Selling Your Home

Selling your home is a big decision. You probably spent more than a couple years there, and your family will have created many memories and neighborhood friends. Maybe you expected to stay put but circumstances have changed, or maybe you always knew you'd move sooner or later. Either way, it's always a little unsettling to pack-up, pull up roots, allow potential buyers to scrutinize your home, and manage all the details of the transaction while still providing for your family financially and emotionally.

Is this the right time to sell my house?

There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to sell your home. There are times when you may need to sell, such as when your job location or lifestyle change, or you have serious money problems. You may have outgrown your current home or are now able to afford a better place and are ready to move up. When the economic forecast is good, you may want to sell and take advantage of the strong market. Additionally, if you have inherited a home, it wouldn't make sense to continue making payments if it will be empty.

What is the most important factor in deciding to sell?

Be certain that you truly want to sell! If you are not sure you want to sell, you won't put forth the effort or negotiate in good faith. Beyond being a waste of time,  a buyer may be able force you to honor a signed contract even if you change your mind. Save yourself the trouble.

How do I determine the sales potential of my home?

The basic factors that influence include location, appearance of house, neighborhood, size, condition, view, percentage of owners to renters in your neighborhood (owners tend to have a pride in ownership), and crime rate.

What are the steps once I've decided to sell?

First, choose a REALTOR or an Agent and ask for a comparative market analysis. This analysis will help you determine a fair asking price--high enough so you get what your home is worth and realistic enough so you interest buyers. Second, look into the current mortgage rates. This will affect what potential buyers can afford, and what you can afford if you decide to move up.

Also, consider the time of year. The most popular time of year for families to move is in the summer, when children are out of school and the holidays are a long way off. For most sellers early spring is usually the best time to list and receive the maximum exposure.  We have found in our area that First of the year is also a good time.

Fix up the overall appearance of your home, with an eye for the little, easy things like cobwebs in the corner. (See below.)

How can I best work with my REALTOR or Agent?

Ask about and understand what marketing steps he or she will take and when they will occur. Define your expectations of the transaction and communicate them.

Disclose problems, keep your house in good condition and let the REALTOR or Agent take the lead with buyers.

Keep your house clean, the yard neat, and be ready at any time. Let your REALTOR or Agent show the house, but if you are at home during a showing, look neat and stay inconspicuous. You probably have less experience, may make buyers uncomfortable, and may want to avoid hearing any negative comments buyers may have. Finally, you must allow inspections, fix anything necessary, and show up at the closing.

What should I do to get my home ready for showing?

Start by taking a look from the street. This is the first impression potential buyers will get. Remember what you liked when you first saw the house. Have you improved on it or let anything go? Next, walk slowly through the interior. Eliminate odors, especially pet and smoke. Clean the windows and pull back the drapes to maximize light, bright rooms.

We've found a great house at a good price. Should we buy?

You have three basic options. You can wait until you sell your current home. With this option you risk losing the new home to another buyer, but you may find one later you like even more. Second, you may add a contingency clause to your offer, stating that you must sell your current house before closing on the new one. Third, if you are having trouble selling your current house, you may consider renting it out or refinancing it for cash to help you buy. The problems associated with this third option include finding and managing tenants, trying to sell the house with tenants, and closing costs and higher mortgage payments with a refinance.

What are the important factors when considering an offer?

Consider all of the following: price, terms, clauses, personal property requested, and the amount of the earnest money.

What can I do to help get potential buyers financed?

You may offer to pay points, which will reduce the rate and interest on the loan. If the buyers have adequate income but are a little short on cash, you may pay the non-recurring closing costs at the settlement. Another option, which should never be taken without fully understanding the risks, is to hold a second mortgage for buyers who cannot qualify for the full amount.

Are there any special considerations when selling a condo?

The most obvious difference is the maintenance fees. You may want to remind buyers that maintenance fees can often work out to less money than single-family home maintenance costs because condo fees are shared by all owners.