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How to Sell a House

How to Sell a House

Looking for a new home and selling your old one should be a rejuvenating experience. However, if the thought of selling a house seems daunting for you, here is some professional advice to walk you through the process of selling your house, from listing to closing.

Clean and Organize Your Home
After you decide to list your home, the first step is to give it a thorough cleaning. Each home will require a different approach, but the main tasks should be to shampoo the carpets, clean the gutters, clear up tile grout, and wipe down the blinds and window wells. If you don’t have the time to do all the work yourself, hire someone to help you. While you’re at it, take this opportunity to get rid of some clutter. Either throw out the junk that’s piled up over the years or stow as much of your belongings as you can into bins or a temporary storage unit. Having a clean and spacious looking home may result in a higher offer as well as appeal more to potential buyers. A major concern that buyers have is space, so show off your home’s potential by opening up the area as much as possible.

Perform a Home Inspection and Set the Price
Buyers often will have a home professionally inspected as part of the negotiation process before they close, so make sure you perform an inspection of your own so you won’t be blindsided by a surprise issue. The main areas to keep in mind are the roof, foundation and basement, electrical system, heating system, plumbing, visible insulation in the attic, windows, walls, and ceilings. Resolve any issues with these before you advertise the house. If buyers see a potential problem, they may balk at a purchase or ask for a lower price so they can make the needed changes.

The real estate agent working with you to sell your home will conduct a property evaluation and a comparative market analysis (CMA) to determine the value of your property. A CMA compares your home to others like it (factoring in space, number of rooms, special features, etc.) in the same or similar neighborhoods. This gives you the price most reflective of the current market value. Setting the price at or around this value is critical in the sales process, and it can cost you thousands if mishandled. If you set the price too low for a sale, you have simply lost money. If you set the price too high, you may scare off buyers and fail to receive satisfactory offers. This is why keeping your price close to the current market value is key for the sale.

Market Your Home
Marketing your home can be affected by both the season and the state of the market. In general, spring is the most popular real estate season. The agreeable weather is better for driving to new destinations and moving furniture. Parents are also reluctant to pull kids out of school in the middle of the year, preferring to wait till summer to make major changes.

However, although there are fewer buyers in winter, they are very serious about buying and will want to close a sale quickly. While people may have a more casual attitude about looking for a house in summer, winter buyers are looking because they need a house right then. Even though the environment may be different at different times of the year, it is still worth marketing your home year-round.

Another consideration is the activity in your current market. If a lot of sales and growth is happening in your area, the market is favorable for you to sell. However, if there are short sales and foreclosures in your neighborhood, you may not be able to ask for as much for the home. If the market is in this condition, you may want to hold out for a few months longer before listing so the recent sales will not affect your own as strongly.

Buyer Financing

For any potential buyers who come through your home, make sure they are pre-approved. If you agree to sell to someone who does not have pre-approval, there is always a chance that they will have difficulty being approved for a mortgage. While this is unfortunate for the buyer, it is also a waste of your valuable time. Experienced real estate agents typically make sure their clients are pre-approved before showing them houses, but sometimes this step is left out. Save yourself later hassle by making sure you only schedule appointments to show your house with pre-approved buyers.

Negotiation & Closing

If a buyer is interested but not quite ready to take the plunge, here is your opportunity to make the offer more attractive. Be prepared to make certain concessions. Offer to lower the price by $500 to refinish the deck. Throw in a few kitchen appliances. Offer closing cost assistance. A small sacrifice on your part may be enough to make the deal seem irresistible. Also, losing a little now may be a more favorable option than continuing to pay a monthly mortgage on a house you don't want. Most importantly, be ready to walk away from an unreasonable offer. Keep your needs and goals in mind while going through this process.

Once you enter negotiations, it is important to close as quickly as you can manage. Have the proper documentation and disclosure statements (required by your state) prepared as you begin to market your home. If you are unsure of what you need or do not understand the contractual requirements, you can hire a realtor or real estate attorney to help you with these tasks.

After the price and terms of negotiation have been settled, immediately take care of any remaining obligations and clear out. Remember that at any point while selling your home, you can bring professionals to help with part or all of the process, including cleaners, stagers, brokers, and of course, real estate agents.