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Step-by-Step Seller’s Guide
Did you just get a great job offer so you need to relocate? Did you find the home you really want but still need to sell the home you already have? Are you getting ready to retire and the house is too big to take care?
Whatever the reason, you’ve come to the conclusion that you need to sell your home. See below for an overview of what to generally expect when selling your home.
How much you’re going to get for your home depends on the following three main factors combined:
- The housing market
- The condition of the house
- The listing agent
Of these three, you only have control over the last two: the condition of the house and the listing agent. The most crucial decision you can make is selecting the right agent because your agent should be able to help you manage the other two factors: the housing market and the condition of the house.
But even a good agent may not be the right agent for you. Of course, there are basic things you should expect from your agent, but there are also other considerations you should bear in mind:
The agent’s experience and track record – Has the agent represented many sellers and successfully sold their homes?
The listing strategy – Does the agent have a detailed plan? How effective does it seem? Is it a general approach or a property-specific approach? Can this agent recommend a reputable contractor, handyman, stager, and even a cleaner? Will the agent oversee the improvement projects of your house?
Image and professionalism – Do you want this agent to represent you in front of other agents and prospective buyers? Do you want your house to be perceived based on the impression this agent makes on people?
During your meeting to sign the listing agreement, or shortly thereafter, your agent will assist you in fulfilling your disclosure obligations (as mandated by law) by having you answer a series of forms and questionnaires.
As a seller, you may want to order a property inspection report by a licensed Home Inspector. These reports are part of the buyer’s due diligence process, and the inspections could be performed by the buyers at their own costs. However, it is highly recommended that you have your own inspections performed prior to marketing your home to best anticipate problems, determine list price, and minimize buyer issues that could cause them to back out of the purchase.
In addition, the market is seasonal, where schools tend to be the primary reason for housing decisions.
During late winter to early spring (late January to late February) the housing market starts to warm up, as families recover from the holidays and start looking to make a move.
Spring to early summer (March to May) is generally the best time to sell your home as parents need to buy within particular school districts in anticipation for enrollment in the next school year.
Summer (June to August) tends to see a slow down as people leave town for vacation trips.
Late summer to early fall (September to October) usually has a bit of a spike in sales activity as people come back from vacation and want to get into a home by the year’s end.
Once the winter holidays kick in, and the market settles in for the winter (November to January), the only buying most people consider are holiday gifts. While your competition is whittled down because other sellers do not want to deal with moving during the holidays, prices tend to be a little lower as buyers during this time are usually looking for a relative bargain.
This seasonal pattern should be taken in conjunction with current market indicators in determining your pricing strategy. Your property will generate the most interest when it first hits the market, and if it’s priced below or at market value, it will generate the most showings. Start too high and you may miss the excitement and have to drop the price later, causing it to sell below market value.
Should there be more than one interested buyer, there could be a multiple offer situation. A deadline should be set to hear offer presentations in this scenario. Agents are generally familiar with multiple offer situations and will be comfortable presenting their client’s offer at an appointed time. On some occasions, given the bidding context, one party will exceed the others in amount and terms and will immediately be accepted by the seller. In others, the seller will have the option of counter-offering the highest offers or all of the offers.
Your agent should thoroughly explain to you this process and discuss with you the best negotiation strategy.
During this process, the important timelines related to contingencies in the contract are as followed:
- Buyer’s deposit is given to the escrow company
- Additional inspections, if any, are performed
- An appraisal is performed if there is a loan involved
- If there is a loan, the buyer goes through the lender’s approval and underwriting process
- If your property is a condo or townhouse, the homeowner’s association provides a package of HOA documents and transfer paperwork
Once contingencies are removed, the escrow company contacts your mortgage holder and any other lien holder to request a pay-off amount. The escrow company then prepares the settlement statement detailing your pay-off and other closing-related expenses for your review. You will then meet with the escrow officer to sign the deed transfer and other documents, while the buyer meets to sign their loan and closing documents.
Home Sale Proceeds Calculator
Use the home sale proceeds calculator to estimate what your net sales proceeds are. Working with a professional realtor from The Fortune Washington Realty Group can help you get the best price for your home.