Selling a home can seem like a daunting process. Especially if you haven’t done it before. There are many facets to the process and enlisting a good Realtor is a very important piece of the puzzle. I help people list their homes all the time and for many it’s their first time. Here is a detailed overview of the process of selling your home.
There are three factors in which your home will be judged; location, condition and price. Location is fixed, after you purchase the property you can’t do much about it. An appropriate price can make up for deficiencies in the location and condition. Condition is what you, as a seller has most control over. The question you should be asking yourself as you prepare your house for the market is “how will my house compare with others in this neighborhood and price range?”. If your home compares well, you will be rewarded by your home appealing to more buyers and this will result in a quicker sale and more money. Your home needs to have finishes that appeal to buyers and be in really good showing condition. This article on when to upgrade may be of help to you as you consider some last minute upgrades to your home. Here are some tips on getting your home ready to sell. Your Realtor will be able to give you advice as to what needs to be done. Here is an article on the top 5 ways to maximize value that you may be interested in reading. Be sure to have the house ready for photos. The photos posted represent the initial showing for all potential buyers. If the house doesn’t look good in the photos many buyers won’t take a look in person.
Another part of the preparation process is to review and sign the listing paperwork prepared by your Realtor. Filling out a Sellers Property Disclosure is part of this process. In Colorado there is a standard form which helps in this process. My advice as you fill out this form is to be through and clear in your disclosure. Don’t leave the buyer asking for more information. If you indicated that you have had a past roof leak give all the information you have; when it happened and how it was fixed. In my experience, the more information on the disclosure, the more confidence the buyers have in the sellers and the transaction. This is also a good time to gather any documents that would supplement the disclosure. You will be asked for these in the buy/sell contract so it would be good to start gathering anything that is of material fact about the house (roof warranty, survey, past inspection, insurance claim, etc.)
In order for your house to sell it must make an emotional connection with a buyer. In order to make an emotional connection with a buyer your house must be a clean and inviting environment. They must be able to picture themselves living there. Here are a few tips for creating a successful showing.
- Leave it to the buyers – Many Sellers think that they can be of help during a showing, answering questions or giving a tour. This is what the buyers agent is for. Sellers get in the way and buyers tend to rush through and showing and are not able to talk openly about the home.
- Light and Bright – It’s best if the house shows brightly. This means that the blinds are open, interior doors are open and many of the lights are on.
- Neat and Clean – You only have one shot to make a first impression so make sure that the house looks as good as possible as you leave each morning.
- The Extra’s – You may want to go the extra mile and put out refreshments and play some tasteful music. These are not required and especially with the music should be done with discretion. When there is music being played I usually turn it down to see what noises the music is covering up.
If all of the above goes well you can expect an offer! In most cases the buyer has their own agent who represents them and will prepare and deliver the offer to your agent. Your agent will then meet with you to discuss the merits of the offer. Some of the criteria your agent will help you think through are: price, closing date, financing terms and qualification, inclusions, inspection dates and additional provisions.
If you are lucky enough to get multiple offers you will want to read this article. In a normal situation you will have one offer who will submit an offer that isn’t exactly what you are offering. Your agent will then help you formulate a negotiating strategy and prepare a counterproposal to send to the buyers. This process continues until the buyers and sellers reach an agreement or it doesn’t come together and you wait for a new buyer.
From Contract to Closing
Finding a buyer and agreeing to an acceptable price and terms with a buyer is one of the high points of a real estate transaction. No more daily showings, no more uncertainty, making plans for the future, it’s exciting stuff. But then comes the realization that you are only part way to the finish line. There is still work to be done. This is a checklist of items that the seller is responsible for between contract and closing.
Order Title Commitment – In Colorado the seller is responsible to providing the buyer a title insurance policy in conjunction with a real estate purchase. The first step of this process is ordering the title commitment. The listing agent usually handles this for the seller. This is also a great time to provide to the title officer the information on your existing loans which will need to be paid off at the closing.
Homeowners Association Documents – As per the Colorado approved real estate contract the seller will provide the buyer a copy of the relevant HOA documents. This shall include bylaws, rules and regulations, financial documents, minutes from the most recent meetings. Again, this is something that the listing agent usually tries to supply (at least I do) but sometimes the information is embedded in a members only website and the Realtor might need help with this.
Gather Paperwork – The buyer will want to have any relevant documentation regarding the home. In conjunction with the disclosure requirements the seller must supply the buyer any prior inspections or reports that give insight to the condition of the home. This would also be a good time to gather any manuals and warranties and set them aside before your packing gets into full gear.
Prepare for Inspection – Just because most of the showing activity has subsided it doesn’t mean that you are off the hook for keeping the home looking good. I would argue that the inspection is your most important showing and the house should be prepared as well as possible. In addition to the general cleanliness here are a few tips to help the inspection. Replace the furnace filter and clean the humidifier filter if you have one. Move boxes and or furniture away from access points for plumbing, heating and electrical. It is common that a buyer will perform a radon test and the protocol for a radon test is that the house will be closed up for 12 hours prior to closing as well as 48 hours throughout the test. However, it is a really good idea to “air out” the lowest level of the home prior to the closed house conditions.
Make Your Arrangements – Start making arrangements for moving, storage, packing and cleaning. Consult with your Realtor so that you are sure that you understand the timing of when you need to be out and cleaned. After the inspection it is also a good idea to contact the utility companies to let them know about an upcoming transfer in service. Once the deal is rock solid, put in your change of address request to the postal service.
Inspection Items – Once the inspection has been done and the agreements surrounding the inspection has been made, some work will need to be done. My advice here is to get the work done as soon as possible, don’t cut corners and follow the letter of the agreement to a “t”. The listing agent is there to help you get this work done if you need help.
Clean and Closing – The days surrounding closing will be busy days. You will need to pack, clean and supervise work maybe at two locations. My advice regarding how you leave the home is based on two things. Look at the contract and make sure you are doing the minimum required and then consult the Golden Rule. How would you really like a home to be left for you? When the house is really left in good shape and the buyers feel that they are being treated well, the closing is much easier for all involved.
Many of the traditional closing costs like appraisal, discount points, inspection fees are handled by the buyer but here are the costs that the seller is responsible for.
Commissions – The commission fee that you agree to with your agent when you sign the listing papers includes fees for both the listing agent and buyers agent.
Title Insurance – Sellers in Colorado customarily pay for the title insurance policy that insures that the property is transferred free and clear. The fees vary on sales price but a typical fee for a $400,000 sale is around $1,450.
Paying off and Settling up – At closing the title company will make sure that all of the financial obligations of the seller regarding the house are settled. This means paying off any loans or liens and prorating the taxes (don’t forget they are paid in arrears) and HOA fees.
This list is based on my experience and is from the sellers perspective for a sale in Colorado. If you hire a good listing agent, many of these items will happen seamlessly and you will be left to focus on getting your stuff packed and ready to go. I have been a Realtor based in Boulder Colorado since 1991 and I love doing those small things that make it easier for you. When you are ready to list, give me a call – Neil Kearney 303-818-4055