It's Spring! It's warming up and the daffodils are starting to bloom. Right now is the very best time of year to sell your home. I've prepared this article for you so you know what to expect before beginning the process.
What is Your Motivation for Selling
I think the most important place for a seller to start is determining the "Why." Why do you want to move? There are all kinds of reasons - you're being transferred, you've outgrown your current home, it's time to downsize to a smaller home - the list can go on and on. I think this is important because when you get bogged down in the minutiae of the transaction it's helpful to center yourself back on the initial reason you started this change in the first place.
Who Will Sell Your Home & At What Price
Choosing an agent is an important step in the process. You need an agent that knows your area, has great expertise and you trust. It's also important to like your agent. If the transaction becomes stressful, having an agent you like and trust will go miles in alleviating that stress. And it just so happens I know a great one.
As your agent I will help you determine at what price your home will sell. My pricing philosophy is this - determine the market value of the home and price it at there. Some will tell you to price it a bit over that so that you have negotiating room. I don't think that's necessary. A well priced home will get more showings and those showings will turn into offers much more quickly. If your home is over priced buyers won't write offers. Buyers typically don't want to "low-ball" homes that have just come on the market. They will wait to do that until the listing has become old and stale. And old and stale is exactly what you want to avoid in the real estate market. Studies have shown that properties that are priced too high at the outset will take longer to sell and will also ultimately sell for less than they would have if priced well at the beginning.
Get Your Home Ready To Sell
This is a critical part too. I recently wrote an article on 9 Simple, Low-Cost Home Staging Tips. The link to the post is below this paragraph. Once you have your optimum price set you want your home in it's optimum condition too. When buyers walk through the home the first time you want them to think "This home is worth every penny they are asking" not "This is way over-priced." Staging your home will make the former ring true for each showing.
Prepare for Showings
Much of your prep work will have been done when you staged your home, but you've got to prepare yourself mentally too. It takes a determination of will to keep your house in "Ready-to-Show mode." You also must learn to be creative with your time during showings. It's always best to leave your home while your house it being shown. Buyers will feel more at ease and able to truly decide if it is the right house for them. Depending on the time of year you are selling, brainstorm some ideas of what to do during showings - a trip to the library, a park down the street, a movie or quick bite to eat. What will you do with your pets if you have them? Having a plan will make the time out of the house easier for you, your pets and your kids.
We Accepted an Offer, Now What
Yay! Your house is Under Contract! Wait, what does that mean? What's next? Once you have accepted an offer from a buyer your house is considered "under contract." You don't have to market it anymore and you can relax a bit. But it's not a done deal yet. Typical purchase contracts have three contingencies in them that the buyer can use to cancel the contract if needed - All three contingencies have deadlines and the buyer must exercise the right to cancel prior to the deadline for each one. The deadline is there to protect the Earnest Money the buyer put down at the outset of the contract to show his seriousness. If the buyer cancels outside of the contingencies he may forfeit his earnest money to you as liquidated damages.
The first contingency is Due Diligence. This is the buyers opportunity to inspect the condition of the home and look into zoning laws, environmental concerns, property lines, etc. The buyer has a deadline in which to finish this research. He has three options if he finds an issue that could be a "deal killer" to him. He can cancel before the deadline, negotiate with you to fix something or credit him money to fix it, or he can buy it anyway. If you get asked to fix something or provide a credit to the buyer you will get to choose what to do. Your choice is important. I will be there to help walk you through it and talk through the options. The inspection period is the most nerve-wracking for sure. If you've done well prepping your home, many concerns will have been eliminated in advance. You still never know what may throw a buyer off though. I don't want to be too negative, but a buyer does have the ability to cancel the contract during this period and it's important to know what could happen.
Once the buyer moves past Due Diligence, the next contingency is the Appraisal. The buyer wants the property to be worth what she is paying for it. If the appraisal comes in under the purchase price the buyer again has three options: cancel the contract before the deadline, renegotiate the price, or buy the home anyways. I have found that if we are realistic about the price at the outset, the appraisal is rarely a problem. There have been times when multiple offers have pushed up a price where an appraisal didn't match the purchase price, but this is few and far between. As your agent I will take the time to educate you on the comparable properties in the area and help price the home competitively and realistically.
The final contingency is the Financing Contingency. If the buyer is unable to obtain favorable financing by the deadline, she can cancel the contract and receive her earnest money back.
Once the three contingencies have passed the last deadline is the Settlement Deadline. That is the date that both sides - buyers and sellers - must sign all of the paperwork to sell the home. As soon as that's done we move on to closing.
Closing & Moving Out
Closing is separate from Settlement. Settlement is the signing of the documents. Closing happens after the signing is done, monies have been exchanged, and the new deed in the name of the new owner has been recorded on the property. Once that deed is recorded the transaction is considered "closed" and you no longer own the house. The purchase contract will have a section that dictates how long after closing you have to deliver possession to the buyer. It can range from at the time of closing to a number of hours or days after closing. You will know this time frame before you even sign the contract.
The contract also stipulates that you must leave the home in "broom clean" condition. This is a pretty nebulous descriptor. My opinion is you should leave the home as clean as you'd want it to be if you were moving in yourself. It's common courtesy and it goes a long way in fostering good will towards the new owner and also in the universe.
That's all folks. The house is sold and you are ready to being the next chapter of your life. We can start searching for your next home.
Give me a call and we'll start the process today!