Selling a house can be a complicated but lucrative endeavor. It’s not as easy as posting a “for sale” sign in your yard and on social media.
There are lots of layers to selling real estate, many of which can trip you up if you’re not prepared. Here are the six steps to selling your house.
Step One: The Agent
Your greatest resource when selling your house is your real estate agent.
The right agent walks you through every aspect of selling your house, from pricing and staging to showing your home and negotiating offers to helping you through the closing process.
Without the right agent, you could find your house on the market for longer than desired and could lose thousands of dollars.
Interview at least three agents to find one with whom you feel confident and compatible.
Step Two: The Price
Pricing your house properly is the most essential thing you can do to ensure a quick and easy sale. But it’s tricky.
First, you have to understand that there is no sentimental or emotional value to your property. You also can’t gauge your asking price based on what you originally paid. The value of your home depends on whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market.
You might think that you can price on the high side and leave room for negotiations. While that is true to a degree, if priced too high, it will turn off buyers altogether.
Your house could develop a stigma if its price is reduced too many times. Buyers become suspicious, wondering why you seem desperate to sell.
And when a house stays on the market too long, people wonder what’s wrong with it and are less inclined to buy.
Your agent has a CMA or comparative market analysis. A CMA is a report showing data about houses that are similar to yours that have recently sold in your community.
You’ll discover each home’s original asking price, how long it was on the market, how many times the price was reduced, and the final sales price.
This can help you gauge where to place your price tag and estimate how long it should take for your house to sell.
Step Three: Staging
The way you stage your house – the way you prepare it for showing can make or break a buyer’s experience when touring your home.
It starts with curb appeal – they’re either wowed, or they’re not. It continues as they walk in the door and assess whether the house is clean enough, bright enough, spacious enough, and comfortable enough for their needs.
Staging means you declutter and depersonalize, then clean and accentuate every room in the house – and the outside.
You can do the staging yourself, outsource parts of it, hire a professional staging company, or ask your agent about digital staging.
Step Four: Showing
You’ll show your home virtually and physically. You’ll start with a stellar online description and professional photos and video to capture the attention of potential buyers. Then, when someone is truly interested, they’ll schedule in-person viewing.
Make arrangements for any pets that you have. Buyers may be allergic or uncomfortable around animals. And, the animals may feel anxious having strangers in the home.
Tidy up before showing the home, and, like the pets, arrange to be elsewhere during showings so buyers can freely explore the property.
It’s the buyer’s agent who will accompany the buyer on their home tour by using a key code and lockbox set up by your agent. If they’re interested, they’ll contact your agent, not you.
Step Five: Offers
You may receive multiple offers, which could drive up your home value. If buyers begin to compete for your home, they’ll offer higher prices. But don’t get blinded by the dollar signs. There’s more to look at than money.
Some buyers may be pre-approved for their home mortgage loans and ready to move forward with their purchase. Others may not have even applied yet. Check the status of their home mortgage loan.
Some offers may contain contingencies, such as asking you to pay closing costs, that they can’t buy unless their current house sells, or that they close by a certain date, which may be much sooner or later than you intend on moving.
You may also want to consider different types of home loans, such as FHA, VA, and USDA loans, which may have different requirements for closing.
Carefully review each offer with your agent. If necessary, allow your agent to negotiate on your behalf until you find the right buyer with the right terms.
Step Six: Closing
During the closing process, your house will be inspected, as required by the buyer’s lender.
The inspection looks at things like the foundation, structure, and roof. It also investigates heating and air, electrical, plumbing, and other major systems, as well as checking for pests like termites.
Make sure there are no problems before listing your house for sale. If any problems are discovered, the buyer can renegotiate or cancel the contract.
Your home will also be appraised so that the lender is confident that the property is worth the amount of money that the buyer is borrowing. If the house doesn’t measure up in value, you’ll have to negotiate the price.
The closing meeting can take place in person or, in some cases, virtually. Contracts may also be able to be signed digitally. By the end of the closing meeting, you’ll need to have moved out already because the buyer becomes the owner and takes possession immediately after closing unless otherwise specified in writing.
When you’ve got a highly qualified professional real estate agent on your side, selling your house can be a quick and profitable process.
You can do your part by pricing your house to sell, staging it to show, carefully reviewing and negotiating offers, and making sure your house is ready to pass the appraisal and inspection, so there’s no need to renegotiate the contract.