Selling Your Home

Selling your home is a big step.  You are cutting off the emotional ties you have with your home which can be hard if you have been happy where you live.  There are many steps to selling your home, and this will give you an idea of what to expect.  During this process, always remember to ask your real estate agent any questions you may have.  This will help make the process go as smooth as possible.


Deciding to Sell

There are many reasons people decide to sell.  Some common reasons are: they have outgrown their home, they would like to live in a different area, they sell for financial reasons, or maybe a career change takes them to a different area.  One of these could be yours or maybe it’s something else, but now that you’ve decided to sell the first step is to contact a real estate agent.  Your agent can help guide you through the entire process, from getting your home ready to sell to giving the keys to the new owner.


Why use a real estate agent

When selling your home, using a real estate agent is always money well spent.  Your agent will provide marketing, let you know a fair listing price, give invaluable assistance through the closing and sale, and provide you a piece of mind.  If any situations with the county or city should arise, an agent should have experience in dealing with it.  All of these things make the cost of a real estate agent worthwhile.  Although there can be successful stories of people selling their home without a real estate agent, people typically find having a home “for sale by owner” very stressful.  Avoid the hassle of posting your home on many web sites, trying to figure out a marketing strategy, and all the other stress of having your home for sale by owner, and leave all that in the hands of your agent.


Contacting an Agent

Now that you’ve decided to sell, set up a meeting with an agent.  The agent will want to come to your home and take a look around.  While walking around it will be noted and discussed of anything that needs fixed or replaced to help make your home more sellable.  Often it’s recommended to wait on putting too much money into fixes until you get feedback from the showings.  If potential buyers comment on certain things, fixing those may help in selling your home.  You will also be given ideas about staging your home to make it more attractive to prospective buyers.  The listing contract will also be presented to you, which will let you know what services provided, and what the cost is for these.  Other information given to you at that time will include a marketing strategy, comps- which are homes comparable to yours for sale or recently sold, a listing agreement which is typically for 6 months, and anything else that may pertain to your home.  This is a great time to ask your agent any questions you may have.  Don’t feel like you have to jump into listing your home.  If you feel you could use a couple days to think about it, your agent should be willing to give you that time.


Cost of Using an Agent

The cost of using an agent is always negotiable depending on what the going rate in that area is and what others are offering, such as foreclosures and banks.  Typically it is 6% of the selling price.  This commission is divided between the listing and selling agent.  This may seem like a lot of money when you calculate it out, but a good agent can be priceless during sale.  If matters come up that need negotiating for the sale to close, you will feel thankful to have someone looking out for your best interests.  When your home is for sale the agent will take care of everything.  All you will need to do is keep your home ready for showings.  Also, your agent doesn’t get paid until the sale is complete.  All the ads ran, fliers printed, photos taken, and numerous hours put into selling your home is at no charge until it is sold and the agents collects the commission.


Listing your Home

Once your home is ready and an agreement has been signed between you and your agent, your home will be listed.  Real estate agents list all homes for sale on the Realtor Multiple Listing Service (RMLS).  Once your home is listed there, all the other agents and people searching online will be able to view pictures of your home and read information about it.  This is a big benefit to you.  If another agent has a buyer looking for a home similar to what you are selling, it could make a sale happen. You will also have agents call you to set up times for them to show their clients your home.


Marketing

Getting and keeping people aware that your home is for sale is a big part of marketing.  You want as much exposure as possible.  First, in permitted areas, your real estate agent will put arrows that show people a house is for sale in your area.  In highly populated areas, cities have codes that don’t permit arrows being put up.  If allowed, the arrows will direct them to your home where there will be a sign in front on your home saying house for sale.  There will be a flyer box attached to the sign so people can take a flyer to let them learn more about the home.  Second, your home will be advertised on the RMLS, Craigslist, realtor.com, bkorpela.com, in the Columbian Home Book, and in various other home books.  On the RMLS and bkorpela.com there will also be a virtual tour posted for viewers to get a good feel for your home.  All of these help to let people know your house is for sale.  Third, information on your home will be updated promptly.  If there is a price change or any other changes to your listing, it will be updated on the RMLS and all other sites, and new flyers will be put in the flyer box showing the changes.  Lastly, you can discuss with your agent if an open house or brokers open would benefit you in selling your home.  This is put on by your real estate agent, but has kind of faded away with people having such easy access to information about homes for sale online.


Preparing for showings

Your agent will go over tips when you list your home about ways to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.  Keeping a neat home when it’s for sale is always a good idea.  If you have an agent call wanting to see it last minute, it takes out a lot of the stress by having your home maintained nicely.  Curb appeal is another thing to keep in mind.  Having a nicely landscaped home, free of clutter, and overall well kept, will help boost your homes appeal.  Many people do drive bys to get a feel for the home and the area it’s in before even contacting an agent.  Having good curb appeal will improve the chances of them coming back to tour your home.


Getting Showings

Getting a call from an agent wanting to show your home is really exciting!  This means someone is interested in what your home has to offer.  It’s generally recommended the sellers not to be home during a showing.  The agent and clients will feel more comfortable to really look around if the seller isn’t there.  With everything posted online, people can get a good feel for your home by looking at the pictures and reading about what your home has to offer.  Many times when people call to come view your home they have liked what they’ve seen online and want to get a better feel for it.  This cuts down on the amount of showings you will get, but the showings are usually by the people already interested.  Less quantity and more quality. Within a couple of days your agent should let you know of any feedback from the agent who showed your home.


Cancelling a Listing

If at some point during the time your home is listed you decide to take it off the market, you will just need to let your agent know.  You will need to sign paperwork that states you’ve decided to cancel the listing.  It will be removed from the RMLS and all other sites once this is done.  One thing to be aware of is that some agents have a fee to cancel before the listing expires, so make sure to ask before signing any papers.


Getting an Offer

When you will get an offer varies hugely between homes.  Some people may have their homes listed for only a couple days and get an offer while others may wait many months.  Don’t be discouraged if it takes time.  Visit with your agent and make sure you are still in the right price range and ask if there is anything else you could do to help generate more interest.  Often is just takes the person to fall in love with your home.  Once that person comes along, chances are they will be writing up an offer.  With the help of their agent, an offer will be written up for what price they want to pay, any contingencies they have, and a closing date.  Their agent will get the offer over to your agent for you to go over.  With the help of your agent, you will be guided through the entire offer to help you understand what conditions the potential buyers have.  Your agent can help you determine if this is a good offer and you want to accept it as-is, or if you should try to negotiate with the buyers.  Negotiating is very common with home sales.  Maybe the buyer wants to pay $10,000 less than the asking price, but you are only willing to go down $4,000.  Your agent can help you get through all this.  The offer may go back and forth a couple times before all the terms are agreed upon.


Setting up Escrow

Now that you and the buyers have come to an agreement, typically they will put down earnest money.  Earnest money tells you that they are serious about buying your home. An escrow account is opened by a title company, and the earnest money is deposited into that account.  This keeps it in a safe place for you to collect after the sale is final or for the buyer to get back if for any reason the sale should fall through.  Never plan on collecting the earnest money.  If for any reason the buyers back out of the sale, that money generally goes back to them.  The escrow is a neutral third party that makes sure a title check is done, and gets all the paperwork prepared for signing.


Home Inspection

The buyer will pay to have a home inspection done to make sure everything is working correctly and there are no hazards in your home.  An inspector will come and thoroughly look through your home.  They will check for dry rot, mold, pests, your roof quality, and the general condition of your home.  This will take a couple hours to check all the different areas.  The buyers have 3 business days to make a request for repairs.  Any requests they may have will be looked over by you and your agent to decide what you are willing to do and how much you are willing to pay.  This is very negotiable between the buyer and seller.  The buyers will also do any other inspections that may pertain to your home such as septic or well.


Appraisal

The buyers will now want to get an appraisal done.  Their lending will depend on it coming back showing the real value of your home to be no more than the amount they are lending from the bank.  An appraiser will come to your home and look at the house and property.  They will put all their information into a program that pulls up comparables.  Comparables are homes that have sold in the past six months that are similar to yours.  This is something the buyers are responsible to pay for and is information they don’t have to share with the sellers.  If the appraisal comes back showing the value lower than the offering price, the buyers will let you know, and you may need to adjust your price to help the offer go through.


Closing

Once all the inspections are done, and the lending is ready, your escrow agent will call to set up a time for you to sign closing papers.  All the legal owners of your property will need to sign papers saying you are transferring the title to these new owners.  Sellers typically sign a couple days before the actual closing date, and usually your real estate agent is present at closing for any last minute questions you may have.  Escrow will have the money from the buyers in an account, ready to be distributed to the title company, the real estate agent(s), and to you.  Once the closing papers are signed by both buyers and sellers, the money you get for your home will be deposited into your bank account on the closing date.


Moving Out

Now that everything is final, you will need to pack up and let the buyers move in.  The buyers will have stated a move in date on their offer so you will know ahead of time when you are expected to have the house vacant.  Once it looks like everything is going through with the offer, you will need to start lining up housing for yourself.  If for some reason you need to move out a couple days after closing, it may be arranged between you and the buyer for you to rent back for a couple days.  These conditions are figured out before the closing, and signed on so the terms are clear.

Congratulations, you have successfully sold your home!

Disclosure:
This is a general outline of what you can expect when selling a home.  Every home sale is unique. It is always best to contact your agent if any questions should arise.

 

Buying and Selling Tips

Selling a home
Buying a home