1. Establish Value
Your first objective should be to determine the best possible selling price for your house. Setting a fair asking price from the outset would generate the most activity from other real estate agents and buyers. You will need to take into account the condition of your home, what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for, and state of the overall market in your area. It’s often difficult to remain unbiased when putting a price on your home, so your real estate agent’s expertise is invaluable at this step. Your agent will know what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood and the average time those homes are sitting on the market. The objective is to find a price that the market will bear but won’t leave money on the table.
Remember: you’re always better off setting at a fair market value price than setting your price too high. Studies show that homes priced higher than 3% of their market value take longer to sell. If your home sits on the market for too long, potential buyers may think there is something wrong with the property. Often, when this happens, the seller must drop the price below market value to compete with newer, reasonably priced listings.
2. Prepare Your Home
Most of us don’t keep our homes in “showroom” condition. We tend to overlook piles of boxes in the garage, broken porch lamps, and doors or windows that stick. It’s time to break out of that owner’s mindset and get your house in tip-top shape. The condition of your home will affect how quickly it sells and the price the buyer is willing to offer. First impressions are the most important. Your real estate agent can help you take a fresh look at your home and suggest ways to stage it and make it more appealing to buyers. A home with too much “personality” is harder to sell: Removing family photos, mementos and personalized décor will help buyers visualize the home as theirs. Make minor repairs and replacements: Small defects, such as a leaky faucet, a torn screen or a warn doormat, can ruin the buyers first impression. Clutter is a big no-no when showing your home to potential buyers: Make sure you have removed all knick-knacks from your shelves and cleared all your bathroom and kitchen counters to make every area seem as spacious as possible.
3. Get the Word Out
Now that you’re ready to sell, your real estate agent will set up a marketing strategy specifically for your home. There are many ways to get the word out, including the Internet, yard signs, open houses, media advertising, agent-to-agent referrals, and direct mail marketing campaigns. In addition to listing your home on the MLS, your agent will use a combination of these tactics to bring the most qualified buyers to your home. Your agent should structure the marketing plan so the first three to six weeks are the busiest.
4. Receive an Offer
When you receive a written offer from a potential buyer, your real estate agent will first find out whether or not the individual is prequalified or preapproved to buy your home. If so, then you and your agent were review the proposed contract, taking care to understand what is required of both parties to execute the transaction. The contract, though not limited to this list should include the following: offer price, down payment, financing arrangements, a list of fees and who will pay them, deposit amount, inspection rights, possible repair allowances, method of conveying the title, who will handle the closing, closing date, and contingencies. At this point, you have three options: (1) except the contract as is, (2) except it with changes (a counter offer), or (3) reject it. Remember: once both parties have signed a written offer, the document becomes legally binding.
5. Negotiate to Sell
Most offers to purchase your home will require some negotiating to come to an agreement. Your real estate agent is well-versed on the intricacies of the contract used in your area and will protect your best interest throughout the bargaining. Your agent also knows what each contract clause means, what you will net from the sale, and what areas are the easiest to negotiate. Once both parties have agreed on the terms of the sale your agent will prepare a contract.