Deciding to Sell Your Home

Deciding to sell your home or second home can be difficult decision. It is often a process that involves varying emotions. As you work your way through it, you should consider your needs and hopes for selling. What is it that you are hoping to accomplish? Clarifying your motivations will help you attain purpose and have a more successful and enjoyable selling experience.

Your motivations 

Has your family outgrown your current home? Do you want your kids in a better school district? Did your neighborhood not mature as you had hoped? Do you need a shorter commute? Are you moving to another city or state? Did your financial position recently change?

While your need to sell might seem evident, if you think about it you may have additional underlying motivations as well. These are also important to discuss with your agent. The better we understand what is driving your decision the better we can help you achieve your goals. It is also important to consider the impact this decision will have on your lifestyle and your future.

Your Finances

You also will need to consider you current financial situation. What impact will selling and potentially purchasing another home have on financial security and future goals? We provide an upfront and detailed layout of all the cost involved. We also can help you with potential tax and estate planning strategies. Our goal is to not just to help you save money today but also to help you structure your investment for a better tomorrow.

Your Timeline

You also should consider your timeline for selling. Do you have a contingency contract on a home you are purchasing? Do you need to sell quickly or are waiting for that perfect offer? We can review the current market conditions to help you decide when would be the most appropriate time for you to sell. We can also discuss the financial implications of moving up or down in the same market and how future market conditions and rates could be more or less favorable.

Market Trends

We provide the most accurate and up to date information available to help you make an informed decision regarding when to sell. While it is true that no one has a crystal ball, we do everything possible to help you take the stay in front of national and local trends. This way you can take the out guesswork out of the equation and know when to sell with confidence.

If you have questions regarding the future sale of your home, please contact us.

Deciding on a Price for Your Home

Deciding where to price your home is a more difficult decision than most sellers think, and it is not one that you should take lightly. If you price you home too high it will probably stay on the market longer than it should. Some sellers think this is okay because they are in no rush to sell their home. Everyone wants to sell their home for the most that they can. However, the best price is not solely determined by the initial list price.

Many studies have shown homes that sit on the market often sell for less. In today’s market, a buyer can easily see price changes and how many days your home has been on the market. Homes that sit on the market too long are less attractive because of buyer perception. There must be something wrong with it. They must be asking too much.  It is simply human nature to question things that others pass up on.

The longer your home sits on the market, the lower the chances of you getting a respectable offer. Buyer activity usually peaks within the first 60 days, and with no change tends to further diminish every 30 days thereafter. Most experts agree for the best price, you should try to price your home to sell within the first 100 days.

It is also important to remember buyers do not have the same emotional attachment to your home as you do. They are indifferent to any sentimental value you have for your home. Some sellers fall into the trap of overestimating the value of their property because of how they feel about it. A professional can help you see your home through the eyes of a potential buyer and help you set a fair and objective price for your home.

You also need accurate data. You should be very wary of some of the popular national real estate websites. The information they provide is often inaccurate. Their valuations are often based on what homes in the area list for. They also use comparable properties that a licensed appraiser or real estate agent might negate. You need verified data from the most comparable homes to the one you want to sell.

Your pricing decision should also be based on what comparable homes actually sold for. Basing you price solely on what other sellers are asking can set an unrealistic expectation. It also can noticeably diminish your marketing efforts. The old adage is the home that sells for the best price is the one that gets shown regularly.

One last thing to consider is the strategy for defending your price. Does your home or property offer additional value in comparison to other homes on the market? Is your home priced well enough to give the perception of continued buyer traffic? Your agent can offer guidance on what strategies might best suit your property and needs.

If you have questions about pricing or would like to learn more about how to maximize the proceeds from the sale of your home, please contact us.

What Does a Prequalified Buyer Really Mean?

If you own a home, then you probably have been through this process, but what does a prequalified buyer actually mean for a seller? A prequalification is a basic screening for a potential borrower. It is not a formal mortgage application. However, it can help rule out some would be buyers who cannot purchase your home due to their credit, income, or debt.

A prequalified buyer means a licensed mortgage officer has reviewed the borrower’s credit for red flags and verified the borrower has met minimum score requirements. They also use the debt listed on the borrower’s credit report and annual income to determine if they meet the established debt ratios for a specific mortgage program, rate, and terms. These are what determine how much they can potentially borrow.

A prequalification is great first step, but it is no guarantee. Sometimes a borrower might initially include overtime or other income that a lender will not count. Sometimes they do not provide a full disclosure because they do not understand why a certain detail is relevant. The mortgage officer or underwriter might uncover a concern during the more formal mortgage application that did not come up at prequalification.

As a seller, things can happen that are out of you or your agent’s control. That said, requiring a prequalification letter from a reputable lender is a good way to gauge a borrower’s ability to close the loan. If you are considering a cash deal, you should obtain a verification of funds.

If you have a question regarding a prospective buyer’s ability to close or other questions about selling your home, please contact us.

Hiring a Home Inspector

If you unsure about the condition of part or all your property, you might want to consider hiring a home inspector or appropriate professional to check for any necessary repairs. These might include HVAC, plumbing, roof, septic, well, foundation, pool, ect. Even if it is something you do not want to fix it, you can disclose to would be buyers.

Most buyers are going to require an inspection as part of the contract. Most of the companies who perform these inspections are extremely thorough. If something has gone bad or is on its way out, chances are they are going to find it. Remember you are also required by law to disclose certain conditions of the property as outlined in the seller disclosures.

If their home inspector finds an issue you could or should have been aware of, it may plant a seed of doubt in a buyer’s mind. Nothing is worse than looking like you may have tried to hide something. I wonder what else they are not telling us. If they didn’t take care of ______ what other maintenance should we be worried about? An undisclosed issue might also give a buyer an easy out of the contract if they were already looking for one.

Not all repairs and upgrades offer the same perceived value to a potential buyer. In some cases, it might be better to offer a seller credit or concession. If you want to know what your options are for a prospective repair or upgrade, please contact us.

Preparing Your Home to Sell

If you want to sell your home for top dollar, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances. Some sellers believe prospective buyers should be able to look past minor repairs or even an unkept home. In a way, they do have point. Prospective buyers are looking a used home.

However, most buyers want to purchase a home they feel has been well cared for. Think about what other products you might consider purchasing pre-owned or refurbished. Would you buy a car that is dirty and in need of maintenance? Would you buy a refurbished phone with a scratched screen?

Maybe you would … if what? If it was a good deal, right? Selling your home is no different. The homes that sell for most are typically the ones that look the best. These a few simple and inexpensive steps you can take to increase your chances of getting the most for your home.

Curb Appeal

This is your opportunity to make a good first impression on would be buyers. Take a moment to assess your home’s curb appeal. Does your porch or entry way need a touchup or repainting? Perhaps your landscaping could use some updating. Fresh mulch and flowers can go a long way.

Try to remove any eye sores from your yard. If it does not look good to you, it probably does not appeal to many buyers either. Also do not forget about the backyard. It is one of the last places buyers look, but it can a great place to make a lasting impression.

Repairs

You should also consider small upgrades and repairs. Simple things such as paint touchups, window treatments, or replacing worn out hardware can make significant difference in the overall appeal of your home. If buyers see your attention the little things, it leaves the impression that your home has been well cared for.  Many buyers will discount or even exclude homes they feel should have done more.

For more costly upgrades or repairs, you should consult with a professional. Some repairs and upgrades add more value than others. You probably do not want to make an upgrade that cost $5,000 if it only adds $3,500 of value to your home. In such case, a seller credit or concession might be more appropriate.

Staging and Cleanliness

There is no secret as to why model homes look immaculate. It helps the builder sell more homes. For people who live in the home they are trying to sell, this might seem unrealistic. But you should do your very best to keep your home clean and especially clutter free. Try to pay attention to the details because your equity may depend on it.

Take the time to clear the kitchen countertops. Clean up any dog/hair and make sure there are no unwanted smells. The kid’s rooms should be picked up. The garage should be organized. You could also put out some flower or light a scented candle.

You are probably proud of your family. But it you have a more than a few pictures of them, you might want to store some of them while you are trying to sell. Seeing your pictures will only remind prospective buyers whose home this is. Instead we want them to visualize your home as their own.

It is also advised that you are not present during showings. This will help buyers feel more comfortable discussing your home with their agent. If you do happen to see a prospective buyer in passing, try to be polite but do not get drawn into answering questions. Simply ask them to refer any questions to your agent.

If you have more questions about how to get the most for your home, please contact us.

Accepting an Offer on Your Home

It may sound like a no brainer – the higher price is the better offer. However, there are many factors to take into account when considering offers. Focusing entirely on price is one of the most difficult stumbling blocks for sellers overcome.

Terms and conditions can play a major role is gauging the probability of a buyer actually closing. Is the sale contingent on the sale of another property? Does a buyer need more than 60 days to close, and why? Does the buyer require specific repairs? How much of a deposit did or can they put down? We are here to explain and help you evaluate all the terms and conditions before you accept any offer.

Once both parties agree and sign off on pricing and all terms a contract is considered executed. In most states an escrow deposit also must be made for the contract to be considered binding. The escrow is often held by the title agent designated in the contract until all conditions of the contract are met. At closing, the escrow will usually be applied toward the purchase but in some cases a check may be issued to the buyer.

Upon accepting an offer, we will provide you with a timeline for every stage of the process up to closing. It is very important that you stay on top of this schedule. This will encourage better cooperation from the buyer and ensure neither you nor the buyer is in breach of the contract. Although we keep meticulous records of everything, it is also advised that keep a written record of everything from this point going forward.

If you have more questions about considering an offer or the process from offer to closing, please contact us.

Contingencies, Inspections, and Appraisal

A contingency is a condition of the contract that must be met or time expired in order to keep the contract binding. Some of the more common contingencies include financing, appraisal, inspections, and/or the sale or closing of a buyer’s current home. For a land sale, buyers may also require soil percolation, soil compaction, and/or well testing.

Unless otherwise specified in the contract, buyers are responsible for paying for the appraisal and all required testing. You should try to be flexible and accommodate for these appointments. You are not required to be present as in most cases the buyer’s agent and/or we will be present.

If the contract has a financing contingency, the property will also need to be appraised. Even if you recently had your home appraised, almost all lending institutions will require an appraisal ordered by their process. On commercial properties, a lender may also require additional testing prior to funding such as soil or environmental testing.

Most homebuyers will make their purchase contingent on a home inspection. This is usually done by a licensed inspector but not always. Sometimes buyers will have multiple inspections if they want an opinion on something specific such as HVAC, plumbing, termites, or a pool. Typically a home inspection contingency is to be completed within the first week or two after the contract is accepted.

If the buyer is not satisfied with the inspection or appraisal, they may request a renegotiation of the contract. If this happens, you really need to stay objective. If an inspector finds an issue, you are now legally required to disclose it to any future buyers. If the appraisal comes back low, we could try to argue the appraisal though it is rare for an appraiser change their figure. Also if the appraisal is initially lower than the offer, the buyer could still potentially walk.

Hopefully you will never find yourself in this situation, but if you do we will be there to offer you sound and practical advice to help you progress towards a closing.

Preparing for Your Home Closing

Closing is the final step in the process of selling your home. This is where the official transfer of ownership and possession usually take place. You will hand over your keys and the closing agent will pass them on to the new owners.

Walk Through

Typically a day prior or sometimes the day of closing, it is customary for the buyers to do a final walk through. This is when they the buyer checks off on any items to be addressed and makes sure the home is in a similar condition as when they agreed to purchase the property. If anything was damaged during your move, please do what is necessary so this does not present an issue in the last hours before closing.

Utilities

You also need to remember to cancel or transfer all of your utilities and home services. Most of these will now allow you schedule your cancellation days in advance. If for some reason you are concerned they closing might be delayed, you can wait until the buyers have a clear to close from their lender. This means their loan has passed the underwriting phase and their loan is ready for funds to be sent to the closing agent.

Closing     

You will need your driver’s license and a second form of ID just in case. You will need a cashier’s check if any funds are required to close. You may be allowed to write a personal check for smaller amounts. Please also remember to bring all of your keys, garage door openers, ect.

Although it is rare this late in the process, even if we have done everything right to prevent it, sometimes hiccups do happen. Perhaps the buyer’s loan gets delayed or something breaks during the move. We have seen it all and will be right there with you to handle any last minute issues in the most efficient and stress free manner possible.

A day or two prior to closing we should receive a preliminary settlement statement. This will outline all of the financial aspects of the transaction. Prior to closing we will verify everything is correct and make any corrections where necessary. At closing, the closing agent will go through the entire settlement package with you.

At this point there should be no surprises. We should essentially be verifying the preliminary settlement statement and going through all the appropriate disclosures. However, the closing agent will explain anything you need in further detail, and of course we will be right there as well. When complete, the closing agent will either present you with a check or wire any proceeds from the sale to your account.

If you have questions or are interested in putting your home on the market, please contact us.