What the Home Selling Process Really Looks Like
So you’ve decided to sell your house… What now?
Selling your house can be an exciting and stressful time. Before you make any moves to sell your house, make sure you’ve answered these questions.
If you’re confident about putting your home on the market, here is what you can expect from the home selling process…
You’ll likely begin your seller’s journey by hiring a real estate agent. While the Internet has made it easier to sell your home all on your own, about 93% of home sales are still closed with a real estate agent. A good realtor understands the complex procedure and paperwork involved in selling a home and their experience will save you time and energy, and get you a better deal on your home in the long run.
After selecting your agent, it’s time to price your home. He or she will help you determine how much your home is worth using comparative market analysis reports, broker price opinions or by hiring an appraiser. Appraisers and brokers will likely be able to also provide you with suggestions for where your home could use repairs before going to market.
Prepare your home for showings by making small (or big!) home improvements as necessary. Replace cracked floor or countertops and patch any holes in the walls. Fix leaky faucets and doors that don’t close properly, and kitchen drawers that jam. Painting your walls neutral colors. Replace burned-out light bulbs and add additional light fixtures wherever possible.
After necessary improvements have been made, it’s time to make your home sparkle. Clean your home beyond what your usual weekly or day-to-day cleaning jobs would be. Remove all clutter and personal items and open up space as much as possible. Remember, this is your one shot to make a good first impression on buyers.
Once your home is ready to show off to the public, you or your agent will photograph (or have your home photographed) and list it online. A listing agreement will likely be signed before your home is advertised for sale by a realtor. (Make sure to keep a copy of those documents in a safe place in case you ever need them.) Your home should then be marketed all over the internet, showing off its best sides. You’ll also begin to show your home to interested parties and hold open houses. If your home doesn’t receive an offer right away, use these opportunities to ask for buyer feedback and adjust price or marketing accordingly.
When an offer (or multiple offers) have been made, it’s time to choose, negotiate, and/or accept. Negotiating the sale that leaves you in the best possible position is one of the most complex parts of selling a home. (That’s why it’s good to have an experienced realtor by your side!) You may end up with multiple counter offers until a deal is reached, or you may accept an offer on the first round. Either way, once all parties agree to all of the terms in writing, you’ve got a contract. Now it’s time to focus on the legal jargon.
After the contract has been signed, you enter the “due diligence period.” Due Diligence is simply the period immediately after the acceptance of a Purchase and Sale contract to buy a home, typically ranging from 7-14 days. During this time, the buyer of the home will investigate the property for termites, mold, structural damage, plumbing problems, and the condition of the property. The buyer may request repairs be made for issues discovered during the inspections, which can result in another round of negotiations for repairs or price reductions. If an agreement is made to both parties’ satisfaction, the due diligence period will end and you will move one step closer to closing.
If a buyer is seeking a loan to purchase your home, they’ll likely need time to secure the financing and have an appraisal performed. (Your process will go much quicker if your buyer has been preapproved for a loan.) An appraisal at this point is the bank’s verification that the property is worth what they’re lending towards, and helps them prevent mortgage fraud. As the seller, you want the property to appraise for at least the contract price or more. A low appraisal can cost a seller tens of thousands of dollars, and disputing them can be very difficult. This is another reason it’s important to price your home correctly the first time.
After the lender has conditionally approved the buyer for the loan and can provide a commitment letter, things look good to close. But keep in mind, things have been known to go wrong right up to the closing, so it’s never a 100% guarantee the sale is done until you sign the papers at closing.
Depending on where you’re located, you might sign escrow documents shortly after opening escrow or you’ll sign them nearer to closing. Escrow refers to a third-party service that’s usually mandatory in a home purchase. Until the final exchange is completed, both the buyer’s deposit and the seller’s property are said to be in escrow. Consult with your lawyer and/or agent for more information.
Once everything’s been completed, it’s time to finalize the sale. On the day of closing, your job as the seller is much easier since you’ve already done your part. (Phew!) The buyer will be signing the bulk of the documents, so you can sit back and relax knowing the stress of selling your home is finally over.
After you’ve handed over all the keys and necessary documents and moved out of the house– it’s time to celebrate! Say “goodbye” to your home and “hello” to your new adventure, whatever that may be.
Let us know if you still have questions about the steps in the home selling process.