Selling a Home

Selling your home can be a stressful process, but if you plan and find the right real estate agent, it can go much more smoothly than you might anticipate. Start by creating a timeline based on when you want to move, then hire a real estate agent and make any necessary changes to the home. Once you price your home and start receiving offers, work with your real estate agent to accept the best offer for your circumstance, and then prepare to close on the home and move.

Create a Timeline

There are several things you should consider before you list your home. The condition of the house and the current real estate market, among other factors, can influence how much buyers are willing to pay for the property. A pre-sale home inspection will help you determine problem areas. It is in your best interest to complete this inspection at least two or three months prior to the time you plan to list, as this should give you enough time to make necessary repairs.

Once you are about a month away from listing your property, start the deep cleaning process to prepare for staging and photography. Depending on the amount of clutter in the house, it may be beneficial to rent a storage space until you move into your new home. This will provide the freedom to stage the property and highlight its best features.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

Choosing the right real estate agent is one of the most important decisions you can make when selling your home. Take the time to research different agents in your area, paying close attention to their experience in your area of town, the number of comparable homes they have sold, their sale-to-list ratio, customer reviews, and how they have marketed other homes, including photography quality.

While you can certainly try to sell the property on your own to avoid paying commission to a real estate agent, you will be responsible for prepping the home for showings, marketing it, reviewing offers and handling negotiations, and navigating the closing process. Depending on the conditions of the housing market at the time of listing, a real estate agent will likely be able to reach the right buyers more quickly than you could on your own.

A good real estate agent is an excellent communicator who goes above and beyond for his or her clients, but you must also be a good communicator with your agent. Answer their calls and messages quickly and establish ground rules on when you can leave the house for showings. You can also contribute by sharing the listing with your friends, family, and coworkers, whether that is by word of mouth or through social media. Your real estate agent should upload the property to the multiple listing service (MLS) so it appears on several online listing sites, which makes it easy to share the listing.

Make Necessary Upgrades and Stage the Home

After you have chosen a real estate agent, they should be able to recommend upgrades for the home and help you stage the property. The advice they provide will depend on current market conditions in your area. For example, if inventory is low and demand is high, you may be able to sell the home for the price you desire without making certain upgrades you would be expected to make when demand is low. The changes you make should look good in photographs and deliver a high return on investment. Be particularly conscious of the online appeal your home possesses, as most potential buyers will look at the online listing before they decide to schedule a tour. Photographs should be high quality and make rooms appear spacious and bright. Refreshing rooms with a neutral paint color is a low-cost DIY project that can make a significant difference when the home is listed.

Staging a home includes removing personal items, rearranging furniture and other items, cleaning and decluttering, erasing signs of pets, and defining each room in the house, among other things. Prospective buyers should feel comfortable and be able to envision living in the home. The living room, kitchen, master bedroom, and dining room will receive the most attention. Stage these rooms first, and then use them as inspiration for the rest of the home.

Pricing Your Home and Receiving Offers

When the time comes to decide on a listing price with your real estate agent, do not be tempted to overprice the home. In most cases, buyers will reveal what the home is truly worth at a particular point in time. If the market favors sellers and inventory is low, it is not unusual to receive offers above the asking price. The house could stay on the market longer if it is priced too high, which is usually not favorable for the seller. When the house sits on the market too long, potential buyers often interpret it as a red flag, and may assume something is wrong with the property.

Once you receive offers on the home, your real estate agent should go over each of them with you thoroughly. You have the option to make a counteroffer, reject the offer, or accept an offer as-is. The highest offer is not always the best offer. There are several things to consider, including whether it is a cash offer or if they will obtain financing, the buyer’s timeline and proposed closing date, contingencies, concession requests, etc. If you decide to make a counteroffer, it should be made in writing and provided to the buyer within 48 hours of the offer.

Prepare for Closing

The seller of the home is responsible for paying the real estate agent commission in most cases, which is usually 5 to 6 percent of the sale price. For a $400,000 home, that equals $20,000 to $24,000. It is also common for the seller to pay for title insurance and property and transfer taxes. Aside from these expenses, most of the other closing costs are paid by the buyer.

Most states do not require a real estate attorney to close on a home, but a few nearby states do, including Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia. This expense can be worth it for buyers, as there is a significant amount of money involved.

One way you can help make the closing process go as smoothly as possible is by keeping property documents organized in one location. A few of the most important documents you will need to provide include the original purchase contract, property survey, certificate of occupancy, certificates of compliance with local codes, tax records, home appraisal from time of purchase, homeowners insurance, home inspection report, mortgage documents, etc.

Do not be afraid to reach out to your real estate agent with any questions during the closing process, as he or she is there to answer your questions and to be your advocate.

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