they make it a point to keep in touch with you constantly? Can they easily be contacted in case of emergencies or even for the simplest questions?
Rapport. Do they take the time out to listen to your goals and clarify your needs? Can they understand your unique situation and be genuinely concerned about the outcome of the process? Your listing agent will be your guide and partner in this crucial decision, so it’s important to find one you can get along with.
2.2 What Is Your Home Worth? Without a professional agent, most independent home sellers tend to overestimate the value of their home. You can avoid this pitfall by consulting with an experienced Real Estate listing agent.
PREPARE TO SELL
You can do a lot to increase the appeal of your home and create a lasting impact on potential buyers.
3.1 Curb Appeal. Keeping your landscape pristine, and adding creative touches to your yard such as colorful annuals, will create an immediate impact on passers-by and potential buyers.
3.2 House Repairs. Simple upgrades such as window repairs, polishing the doorknobs, and a fresh coat of paint in the most frequently used rooms instantly brighten up your home.
3.3 Cleanliness and Staging. Keep your home uncluttered, sweet-smelling and well-lit from top to bottom. Pay attention to details: put away the kitty litter, place a vase of fresh flowers in the hall, pop a batch of cinnamon rolls in the oven, have your carpets cleaned. Let your agent check the house before showing to any potential buyers to see how you can improve the staging further.
3.4 Showtime. Presenting your home to potential buyers is a job that your listing agent will take care of for you. Buyers feel more comfortable discussing the property with the agent if you’re not there. Moreover, your agent will know what information will be most useful in representing your interests when speaking with prospective buyers.
ACCEPTING AN OFFER
4.1 The Price Isn’t Always Right. “The higher the price, the better the offer.” Don’t let yourself be fooled by this popular misconception. Price isn’t always the determining factor in choosing among multiple offers, for several important reasons: the initial offer is never final, and there are a number of terms and conditions that may influence the final outcome of a price. You can trust your listing agent to help you thoroughly evaluate every proposal without compromising your marketing position.
4.2 Negotiating The Right Way. I take the ethical responsibility of fairly negotiating contractual terms very seriously. It’s my job to find a win-win agreement that’s beneficial to all parties involved. Oftentimes you will have to deal with multiple offers before ratifying the one you judge to be the most suitable for you – and as your agent I’ll guarantee a thorough and objective assessment of these offers to help you make the right choice.
4.3 The Initial Agreement and Deposit. Once an offer is ratified, the home seller and buyer will agree upon the amount for the good faith deposit and set up an escrow account. This reflects the buyer’s intention to purchase your property and ensures that no funds or property will change hands until all instructions in the transaction are followed.
4.4 Tips. Keep these tips in mind to streamline the process even further:
Keep written records of everything. For the sake of clarity, it will be extremely useful to transcribe all verbal agreements of everything from counter-offers and addendums, and convert them to written agreements to be signed by both parties. I will assist you in drafting addendums in your contract to ensure you’ve got all the bases covered.
Stick to the schedule. Now that you’ve chosen your offer, you and the buyer will be given a timetable to mark every stage in the process of closing the real estate contract. Meeting the requirements on time ensures a smoother flow of negotiations. During the process I’ll keep you constantly updated so you’ll always be prepared for the next step.
ESCROW, INSPECTIONS, & APPRAISAL
5.1 The Title Company. The buyer selects a title company, whose job it is to examine and insure title to real estate. After researching the complete recorded history of your property, they’ll certify that
1) your title is free and clear of encumbrances (eg. mortgages, leases, or restrictions) by the date of closing, and
2) all new encumbrances are duly included in the title. They’ll draw up a preliminary report at the end of the process, which your listing agent will go over with you in detail.
5.2 Contingencies. A contingency is a condition that must be met before a contract becomes legally binding. For instance, a home buyer will usually include a contingency stating that their contract is binding only when there is a satisfactory home inspection report from a qualified inspector.
Before completing his or her purchase of your property, the home buyer goes over every aspect of the property, as provided for by purchase agreements. These include:
- Obtaining financing and insurance
- Reviewing all pertinent documents, such as preliminary title reports and disclosure documents
- Inspecting the property. The buyer has the right to determine the condition of your property by subjecting it to a wide range of inspections, such as roof, termite/pest, chimney/fireplace, property boundary survey, well, septic, pool/spa, arborist or mold.
Depending on the outcome of these inspections, one of two things may happen:
- Either each milestone is successfully closed and the contingencies will be removed, bring you one step closer to the close, or
- The buyer, after reviewing the property and the papers, requests a renegotiation of the terms of contract (usually the price).
How do you respond objectively and fairly to the buyer when a renegotiation is demanded, while acting in your best interests? This is when a professional listing agent can make a real difference in the outcome of the transaction. Having dealt with various property sales in the past, we guarantee our expertise and total commitment to every client, no matter what their situation.
5.3 Loan Approval and Appraisal. I suggest that you accept buyers who have a lender’s pre-approval letter, which is a better guarantee of loan approval than a pre-qualification. Expect an appraiser from the lender’s company to review your property and verify that the sales price is appropriate.
5.4 Ready To Go? Don’t pack your bags just yet. Something unexpected might happen – a buyer’s offer fails to push through,or new buyers come by to visit right when your house is in chaos. There’s a proper time to start preparations for moving, and given our previous experience with these transactions, we’ll help you determine when that time will be.
Having dealt with various property sales in the past, I guarantee our expertise and total commitment to every client, no matter what their situation.
BUYING YOUR NEXT HOME
6.1 Buying Your Next Home. Now that your transaction on your home is well on your way to a successful close, it’s time to start preparing for your next home.
As your trusted real estate partner, I’m ready to help you articulate and prioritize your goals for this next project. I’ll get you off to a good start by finding the best interim arrangement for you while you’re in between homes or help with finding your next dream home.
CLOSE OF ESCROW
If you’ve come this far, then this means only one thing: congratulations, you’ve successfully sold your home! Don’t forget to tie up these loose ends:
7.1 Final Walk-Through Inspection. More of a formality than anything else, the final inspection takes place a few days before the transaction is closed. The buyer visits your property to verify that all is in working order. You’ll be signing the papers certifying that the property was sold in satisfactory condition.
7.2 Cancel Home Services and Utilities. We can provide a list of useful numbers for the termination of home services and utilities as of the date of the closing.
7.3 Be Prepared. Your agent is ready to assist you should an unforeseen glitch pop up, even at this last stage. Something at the house breaks down, the buyer’s loan doesn’t pull through on time – no need to worry. We’ve encountered these problems before so we know how to handle these problems efficiently.
7.4 Closing. The title company furnishes the principals with a closing statement, which summarizes all the financial transactions enacted in the process. At closing you and the buyer will sign the final documents for the Title Company. They’ll record the transaction for you and the buyer at the County Recorder’s Office. At closing you’ll then receive your proceeds, and the buyer will become the new owner.