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The Selling Process

The home selling process has become a more complex than it used to be. New seller disclosure statements, a myriad of paperwork and forms plus a range of environmental concerns all have emerged in the past decade.  Many times, the process starts long before the property is placed on the market as it is necessary to 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? The goal is to show a home which looks good, maximizes space and attracts as many buyers as possible.

Step 1: Work with a REALTOR®

Whether you're a first-time seller or someone who has sold many homes, there are several ways to find a local REALTOR®.  You can use our"REALTOR® Agent Search" feature to find individuals who actively sell in your community.  Many people get recommendations from people they know.  In some cases, sellers elect to meet only with one REALTOR® while others elect to interview several before making a decision.  

Step 2: Setting the price

Every reasonable owner wants the best possible price and terms for his or her home. Several factors including location, property and market conditions and interest rates will have an effect as to how much your home will sell for.  The ultimate goal is to get the maximum price and the best terms during the window of time when your home is being marketed.  Keep in mind that the key factors which will ultimately effect your sales price are location, condition of the property and where the real estate market stands with regards to supply and demand.  Personal circumstances such as job loss, divorce or death can also have an impact on the asking price.  

Step 3: Getting it sold

Depending upon the company you choose to market your home, selling can entail a variety of marketing strategies.  Once listed, placing the property on the local Multiple Listing Service and a variety of Internet web sites is standard operating procedure for most REALTORS®.  If you look at a typical transaction, you can see that there are five general areas where REALTORS® can have a direct impact in the home-selling process:

1. Preparation

2. Pricing

3. Marketing

4. Negotiation

5. Closing

Step 4: Negotiating an offer

What's an acceptable offer? The dream of every seller is to have a line of buyers outside the front door, each clutching higher and higher offers. And while this has been known to happen, in most markets, it is the exception rather than the norm.  A number of factors to think about while considering an offer include:

  • Is the offer at what you believe is an acceptable price given your personal circumstances?
  • Has the buyer offered a price that reflects fair market value for your home?
  • What is the alternative to accepting or negotiating this offer?
  • Do you have enough time to wait for other offers?
  • What's the plan 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, you should carefully review all offers with your REALTOR® to determine whether it is acceptable and/or worth making a counter-offer.

What is a counter-offer?  A counter-offer is nothing more than a new offer.  Just as the buyer had options in response to the owner's original price and terms, the seller can now choose to react in one of three ways: accept the offer, decline the offer or make a counter-offer.  Offers and counter-offers are not unusual during the sale of a home.  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.  Keep in mind that while negotiating, buyers should be treated with respect and sellers should never lose sight of either their best interests or their baseline transaction requirements needed to sell their home. 

Step 5: Closing the deal

The offer has been negotiated and accepted and any agreed-to repairs to the property have been made.  Next comes closing day!  What Happens? Closing -- or "settlement" or "escrow" as it is known in some areas -- is essentially a meeting where the closing agent (the party who conducts the procedure) reviews the sales agreement to determine what payments and credits that the seller should receive and what amount is due from the buyer.  The buyers bring the required funds and the proper proceeds are paid to the seller.  The closing agent also makes sure that the purchaser's title is properly recorded in local records and that costs related to the transaction such as taxes and title searches are paid.  

Step 6: Moving out

Even the smallest home contains a lot of furniture, clothes, kitchen equipment, pictures and other items. For a short move, it may be worthwhile to transport small goods by yourself, but larger items will likely require a professional mover.  Ideally it is best to get rid of excess furniture and other goods by having a sale before you move. This will reduce the volume of goods to be moved and thus lower moving costs. Unwanted furniture which cannot be sold can often be donated to charitable groups, many of which will come to your home to pick up donations.  Keep in mind that the time to start planning your move is when you decided to sell your home.  Actually some of the activities required to sell the home can actually help with the moving process. For example, cleaning out closets, basements and attics means there will be less to do once the home is sold.

Step 7:  A word about selecting movers

There are a number of factors to consider. Money is one issue.  You'd like to spend as little as possible, but making your choice strictly on the basis of price can be a mistake. Movers must have the right equipment, training and experience to do a good job. A mover, no matter how large or small, should be able to provide recent references for homesellers with a similar volume of goods to transport. Always confirm mover credentials. Movers should be licensed and bonded as required in your state, and employees should have workman's comp insurance.

Get a checklist. Moving is a big job and checklists can make it more organized and easier. Here are some of the major items to consider:

  • 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.