The Home Selling Experience

Real Estate Survival Guide: Seller’s Checklist

Refer to this handy list to get you through the selling process.

1. Gauge your need to sell.

  • What are your goals for the next few years?
  • What are the pros of selling your home? What are the cons?
  • Can you afford to sell?
  • What is the current housing market activity?

2. What will your selling expenses be?

  • Make a list of repairs you’ll have to do to get your home in selling condition and estimate the cost.
  • See what projects you can afford and adjust how much you expect to get for selling your home.
  • Expect to pay about 7 percent to 10 percent of the home’s sale price in closing costs, including real estate agent commissions, transfer taxes, recording fees, title insurance, and prorated property taxes.
  • And factor in these costs:
    • Capital gains tax
    • Mortgage payoff penalties
    • Staging and marketing expenses
    • Moving expenses
    • Cost of living in a new city or neighborhood
    • Costs related to getting a mortgage for a new home

3. Plan your selling strategy.

  • Determine how fast you need to sell your house and how much money you want to get from the sale.
  • List your home on the multiple listing services (MLS).
  • Plan your sale during the spring or fall peak home buying seasons.
  • If you hire a listing agent, be aware of the terms of your listing contract, such as commissions and termination date.

4. Determining your home’s current market value (CMV) and pricing.

  • Your real estate broker will research public records and collect information on  comparable homes in your area with similar square footage, construction, age and condition that sold within the past six to twelve months and are currently on the market.
  • Your broker will prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) report to set the price of your home.
  • Your broker will evaluate market trends, including whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market.
  • Consider pricing strategies such as pricing low to urge a bidding war.

5. Prepare and stage the home.

  • Have a yard sale. Sell, donate or trash everything you don’t need.
  • Make necessary repairs inside and out.
  • Get a seller’s pre-listing home inspection.
  • Make improvements to increase your curb appeal, i.e. the home’s external attractiveness when viewed from the street.
  • Hire a professional home stager or research staging tips.
  • Declutter, depersonalize and decorate every room and outdoor areas so buyers can imagine themselves living in the home.
  • Paint interior rooms neutral colors.
  • Replace outdated lighting fixtures and window treatments.

6. Setting up showings.

  • Keep the home in “show-ready condition” at all times.
  • Your broker will take appointments & possibly set up a lockbox so agents can show the home when you’re not available.

8. Review purchase offers.

  • For each offer, note the proposed offer price, preapproval letter, contingencies, earnest money amount, proposed closing date and offer expiration date.
  • Have a process in place if you expect to get multiple offers.
  • · Keep emotions in check if you receive a low offer.

9. Make counteroffers and negotiate.

  • Approach each offer as an opportunity to negotiate.
  • If the buyer’s offer is contingent on selling a home, counter with a Removal of Sale Contingency.
  • If you won’t budge on price, offer financial incentives that don’t require cash out of your pocket, such as paying for part or all of the buyer’s closing costs, repairs found during the property inspections or points.
  • Offer to include furniture, appliances, window treatments or lighting fixtures.
  • If you’re worried you won’t be able to buy a home after you sell, include a “rent back” clause which lets you rent back your home from the buyers after escrow closes.
  • Make a full-price counteroffer, if your comps can back it up.
  • Don’t forget to set a closing date and move-in date.
  • If you find a serious buyer who is having trouble qualifying for a mortgage, consider offering seller financing, a mortgage assumption or a lease-to-own deal.

10. Get through escrow.

  • Create a formal plan for handling home repairs, including when they should be made and who pays for them.
  • Clean and prepare the home for the appraisal and home inspections.
  • Choose an escrow officer who will order a title search, request payoff information for your mortgage and other liens on the home, prepare and record documents, hold and disburse funds and prepare closing statements.
  • Prepare for the final walk-through inspection.
  • Sign the closing documents and move out of your home.
  • Keep copies of your documents for reporting the sale on federal and state tax forms.

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