The Selling Process
The home-selling process typically starts several months before a property is made available for sale. It's necessary to look at a home through the eyes of a prospective buyer and determine what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired and tossed out.
Ask yourself: If you were buying this home what would you want to see?
There are five general areas where REALTORS® can assist in the home-selling process.
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Several factors, including market conditions and interest rates, will determine how much you can get for your home. The idea is to get the maximum price and the best terms during the window of time when your home is being marketed.
In considering home values, here are several factors that are important:
- Local prices: The same home, located elsewhere, would likely have a different value. Sale prices are a product of supply and demand.
- Owner needs: If owner Smith "must" sell quickly, he will have less leverage in the marketplace. Buyers may think that Smith is willing to trade a quick closing for a lower price.
- Flexibility: The amount of flexibility in the marketplace depends on local conditions.
Read about the Ins and Outs of Setting a Price on Your Home.
Once listed, the property will be entered into the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service). REALTORS® routinely market by mail with new-listing announcements and regular newsletters. Open houses, broker access to the home via the use of a lock box and networking with both local and out-of-town brokers are also common.
REALTORS® will host an open period for potential buyers to visit and evaluate your home. The REALTOR® will provide literature, maintain a visitor log and answer questions. By interacting with visitors, the REALTOR® will seek feedback regarding the home and opportunities to follow up with prospective purchasers.
Get advice on how to prepare for an open house.
How it Works: A seller places their home on the market at an established asking price as well as other terms. In effect, this is an offer. At this point, you have three choices: (1) accept the seller's offer and create a contract; (2) reject it and not make an offer; or (3) suggest different terms and make a counter-offer. If you choose this last option, the seller may accept, reject or make a counter-offer.
How to Make an Offer: In a typical situation, the REALTOR® will present your offer to the owner and the owner's representative. Your offer includes price and terms such as closing date, number of inspections, etc. Terms have financial implications so don’t overlook them.
Seller’s Actions: The seller now has the option to accept the offer, reject it or make a counter-offer.
Because counter-offers are common (any change in an offer can be considered a "counter-offer"), it's important for you to remain in close contact with your REALTOR® during the negotiation process so that any proposed changes can be quickly reviewed.
Here are 9 tips to help you win your dream home.
What's an acceptable offer?
A number of factors determine whether a buyer's offer is acceptable. They include:
- Is the offer at or near the asking price? Is the offer above the asking price?
- Has the buyer accepted the asking price or something close?
- What is the alternative to the buyer's offer?
- Does the owner have enough time to wait for other offers?
- What if no other offers are received?
- What if several offers are received? Do you choose the high offer from the purchaser with questionable finances who may not be able to close, or a somewhat lesser offer from a buyer with preapproved financing?
In each case, owners -- with assistance from REALTORS® -- will need to carefully review offers, consider marketplace options and then determine whether an offer is acceptable.
What is a counter-offer?
A counter-offer is nothing more than a new offer. And just as the buyer had options in response to the owner's original price and terms, the seller can now choose one of three reactions: accept the offer, decline the offer or make a fresh counter-offer.
Offers and counter-offers reflect the back-and-forth activity of the marketplace. It's an efficient and practical process -- but also one that may contain tricky clauses and hidden costs. The REALTOR® who lists your home can explain the local bargaining process in detail and assist in the actual negotiations.
Here's what you need to know to get the best deal for you.
Closing -- or "settlement" or "escrow" as it is known in some areas -- is essentially a meeting where the closing agent (the party who conducts settlement) takes in money from the buyers, pays out money to the owner and makes sure that the purchaser's title is properly recorded in local records along with any mortgage liens.
The closing agent reviews the sale agreement to determine what payments and credits the owner should receive and what amounts are due from the buyer. The closing agent also assures that certain transaction costs are paid (taxes and title searches).
Review the sale agreement and your obligations. If you have agreed to paint a room or replace the dishwasher, such work must be completed before closing. Your REALTOR® can discuss your agreement and the steps which must be taken to complete the transaction.
Check these off your list before the big finish.
There are various forms of insurance associated with home ownership, including these major types:
Title insurance. Purchased with a one-time fee at closing, title insurance protects owners in the event that title to the property is found to be invalid.
Homeowners' insurance. Homeowners' insurance provides fire, theft and liability coverage.
Flood insurance. Generally required in high-risk flood-prone areas, this insurance is issued by the federal government and provides as much as $250,000 in coverage for a single-family home plus $100,000 for contents.
Home warranties. With new homes, buyers want assurance that if something goes wrong after completion the builder will be there to make repairs.
Home warranties for existing homes are typically one-year service agreements purchased by sellers. In the event of a covered defect or breakdown, the warranty firm will step in and make the repair or cover its cost.
Search our list of affiliates to find an insurance company.
For a short move, it may be worthwhile to transport small goods by yourself. A long-distance move, or high volume of items, will likely require a professional mover.
The time to plan your move begins once you've decided to sell your home. Some of the activities required to sell the home can actually help with the moving process and reduce moving costs. For example, cleaning out closets, basements and attics means there will be less to do once the home is under contract.
While price is a consideration in moving, hiring the cheapest option can be a mistake. Movers must have the right equipment, training and experience. A mover, no matter how large or small, should be able to provide recent references. Always confirm mover credentials. Movers should be licensed and bonded as required in your state, and employees should have workman's comp insurance.
- Money. If you're moving more than a few miles then you should have enough cash or credit to cover travel, food, transportation and lodging.
- Number boxes so that all items can be counted on arrival. Make a list of boxes by number and indicate their contents.
- If moving with children, make sure that each has a favorite toy or toys, blankets, games, music and other goods.
- Moving historic, breakable or valued items? Such goods routinely require special handling and packaging.
- Have address books readily available in case you need help.
- If you have a laptop computer with a modem, make it accessible during your trip to pick up business and personal e-mail.
- Medicine. Keep medicines and related prescriptions in a place where they will be available during the move.
REALTOR® is a brand trusted by consumers across the country. REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and are held to a higher level of conduct that other real estate professionals. REALTORS® adhere to a strict code of ethics and conduct.