A Complete Home Selling Guide


A Complete Home Selling Guide

1. Timing & Preparation

When you determine a timeline for the sale of your home it is advantageous to prepare your home to be photographed and shown as buyers can be very particular. Whether you plan to stage your home or not, a deep clean and removing clutter is highly recommended. Consider moving excess items into storage to present your home as a clean slate. A pre-sale home inspection can also help avoid last minute issues, as well as provide an opportunity to correct any minor repairs that need to be done, keeping you a step ahead of potential buyers.

2. Finding the right agent

Credentials are easily accessible for most agents. Taking the time to review profiles and testimonials will give you a better understanding of certain agent’s areas of focus as well as their ability to assist clients. You want to focus on how and where the agent markets their listings along with their use of professional photography to display your home in the best way possible. Although it may seem beneficial to sell the home yourself, the value of an agent’s ability to widely market listings and negotiate terms is essential.

3. Upgrades & Improvements

This is another area where an experienced agent can be beneficial, specifically when it comes to deciding what upgrades are needed the most. New counter tops might seem like an easy upgrade but the return on investment (ROI) also needs to make sense. Perhaps a fresh coat of paint, new carpets, or even just cabinet hardware can make all the difference without breaking the bank. The pre-sale inspection will also be a helpful tool when it comes to completing work before listing.

4. Professional photography is a must

An increase in online house hunting has pushed professional photography to the forefront. You are not only getting higher quality photos but a professional photographer who knows how to make rooms appear bigger and brighter. Online home tours are also often accompanied by professional videos that help show your home in the most attractive ways for potential buyers. Bad photography can turn buyers off before they even have a chance to visit your home and learn about how great the community is… quality photos are essential in today’s market.

5. Be realistic with pricing

The approach of pricing your home to sell quickly can leave money on the table, but going too high can backfire as well. You don’t want to be reducing the price repeatedly as it sends the message that you are overpriced and something may be wrong with the home. Using relevant comps in your area that sold in similar market conditions can help you determine a starting point. Buyers will usually try to negotiate so you don’t want to set your price at your bottom line but you also don’t want to have your home sitting on the market with constant reductions either, selecting a reasonable price is a good starting point.

6. Tips to get your home market-ready

Focus on the home’s online appeal: You’ve probably heard of curb appeal, but professionals say online appeal is now even more important. “Your home’s first showing is online,” Guerra says. “The quality of your web presentation will determine whether someone calls and makes an appointment or clicks on the next listing.”

Stage it and keep it clean for showings: Staging a home simply means removing excess furniture, personal belongings and unsightly items from the home while it’s on the market, and arranging rooms for optimal flow and purpose. If you’re in a slower market or selling a luxury home, investing in a professional stager could help you stand out. Nationally, professional home staging costs an average of around $1,766, according to HomeAdvisor, but prices range between about $770 and $2,863.

Clear out for showings: Make yourself scarce when potential buyers come to view your home. Let them imagine themselves in the space, free from the distraction of meeting and talking to you. Generally, buyers are accompanied by their own real estate agent to view your home. You can also ask your own agent to be present at showings.

7. Reviewing and negotiating offers

This is another area where having an agent with experience in negotiations will benefit you. After receiving an offer you can accept, counter, or reject the offer. Included in a potential counter-offer may be credits for minor details such as paint or carpet, but you want to provide a short time frame for the buyer to make a decision (ideally 48 hours or less).

If there are multiple offers, there are other factors to consider rather than just accepting the highest one. Below is a list of possible situations that can differentiate offers more than just price. Also keep in mind the possibility of a buyer who is dependent upon a lender that will require an appraisal. The deal could be affected and fall apart if the appraised value is vastly different than the purchase price.

-Form of payment (cash vs. financing)
-Type of financing
-Down payment amount Contingencies
-Concession requests
-Proposed closing date

8. Weigh closing costs and tax implications

In any real estate transaction, both the buyer and seller must pay at least some closing costs. The home seller typically pays the real estate agents’ commissions, which usually total around 5 percent to 6 percent of the home’s sale price.

Some other closing costs commonly paid by the seller include:

-Government transfer tax
-Recording fees
-Outstanding liens
-Attorney fees

Additionally, if the buyer has negotiated any credits to be paid at closing — repairs, for example — the seller will pay those too. Your real estate agent or the closing agent should provide you with a complete list of costs you’ll be responsible for at the closing table. The good news is that you may not owe taxes on your profits from the sale. It depends on whether it was your primary residence and how much you make on the sale. If you’ve owned and lived in your home for at least two out of the previous five years before selling it, then you will not have to pay taxes on any profit up
to $250,000. For married couples, the amount you can exclude from taxes increases to $500,000. If your profit from the home sale is greater than that, though, you’ll need to report it to the IRS as a capital gain.

9. Legal aspects of the transaction

Although not every state requires you to have a real estate attorney, it is highly recommended to have a legal expert review the contract. The expense may seem significant but when there’s much more money at stake in the case of a real estate transaction it’s wise to have the contract reviewed. A real estate attorney can also identify title issues that could potentially hold up the deal, such as:

-Outstanding liens or judgments or other encumbrances
-Trust issues
-Mortgage balances
-Tax issues

10. Organize closing documents

Your agent will be able to assist with gathering all the paperwork required for closing but it can’t hurt to have an understanding of what is needed. Included in the closing documents are the following:

-Original purchase contract
-Property survey, certificate of occupancy and certificates of compliance with local codes
-Mortgage documents
-Tax records
-Appraisal from your home purchase
-Homeowners insurance
-Home inspection report, if you had one

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