Selling Your Home FAQs
1. How can I price my home to sell?
In today’s unpredictable real estate market, it can be a challenge to figure out the perfect listing price for your home. However, with the help of an experienced real estate agent, you can make sure the price is right. Take a look at recent sales prices on comparable homes in your neighborhood and ask your real estate agent for frequent updates. If other homes in your neighborhood are selling for much less than your asking price, it’s probably time to lower your listing price.
Whatever you do, don’t start off with a sky-high price just to see what happens. Far too many homeowners make the mistake of starting off with an inflated listing price, assuming they can adjust the price later. This tactic almost always backfires. Generally, homes get the most attention from agents and potential buyers for the first 30 days after they are put on the market. That means you have a 30-day window of opportunity to catch their eye. Don’t waste those four golden weeks testing the waters with an overblown price tag. It’s best to get the price right the first time around.
2. How do I know if my listing price is too high?
If your house has been sitting on the market for a couple of months with zero interest, it may be time to cut your asking price. Let’s say you’ve had a handful of showings since your home has been on the market, but you haven’t gotten any offers. Could it be the purple carpet in the family room or the lime green kitchen countertops? Maybe. But more likely there haven’t been any offers because your price needs to come down. Some experts say if you’ve had 10 showings without an offer, your home is probably overpriced.
However, don’t lower your price in small increments. If you’re going to bring down the asking price, you need to lower it by at least $5,000 to catch the attention of prospective home buyers.
Of course, it’s much more effective to get your asking price right the first time around. If your home has been on the market for many months and you keep lowering your price, buyers may assume there’s something wrong with your house.
3. Why is “curb appeal” so important?
Home selling is all about first impressions—and every buyer’s first impression of your home is their view from the curb. Even if you have a newly renovated kitchen, all-new flooring and updated bathrooms, you’ll never get prospective buyers through the front door if your home doesn’t have curb appeal. If the paint on your front door is chipping, the front porch is sagging and the yard is overgrown with knee-high weeds, buyers will drive right past your house without a second glance.
This is why it’s so important to beautify the outside of your home before you put it on the market. Keep the front yard well-manicured, plant a few flowers and apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door and shudders. Look around at homes that have recently sold in your area, and compare the exterior of your home to theirs. You should also ask your real estate agent for suggestions on how to boost your home’s curb appeal.
4. Where can I find home sales stats for my area?
It’s smart to take a look at recent sales prices on comparable homes in your area. This will help you make sure you set a realistic listing price for your home. To find housing statistics for the entire nation, visit www.census.gov. To search recent home sale prices in your immediate area, visit domania.com.
However, if you want the most up-to-date, accurate information about home sales in your area, you should contact your statewide association of Realtors or talk to an experienced real estate agent. Licensed realtors can gain access to these statistics much sooner than the general public. Your real estate agent can tell you how much a home sold for almost immediately after it sells.
5. How can I get my home ready to sell?
If you’re about to put your house on the market, you’ll want to make sure it’s in tip-top shape. Homes that are clean, orderly and well-maintained are more likely to sell quickly than those that are messy, unorganized or in disrepair. Here are a few steps you should take to ensure your home in pristine selling condition:
Take care of all the major repairs that buyers could easily notice. For example, if you have a broken window, a damaged roof or leaky faucet, fix it before you put the house on the market.
- Amp up your home’s curb appeal. Clean your mailbox, paint your front door, pull the weeds, mow the lawn, spread new mulch in your islands and plant some flowers. A beautiful exterior creates a great first impression for potential buyers.
- Clean all your windows and keep your blinds and curtains open to let in plenty of sunlight.
- Clean your entire house from top to bottom, including furniture, walls, ceilings and floors. You may even considering hiring a professional to clean your carpets. It’s especially important to scrub your kitchen and bathrooms, as buyers often pay the most attention to these areas.
- Make sure all of your lights, kitchen and laundry appliances are in working order.
- Get rid of bad smells. Nothing will turn a buyer away more quickly than a smelly home. Put the litter box away and use plenty of air freshener around the house. You may even want to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies before each open house or showing. Nothing is more welcoming than a home filled with smell of fresh-baked cookies.
- Clean out and organize all of your closets and cabinets. Homebuyers will often peek in every closet, cabinet and pantry, so make sure everything is clean and orderly.
6. Do I need to take care of every single repair before I put my home on the market?
If you want to sell quickly and make the most money possible on your home, you should take care of all the minor repairs and most of the major repairs before you put your property on the market. The majority of buyers include an inspection clause in their purchase contract. That means if an inspector finds problems with your home, the buyer can back out of the contract or request that you repair the defects. If you are trying to sell in a buyer’s market, you should probably make as many repairs as possible. This will increase your chances of selling quickly for top dollar.
7. How can I find a great listing agent?
Your friends, family members and colleagues may be able to recommend an excellent real estate agent. Ask them if they would work with the agent again. If the answer is yes, then you may have found your ideal realtor. You may also want to call a few highly regarded real estate firms and ask if they can recommend agents who work in your area.
As a seller, you should interview at least three different agents before you make your final decision. Each agent should give you a comparative market analysis of home prices in your local area and tell you how he or she works with clients. Ask each agent how much you should ask for your home, and find out what kind of marketing he or she plans to do to promote your property.
After you have interviewed all three agents, choose the pro that seems like the best fit for you. Remember, the agent who wants to list your home for the highest price is not always the best choice. Choose an agent who is realistic, honest , hard-working and straightforward
8. Once my house is on the market, how can I keep it show-ready?
When your house is on the market, you should be ready to give potential buyers access to your home at a moment’s notice. Your real estate agent should try to give you as much advance notice as possible, but sometimes this is simply not possible. You may still have some spontaneous house showings because buyers may be in the neighborhood looking at other homes.
Try to keep your house clean, smelling fresh and tidy at all times. While buyers can’t expect to show up on your doorstep and walk in without any warning, you should never turn anyone away at the door. After all, you could essentially be turning away an offer. So, if realtor and potential buyer calls or shows up for a last-minute showing, just ask them politely to give you a few minutes to straighten up.
9. Why should I work with a real estate agent to sell my house?
There are many benefits to working with an agent instead of trying to sell your house on your own. Here are just a few advantages realtors have to offer:
- Agents are educated and experienced. The real estate business can be complicated and frustrating. If you’re working with a pro, you won’t have to know all the ins and outs of the real estate business.
- They act as a buffer. If you try to sell by owner, you’ll have to deal with all the phone calls and emails from potential buyers first-hand. However, if you work with an agent, he or she can filter out the casual home-shoppers and make sure that only serious buyers are coming to look at your property. This will save you loads of time and headaches.
- Agents have insider info. A real estate pro can gain access to the most recent home sales stats in your neighborhood and give you insider information on competing homes in your area.
- They are master negotiators. Because real estate pros are skilled at the art of negotiation, they will be able to negotiate the best price for your home.
- Agents are not emotionally connected to your home. It’s often difficult for a home owner to sell their own home because their emotions get in the way. A real estate agent can offer you and objective, educated opinion about your house listing and ensure that you make the smartest decisions.
- They handle all the paperwork. A purchase agreement can be 10 pages or longer, and that does not include the disclosures. One tiny mistake could cost you thousands of dollars or even land you in court. A real estate agent can handle all of this confusing paperwork for you, and they’ll make sure all the information is absolutely accurate
10. If I receive multiple offers, do I have to disclose the terms of other offers?
No. If you receive multiple offers on your home, you are not legally obligated to disclose the terms of other offers to another prospective buyer.
11. If my neighbor’s home is looking shabby, will this decrease the value of my home?
Although a neglectful neighbor may not decrease the actual value of your home, it can definitely have an impact on a buyer’s impression of your home. If your next door neighbor has a broken down car on blocks in the driveway, a yard full of knee-high weeds or a noisy home-based business, this can greatly decrease your chances of selling your home.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do about a lax neighbor. First of all, most local laws require that “junk vehicles” either remain enclosed in a garage or stored behind a fence, out of view. Most cities also prohibit any car from being parked in the same place on a city street for certain length of time. If your neighbor runs a repair shop or another business that produces loud noises, he may be breaking noise-control ordinances.
Do your research on local laws and ordinances to find out if your neighbor is breaking any of them. If so, give your neighbor a copy of the relevant ordinances or laws, and ask politely if he can correct the problem. It that still doesn’t work, you may need to contact your local police department.
12. What is a Comparative Market Analysis?
A comparative market analysis (CMA) is a report that tells you how much your home is probably worth. As a seller, you can use the information from a CMA to figure out the most appropriate listing price for your home.
A real estate agent can offer you a free CMA before you put your home on the market. These reports are generally about 50 pages long and generally includes the following:
- Active listings: These are the homes that are currently for sale in your area.
- Pending listings: These are formerly active listings that are under contract but have not yet closed.
- Sold listings: This includes homes that have closed within the past six months in your area. The sold listings are very important because they will help you determine your market value, which will in turn help you figure out the best listing price. These are the comparable sales that an appraiser would use when appraising your home.
- Off-Market, Withdrawn or Canceled listings: These are properties that were taken off the market for one reason or another. Generally, sellers take their homes off the market because the asking price was too high. These listings may give you an idea of how much is too much to ask for your home.
- Expired listings: These are the listings that did not sell within a certain amount of time (generally 90 days), so they ultimately expired. These listings generally represent overpriced homes, as well.
13. What is the best way to measure my home against comparable sales in the area?
Comparable sales are homes that most closely resemble your home. For example, if you own a single- story home, you shouldn’t compare your property to a three-story home. When your real estate agent provides a comparative market analysis (CMA), you should select the homes from the list that are the most similar to your home in size, age, location and condition, including:
- Square footage: Look at the homes that are closest in square footage to your home. Appraisers compare homes based on square footage, and so should you.
- Age of construction: Compare your house with other homes that were built within the same few years. For example, if your house was built in 1995, you should compare your home with to those built between 1990 and 1999. For the most part, newer homes sell for more.
- Similar upgrades: If you own a completely remodeled home with a pool, you should compare your property to homes with similar features. However, if you own a fixer-upper, you should not compare your property to recently updated homes.
- Bedrooms and bathrooms: If you own a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house, compare your home to other 3/2 homes. A home with one bathroom is worth less than a home with two or more bathrooms.
- Location: Try to compare your house with homes in the same general area or location. For example, a water-front home is worth much more than a home that sits on railroad tracks.
14. What should I do with my pet while my house on the market?
Homebuyers typically do not like to see cats and dogs running around a home they’re viewing. Some are afraid of animals while others assume a home filled with pets isn’t clean. Therefore, you should remove your pets from your home during each house showing or open house. Take Fluffy and Fido for a ride in the car. If that’s not possible because you work outside of the home, consider sending your dog to Doggie Daycare during the day or boarding your pets temporarily. You could also ask a friend or family member if your pet can live with them until you sell your home.
15. How can I get my home ready for inspection?
The majority of buyers include an inspection clause in their purchase contract. That means that shortly after your home is under contract, a home inspector will be coming your way. Here are a few ways to prepare your home for inspection:
- Clean up. Although it may seem silly, a clean home is usually perceived as a well-maintained home.
- Be on time. The home inspector will almost definitely arrive on time and maybe a little early. Try to have your house ready at least 30 minutes before the appointment time.
- Leave your utilities connected. Even if you’ve already moved out of the house, you should leave all the utilities so the inspector can check the stove, dishwasher, A/C, etc.
- Leave keys and remotes. If you have a remote control for your garage or keys to electrical boxes, be sure to leave these behind for the inspector.
- Clear out spaces around the water heaters and furnaces. Remove boxes and other clutter from around the furnace, air conditioner and water heaters. The inspector will need at least three to four feet of working space to examine these items.
- Prepare to be out of the house for at least three hours. As the seller, you should not be present for the inspection. The buyers will want to ask the inspectors questions they may not feel comfortable asking in your presence. Make plans to be out of the house for at least three hours, and take your children and pets with you. If you cannot take your pets, be sure to crate them so they don’t get in the inspector’s way.