Whether you plan to sell your house on your own or hire a real estate agent, the home selling process is very similar throughout the United States. Only a few details vary among states.
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If you don’t have time or don’t want the hassle of figuring things out on your own, then hiring a real estate agent is an option. Before choosing an agent, here are three small steps I recommend:
Although you can list your house at any price you want, but you need to understand what the market is willing to pay before pricing it to sell. The common way to find out is to view the Comparative Market Analysis report (or “the Comp.”) which lets you know the price range of similar homes that have sold recently in your community. Your agent would provide you this report to help you determine a price for your house.
This step will give you a workout before handing the responsibility over to the new homeowner. You should walk through the house with your agent and make a list of the items to clean, repair and replace prior to showing your house to potential buyers.You don’t have to repair or replace everything your agent suggests. Just see how much your house can sell for and use your common sense when deciding which are reasonable projects so you can sell the house within your expected time frame.
Once repairs are made, you’ll want to go through your home and remove items that might make a room look crowded or uninviting to a buyer. You should put away personal items and give each room a fresh, uncluttered appearance (like in a model home). This helps prospective buyers imagine more freely what it would be like to own the home and adapt it to their own style.The last step in this “readiness” process is to make sure your home is clean in every respect. Potential home buyers will look at each room, including cupboards, closets and storage areas. Be sure that all lights are working, even in the garage, and turn them on before each showing.
Your agent would send someone over to take pictures of your house, then compile all information for the MLS listing and begin to advertise your home for sale. You don’t have to do much at this step, but you should try to get all the things in Steps #3 and #4 completed.
You can choose one of two options to show your house: by appointment only or access by lockbox. If you still live in the house, the appointment option is the best because it allows you time to get ready for the showing. You will want to quickly put things away to protect your privacy. This method can be combined with a lockbox option. In this case, an appointment is made, you tidy up your house and leave a few minutes before the showing. The realtor then uses the lockbox to enter your home at the appointed time. If you no longer live in the house, then a lockbox option would be a better for you because the home is always ready for a showing. It maximizes the number of showings your agent can make.
If you priced your house competitively, multiple offers should come your way. If offers are lower than your asking price, don’t hesitate to make a counteroffer or ask for full price. Buyers like to “test the waters” to see how you might respond, while still making room for negotiation. Property investors and experienced real estate agents often do this to maximize benefits for their buyer. Make sure you keep track of all offers and counter-offers from potential buyers. Together, they will give you an idea of what people are willing to pay for your house. You can then adjust your price accordingly. You should ask for a “kick-out clause” or first right of refusal if the buyer’s offer is contingent on selling a home. This will help you avoid a difficult situation.
After you accept an offer, you will begin escrow. The buyer will send an earnest money deposit to an escrow company as stated in the purchase agreement/offer. This action shows that the buyer is genuinely interested in purchasing your house, and if they back out without a valid reason, that earnest money deposit is yours to keep. Most likely, your agent already has a title company that takes care of the paperwork. However, if you have someone else in mind, your agent should honor your choice of a title company and closer and will collaborate with that party effectively to get it done.
Most likely, the buyer will hire a home inspector to inspect your entire house for damages or non-functional components. This enables the buyer to make an informed decision on the home purchase, and the buyer may ask you to repair or replace several things before moving forward with the sale. It is during this time of the home buying process that the buyer can back out of the deal if they find something wrong with your house. So, it is important to repair or replace anything that seems fair before showing your house.
You should also make full disclosure of the things you intend to repair or replace that will come with the sale. If the buyer is using a mortgage to buy your house, their lender will send someone out to appraise the current market value of your house. Based on that value, the lender will determine how much money they will lend to the buyer. If the appraisal is lower than your asking price, the buyer may use that to renegotiate the deal. However, if the buyer cancels the contract based on the appraisal, ask your agent or lawyer about your rights. One thing to know: you will not receive a copy of that appraisal because you did not pay for it.
All homes in the United States are subject to lead-based paint disclosures; therefore, if you are aware of any material facts, be sure to disclose them. You should also provide full disclosure of anything that has been a problem in the house while you were the owner (leaks, faulty wiring, rodent damage, pests, cracks in concrete flooring, etc.) and explain how the situation has been corrected. It is also a good measure to disclose whether you have had pets residing in your home. This is important to people with allergies. The title company you work with should provide you the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions), and if your house belongs to a homeowner association, additional documentation may be required.
If the buyer requests repairs or replacements, you are entitled to a copy of the home inspection report. You then can determine if it is fair to repair or replace those items. You don’t have to accept all the things the buyer requested, but that can be the reason for the buyer trying to renegotiate the price or cancel the contract. After you and the buyer agree to move forward with the transaction, make sure you ask the buyer to release any contingencies that may conflict with the terms you have agreed upon.
Before you sign the final documents, communicate with your agent to make sure the title company and mortgage lender have everything covered for you. Once the paperwork is signed and the closing is completed, you will relinquish your keys to the new owner. Don’t forget the mailbox key if you are in a homeowners’ association. The title company will send the closing documents to the county for documentation (replacing your name with the new owner’s name as the owner of the house). The funds may take up to a week to transfer to your bank, but after that the transaction is complete. Congratulations! I hope you find this article helpful. If you do, please share it on your Facebook page for us. Thanks!