It’s OK, we understand – EVERYONE wants to save money. As the owner of your home, you can take on all the actions a Realtor usually takes on for you to save some money along the way. If you choose this option, just be prepared for a lot of work! It can and has been done, of course, but if you don’t have the time and energy to commit to it (or need to sell in a hurry), this option might not be for you. Whether you choose to use a real estate agent or not, you still need to do your homework! The following is a checklist to help walk you through the process:
KNOW YOUR PROPERTY
If you are not already, become familiar with such facts about your property as property taxes, zoning, lot size, square footage, etc. Look at the descriptions of your property in your existing loan for details about your home. Also, check your county assessor web site for more details.
RESEARCH THE CURRENT MARKET AND PROPERTY LAWS IN YOUR AREA.
How much are properties similar to yours selling for? What are the terms of the sales? What property disclosure laws do you need to take into consideration?
SET THE PRICE.
Once you know the specifics about your home and have checked out what similar properties in your area are selling for, set a realistic price. Be sure to only consider homes that have sold in the last 3 months as price guides. Adjust your home price to accommodate the differences in features available with the other homes.
DETERMINE FINANCING ALTERNATIVES.
Contact lenders in your area to determine what the options are for your prospective buyer. You want to be informed before they ask, or your lack of knowledge may turn them off from dealing with you?
PERFORM A “WALK-THROUGH” OF YOUR PROPERTY.
Look at it from the perspective of both the prospective buyer and the inspector. Take notes on all items that need to be repaired or replaced. While a home inspection will most likely be performed by the Buyer, you may want to order one yourself prior to putting your home on the market. By doing so, you’ll have a list of things to tackle and fix before buyers see your home. Things to consider include:
Does it need a new coat of paint (either because the old paint is obviously cracked or faded, or because of an uncommon choice in color that might turn off prospective buyers)?
If a house with a yard, is the lawn and landscaping attractive and well-kept?
If it is a condo, you can’t do much about the building, but is the front door (and balcony, if there is one) appealing?
Are the windows and doors attractive and in good condition?
Are the roof (and the gutters) in good condition?
Is the grass nicely cut, are the hedges trimmed, are the leaves swept up? Are all toys put away such as bikes, scooters, etc.?
Are the interior paints and finishes in good condition (recently updated), or do they need to be freshened up?
This is one area with the best ratio of least expensive to most desired. For a minimal investment, you could possibly make or break a sale by having your home look well-kept and inviting.
Are the appliances in good working order and of recent vintage?
Are the plumbing and electrical systems in good condition? Are they fully functional?
Are the carpets or other floor coverings clean and in good condition? Like the paint, are they attractive and well-kept? Floor coverings are worth paying for so that your home makes a good impression.
Are the sealants (sink, shower, tub, windows) in good condition?
Are all light fixtures working properly, and is there good lighting in each room so that prospective buyers won’t think you’re hiding something?
Make sure your home is ready to be photographed.
SELLING YOUR HOME
STEP 1: DEFINING SUCCESS
Outlining Your Objectives
What is your motivation to sell?
What is your timeline to move?
Where are you moving?
What is most important for you?
Understanding the Market
Market Dynamics: Macro v. Micro
Market Forces: Supply & Demand
Analysis of Active, Pending, & Sold Transactions
Personal Timing & Seasonal Considerations
Your Home: Strategic Planning
Outline Features & Benefits
Determine Key Differentiators Based on Active Inventory
STEP 2: LISTING DETAILS
Finalize Documentation & Contractual Agreements
Complete Any Property Improvements
Engage Staging Consultant
Engage Photography and Media Professional
Organize Trusted Advisor Meeting
Define Launch Timeline
Property Launch Collateral
Digital Marketing Plan
Social Media Strategy
Broker Network Exposure
International Buyer Strategy
International Buyer Strategy
STEP 3: INTRODUCING THE PROPERTY
Launching the Marketing Plan
Creating the Perception of Value
Attracting & Qualifying Potential Buyers
Weekly Reports, Updates, & Communication Strategy Respond to Changes in the Market Place
Procure Written Offers
Qualify & Analyze the Merits of Each Offer
Strategically Respond to Offers
Negotiate to Optimize Price & Terms
Multiple Offer Process & Back-Up Offer Strategies
STEP 4: ESCROW PROCESS
Step 4: Escrow Process
Transitioning from the Property
Closing & Celebrations
ESTABLISH A MARKETING BUDGET.
How much are you willing to spend to sell your house?
Real estate commission if you use an agency to sell.
Advertising costs, signs, other fees if you plan to sell by owner.
Attorney, closing agent and other professional fees.
Excise tax for the sale.
Prorated costs for your share of annual expenses, such as property taxes, home owner association fees, and fuel tank rentals.
Any other fees typically paid by the seller in your area (surveys, inspections, etc.).
Real estate agents deal with transactions every day and can give you a very close estimate of seller closing costs.
INVESTIGATE THE REAL ESTATE SECTIONS OF LOCAL NEWSPAPERS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS
What will get you the most “bang for your buck?” Are there “throwaway” (i.e., free) real estate publications in your area that accept ads from individual sellers? In the local paper(s), is it better (in your area) to run a text-only classified, or do they have “photo boxes” where you can run both text and a photo of your property?
DON’T FORGET THE INTERNET
As you have probably noticed from the website you have found this article on, most agents have their own website, which includes their clients’ listings as well as the entire MLS search. If you work with an agent, your property will most likely be placed on their website and on the full MLS search as part of the services they will offer you. In addition, some newspapers automatically (or for an extra fee) offer Internet advertising tied in to their traditional print ads. Learn the rates and deadlines for each publication, then decide which one (or more) is best for you and your market.
ESTABLISH A MARKETING PLAN
Now that you know what advertising will cost, create a plan on how to best (within your budget) reach prospective buyers, both local and out-of-town. Since many people do relocate from a distance, be sure to include Internet advertising in your plan. If your town is large enough, the “local” newspaper might have a national edition that you want to place your ad in, at least periodically.
WRITE THE TEXT AND/OR DESIGN YOUR AD
At the very least, you will need a well-written few sentences that will run as a classified ad or a photo box ad. In addition, you might decide to run a larger, custom-designed ad in the paper and/or to use as flyers to hand out at open houses (or anywhere else you might meet prospective buyers). Don’t skimp on this. A professional, well-crafted ad can attract buyers while a poorly designed and executed one can turn buyers off to your property. Even if you do not have full service agent representation, you may consider assist-to-sell, which some agents offer at a lower price.
PURCHASE AND INSTALL A “FOR SALE” SIGN
This should be well-designed, attractive and weatherproof. The sign must be placed where it can clearly be seen from the street. If you are working with an agent, he or she will provide the sign to you.
PREPARE A FACT SHEET
Design a single sheet description of your property listing the features and benefits that will draw in prospective buyers. This should be attractive and professional looking. Have enough copies on hand to give out at open house showings. Again, if you are working with an agent, he or she will most likely do this on your behalf.
PURCHASE “OPEN HOUSE” SIGNS
Make sure that they include a place to write the address of your property and the date/time of the open house. In addition to one for the front yard, you’ll want to place several in conspicuous locations around the neighborhood, such as main streets leading to your house. For these, directional arrows can point prospective buyers to your house even if they don’t know the area. Make sure that you take these signs down as soon as the open house is over. You don’t want people showing up on your doorstep at all hours of the day and night.
SET UP A SCHEDULE OF OPEN HOUSES
While most are held on the weekend, this is not convenient for all buyers. Make sure that you coordinate your print advertising to include information about your next open house.
GET YOUR FORMS IN ORDER
A number of forms are required for the legal sale of your property. In addition to the contract of purchase and any counteroffers, there are approximately 20 other forms that the seller is required to provide to the buyer. It is necessary to review the contract carefully to determine when these forms/documents are due and what the buyer’s rights are once they receive the document. The form and content of many of these documents are prescribed by state or federal law and must be adhered to in their entirety. The proper forms may be obtained from your local Board of Realtors or from your real estate agent who is representing you.
NEGOTIATE FINAL TERMS OF THE SALE
Buyer(s) need to come to an agreement (in writing) regarding the following:
Date of closing
Date of possession
It would be prudent for you to have an attorney review any and all contracts before the deal is finalized.
When both the buyer(s) and a witness can be present, schedule a final walk-through before you complete settlement in order to determine that the property being conveyed meets the expectations of all parties involved.
FIND AND MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE HOME YOU WILL BE MOVING TO.
Unless you have already built or bought a new residence, you’ll need to be the “buyer” for a new property while simultaneously being the “seller” for your current one. If possible, schedule both transactions to close at the same time, or else close your purchase shortly before closing your sale. You need to be moved out before the new owners take possession.