Once you've made the decision to sell your home, it's time to think about what comes next. Throughout the process, you may find it beneficial to have a checklist to help guide you in some very important choices that you will be making in the coming months.
Interview Several REALTORS®
A REALTOR® is a person who you will enlist to help with the selling of your home. Just like no two homes are alike, no two owners are alike and each has different needs when it comes to real estate. The REALTOR® that you ultimately choose will have access to your home at any time and will be responsible for marketing it to potential buyers. As such, you should choose someone that you feel comfortable with and will do the best job for you. The only way to know which REALTOR® this will be is to speak with more than one, ask plenty of questions and get a feel for how they do business.
Get an Appraisal
When you list your home for sale, an appraisal will be helpful for a number of reasons. As the seller, you may wonder why you would need to have your home appraised, but here's why. As a seller, you do not want to overprice or under price your home. If you ask for more than the home is actually worth, lenders won't likely grant a loan even if you find a willing buyer. If you price your home too low, not only will you be taking away from your own profit, but potential buyers may wonder what's wrong with the home that it's priced so far below market value.
With an appraisal, you can list your home with the knowledge that you need to make sure the price is right. If you want to advertise the home as a bargain, sell it somewhat below the appraised value. Buyers will know they are getting instant equity in the home and lenders will see the investment as a good one.
As a final thought to choosing an asking price, note that your REALTOR® will require a commission and possibly other fees in connection with listing your home on the market. It's perfectly acceptable to ask the REALTOR® for a written summary of these fees, as opposed to just a mention of them in the contract, and how much they will be. With this information, you will know exactly how much money you will have left in your pocket from the sale of your home.
Decide How Quickly You Want to Sell
Believe it or not, your schedule could greatly impact the listing price. If you are in a hurry to sell, you may find that a competitive asking price will help you to get the cash you need much quicker. A price that reflects the higher end of a buyer's budget may take some time to sell, so consider these factors when pricing your home.
Make Time for Updates
Your REALTOR® will offer advice as to what needs updated, repaired or changed in order to maximize the potential of your home. When a buyer looks at a house, they are looking at the cost, needed repairs or upgrades, decor, etc. Once your REALTOR® does a walkthrough and explains what, if anything, needs updated, you will commit to an asking price and sign the listing agreement.
As a seller, you are probably already aware that potential buyers will make an offer that could be less than your actual asking price. Most REALTORS® will tell you that if you ask for 'X' amount of dollars, buyers will probably offer you 'X' amount instead. That's the name of the game, and you will need to decide whether or not your asking price is firm or negotiable. If an offer comes your way, you will always have the option of making a counteroffer or simply rejecting the deal altogether.
As a final thought to the negotiation process, keep in mind that buyers typically offer less than they are actually willing to pay initially. Most offers are time sensitive, which means you may have to make some quick decisions. Of course, your REALTOR® will be there to guide you through every step of the process and will likely offer an opinion as to whether or not an offer is fair in the current market.
Close the Deal
When the price is right and you agree to the terms, it's time to say goodbye to your former home and hello to a brand new life. Letting go is not always easy, but moving forward is a part of life. If you still live in the home, most contracts will require that you move within 30 days. If you no longer live in the home, most buyers will want to move in immediately.