Meet With A Real Estate Professional
Fear of the unknown is one of the primary reasons your customers will not take action and buy, or in this case, list their home. You can reduce your prospects fears while educating them on the selling process when you provide them with this useful document.
There’s no commitment required on your part for the initial meeting. It will be educational and help you identify your next steps.
Spend some time exploring your reasons for selling. The process can be arduous and expensive, so make sure you’re certain you want to sell before you get too far into it.
Address finances: Call your current loan servicer to discuss your remaining mortgage balance. It’s your first step toward understanding how much equity you’ll have when you sell. Knowing this figure can help you budget for improvements you’ll need to make before listing or help you plan for your future home purchase.
Make a list of nonnegotiables: Jot down your must-haves and deal breakers. What’s your time frame to move? What’s your budget for pre-listing home improvements? What’s the minimum sale price you will accept?
Establish A Price
Your agent will provide a market analysis, which will help you set an asking price.
Be strategic with your price. As difficult as it may be, it’s important to review the market analysis and consider your home price objectively.
Understanding the state of your local real estate market — including whether you’re in a buyers or sellers market — can help you identify the best time to sell. If you have flexibility in your timing, you might consider waiting for a sellers market, which occurs when there are more buyers searching for homes than there are homes available. It gives sellers the negotiation power and can drive up prices.
Nationally, the best time of year to sell your home, both to maximize your profits and to minimize time on market, is the first half of May. Homes listed for sale in this window sold six days faster than average and for $1,600 more, according to Zillow research.
This selling window can vary based on your local real estate market, so check out your Zillow Owner Dashboard to learn which month is the best time to list in your local area. Your Owner Dashboard (which can be accessed after claiming your home), also shows your home’s selling price now, compared to the ideal selling month, and it’s based on seasonal sales patterns in your area.
One of the first things you’ll need to decide is if you’re going to sell your house on your own (which is called “for sale by owner” or “FSBO”) or if you’re going to use a real estate agent. Just 10 percent of sellers who sold in the last 12 months completed the sale of their home without ever engaging an agent. Another 10 percent tried to sell on their own but eventually turned to an agent or broker for help.
Consider the pros and cons of each option, including how quickly you need to sell, the temperature of your local market, and any challenging features of your home that may require expertise in negotiations.
If you plan to sell FSBO:
Allocate enough time to prepare your home for listing and market it across multiple channels — this is why real estate agents work full time!
Research recent comparable sales in your area.
Keep flexible hours for showings or use a lock box.
Listen to feedback from agents and buyers without taking it personally.
If you plan to hire an agent:
Ask for referrals.
Interview each potential agent.
Don’t hesitate to negotiate your contract.
Trust your agent’s home-selling advice.
Sell to Zillow Offers instead: For more control over the timing of your sale and less prep work, consider selling through Zillow Offers. You’ll sell your home as-is to Zillow for cash and choose your closing date, all without having to complete any home improvements.
Finding the right listing price for your home can be a challenge, but it’s one of the most important factors in a successful home sale. Homes that are accurately priced are more likely to sell in a timely manner. According to Zillow research, 57 percent of homes nationwide sell at or above listing price when they accept an offer in the first week. In the second week on the market, that drops to 50 percent and trends downward as the weeks go on.
To sell quickly, use all the tools at your disposal to help you price your home for sale.
Research comparables: Also known as “comps,” comparables are records of recent homes that have sold and their sale price. It’s important that the comps you use as reference are of a similar size and condition as yours, and in a very similar area — the closer to your home, the better.
Hire an appraiser: Having a professional appraisal done on your home can cost between $300 and $700, but it can be a small price to pay if it helps you sell your home quickly and for an appropriate price.
Reference the Zestimate: Zillow’s Zestimate is the estimated market value for your own home, and you can find it by searching your address on Zillow. Your home’s Zestimate is computed daily, taking into consideration millions of public and user-submitted data points. It can be a great place to start your home-pricing conversation.
Lean on your agent: Your real estate agent should be an expert in home values in your area, so they’re a great resource for finding the right listing price. Plus, they can provide guidance on a pricing strategy that will spark the most interest and maybe even inspire a bidding war.
Prepare Your Home & List It For Sale
View your home through the eyes of the buyer and ask yourself what you’d expect. Your agent will offer some useful suggestions.
When everything is in place your agent will put your home on the open market. It’s critical you make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to view your home.
Have available showings. Potential buyers may ask to see your home on short notice. It’s best if you can accommodate these requests, you never want to miss a potential sale.
Preparing your home to sell should also include arranging your furniture, organizing and decorating in a way that appeals to the widest range of potential buyers. Seeing a home staged was extremely, very or somewhat important to 47 percent of people who bought a home in the last 12 months.
Staging your home can take many different forms and require varying levels of effort, but here are a few key tips:
Declutter, clean and depersonalize: Too much stuff in a room can make your home feel small, crowded and lacking in storage. And having too many personal items, like family photos, can make it hard for buyers to picture themselves living in the home.
Select a staging plan that fits your needs: There are multiple degrees of home staging to choose from, based on your budget, timeline and how valuable staging is in your local area. Some staging can be done in a DIY manner, while other larger staging projects are typically completed by a professional.
Pare down pets’ and kids’ belongings: While many buyers are pet owners or parents of young kids, they want to visualize their own families in the home, not yours. Take the time to repair pet damage, remove pets’ belongings, and clear away kids’ items like gates, highchairs and piles of toys.
Once your home is ready for buyers, the next step is getting your listing in front of as many buyers as possible. Here are some tips for how to list a home for sale.
Advertise across multiple channels: Today’s home buyers search for homes in many ways, with 79 percent of buyers who purchased in the last 12 months reporting that they searched online, where they were able to select multiple search resources. Seventy-four percent reported searching through their real estate agent, and 55 percent used a for-sale or open-house sign. Bottom line: The more places your listing shows up, the more buyers will see it — and the more likely you are to find a buyer!
Invest in professional marketing photos: With the majority of buyers (and their agents) searching online, your home’s MLS or Zillow listing is your home’s first impression, and professional photos can go a long way toward making your home stand out. Make sure the photos are realistic and high quality. You might even consider doing a video tour.
Craft an enticing listing description: Your listing description should highlight your home’s best features and the amenities that buyers in your area are looking for. If a rooftop deck, backyard pool, access to public transit or nearby green spaces are popular where you live, make sure to include them. Overall, though, keep your listing description short and avoid confusing real estate jargon.
Schedule showings: You’ve done all the work to get your home ready for buyers, so make sure you accommodate as many showings as possible, whether that’s private tours or open houses. And there’s more to a showing than just a clean house. Make sure there’s a way to let shoppers leave feedback. Keep records of who visits, and if you’re selling on your own, consider having a third-party representative host your tours so buyers feel comfortable speaking their mind.
Offers And Negotiations
If everything goes well, a buyer and (most often the agent who represents them) will present your agent with an offer.
Your agent will present the benefits and risks of each offer. You will have the opportunity to either accept or counter any offer based on its merits.
If your home has been on the market for a while and isn’t selling as quickly as you had hoped, you may need to rewind and address some of the steps discussed above, such as making home improvements, setting a competitive price and marketing effectively.
Getting that great offer is probably the biggest hurdle to the home-selling process, but once your home goes under contract, that doesn’t necessarily mean the challenges have ended. Consider these potential issues that can come up between the time you accept an offer and closing day.
Bad home inspection report: The home inspection a buyer does on your home can raise all kinds of red flags, and when major issues are uncovered, a buyer might decide the fixes are too expensive and walk away from the deal. Whether the inspection report reveals small fixes or big problems, be prepared to negotiate after the report is completed.
Home appraisal too low: If your buyer is financing the home, their lender will typically order an appraisal to make sure the home is worth the amount being financed. If the value of the home comes in below the loan amount, the buyer will have to come up with the difference in cash or walk away from the deal.
Financing failure: During the underwriting process, it’s possible that your buyer’s financing could fall through. This can be caused by many different things, such as new debt, missed credit card payments, or a change in employment that makes the bank feel like there’s too much risk in financing the home.
Under Contract & Final Details
At this point, you and the buyer have agreed to all of the terms of the offer and both parties have signed the agreements.
While under contract, the buyer will work with their mortgage provider to finalize the loan and perform other due diligence.
The buyer will usually perform a physical inspection of the home. They may even ask you to make certain repairs. Your agent will explain all of your options regarding the inspection.
Plan for moving costs: No matter where you’re moving, moving is expensive and time-consuming. Even a local move of less than 100 miles, serviced by two movers and a moving truck, has an average charge of $80 to $100 per hour.
Time it right: Not only is moving expensive, but the timing is crucial, as 61 percent of sellers also buy within a 12-month period. If you’re buying and selling simultaneously, you might consider temporary housing so you don’t have to worry about timing your sale and purchase perfectly, which rarely happens.
Be prepared to move quickly: The average time it takes to sell a house is 68 days, from list to close, so you’ll need to be prepared to move out in a short period of time. It’s a must that you be out of the home by the closing date.
This is the transfer of funds and ownership. Depending on when the buyer moves into the home you will need to be all packed up and ready to move.
When it comes time to close on the home, you as the seller are responsible for some legal documents and processes.
Open an escrow account: An escrow account is the place where the parties’ related funds are kept during the transaction, and it’s managed by a third party. If you’re working with a real estate agent, they often open an escrow account for you. If you’re selling on your own, you’ll likely need to find an escrow service to use.
Complete repairs and obtain certifications: If you are obligated to complete repairs as a condition of your post-inspection negotiations, it is your responsibility to complete those tasks before closing. Additionally, if the buyers asked for (and you agreed to) any specific inspections or certifications, like a sewer line inspection or roof condition certification, those should be completed as well.
Submit property disclosures: In most states, as a seller you’re required to disclose any known defects or issues that could affect the value or safety of the home — this is known as a property disclosure. These must be documented in writing prior to closing, and the specific rules and procedures vary based on where you live.
Review expected closing costs: Selling a house can be expensive, so review your estimated closing costs ahead of closing day to prepare for the charges you’ll see. Closing costs for sellers can be as high as 8 to 10 percent of the sale price of the home, and that amount is made up of your agent’s commission, the buyer’s agent’s commission (which is typically paid by the seller), and taxes and fees. But, assuming you have some equity in the home you’re selling, these costs will come directly out of the profits you’ll be receiving upon closing.
Sign documents: One of the very last steps is showing up for your closing appointment, where you’ll sign all the legal documents related to the sale of your property. Depending on the state you live in, you may sign during the same appointment as your buyer, or you may do it separately.
Hand over keys: The keys are handed over to the buyer once you vacate the premises, and as dictated in your contract with the buyer. If the buyer is taking immediate possession, you might hand over the keys at the closing appointment. Or, depending on the terms of your agreement, it could be much later.
Close escrow: This last step is handled by the escrow agent who was selected by you or your agent when you first received your buyer’s earnest money. After closing, they will transfer the deed for the home to the new owner (or their lender), pay off your remaining mortgage balance, pay all closing costs and make sure you receive your profit.