To sell your home, you’ll need more than ads and signs. When you work with a First Call, Realtors Sales Professional you’ll receive top-notch, priority service, in addition to powerful and effective offline and online marketing. Our goals are to serve you and to provide you with professional guidance that will:
- Obtain the best possible price for your home
- Negotiate the most favorable terms
- Secure a buyer in the shortest period of time
- Relieve you of the stress and inconvenience that can occur when selling a home
You can learn more about the home selling process by exploring these topics:
While your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional handles the details of selling your home, you may want to know more about the process.
Here are six critical elements of every sale. Each of these elements incorporates many factors, and any of them can have a dramatic affect on the time that your home stays on the market, and its ultimate selling price.
1. Determining the List Price
Your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional will complete a Comparable Market Analysis and help you set the appropriate sales price for your home according to current market value.
2. Property Location
Buyers consider how close your home is to schools, shopping and services, transportation and amenities. They reward homes in well-kept neighborhoods and penalize homes on noisy streets.
3. Property Condition
Buyers consider the structural and mechanical integrity of your home as well as the cosmetic appeal. Before listing your home, make sure your property is in move-in condition.
4. Market Conditions
Market conditions are factors that impact buyers that are beyond our control, like mortgage interest rates, consumer confidence, weather, the economy, current sales and price trends.
5. Contract Terms
Inspection dates, mortgage approval contingencies, seller’s disclosures, closing dates and exclusions of fixtures are just a few terms of the contract that should be handled up front, in order to avoid any confusion later.
Your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional’s marketing expertise will help you achieve a quicker sale and a higher price than you may otherwise receive.
To learn more, and understand how each of these elements may apply to your situation, please contact a First Call, Realtors Sales Professional.
When’s the best time to sell? At First Call, Realtors, we believe the best time to sell your home is any time that’s right for you!
Peak season varies from year to year and market to market. Early spring and early fall are thought to be prime listing seasons. That’s when homeowners prefer to spend their time preparing their homes for sale; when the kids are getting out of school (or just going back). Homes tend to look their best outside of the heat of summer or the cold of winter.
If you decide to sell during a peak season in your area, there will be many more houses on the market competing with yours. You might have a tougher time making a sale, but it’s also likely many more buyers will see your home and make an offer.
Your Best Time?
Only you can decide when the best time to sell your home is. Keep in mind that your selling situation is unique. Let a qualified First Call, Realtors Sales Professional work with you through the steps to selling your home.
In the interim, here are some do’s and don’ts for deciding when to sell:
- DO give serious thought to when would be ideal for you. Consider your family, your lifestyle and all the other happenings in your life.
- DON’T base your decision to sell strictly on the season. Or your mother’s advice or your neighbor’s, for that matter.
- DO spend time to prepare your home for sale.
- DO consider whether your area is in a buyer’s market (with more houses for sale) or a seller’s market (with more buyers than houses). You’ll probably sell a bit faster in a seller’s market.
- DON’T forget to consider the buyer. Remember what attracted you to your home and figure out when’s the best time to showcase that.
- DO talk with your agent about his/her thoughts on the timing of your home sale. He or she has an immense amount of experience and can provide wise and thoughtful insight.
And, if you find that you want and need some hard facts and figures to help you make your decision, ask your First Call, Realtors listing agent for a Comparative Market Analysis. Using the data from the report (which includes attributes and selling prices of comparable houses that have been listed for sale, recently sold, or expired from the market), your agent can identify buying trends in your area. Together you can look at the data, talk about your choices and narrow your options until you’ve made a decision that’s right for you.
When buyers look at your home, they also consider the neighborhood. It plays a big role in how fast your home will sell – and how much you’ll get for it.
Selling a home located in a desirable neighborhood will net you a much higher price than selling one in a less-than-optimal one. If your home is located in a “hot” neighborhood, that may increase your chances for a sale.
A desirable neighborhood usually exhibits these characteristics:
- High or increasing property values
- Reasonable commute and close proximity to employers, schools, hospitals, shopping and public facilities, like parks and community centers.
- Low crime rate.
- Well-planned traffic infrastructure.
- Well-maintained properties.
- Higher percentage of owner-occupants.
- Well-regarded school district
Be sure to maximize your home’s curb appeal, and if your home is a bit better than other homes in the neighborhood, be prepared to compromise a bit on your asking price.
That’s where your First Call, Realtors listing Sales Professional can help. He or she can determine fair market value based on a Comparative Market Analysis of the homes in your neighborhood.
Listing your home at the right price is crucial to its eventual sale.
We’ll provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis to show how your home competes with other similar homes in your area. Then he or she will help you set a fair price that should meet the buyer’s bank appraisal.
An appraisal is a professional estimate of your home’s market value by a certified appraiser. It focuses on market value and on price – the amount of money a buyer will pay. The appraisal protects the bank from overextending its risk.
When you put your home up for sale, prospective buyers (and the lenders who hold or insure their mortgages) expect that your home is worth your asking price. To meet lending guidelines, your home must appraise for the asking price. If it appraises for less, you may need to lower the price if you want the sale to close.
We can provide the appraiser with a record of comparable area homes, including those that are actively listed, expired or sold. This record will complement the appraiser’s visual inspection of your home, including the home’s improvements and its condition, which will help the appraiser’s accuracy.
It’s a fact: Your home will attract the most excitement and attention when it’s first listed. And all the buzz simply increases your chance for a quick sale.
However, nobody can promise when your house will sell. It could be one day, two weeks, three months – or longer. Some of it depends on these factors:
- Local and national economic factors
- Market conditions
- Number of comparable homes for sale in your area
- Whether or not people are buying new homes, existing homes, or none at all
Any or all of these factors can speed up (or slow down) the sale of your home. No matter the market, here are tried and true tips for selling your home faster:
Make it Look Good
Ever see a food commercial that makes you hungry? It looks so good. Presentation, they say, is everything. And so it is with your home. The more appetizing it is, the more likely buyers will bite. Your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional has tips for making your home look – and show – great.
Price it Right
Sixty percent of buyers purchase homes at market value–not above it. Price your home at market value and you’re likely to see more prospects, which increases your chance for a sale.
Let your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional help you price it right from the beginning.
Market it Well
Reduce the time to sell with proper marketing. Innovative, effective marketing is crucial to improving your sell time. To reach the most possible buyers, a good Real Estate Agent will use a variety of methods to market your home across many different and relevant venues, going beyond traditional methods like print advertising to proven-effective venues like the Web.
With 80 percent of home buyers online, you’ll want to be sure you’re working with an agent who uses the Internet to sell your home; otherwise, you’ll be missing out on a lot of buyers.
Marketing is so much more than advertising. It’s a complex process that’s both art and science. Having technologies and ideas is one thing; knowing how and when to use them is another.
The listing agreement is a contract between you and your Real Living Sales Professional to sell your home.
Your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional will explain your state’s laws on agency relationships, and how he or she can represent you in the transaction. In some cases, they can also assist the buyer.
Such an agreement must include beginning and ending dates for the term of the listing, typically what’s customary for your area and the company’s policy and what’s reasonable for your area’s market conditions.
Among the terms that you’ll agree to is the price (usually a percentage of the eventual sale price) you’ll pay for services rendered in the sale of your home.
Each real estate brokerage company determines its fee structure based on the degree of services provided. Make sure you understand what services your listing agreement covers.
Don’t choose a listing agent by how much commission the broker charges or how high your home will be priced. Choose a First Call, Realtors Sales Professional because he or she has the best reputation in the market, and the best marketing plan for your home.
With so many tools and information sources available, homebuyers are more sophisticated and demanding than ever. They want to know everything about your home, the neighborhood, and community.
Your First Call, Realtors Professional makes it easy for buyers to learn everything there is about your home and neighborhood through Internet and in-person marketing. Share any key information about your home or neighborhood that you feel would be useful, including:
- A brief description of your home’s best features
- Home details including parking, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.
- Transportation schedules, nearby shopping, services, schools
- Fixtures or furnishings you plan to include in the sale of your home, including draperies, blinds, and appliances
- Warranty information on appliances that go with the house
- Records of maintenance costs, such as utilities (especially budgets), property taxes, insurance, and trash/recycling pick up
- Homeowners’ (or condo) association bylaws, financial statements, maintenance fees, and special assessments
Your First Call, Realtors Professional can also provide a buyer market analysis, which provides community facts, information on average home prices, public and private school data, plus a summary of area conveniences like shopping centers, medical facilities, parks and museums.
Before you invest a lot of money into updates for your home, you should consult with your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional to determine which improvements will most impact your home’s sale.
Some renovations not only fail to improve resale profits, but could actually detract from your home’s overall value.
So if you’re considering an improvement simply to increase the value of your home, you might consider research from the National Association of REALTORS® and Remodeling Magazine.
The findings? Over-the-top luxury is out, mid-range restraint is in. Boosting living space is in. Put your money where it counts – in first impressions, like replacing the entry door – the only improvement in the cost vs. value survey to return 100% of investment.
Here’s is the list of improvements that provide the most return on investment:
- Kitchen cabinets
- Add or replace tile
- Breakfast bar
- Granite tile countertops instead of slabs
- Freshen bathroom
- Freshen basement
- Room addition
- Replace cabinet fronts
- Replace light fixtures
- Garage door opener (touchpad)
Sometimes less is more. A little improvement in the right areas can go a long way with buyers, without breaking your budget.
Two ways buyers can view your property in person is by appointment with their agent or through an open house open to all buyers.
A showingis a professionally scheduled appointment that gives a potential buyer the opportunity to tour your home. Either your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional will accompany buyers to your home, or another licensed sales professional who has likely been initially screened and approved by your agent. For security reasons, you should never allow an unaccompanied buyer into your home.
It’s in your best interests not to be present. Buyers need to feel free to discuss your home with their agent or your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional.
An open house is for any buyers to walk through and view your home, usually for a few hours on a Saturday, Sunday or early weeknight. Many buyers come without their agents, mainly because they are earlier in the process, and may not have an agent yet. Your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional will do the hosting, sign in visitors, and answer questions for buyers. Again, you do not need to be present.
Tips for Showing Your Home
Your home should be looking its best when your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional or another agent shows it to potential buyers.
Here are some tips for making sure your home is ready for a showing.
- Turn on all the lights, including the outside entrance.
- Turn off the TV.
- Take your pets with you or ask a friend to watch the pets.
- Put out fresh flowers, your best towels and a nice tablecloth, if suitable to your decor.
- Do not use scented sprays and remember: There’s no substitute for clean.
- Empty your kitchen trash, even if it is stored under the kitchen sink.
- Keep the beds made in all bedrooms.
- Open all draperies and curtains to let in as much natural light as possible.
- Pick up stray items – newspapers, empty glasses, etc.
- Keep floors swept, mopped and vacuumed.
- Dust daily.
It’s best to leave when your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional or another agent brings a buyer to your home. This allows the buyer to take his or her time and feel more comfortable asking questions. If you must remain, let the agents handle the questions unless you are asked directly.
Never underestimate the importance of curb appeal. An attractive, well-maintained home will generally sell faster and for a higher price than a similar home that’s outdated.
You and your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional can look at your home’s exterior objectively and see what repairs and updates it needs to sell for top dollar.
- Keep the lawn mowed and shrubs trimmed.
- Remove dead tree limbs and other yard debris.
- Plant fresh shrubs and flowers.
- Arrange outdoor items neatly and put away lawn equipment.
- Check siding, trim and doors – especially the front door – for dirt and peeling paint.
- Check your fence.
- Check loose or damaged roof shingles or flashing.
- Clean and repair broken windows or screens.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
- Wash the driveway and sidewalk.
- Clean and neatly arrange the garage or shed.
- Make sure the gas grill is clean.
- Make sure the entry light and doorbell work.
If you find that a repair is needed on anything listed, fix the entire defect so it will not cause a distraction.
When you receive an offer on your house, it is imperative that you review it carefully. The offer tells you the price the buyer is willing to pay and under what terms.
Your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional will review the offer with you. You may also wish to consult with an attorney before you sign it, and it becomes a contract of sale.
A good offer is close to the list price, sometimes exactly your asking price. That just means you priced your home correctly.
If the offer is less than you wanted, look at the contract as a whole. Perhaps the buyer is assuming some of the closing expenses. Consider possession and financing terms, as well. You can also consider splitting the difference. Sometimes the highest offer is not the best offer.
Remember that time on the market to find another buyer is an additional expense.
Once you’ve read the offer, you have several choices.
- Accept the terms with no changes and sign the offer.
- Make a counteroffer to the buyer by making some changes. In some cases, a series of counteroffers will take place before the final agreement is signed.
- Reject the offer entirely.
Once you’ve signed an offer, you may accept a backup offer if that buyer clearly understands the house is under contract. The backup offer becomes effective only if the first offer falls through and the transaction fails.
Consult with your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional to determine a price. Your agent can estimate your proceeds – the sale price minus fees, taxes and insurance.
Don’t be concerned if the offer you receive is exactly your asking price. It doesn’t mean you under-priced your home, but rather that you priced it accurately.
If the price is less than you wanted, look at the contract as a whole. Perhaps the buyer is assuming some of the closing expenses. Consider possession and financing terms, as well.
Consider splitting the difference if you and the buyer are within a few thousand dollars of each other. Remember that time on the market is an additional expense.
An earnest money deposit will be held by a third party until an agreement is reached or there is a closing between you and the buyer. At that time, the money is usually credited to the buyer and applied to the down payment. Until you accept his or her offer, the buyer may withdraw the offer and get the earnest money back. On the other hand, if the buyer fails to follow through with the contract once it’s accepted, you may be entitled to the earnest money. Your Real Estate Agent can answer any questions you may have regarding earnest money.
As part of the real estate contract process, you must prove to the buyer that you have a clear title on the house – that you own the property, and there are no legal claims against it. Through a title search, proof is provided.
- The insurance company may search the title through the owner’s policy of title insurance. Either the buyer’s insurance company or your own may conduct this.
- The abstract of title is a condensed history of a title to a property and a certification by the abstractor that the history is complete and accurate.
- In some parts of the country the certificate of title is reviewed by an attorney who searches the title and issues an opinion that the title is clear.
- In some parts of the country, the Torrens system is used as a means of registering property. At closing, the duplicate Torrens certificate of title is turned over to the buyer.
Be prepared to transfer ownership of the property with a deed. A deed is a legal document that transfers the title (or ownership rights) of the property to the new owner. Most buyers will require a general warranty deed, in which you guarantee that no one will bring a claim against the title.
Conditions and Contingencies
Review the contract for special conditions requested by the buyer. A common condition is one in which the purchase of your home is contingent on the buyer selling his or her current home. The conditions may also be more specific, such as asking you to provide a survey of the property.
Although it may be dry reading, it is important to carefully read the contract and go over details with your Real Estate Agent. Read the fine print in your contract to understand the provisions (or ground rules) of who pays for what in the context of the sale. For instance, the contract should explain who is responsible if there is damage to the house after the contract is signed. The responsible party will want to insure the property through the transition. You or the buyer may add special provisions to the standard ones.
Does the refrigerator stay or go? How about the drapes in the formal living room? Double-check that everything you intend to sell with the house is listed accurately in the contract. This may include items such as fixtures, window treatments and appliances.
Only a skilled negotiator can take two sides with opposing interests and bring them to consensus.
At any bargaining table, the discussion can get bogged down, but a professional knows how to work through, around and over any potential sticking points to bring the talks to a mutually satisfying conclusion.
That’s why you need a First Call, Realtors Sales Professional negotiating on your behalf.
Before engaging your agent, know how he or she will handle negotiations. Ask questions like:
- How will multiple offers be handled?
- Will the buyer’s agent always present his/her offer to me or will you be the only professional present?
- On which points should we stand firm and on which can we compromise?
- How can you help me figure my bottom-line selling price?
- What will you do to get me the best price in the shortest period of time?
More than one buyer has rescinded an offer in the negotiation process, so having an expert negotiator is just one more reason to work with an experienced First Call, Realtors Sales Professional.
Once a home goes under contract, the homeowner should expect a call about scheduling an inspection of the home.
First Call, Realtors firmly believes in the value of a thorough home inspection conducted by a qualified professional. A home inspection protects both the buyer and seller by exposing any system or appliance that needs attention.
Sellers usually make as many home repairs as you could before you put your home up for sale, so there usually won’t be much for sellers to do in preparation for the inspection. Simply make your home available to the inspector, buyer and buyer’s agent.
Perhaps the inspector will identify some issues; as long as they’re dealt with according to the buyer’s and seller’s agreement, the home sale should proceed as anticipated.
But, sometimes problems are exposed that require some renegotiation. The seller may decide to repair or replace the item, or the buyer may choose to repair or replace the item in exchange for a lower sales price.
Home inspections make buyers feel at ease, but they should also make sellers feel at ease, too. The buyer’s inspection can also serve to help protect sellers by reducing the possibility of legal action in response to undisclosed and unanticipated defects.
The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 changed the tax laws concerning capital gains on primary residences, and is still in effect. You only pay taxes on any gains over $250,000 ($500,000, if filing jointly) when you sell your primary residence.
Other rules apply, but briefly, this is how the IRS recommends figuring the gain (or loss) on the sale of your primary home:
- Subtract your expenses from the selling price to obtain the realized amount. Expenses typically include commissions, advertising fees, legal fees, and loan charges, such as points.
- Subtract the adjusted basis (the amount you paid to buy or build it) you made to the basis of your home from the realized amount to get the gain or loss.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you do not have to report the sale of your home on your tax return unless:
- You have a gain and you do not qualify to exclude all of it, or
- You have a gain and choose not to exclude it.
Otherwise, you must report the gain on Form 1040, Schedule D.
As with any tax information, your personal situation (including such things as divorce) can have major tax implications. And since IRS tax rules change often, you’ll want to be sure to consult with a qualified tax specialist.
Closing or settlement is the ceremonial transfer of property from you to the buyer.
Your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional can explain what’s customary for closings in your area, whether all parties are together at the closing table, or if you’ll have a separate settlement from the buyer.
Here’s what to expect at closing:
- Meet at the appointed time and place. An attorney or title company representative will serve as the closing agent.
- The closing agent will proceed according to the lender’s instructions. All unresolved walk-through deficiencies will be resolved at this time.
- The closing agent will explain the deed of trust or mortgage and the settlement sheets.
- Review and sign the deed and settlement sheets.
- Pay appropriate closing costs with a cashier’s check.
- If your taxes or insurance have been placed into escrow, you may receive any money accumulated in the account for bills not yet due.
- You may also be reimbursed for any money paid in advance and not used, such as for property taxes. (You may receive these funds the day of closing or after the settlement, depending upon where you live).
- Get a copy of the settlement sheets for your records.
- Hand over the keys to the new owner.
Things to Consider
Be prepared for a lot of paperwork. You’ll be signing your name on a lot of documents during this process!
- Expect the buyer’s lender to send an appraiser and a surveyor to check your home.
- Gather all warranties and instruction books for your home’s appliances or major systems to give to the buyer.
- Set aside garage remotes, ceiling fan remotes, mailbox keys, HOA keys, and house keys to give to the buyer.
- Once you have a closing date, notify the utility, telephone, water, trash and other services to advise them of your final billing date. Utility companies should make final meter readings on the day of closing.
- Talk to your homeowners’ insurance agent; discuss when the cancellation of your homeowners insurance would be best for your situation. It may be good to ask if your existing homeowners’ policy covers your belongings during the move.
- Have repairs and other specifications completed according to the contract so that final inspections may take place. Your buyer will want to make a final inspection (or walk-through) to see that the home is still in good condition.
Ask your settlement agent for a copy of the closing costs before closing. This document is known as the closing statement or settlement sheet. It contains most of the charges you may be asked to pay.