The Selling Process

The Common Steps For Selling Your Home

1. Preparing Your Home for Sale
Well before you’re ready to plant that “For Sale” sign in your front yard, there is work to be done to prepare your home for sale.  Remember how keen your eye was to every small detail and defect in the houses you saw as a buyer? Start making the obvious repairs today, even if you don’t plan to sell for a while.  On the outside focus on your home’s curb appeal.  A home with a tidy front yard, well-painted trim, clean and neat driveway, and welcoming front walkway will be attractive to buyers.  On the inside, focus any improvements on the kitchen and master bed and bath. If you’re making these improvements shortly before selling the house, consider painting and decorating the rooms in neutral colors, the most appealing choice to the greatest number of potential buyers.  However, don't go for major renovations at this time because you won't recoup your outlay.   Give your home a thorough cleaning. Clean the drapes, carpets, and furniture.  If necessary replace carpeting and/or window treatments.  Make sure you have no lingering pet or smoke odors.  If you haven't already done so, toss the clutter, and arrange furniture so buyers can easily move about your house. Try as much as possible to have your home look as if “no one lives there.”

2. Hiring a Real Estate Professional 
When selecting the right real estate professional, you’ll want to choose an experienced person who has a history of successfully closing sales in different situations or under difficult types of conditions.  Attracting a buyer is only part of the sales process.  It’s imperative to have a professional who can successfully navigate your home through the close of escrow while calmly handling any unexpected problems.  Your professional should provide you with a thorough analysis your home’s value within the current market.  It’s important you’re able trust your professional to recommend a selling price that will enable your home to sell quickly at its highest value.  Understand your professional’s marketing plan, and how they plan to draw buyers into your home.  Find out if they’re licensed as an agent or broker and understand the difference.  If they’re an agent ask them which broker they work for and get to know that person. Verify their license with the CA DRE
3. Pricing Your Home
There are a number of factors that will affect the price and ultimately the success of your home sale. These include: location of the home, interest rates, economic conditions, time of year, condition of the home, marketing of the home, terms of the sale and accessibility to the home.  Some of these are not within your control, such as the location of your home, interest rates, and economic conditions.  Yet others are: condition, cleanliness, accessibility, and marketing strategy are within your control.  Your real estate professional will discuss these with you, study the local market, research comparable properties, consider current market conditions, provide a comprehensive analysis and recommended selling price.  Pricing is the most important factor in selling your home.  Pricing your home correctly will make the difference in whether a house is purchased quickly or languishes on the market. 

4. Marketing Your Home
Products that sell well usually have a good marketing strategy. The same should hold true for your home.  In addition to putting a sign in the yard and your home in the MLS your real estate professional should have a defined marketing plan to expose your home to as many people as possible.  Make sure you understand exactly what your agent’s going to do.
5. Showing Your Home
When a potential buyer arrives for a showing appointment or “open house” you’ll want to make sure that your home is ready, clean, odor free, and welcoming.  Make sure that your home is as light and bright as possible.  Aim to be away from home during a showing or open house, but if you happen to be home when the potential buyers arrive, greet them at the door then politely excuse yourself. Make yourself scarce or go take a walk. If you have pets, find a safe place to keep them during a house showing: in the garage, in the basement or at a friend’s house.  It’s easier for a buyer to picture himself or herself living in the house when you’re not there. This is your home’s time to shine. 

6. Receiving & Responding to Offers
Depending on market conditions, you may receive one or more offers for your property from interested buyers. Each offer will include the proposed offer price, closing date, financing terms, and contingencies that may include an appraisal or sale of the buyers’ current home.  At this point your real estate professional will help you sort through the variables to determine whether you should accept, counter-offer, or reject the offer.

7. Opening Escrow
Once you have accepted an offer to buy your house, an escrow is opened and a flurry of activity begins.  Simply put, the purpose of escrow is to provide a safe place for the transaction of the buyer’s money to swap hands with the seller’s property deed.  During escrow they’ll be many documents and disclosures for you to complete and sign.  Your real estate professional will review these with you.  As this process unfolds you’ll need to keep your house available to the buyer’s housing inspector, a termite inspector, an appraiser and possibly other buyer inspectors.  During the escrow process try to keep your home in show condition. Remember, the deal has not yet closed, and if the buyer does not go through with the purchase, it will mean showing your home again to potential buyers. 

8. Closing Escrow
During the last few days of your escrow period the buyer will have an opportunity to perform one last walkthrough of the house to check that everything has been maintained, and if you had agreed to do so, any additional work requested after inspection is completed.  Buyers will provide the balance of their down payment into escrow, the buyer’s loan company will fund into escrow and the escrow offer will pay off your existing loan and record the property deed into the buyer’s name.  You the seller will receive the balance of your home’s proceeds less your closing costs.  Escrow will provide you with an accounting of your transaction called the settlement or closing statement.  (Make sure you keep a copy of this for your tax records!).  Now you can finalize your own move and make sure you’ve notified your utility companies to close or transfer your accounts. Congratulations, you’ve sold your home!


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