Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Your Home

Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Your Home

Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Your Home

Introduction. 


For the most part, everyone will likely end up selling a home at least once in their lifetime. If moving home wasn’t stressful enough, selling a home on top of that is even more stressful. 


There are so many things that will influence how the selling of your home goes, how long it ends up sitting on the market for, and how much you walk away with, and more. 


This is why it can be important to look at doing things step-by-step, so that you get through everything in order and know what to expect from your home sale process. While some of the process is not under your control, plenty of it is. Here are some ways you can get the ball rolling. 


Factors To Remember Before Selling. 


Selling your home is not simple, although TV and film makes it seem so. You want to consider many factors before you get started with the sale, you do not want to be taken by surprise in the middle of the selling process. 


Selling your home involves many moving parts. 


Some parts of the selling process are in your hands, whereas others are out of your hands. There are many moving parts to the selling process, and this means that you obviously have to deal with human factors. Decisions by yourself, which you can control, as well as decisions by your estate agent and by the eventual buyer. You can partially influence the decisions by the agent by being smart about the agent that you choose to assist in selling your property. 


Understanding the moving parts of the process will give you insight on how smoothly you can expect the process to go. One of the biggest ‘moving’ parts of this process is consideration of the housing market in your local area, as high and low inventory and local housing influence will affect the ease of the sale and the selling price you will get. 


Figuring Your Finances. 


The first step to selling your home is to understand the financial process behind it. When you sell your home, for a start, you want to understand how much you should expect to make from it. 


However, money that you make on the property are not the only factors to be considered. One thing you need to consider is any overdue lends. Dig out mortgage paperwork, speak to your lender to check over if there are any early repayment charges for switching your mortgage to another lender, or if it is possible to take it with you when you purchase a new property. 


Similarly, if you are planning on moving to a new and more expensive property, or if your mortgage deal is coming to an end, then this is a great time to remortgage onto a new and better deal. 


Keeping an overall record of house and home selling expenses is a good idea. When it comes to any big expenses and large financial projects, it is wise to keep financial records to help you with your financial budgeting and management.


Understand how much your home is worth. 


Of course, as well as this, before you sell your house you will want to have a rough idea of how much it is worth. By doing so, you can then calculate how much money you will have left once you have paid off the mortgage. Of course, these are still only the early stages and your figures will only be approximate, you do not know how much you will sell your house for, and you will only get a precise redemption figure for your mortgage once you have agreed on a completion date when you have exchange contracts. 


Having a rough idea will help you budget, it is always a good idea to imagine 10% either way when you budget to give yourself a contingency plan for if you gain more or less than you anticipated at the beginning of the selling process. Thus preventing you from stretching yourself financially thin. 


Ready To Sell: Selecting The Right Estate Agent. 


As you are preparing to sell and have figured out your budget and estimated your future finances, you now want to start the process for selling your house. You could sell your home yourself- though this is a more stressful route. You can also use a local estate agent, or you could also use an online estate agent. If you use a local estate agent, you will want to do some research in which one to choose, more on this later. 


You should start off the hunt for an estate agent by comparing options on how quickly they typically sell, as well as how close they come to achieving the asking price, as well as how successful they typically are. You will also need to agree a few with the estate agent. A good idea is to aim for 1% plus VAT for a singular agent. 


Online estate agents are also an affordable option, if you are looking for an ideal way to save some money in your home selling venture this can help. It is, therefore, a wise option to look into reviewing what they can offer you and how much they will charge. 


You should also read your contract with the estate agent very carefully and make sure that everything is agreeable to you. Be sure to watch out for certain things in estate agent contacts. 


If you have time and are very organized, you could always try selling your property yourself. 


Research into sales history and how long they have worked in the industry/ how many sales the agent has done.


If you are looking into getting a local estate agent, you should look into their history before you choose them. This means doing some research into their background, it is imperative that you ensure they are a good fit for you and will get you the best you can in this deal. 


The estate agent that you choose can influence how the overall selling of your property goes. You can often find customer reviews, and this is a good place to start when you are trying to find a good estate agent for your home. Like anything, checking out reviews is always a good way to ensure that you are getting the best you can. Be sure to look at their full history and length of time they have been in the property selling business. An estate agent who has been in the industry for a long time and who has a good history will always be a better choice than a newbie with little to no history. 


Clean Up Your Home. 


Everyone likes a clean home. When we say ‘clean your home’ though, we do not mean you should just tidy up. You should give your property a full make-over. You might love your home the way it is, but a prospective buyer is looking for a fresh face, so in the process of preparing your home to be sold, you should give it a full spritz-up. This means doing a deep clean, and refreshing it with a fresh coat of paint. 


An estate agent can also help you by providing guidelines on what you need to do. Some of these things will include decluttering, removing overly personal items, and stringently getting rid of any pet odors


Clean and Declutter. 


Clutter has got to be the least attractive thing in the world when it comes to home sales. Clutter will always put people off of buying a home. A potential buyer will want something fresh, glamorous, and stylish. Clutter kills that. If you are moving, then you can help to declutter your home by transferring some of the clutter to your new property if you can. If you are not yet at this stage, there is no harm in renting a storage unit to store some of your possessions in it. Otherwise, you can also ask any friends or family if they do not mind keeping some of your items until you can start to move your possessions to your new home.


Deep Clean.


Deep cleaning is also important. Your house needs to look and feel fresh. Your home will have been very lived in, and when we are so used to living in a building, we often grow accustomed to the smells. It is worth using a shake ‘n’ vac style solution on the carpeting and steam cleaning floors and furniture to lift out any odors. Using air fresheners and diffusers will also help to cleanse the air. 


Deep cleaning also means cleaning any furniture and counters that will be present while potential buyers come to view the property. Be sure to wash, sanitize, de-stain, and dry down all surfaces as well. 


Identify any problems before selling your home. 


A buyer will not want to invest in a home that has too many issues, so give your home a thorough walk through and check for any potential issues before you put it on the market. It can be worth getting someone in to have a look at your home. Check for leaks, any possible damp or mold, cracks, or any issues in the insulation of the home. Checking the internal wiring, and gas, electric, and water connections. 


Basically, give your home an MOT to ensure that it is in the best possible condition. While you may have to make some repairs to the house, know that the better condition it is in, the more it will sell for, so it will be worth your while to make these checks, identify any problem areas, and necessary repairs. 


Also, if you have pets, it is worth making temporary living arrangements while you show the house, to avoid any pet hairs or odors being present during the time in which your home is being viewed. 


Market and Show Your Home. 



Whether you are selling the home, or you have hired an agent, this part is the same. Either you or the hired agent need to identify the selling points of the home. Do you have a wood fire? Do you have a well-looked-after and large garden? How many bathrooms does the house have? All of these things can be potential selling points. Once you have identified these, you need to choose the right words to advertise your home and convey them with the most razzle-dazzle. 


If you have an agent, you also want to check and approve of their marketing campaign. You can always hire a virtual tour company to take quality photographs of your home, or put a virtual tour online.


Identify the selling points of your home. 


Depending on your home, you could have some major selling points. Gardens are always a big selling point, the nicer your garden is, with the easiest access, will boost your property value. Similarly, homes with wood burner fireplaces can also bring extra value, and the number of bathrooms, or the inclusion of an en-suite bathroom will also bring additional value as well. 


Identifying these points will assist you in highlighting which areas of your home need to be underlined the most when viewers visit or look at your property online. 


Hire a virtual tour company to take professional photos of your home.


Virtual tours can be exceptionally beneficial. When someone is looking at your property as a potential new home, they may not always be local, and they may wish to view the home virtually before visiting in the flesh. Having an online ritual tour company and quality images of your property will open up your buyer base tenfold, and it will also make the property look more appealing.


Be sure to confirm that your listing is online. You, or your agent, should then saturate the internet and social media with images and descriptions of the property. Why? Because the National Association of Realtors found in 2018 that 50% of home buyers found their homes online. Putting your property online can double for buyer potential.  


Let your agents use a lockbox to show your home. 


One way to increase the viewings of your home is to allow the agent to use a lockbox to show your home. This means that they can access your home to show people around when you are not present. 


This is probably a most wise decision, as the buyer can see the home as a potential home for them, rather than your current place of residence. The agent will gain entry through a lockbox. This is entirely up to you, and is dependent on how comfortable you feel with a lockbox system being in place for buyers and your agent to have access to your home without you present. 


Set A Sensible Price. 



Setting a price for a property sale can be daunting, if you go too low you will lose out, if you go too high then your potential buyer market will be minimal. This is one of the most agonizing decisions you will have to make. Therefore, one of the best things you can do is to do your research.


Research how much properties were sold in your neighborhood area.


Get to know the local market inside and out, look at other properties for sale in your local area, and find out the selling prices of homes local to you that have recently been sold. It is also wise to keep an eye on the overall housing market prices, it is no secret that inflation is something that is happening constantly in recent years, and it is important to match the prices of market increases. 


Understand that if you price your home just below the market value, then you will often receive multiple offers that will then result in the price being driven up to the market level. Pricing your home is all about the supply and demand.


If at all possible, check out every similar home to yours that has been listed in the same neighborhood within the last half a year. If possible, look at the last three months only for an even better comparison. Try to keep homes that you look at for reference within quarter to half a mile of your property, although this is not always possible for everyone, similar properties as local as you can get will provide you with a good idea of how you should price your property. 


Be wary of ‘dividing factors’ when you do this as well. By this we are talking about literally dividing factors, physical barriers such as major streets, railroads, or freeways. Never compare your property with another property on the other side of these. 


Not only do these things matter, but you should also look for homes that have been sold that are around the same age as your property. While one home will consist of homes built in the 40s, another may consist of homes built in the 80s or 90s. The values of these homes will all differ, so you should check the age of the homes you are comparing yours to get an accurate picture of the expected listed price. 


Another thing that you should look at is withdrawn or expired listings. Look at these to determine if any were taken off of the market and then relisted. ‘Expired’ means that the term of the listing agreement ran out without a sale. ‘Withdrawn’ means that the listing agreement is still in effect, but the homeowner no longer wants to market the property. 

When you look at these, try to find any hints or patterns as to why these properties did not sell. Check things such as the brokerage for the listing, and if it was a company that normally sells everything it lists, a discount that may not have spent sufficient money on marketing, or was the price way too extortionate for the property offered and location? Consider all these things, so you know what to do and what not to do in the sale of your property.



Accepting Purchase Offers and Negotiate. 



In an ideal world, once your home is on the market and buyers have seen it, the offers should start to roll in. This is where your estate agent or your attorney is going to be your best friend, advocate, and go-to advisor. 


If you are in a competitive market that favors sellers, you will likely find that buyers will offer above, or at the asking price, and you may also see multiple bids. On the flip-side, if sales are slow in your location, and you do not find yourself getting many offers, then you may have to be prepared to negotiate with your potential buyers. 


If you receive an offer that is close to what you want but not quite there, you can give a counter offer as a response. In this situation, you will need to negotiate on terms and pricing. So, be prepared for the possibility that you may have to negotiate with your buyers on the sale. 


If you do make a counteroffer, this should always be made in writing and have a short timeframe, often less than 48 hours, for the buyer to make their decision and respond to you. In these cases you can make an offer for painting or carpeting but insist on keeping the original asking price. You could also offer to leave behind certain appliances to sweeten the deal. This is all up to you, though, and it is your call. 


Your estate agent may urge you to take the highest offer, but you should always consider other factors before you accept anything. 


Consider how the buyer is paying, are they paying cash or are they financing? If they are financing, what type of financing are they using? How much will the down payment be? Are there any contingencies? Are there requests for credits or personal property, and what is the proposed closing date?


If you have been particularly lucky, you may have multiple offers and the highest one may be the most attractive, but hold your horses. Be mindful if a buyer is relying on lender financing then the property will need to be appraised, and any shortfall between the purchase price and appraised value will have to be made up, otherwise the deal may fall apart.


When receiving the offer, there are a few choices: accept, make a counteroffer, or reject. 


Counteroffers are not the only way to respond to an offer though, you can also either accept or reject offers too. If you are not happy with an offer you receive, you could reject it outright, or you can wait it out and see if a better offer comes along, or simply see if you can get the estate agent to try and negotiate the offer in an upwards fashion. 


Never be afraid to negotiate, one of the best things about selling a home, especially in a market where the seller is favored, is there is always room for negotiation. If you have a property that is in a desired location, with plenty of value, priced well, then you will likely have several competing offers. So work with your agent and work towards making and accepting the best counter offer you can muster.


Next Steps In Selling Your Home. 


Once you have accepted an offer for your home, it feels like all the hard work is done. But, do not put your feet up yet, it is not over, there is still much more that needs to be done before the deal is closed. 


Closing the deal and going through contracts and paperwork is just as busy as the selling process, but you are nearly there. 


So, here are a few more things you need to do before you are all sorted and your property is fully sold over to a new owner. 


Open escrow and order title.


First things first, your agent or transaction coordinator will open escrow and order a title policy for you. You need to write down the contact information for the closing agent, and then check your calendar and select a date to close. Base this on when the buyer's loan will be funded. Be sure to ask for a receipt for the buyer's earnest money deposit and option fee if they have paid one. 


Schedule an appraisal.


You need to set up and schedule an appraisal. Ensure that you clean the house the day before the appraiser arrives. If you end up receiving a low appraisal, ask your agent about alternatives. 


You will not generally be entitled to receive a copy of the appraisal, as you did not pay for it. However, if the buyer does decide to cancel the contract based on an appraisal, you should then ask your lawyer or agent about your rights. Be aware that they will need an appraisal contingency in the contract to pull out.


Cooperate with home inspection. 


Be ready for a home inspector. You should ask your agent to provide you with a home inspection checklist so that you will have an idea of what the inspector would like to see. Always prepare the attic and basement for inspection as well and be sure to move items away from the walls in the garage as well, ensuring there is a clear path for the inspector. 


There is also a chance that your contract will call for a roof certification, if this is the case then hire a reputable company to conduct this. Be in mind that states that allow termite or pest inspections will make these things a matter of public record. 


Buyers can also request sewer inspections if you live in an older home.


Deliver seller disclosure.


While it can be tempting not to, be sure to disclose any material facts or problems with the property in your sellers' disclosure form. Your title company should provide the buyer with the covenants, conditions and restrictions for your community or homeowners association if this is needed. Be aware that all US homes are subject to lead-based paint disclosures, even if they were built after 1978. 


Negotiate requests in repair. 


Remember that you do not need to accept a buyer's request to make repairs, but they may back out if you do not. In some cases, they may accept closing cost credit instead of literal repairs. This will usually lower the sales price, therefore allowing them the funds to make the repairs themselves once they receive ownership. 


Ask the buyer to release contingencies. 


In the case the buyer had any contingencies in their contact, ask them that they ‘release’ them, thus affirming they have been resolved. They are not obliged to provide a contingency release if you do not demand it. However, some states will have a law that you have the right to cancel the contract if they do not provide a release.


Sign the title and escrow documents.


Now it is time to close the title and escrow documents. Depending on where you live, you may sign escrow documents only a short time after starting the escrow process, or nearer to the closing. In most cases everyone will sit around a table and go through this, but ask your agent if you are unsure, and be sure to bring valid photographic identification.


Close escrow.


Now the last step, attend your closing appointment, sign the paperwork, and hand over the keys all done. Depending on the buyers' possession rights, you may be required to move on the day that the home closes, or before. This will be in the contract.


Summary.


Most people will sell a home at least once in their lifetime. It can be daunting and complex when you are first faced with it, but research and a good agent will make it all the easier. When it is broken down, the process is much less complex than you may originally think. Do your research and ensure the property is in the best possible condition, and you are sure to get a great deal! 



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