The main differences for you may be whether you hire a real estate lawyer and whether buyers submit intent offers prior to executing a purchase contract, but the basic procedures remain the same.
Here are the steps for selling a home:
1) Choose a Listing Agent
- A listing agent will represent you and have a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests.
- Interview agents and meet with at least three neighborhood specialists.
- Negotiate your listing agreement, including term.
2) Get Home Ready for Sale
- Prepare your home for sale by cleaning, decluttering and improving curb appeal.
- Hire a professional stager to stage your home, or ask your real estate agent for help in staging.
- Make repairs before selling.
- Protect your privacy while your home is on the market.
- If you're selling a home where pets live, make alternate plans for your pets.
3) Figure Out How Much Your Home is Worth
- A seller's biggest mistake is to overprice.
- Price your home in line with sold homes identified in a comparative market analysis report.
- Consider whether your market is hot, cold or neutral, and price according to the market temperature.
4) Market Your Home
- You or your agent should identify the sizzling selling points and choose advertising words to sell.
- Approve your agent's marketing campaign or figure out how to advertise your house for sale yourself.
- Follow the top 10 home marketing tips for selling your home.
- Hire a virtual tour company to take quality photographs and put a 360-degree virtual tour online.
- Tweak marketing to increase traffic and showings.
- Post internet listings online. Your agent or you should saturate the internet with photographs and description of your home.
5) Show Your Home
- If you're wondering about lockbox vs. appointments, you'll get more showings if you let agents use a lockbox.
- Your home will show better if you are selling in spring than selling in winter.
- Selling during the holidays will likely result in a lower sales price, regardless of what agents tell you.
- Follow the top 10 home showing tips. You've got only one chance -- and sometimes only 3 seconds -- to make a good first impression.
- Prepare for an open house and use the approach sparingly.
- Ask for buyer feedback so you can adjust your price, condition or marketing campaigns accordingly.
6) Receive Purchase Offers and Negotiate
- Make certain that buyers use the right form for writing a purchase offer.
- Even if you receive a lowball offer, negotiate by issuing a counter offer. Don't ignore offers.
- Ask for a kickout clause or first right of refusal if the buyer's offer is contingent on selling a home.
- Consider making a counter offer contingent on buying a home, if market conditions warrant.
- Don't be afraid to make a full-price counter offer, if you are priced competitively.
- If you are priced right, prepare yourself for multiple offers.
7) Open Escrow / Order Title
- Your agent or transaction coordinator will open escrow and order a title policy.
- Write down the contact information for the closing agent.
- Select a date to close based on when the buyer's loan will fund.
- Ask for a receipt for the buyer's earnest money deposit.
8) Schedule Appraiser Appointment
- Clean the house the day before the appraiser arrives.
- If you receive a low appraisal, ask your agent about alternatives.
- You are not entitled to receive a copy of the appraisal because you did not pay for it.
- If the buyer decides to cancel the contract based on an appraisal, ask your agent or lawyer about your rights.
9) Cooperate with Home Inspection
- Get ready for the home inspector.
- Ask your agent to provide you with a home inspection checklist so you will know which items an inspector will want to see.
- Expect that the inspector will want access for an attic inspection and will look for a wet basement; prepare those areas for inspection.
- Prepare as well for the final walk-through inspection.
10) Obtain Seller-Required Inspections
- If your contract calls for a roof certification, hire a reputable company to conduct the inspection.
- States that allow for termite / pest inspections make these reports public records.
- The fees for all inspection reports, even if seller-mandated, are negotiable.
- If your home was built before 1950, a sewer inspection might call for a new sewer line, but trenchless sewers are less expensive to install.
11) Delivery Seller Disclosures
- All homes in the US are subject to lead-based paint disclosures.
- If you are aware of material facts, disclose them.
- Your title company should provide CC&Rs, but if you belong to a homeowner association, additional documentation will be required.
12) Negotiate Request for Repair
- Ordinarily, sellers do not need to accept a buyer's request for repair; however, buyers can generally then cancel.
- You are entitled to a copy of the home inspection report, if the buyers request repairs.
- If you do not choose to make repairs, a buyer might instead accept a closing cost credit.
13) Ask Buyer to Release Contingencies
- In California, for example, contracts default to 17 days, at which time, the buyer must release contingencies.
- If you do not demand a release, buyers are not obligated to provide it.
- If buyers do not provide a release, in CA, sellers have the right to cancel.
14) Sign Title / Escrow Documents
- In southern California, you will sign escrow documents shortly after opening escrow.
- In northern California, you will sign escrow documents near closing.
- Bring a valid picture ID.
15) Close Escrow
- Your property deed, reconveyance and deed of trust will record in the public records.
- Title will notify you and your agent when it records.
- Depending on buyer's possession rights specified in the contract, you may be required to move on the day it closes.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.