Selling your home can be chaotic and stressful, but it doesn't have to be. This article and infographic were designed to help you through the home selling process with ease. When you have a clear understanding of the process, the whole transaction will go much smoother.
STEP 1: Get Your House Ready to Sell
Before you can put your house on the market, you need to get it ready. This is a different process for every property, but the end goal should always be the same. You're trying to get your home to look like a staged model home that no one lives in. To simplify the process for you, we've boiled down the 3 most important parts of this process. Fix it, upgrade it, and make it shine! Check out the insights below to help you get your house ready to sell.
Most home buyers are looking for a home that doesn't have issues. When your home goes under contract, the buyer will most likely hire a professional inspector to inspect your home for damages and potential repairs.
When planning out your home selling strategy, start by identifying and completing any repairs on known issues with your property. We recommend hiring your own home inspector before listing your house. This is the best way to avoid unexpected surprises once you're in the contract phase of your home selling process.
Buyers tend to feel that they are overpaying for a home when it has repair issues. You'll typically net the most money on your home sale by addressing all of these issues before you find the right buyer.
Next, evaluate whether or not your home needs updating to solicit the highest and best offer. Look at other homes in your neighborhood online or with your REALTOR. If all the current or recently sold listings have granite counter tops, solid wood floors, and/or other current updates, it will be in your best interest to add those things to your home as well. Knowing your competition and offering a better product helps to net the most money when selling your home.
If most of the homes around you are offering current upgrades and your property does not, the chances are high that your home will be on the market for a while and eventually receive offers much lower than you prefer. Installing and performing upgrades before listing can be a smart investment. For the best results, meet with your REALTOR to get advice on which upgrades will have the greatest impact.
MAKE IT LOOK NEW AGAIN
Finally, you will want to make your home look new again. The goal is to take all the “wear and tear” out of your home. This usually involves touching up the paint, shampooing carpets, touching up baseboards, adding fresh mulch, trimming bushes, and deep cleaning every room in the house. Often, sellers find that they need to completely paint the interior of the home and put new floors in, as even everyday wear and tear can turn buyers off.
You will also want to take the “you” out of your home. Buyers emotionally attach to homes that they can visualize themselves living in. It's hard for them to do that when they see photos of the current homeowners family throughout the house.
Take all personal pictures and pack them in a box for your next residence. Take any items that are personal to you and pack them as well. Make your home as clean and neutral as possible so that home buyers can imagine their furniture and items in your home. If possible, hire a professional stager to help arrange your home for an amazing presentation to home buyers. Staging is becoming more common every year and some of the homes that you're competing with may be staged.
Check out our Ultimate Home Sellers Checklist below. It offers a HUGE list of items to keep you on track when getting your home ready to go on the market.
STEP 2: Get Your Home Listed for Sale
Once your home is ready to be listed for sale, your task list changes from physical labor to phone calls and emails. This part requires smart decision making and lots of online research. Take your time and use the three important steps below to ensure your success.
HIRE A REALTOR
Start by hiring a good REALTOR. Don’t just use a family member or someone in your neighborhood. Do your homework and find someone with a good online presence and strong reviews. Using someone based on anything but this can cost you thousands of dollars.
Here’s a good list of questions to ask before hiring a REALTOR.
- Do they hire professional photographers to take pictures and video?
- Do they offer an online 3D Tour? Ask for examples.
- Do they use a professional Showing Service or are they responsible for coordinating all of your showings?
- Do they use Secure Electronic Lockboxes or cheap combination lockboxes?
- How many homes do they sell each year, and how does that average compare for the area?
- Do they have online reviews and a strong online presence?
- Do they communicate in ways that you prefer? (email, text, social media, phone call, etc.)
- How much of their commission are they offering the buyer’s agent?
- Where are they advertising your listing?
- What digital marketing services do they offer that others do not?
These are just a few questions to ask. Your entire home selling experience will be greatly affected by the competency of the real estate agent that you hire. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you do your research and hire the right person for the job.
PRICE IT RIGHT
Next, you’ll want to think long and hard about the price that you want to list your home at. Get comparable sold properties from your REALTOR and ask their advice. The challenge is to find the right price that will sell your house fast, but not leave any money on the table.
Statistically, the longer your home is on the market, the lower offer you'll receive. It’s a common scenario for sellers to list their home for too much and then drop the price later, after few or no showings. The problem is that your best chance for a great offer is when you first list the property.
Once your house has been on the market for a couple of months, buyers will know that you are worn down and are more desperate to get rid of your home. The offers you receive months after listing will most likely be lower than offers that you would have received in the first week. Price your home right to attract those buyers who are waiting for the right home right now.
KEEP IT PRESENTABLE
Finally, make sure you keep your home presentable and ready for showings. I’ve shown many homes to home buyers over the years. I am constantly surprised at how many homes are dirty and not ready to be shown when I get there. Home usually look different in person than they do online.
Above all, make sure your home smells good and is clean. This is non-negotiable. In addition, try to set the home up for the showing by opening blinds and curtains in strategic areas to allow the natural light in and highlight the best views. Also, leave some lamps and lights on so that the home buyers don’t see your home in dim light. When a buyer walks in the front door they should be greeted by a light, bright, cheery home.
Check out our 20 Step Checklist to Prepare Your Home for Real Estate Photos below. It will help you have your home in photo ready condition when the photographer arrives.
STEP 3: Get Your Home Sold
Once you have put your home on the market and have launched it out there for the whole world to see, it's time to get it sold. When you're under contract it can feel as though most of the work is done, but that's not true. There is still quite a bit of work to do. This section will help prepare you for the steps remaining to get your home sold and to finish the transaction with success.
EXECUTE A SALES CONTRACT
Once your house is listed and you have done all of the right things to get it sold, you will inevitably start receiving offers from buyers. It's important to wait for the right offer. Home selling rookies may be tempted to get excited about the first offer that comes along. It can cause problems if they are only focusing on the offer price.
The down payment amount, loan type, and pre-approval letter are very important parts of the offer as well. Any seasoned REALTOR has had deals fall apart. When buyers do not have much cash in the bank and are barely able to qualify for a loan, it can greatly increase the chances of a deal falling apart. Knowing what to look for in an offer is key to getting your home sold without any crazy surprises. If you have the option to wait for a better contract from a buyer offering a decent down payment and who can pay for their owning closing costs, your chances of closing the deal are much higher.
Take these things into consideration when you are receiving contracts on your home. The Colorado Sales Contract that most Colorado REALTORS use is written to protect the buyer much more than the seller. These contracts can fall apart very easily. A good seasoned REALTOR will notice any red flags in an offer and point them out to you right away. Their experience can save you a lot of time and money when executing a sales contract.
STAY ON TRACK
Once you have an executed sales contract, you’ll want to keep the communication going between you, the title company and/or law office, your real estate agent, and anyone else involved in the transaction. Make sure that your REALTOR is checking in with the buyer’s agent and lender on a regular basis. Most REALTORS are good about this, but some are not. It takes a group of people to successfully close a real estate transaction. Don't be quick to assume that everyone is on track.
Make sure to convey to everyone that you are anxious for information and that you are going to be contacting them regularly. I’ve seen too many deals where agents left a deal alone expecting the mortgage lender to be doing their job, only to find out days before closing that deal needs to be extended, or that the deal is dead in the water. By check in often and stay on top of everyone, you'll greatly decrease that chance of any unexpected surprises right before closing.
CLOSE THE DEAL!
Finally, once the deal has a "clear-to-close" from the lender, schedule the closing with the title company. If you want to get your funds on the same day, try to schedule the closing in the morning so that the wire transfer has time to make it to your bank. This is very important for people on the west coast as the wire cut off time is 6:00 pm eastern time. Also, Fridays are usually the most hectic at the title companies because most buyers want to close on Friday. If you can schedule Monday through Thursday, your chance of not having any scheduling issues are higher.
Bring your photo ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.) to closing, along with all the keys, garage door openers, appliance documentation (if applicable), repairs receipts, and any other items relevant to the transaction. As the seller, your paperwork will be minimal and you should be finished within minutes. Once the buyers sign their documents, the title company will forward the docs to the lender and if everything was done properly the loan will fund within a couple of hours and you will receive the funds from the closing.
Once you receive your closing funds, you'll feel a great sense of relief. The last step is to CELEBRATE!
Hi! I'm Andrew Fortune, the founder of Great Colorado Homes and the creator of much of the content on this website. Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Please feel free to share this article with someone who might benefit from it. I appreciate your time here on this site and am always open to suggestions and ideas from our readers. Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.
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