Guideline for what to expect when selling your home

The first step to successfully selling your home is finding a Realtor that's familiar with your area to help you get your home staged and ready to show. Many Realtors will assess your home for you and provide you with a list of things to do so it shows better, at no additional cost. Basically, if it's not something you use on a regular basis, pack it up and take it to a storage facility. There are professional "stagers" out there who do this for a fee, but many Realtors are trained in this area and are happy to help. If your home is an older home, or if you have lived in your home for longer than ten years, it may be worth it for you to get a home inspection before listing it. There may be problems you aren't even aware of that might break a deal down the line. These are the kinds of things that the home inspector will find, and you can adjust your price accordingly, or fix them before they're an issue with your buyer's home inspector. Keep in mind, you must disclose known defects on the "residential property disclosure form" that your Realtor will have you fill out prior to listing.

At the first meeting with your Realtor, they will provide you with the "residential property disclosure form" to fill out at your leisure. This form will be available at the property during showings for potential buyers, and will be a part of the contract. The second form they will provide you with is the "agency disclosure" form, which is just that, a disclosure, stating that all parties understand who will be represented by who, when a contract arises. This in no way binds you to this Realtor, but is a mandated form that your Realtor must present to you. The final form is the actual "exclusive right to sell" form. This will go over all the specifics of the listing agreement; the list price, showings instructions, length of listing & the Realtor's commission you agree to pay. You will get copies of all of these documents that you sign.

Before you list, make sure you know how much you owe (if anything) on your mortgage (don't forget your home equity line or 2nd mortgage, if applicable) when gathering your information.
Contact your servicer for this information; the figure on your statement may not be accurate. This will help your Realtor come up with the figures for a seller's estimated net sheet. The "net" will vary depending on the date of closing, how much in closing costs you'll be paying for your buyer, etc., but with the current payoffs, they will be able to give you an "estimate".

Take your Realtor's staging and pricing suggestions to heart. If your home doesn't sell, nobody wins, so it's in everyone's best interest if your house is priced right from day 1. Your Realtor will suggest a price, or a price range, along with comps so you can come up with the best asking price. The first 30 days your home is on the market are the most important. After that, your showings will go down, and potential buyers may wonder why it's still on the market. That's why it's so important to price it right from the beginning instead of lowering the price.

On a side note, everything that is physically attached to your home will stay with the home, as well as all landscaping, window treatments and light fixtures. If there are any of these items you won't be conveying with the home, remove them prior to listing your home. This way, there will be no confusion.

More than likely, a buyer will ask you to pay for a 1 year home warranty for them, usually no more than $400, which will be taken out of your proceeds at closing. If you put this in place now, it offers protection to you during the listing period as well.

Be as flexible as possible when the showings begin. If you have pets, have arrangements in place for them during showings. Most Realtors try to give at least 24 hours notice to show (though it's not always possible), so you should have ample time to do whatever is necessary.

When you get an offer, keep in mind that this is just a starting point. Most of the time buyers know this, and will fully expect a counter offer. There may be several counter offers, and it can get frustrating, but it is a very typical part of the process, so hang in there! The potential buyers may ask you to pay some of their closing costs, as well as the $400 home warranty, as mentioned above & a gas line warranty (if applicable) which is no more than $100. You'll want to note also how much "earnest monies" the buyer is willing to put down. If the buyer decides to walk away from the deal for no apparent reason, they will not get this money back. If they can't perform per contract due to an inability to get financed, they will get this back. The final thing to note, is the proposed closing date and possession. 99% of the time possession will be at closing, unless extenuating circumstances call for other arrangements. After everyone has agreed on all terms, you'll want to prepare for the upcoming inspections. Most buyers will try to have all inspections done at once, so they're only troubling you one time. The inspections usually happen within the first two to seven days after entering into the contract. After the inspection period of seven days, there is typically another seven day period that the buyer has to come to you with a "request to remedy unsatisfactory conditions", and we must come to terms on this within those seven days, unless a written extension is agreed upon by all parties. The majority of the time, you will be presented with a "request to remedy", unless you're living in a home that's less than three years old. This should consist mainly of safety & code issues. At this point, you can agree to remedy all of the items requested, some of the items, or none of the items. Instead of either of those options, the buyer may be satisfied with a mere reduction of the agreed upon purchase price instead of you making the repairs.

You'll want to begin contacting your utility companies (gas, electric, phone, cable, water, etc.) to get final readings about one week prior to the closing date; depending on how your homeowner's association is set up, you may have a final amount due with them as well. Be careful when moving your belongings out of the home. The contract states that the home is to be delivered to the buyer on the day of closing in the same condition it was in at the time of the first showing. The buyers are able to do a final walk-through of the home within 48 hours of closing. At this time, they'll also go over the items that were agreed upon on the "request to remedy" (if there were any) to make sure they're complete as well.

Other seller costs associated with the closing:
Since taxes are paid in arrears, you will credit the buyer at closing the taxes due from the beginning of the year through the date of closing.
Title charges will be at least $1000 (but will vary), depending on the title company's fees, the cost of the title insurance that you provide for the buyer, and other recording fees.
The Realtor's commissions, usually 6% total, 3% to your agent, and 3% to the buyer's agent.

You probably won't know an exact amount that you're netting from the sale until the day before, or even early on the day of closing. If you're fortunate enough to find out two or more days prior to closing, fantastic! At the closing table, your part as a seller is very short and sweet (usually under ten documents to sign)! The closing will take about an hour, give or take. Most of the time, you do have the option to pre-sign, leaving the house keys and garage door openers with the title company, which they will turn them over to the buyer at the end of the closing.


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