The home selling process is the same whether you are hiring a listing agent or selling for sell by owner. Certain details may vary slightly among the states, but I am using California as the example here. You can skip step 2 “choosing a listing agent” if you are selling for sale by owner. The rest stay the same.
- Find out your home value
Most agents provide free home valuation consultation and it is always a good idea to find a good agent give you an estimate market value of your home using a comparative market analysis method. You can always contact us here to request a free home value estimate. Our top producer will come to your home and provide you an estimate within 48 hours.
A lot of sellers come to me and tell me: “hey, I just saw zillow and redfin estimated my home for $x,xxx,xxx. Therefore, I think my home is worth this much.” Zillow and redfin use a different market value calculation than what a professional realtor use. Please don’t trust their numbers and they are never accurate.
Never overprice a home. The higher it goes, the longer it stays on the market and the harder to sell it. Buyers are very smart nowadays and they always know when a property is overpriced.
- Choose a listing agent
A listing agent will represent you and have a fiduciary responsible for looking out for your best interests.
Ask questions about your listing agreement, including the length of time the home will be listed.
- Prepare your home
Prepare your home for sell by cleaning, decluttering and improving curb appeal. It’s also recommended to hire professional cleaning service to do a cleaning before showing.
Hire a professional stager to stage your home, or ask your real estate agent for help with staging. Sometimes you can use your own furniture.
Make repairs before selling.
- Prepare disclosures
Prepare your disclosures yourself or with your agent, they can provide you more insight on what information they are asking for.
Make sure to provide all the material information you know about the property. Otherwise, when there is new information during the contract, the buyers can back out of the contract without paying the earnest money.
- Put your home on market and show your home.
You’ve got only one chance; and sometimes only 3 seconds — to make a good first impression in front of buyers.
Prepare for an open house and use the approach sparingly.
Ask for buyer feedback so you can adjust your price, condition or marketing campaigns accordingly.
- Receive offers and negotiate
Even if you receive a lowball offer, negotiate by issuing a counter offer. Don’t ignore offers.
Don’t be afraid to make a full-price counter offer, if the price is competitive and warranted.
If your home is priced right, prepare yourself for multiple offers.
Be aware that when you are making counter offers, you are rejecting buyers’ offers and providing a new offer to the buyers. If they don’t accept your offer, you will end up with no offer.
- Open escrow and order title
Your agent or transaction coordinator will open escrow and order a title policy.
Ask for a receipt for the buyer’s earnest money deposit.
- Schedule appraisal and home inspection
Clean the house the day before the appraiser arrives.
You are not entitled to receive a copy of the appraisal because you did not pay for it.
Get ready for the home inspector.
Ask your agent to provide you with a home inspection checklist so you will know which items an inspector will want to see.
Prepare the attic and basement for inspection, too. Move stuff away from the walls in the garage.
Also, prepare for the final walk-through inspection which takes place a few days before, or the morning of, closing.
- Negotiate request for repair
Ordinarily, sellers do not need to accept a buyer’s request for repair; however, buyers can also cancel the contract.
You are entitled to a copy of the home inspection report if the buyers request repairs.
If you do not choose to make repairs, a buyer might instead accept a closing cost credit.
- Contingencies removal
In California, for example, contracts default to 17 days, at which time, the buyer must release contingencies.
If buyers do not provide a release, in California, sellers have the right to cancel the contract.
- Sign title and escrow documents
In southern California, you will sign escrow documents shortly after opening escrow.
In northern California, you will sign escrow documents near closing.
Bring a valid picture identification.
- Close of escrow
Your property deed, reconveyance and deed of trust will record in the public records.
The title company will notify you and your agent when it records the deeds.
Depending on buyer’s possession rights specified in the contract, you may be required to move on the day the home closes or prior.
- Delivery of the home
Give all of your keys and remote controls to the buyers
Provide the list of utility companies to the buyers
Make sure you deliver the house as the condition when they write the offer