Selling Your Home FAQs
You have questions, we have answers!
In today’s market, selling a home requires preparation, patience and a team of experts. Sierra Signature Realty breaks the process down into five expert areas and offers helpful tips and advice for each one.
Answers on the Step-By-Step Selling Process
What are the basic steps to sell my home?
Hire a specialist
- As professional real estate agents that specialize in listing in your neighborhood, Sierra Signature Realty knows what it takes to maximize the value of your home and sell in today’s market.
Set the right price
- Ask your Sierra Signature Realty agent for an analysis of comparable homes in the local market and an expert opinion of the best price range for your home
Discuss a marketing strategy
- Have your Sierra Signature Realty agent discuss a multi-faceted, comprehensive and targeted marketing plan, which will be included in the listing presentation.
Get the house ready
- With your Sierra Signature Realty agent, take a hard, objective look at your home. Prioritize what needs to be done and decide how much you can spend in time and money to make it look its best before opening it up to buyers. Get rid of the clutter or temporarily put some of your possessions in storage to make the rooms and closets in your home appear roomier. Create an information packet on local amenities, your utility bills and any other helpful information you can think of that a potential buyer may want to know.
The five biggest mistakes home sellers make
If you’re like most people, your home is your most valuable investment. When you sell it, you’ll want to pocket the biggest possible net gain or profit. But, when you sell your home, you need to understand the competition. There are other home sellers in your area, and just like in any other competition, mistakes can be costly. Here are some common home seller slip-ups we can help you avoid:
1) Over- or Under-pricing when listing
- By setting the price too high, you turn away the best prospects for your home. By asking too little, you’ll might sell faster but may also net less profit from the sale. Your Sierra Signature Realty agent will prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and help you determine the best price for your home.
2) Selling “as is”
- In the competitive home sale marketplace, you need to show your house at its best. Your home should be in “move-in” condition from the first day it’s listed for sale. Your Sierra Signature Realty agent can point out your home’s main assets and suggest how to highlight them, as well as help you identify which items need improving.
- While clearing out clutter, deep cleaning and performing repairs are important ways to get your home ready for sale, undertaking a major improvement project could cost more money than you would recover in the sale. Talk to your Sierra Signature Realty agent about which projects will net you the biggest return on your investment.
4) Selling it yourself (FSBO)
- Selling on your own, without representation by a professional real estate agent is tempting as a way to save money. However, surveys and history show self-sellers often net less from the sale than sellers who use a professional real estate agent. And self-sellers find that agents do a lot more than most people think—from marketing & maximizing exposure, to bringing qualified buyers, reviewing contracts, keeping things on track with finance and escrow, to settlement.
5) Ignoring your real estate agent’s advice
- As experienced professionals, we know this market, and what it takes to sell homes for the best price possible. Contact Us when you’re thinking about selling your house. We’ll help you avoid costly mistakes.
If I try to sell my home myself, I know I can save the sales commission. So what could I lose?
You’ll Lose Time
- To get your home sold, you would have to advertise, hold open houses and know what websites to put your home on to get the most viewing activity. You would also need to sit by the phone and hope potential buyers will call. Sierra Signature Realty has a team of professionally trained and licensed agents to take care of the time-consuming work and allow you to focus on the upcoming move to a new home. Sierra Signature Realty’s agents can also pre-qualify prospective buyers and make arrangements to show the house.
You Could Lose Money
- You’re likely to attract bargain-hunting buyers who seek out for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) homes, expecting to get a lower purchase price because of the saved sales commission. We will advise you how to price the house to sell fast for the best price.
You’ll Lose Exposure to Buyers
- Don’t limit yourself by lack of exposure to prospects. We bring with us a network of contacts and a computerized listing service that puts every agent in town to work selling your house.
You’ll Lose Peace of Mind
- When selling by owner, the homeowner is responsible for negotiating a legal contract and seeing that every detail of the contract is carried out. We can screen out unqualified prospects, help arrange financing, and shepherd the sale to settlement.
Who says what my house is worth?
When it comes to pricing your home, you’ll find lots of “experts.” The neighbors may want you to set a high price, thinking it will make their homes more valuable. Your company may encourage you to set a lower price so the home will sell quickly and you can move to your new assignment. You might be thinking in terms of what you paid for your home, how much you’ve spent on it, or how much profit you want from it.
When you put your house on the market, you set the asking price, but the market determines the price a buyer is willing to pay. If the asking price is set correctly, the house is likely to sell in a reasonable amount of time. If the asking price is set too high, the house may languish on the market, unseen by the right buyers.
Pricing It Right
An asking price that is aligned to the current market value of your home is crucial to a timely sale. That’s where a Sierra Signature Realty agent comes in. But how do we know how to advise you on price?
- First, we look at the prices of similar homes recently sold in your neighborhood, and compare their features to those in your home.
- Then, we survey the competition, looking at homes currently on the market, how they compare to yours and how long they have been up for sale.
- Next, we look at how the number of buyers compares to the supply of homes for sale. We take stock of the direction of the market. Are prices rising or falling? Are homes selling quickly for the asking price?
- Finally, we look at the incentives other sellers are offering, such as paying some closing costs, and what conveys with the property, like window coverings, refrigerator, or washer and dryer.
Why is it dangerous to overprice my home?
Avoid “Testing The Market”. Many times, sellers are tempted to price their homes a little high in hopes of getting more money from the sale. Often the opposite happens, and they sell after a long time on the market at a price below what the home would have sold for if it had been priced correctly at first. This is because most buyers look only at homes they can afford. If a home is overpriced, many potential buyers don’t bother to consider it because the asking price is above what they can afford to pay. By pricing the home close to market value on the other hand, the sellers make the most of their best opportunity to sell to the home’s true market during the highest traffic period—the first weeks after the new listing comes out. That’s when real estate agents call in the buyers they have been working with to see what’s new on the market.
For a personal pricing consultation, Contact Us. We’d like to help you price your home right from the start.
What factors do NOT affect the selling price?
Ultimately, a house is worth what someone is willing to pay for it—the fair market value. Factors that do not affect the selling price include:
–The original cost of the home.
–Money spent for improvements.
–How much cash you would like to net from the sale?
While these factors are important to you, they have no bearing on the fair market value a buyer will be willing to pay.
My house is one-of-a-kind. How do you put a price on a unique property?
How do you decide what price to ask for your home when it’s one of a kind? Call the real estate professionals.
We can tell you the value range of your home by comparing it to similar properties recently sold or for sale in the area. Even though your house may have special features that make it unusual, there are many aspects of your home which are like others—general location, size of the home, number of bedrooms, baths, size of the lot, etc. Some unique features, like a swimming pool, an historical designation or a custom floor plan may actually make a home more difficult to market.
Hire an appraiser
Another way to determine the value of a home is to pay an appraiser. A pre-market appraisal may help speed a sale, especially when the house is priced at or below the appraised value. An appraiser typically looks at the records of comparable properties sold in the past 6-12 months, the home’s replacement cost and the value as a rental, then reconciles the three figures in a formal report.
How much fixing up is enough?
Many soon-to-be-sellers ask us how much time, effort and money they should put into fix-ups. In general, there is no hard and fast rule. It can depend on what type of buyer you are trying to appeal to. If your target buyer is a “fixer-upper” buyer, then obviously your cash outlay may be considerably lower than for a “move-in condition” buyer.
Generally, fixing-up falls into three categories:
The basics: Requires a minimum cash outlay, typically requiring more elbow grease than money. It includes mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, cleaning out closets, storage areas, and the garage, washing windows and deep-cleaning the kitchen and bath(s).
Middle of the road: The basics plus cosmetic repainting of dingy rooms, repairing broken fixtures, replacing worn carpet, etc.
The big guns: At this level, major refurbishments come into play, like installing a new roof, updating kitchen cabinets, replacing old systems and appliances.
Give us a call and we’ll walk through the home with you, then talk about needed fix-ups based on market conditions, competition and your personal situation.
Why should I replace and update now when I’ll be moving out soon?
Replacing and updating increases both the value and the marketability of your home. Generally, these repairs would be required by the buyer or the buyer’s home inspector anyway. Now is a better time to fix up than the last minute when you’ve got the sale of your home hanging in the balance. You’ve now got the luxury of time and can seek out the best professionals to help with your projects.
Do buyers like a furnished house better?
If you have a choice, it is usually better to sell your home while it is still furnished. That way, prospective buyers can more easily imagine how it will look when they move in, even though their furnishings will be different. Generally homes that are furnished sell more quickly and for a higher price than vacant homes.
If you have to move out before you sell your home, consider leaving some furniture behind to help give the house a lived-in feel.
What is an inexpensive and easy way to make my home more attractive to buyers?
Before your home is shown, turn on all your lights, both inside and out. Open curtains, drapes and blinds. Light not only helps prospects see your rooms better, light helps buyers see your home as warm and inviting.
What happens when a buyer makes an offer?
One common first impulse is to ask “How much are they offering?”
While price is an important factor, it’s also important to look at the big picture when negotiating a sale. Consider:
- Buyer’s financial situation. Is the buyer qualified? How much down payment and closing cost cash is available and what is the source?
- Financing method. Is the loan type and interest rate realistic for current economic conditions? Is the length of time requested to obtain a loan realistic? 30-45 days is a typical time frame. It allows enough time to process papers, but also allows you to put the home back on the market promptly if things fall through.
- Your costs. How much does the buyer want you to contribute toward closing costs? What will your net proceeds be? Add up any points, taxes or fix-up expenses requested and deduct them from the contract price to determine if your final profit is what you need to make your move.
- Your calendar. Does the buyer’s proposed settlement date give you enough time to select your next home and obtain financing? If you can’t move to your next home promptly at settlement, can you rent back from the buyer?
- Contingencies. Must the buyer sell a home before buying yours? You may not have the time to wait while the buyer sells. What add-ons does the buyer want? Curtains, lawn equipment, swing sets? All of this can affect your final net proceeds, be used as bargaining chips, or both.
We are here to help. We’ve been through this countless times and can help you cut to the chase and come up with a mutually acceptable contract.
Who pays the fee of a buyer’s agent?
The offer looks good. You’re ready to accept it, but the buyer is using a buyer’s agent (also called a buyer’s broker) and wants you to pay the agent’s fee. What does a “buyer’s agent” do?
A “buyer’s agent” is retained by a buyer to look out for the buyer’s interests and to negotiate the best price from their point of view. As the agent who lists your house owes you complete loyalty, the “buyer’s agent” owes the buyer the same degree of loyalty.
What should you, the seller, do?
Generally you can indicate on the listing agreement whether you are willing to pay the buyer’s agent. Most sellers choose to work with a broker who splits the commission with a buyer’s agent even though that agent does not represent the seller’s interests. This, of course, maximizes the number of potential buyers for your home. Because the listing broker already is prepared to share the commission with a seller’s agent who produces a buyer, most sellers don’t mind when their broker instead shares the commission with a buyer’s agent.
What is a contingency?
A contingency is a condition on the sale put into the contract by either the buyer or seller to smooth immediate acceptance and protect against specific eventualities. Common contingencies are that the buyer obtain financing or sell their current home, or that the seller has a home inspection done or repair certain items. Contingencies can be removed by an addendum to the contract, or they can expire if a time limit is specified in the contract.
In general, what should I expect to happen at closing?
Once you’ve signed a buyer’s purchase contract to sell your house, the preparation for settlement begins. Settlement, or closing escrow, is the process of transferring the title (ownership) of the home from seller to buyer.
Generally, the real estate agents involved in the sale help take care of these arrangements, but the buyer and seller are ultimately responsible for attending to these details.
Buyer’s responsibilities include:
Buyer gets a loan
The buyer must first secure the financing to buy the house. Usually this means taking out a mortgage loan. Most lenders require a complete financial picture, including income and expenses, and a credit check. In addition, most want an up-to-date appraisal of the home, a survey of the property and, often, some inspections (for pests, radon gas, flood plain, etc.). Some lenders specify which service providers they want the borrower to use. Once all the paperwork is in, the borrower should keep in touch with the lender until receiving a loan commitment.
Obtain homeowner’s insurance
The buyer needs to purchase a hazard insurance policy in advance for the new home. The buyer is also required to purchase title insurance policy—usually at settlement—to protect the lender.
Receive Good Faith Estimate
A few days before settlement, the buyer should receive a Good Faith Estimate of settlement costs. In addition to the loan commitment letter, the buyer must bring a certified or cashier’s check for the down payment and any other costs due at settlement. These costs include mortgage interest from the closing date to the first payment due, escrow for property taxes and insurance, and various taxes and recording fees.
Seller’s responsibilities include:
Select closing agent
The seller typically designates the settlement agent (title company), usually 30 to 60 days before closing. The seller and listing agent work together to arrange inspections and appraisals and to provide needed paperwork such as a housing plat map, previous title insurance information and any prior inspections.
Give loan payoff notice
The sellers also need to check with their lender to get up-to-date figures for the payoff of the mortgage, and to learn if any rebates are due for pre-paid taxes or insurance.
Sellers and buyers are both responsible for:
Stay on top of details
Both the buyer and seller need to give the settlement agent all pertinent information requested. And, since many long and detailed forms are usually signed at settlement, consider requesting copies of the basic settlement forms several days in advance to pre-read them if practical. The focus at the settlement table is on checking the exact figures to be sure they are accurate.
Designate legal representative
If either the buyers or sellers cannot come to closing, they should notify the settlement agent well in advance so a Power of Attorney form can be prepared. The person named on the form can act as the signer’s legal representative.
Once all the papers are signed and money paid, the keys are handed over to the buyer and the sale is complete. Our professional approach can help you go to closing with confidence.
Should I make the payment on my old mortgage if I am just a few days from closing?
If you are selling your home or refinancing your mortgage and the closing date for the new mortgage is near the due date of the old mortgage, you will still need to make that final payment. Pay now or at closing. Mortgage payments include interest that is already owed on the mortgage, so interest is due on the current mortgage right up to the day of closing.
If the dates are too close to be sure the final payment is received and recorded by the bank, send the last check early or make arrangements with the bank or settlement agent so you are not charged with a missed payment or late payment fee.