(This list is compiled by the author from their experience and is not legal advice on selling a home)
Long before you ever “pull the trigger” on selling your home, there are some very important steps to consider. Motivation is at the top of the list. If you don’t know why you want to sell your house or set expectations for its sale, the stage for failure is already set. Once you have clearly outlined your reasons for selling the home as well as the goals you have set for after the sale you can begin working through the following list.
- Home Inspection: Whether you hire an outside professional or perform the household inspection yourself is up to you. A certified, licensed inspector is likely going to find things you would have never thought of and going this route has its pro’s and con’s. On the positive side, you will have a much better idea what it is going to take to get your house into prime selling condition. On the downside, once you have a home inspection done by a professional, chances are you will need to disclose those results to any future buyer. If you don’t plan to remedy certain items on the inspection it can create a situation in which the buyer(s) want to negotiate a lower selling price or not submit a bid at all. At any rate, a thorough observation of your home is warranted and it is in the seller’s best interest to present the best home possible to the market.
- Repairs: If you have lived in your home for any length of time you know there are areas that need more attention than you have been able to provide. These can range from something as simple as cracked light switch covers to more substantial repairs such as cracks in sheet rock or foundations. The handier you are, the more of these repairs you can choose to do yourself which will definitely save money. On the other hand, professional repairs are often much more reliable and appealing to the eye. The homeowner must weigh the cost/benefit of which repairs to complete and then choosing who does the repairs.
- Cleanliness: Common sense should prevail here. A clean, odor free home is going to sell much better than a cluttered, smelly mess. From the day the house is put on the market to the day of closing, make sure to keep the home in as clean a state as possible.
- Ask for opinions: Once you have accomplished the above listed items, invite a few people you trust to come over to look over your home. They may point out things you had not originally considered. Take note of their comments and thank them for their input. You can decide later if you want to address the issues they brought up.
- Hire a Realtor: We have all seen “For Sale by Owner” signs in yards, but this is not a recommended practice. Yes, realtors can wield some pretty hefty commissions, but for the most part there is good reason for it. When it comes to selling a home, marketing is a key factor and most Real Estate Agents have access to very powerful tools in this area. Visit with one or more realtors to get their opinion on the value of your home and what services they provide.
- Real Estate Attorney: This is not always necessary, but it can be an important asset. You must consider that a real estate agent is not a real estate attorney and they do not possess legal tools that may be necessary in the process of a home sale. In some situations an agent cannot provide valuable information or advice that an attorney can.
- Patience: Once the house goes on the market it is important to remain at peace with your decision to sell. Chances are you will encounter buyers who are not as in love with your home as you have been and their feedback could be received negatively. Try to remain objective when receiving feedback from potential buyers and take criticism of your home with a steady mind. If the house sells fast, great! If it remains on the market longer than you expected it can be difficult to keep a positive outlook on the process. This is why step one is SO important. Remember the goals you set for after the sale and know that it will happen in due time.
- Receiving Offers: Some offers can be frustratingly low, but others can be excitedly high. Nobody can tell you the honesty behind any offer, but carefully consider each one on its own merit. Once you make a decision to accept an offer, remain content that you made the right choice in the framework you had to choose from.
- Don’t Count Your Chickens: Once you have accepted an offer and all parties have signed a contract you may want to breathe a sigh of relief, but many home sellers would caution you that the deal is not done until it has officially closed. Buyers can be a fickle bunch and there are a variety of reasons they often pull out of a transaction before closing, even the very day before. It is just such a situation in which a good realtor and attorney can be good company. They can be your team in determining what it the best course of action if the good deal is going bad.
- Closing: You’ve done it, your house is sold! Celebrate all the hard work you put into the process and thank those who helped you along the way. Remember step 1? Put it in motion.