HOME SELLING FAQS

Why should I hire a real estate agent to sell my home?

About three out of four sellers seek assistance from real estate agents when selling their property. About half of those who sold their homes by themselves last year said they would hire an agent if they had to do it over. A third of them said they were unhappy with their results. Why? Real estate agents make the selling process a lot easier on the seller.

Firstly, there is of course just the simple fact that this person you hire is a professional in this area and will know more about it than you do, saving you time and energy every step of the way, even if just with all of the paperwork involved. Your real estate agent will make sure you don’t waste time on buyers who aren’t serious about making an offer on your home. They also will know the market in
your neighborhood or know where to get the information, and will be able to help you choose a price for your home. Because your real estate agent is a professional, you will also have access to all of his or her professional networking.

Real estate agents rely heavily on referrals and repeat business; every one of their previous transactions is another opportunity towards your transaction.

How can I prepare my home for sale?

It is vital to the sale of your home that you take some time to prepare your home and make it marketable to prospective buyers. Remember as you are doing this that your home is now a product.

The personal touches you have added to your home over time are great for your personal enjoyment of your home, but not necessarily for selling it. Pack up your personal photos and heirlooms. You want prospective buyers to be able to envision their own personal touches in the space. While you are packing those, also take the time to cut down on clutter in the home. If you haven’t used something in over a year, get rid of it! Pack up books and knick-knacks. Clear off your kitchen counters. Organize the closets. That enormous walk-in closet in the master bedroom will not be
such a selling point if when buyers check it out, they are met with a mess. Remove extra pieces of furniture to give buyers plenty of room to walk around. It will be worth the cost of a storage unit if you can sell your home faster and for more money due to the extra steps you are taking.

If you will be taking items such as window coverings or light fixtures with you, remove them before the buyer sees them. If you have to tell a buyer they can’t have something, their disappointment might cost you the sale.

Make minor repairs to your house such as fixing leaky faucets, and replace any burned out light bulbs. Finally, clean! Vacuum, wax, dust, and wash! Make sure the towels in the bathroom look fresh. Air out the rooms and keep your home smelling clean.

How does the outside of your home look? Keep the lawn mowed and make sure your house number is easily read by visitors. All of these steps will make your home more appealing to prospective buyers.

How do I know what price to ask for?

Your real estate agent will assist you with deciding on a price based upon an appraisal and the current market. It is important not to start too high or too low. Also consider that the market fluctuates very often, so having the most up to date market analysis is very important. That is something your real estate agent will be a great help with.

How should I prepare my home for a showing?

Letting agents show your home while you are living in it does not have to be disruptive to your life. There are a few simple things you can do in just a few minutes that will make all the difference.
First, turn off the television and stereo. If you want music, play something soft and neutral (like classical). Turn on all of the lights and open all of the window coverings (unless the view outside is not so nice). Do a quick run of the kitchen (hide any dirty dishes) and bathrooms (close toilet lids). Pick up basic clutter like magazines and toys in the family room, and make all of the beds. Remember that buyers will probably want to look in the closets, so try using under the bed if you have to stash anything away temporarily. Make sure the front walkway and yard are clear, and that children and pets are out of the way. Lastly, check for any bad odors or dull smells. If you want to freshen up a room, try to avoid strong room sprays and stick to light, inoffensive scents like vanilla.

What are disclosures?

Disclosures are pieces of information that sellers are legally required to give the buyer. Disclosures should always be in writing, even if you also discuss it verbally with the buyer. Disclosures are designed to protect buyers from sellers knowingly concealing information from them. What disclosures are required varies depending on your area. It can include things like notifying a buyer that a violent crime has occurred on the property, or telling buyers where they can get information on sex offenders in the neighborhood. Other common disclosure items would be plumbing or electrical defects, safety concerns (such as asbestos), additions or alterations that have been made to the home without a permit, and encroachments or fences not on the property line. It is necessary for you as the seller to provide this information or you could be opening yourself up to legal claims. If you are not sure if something should be disclosed, discuss it with your real estate agent. However, the best way to protect yourself is full disclosure.

What is Escrow?

In the most basic of terms, an escrow holder is a neutral third party that holds the buyer and seller’s signed documents as well as the buyer’s deposit money and makes sure all of the terms in the purchase contract have been satisfied for both parties. Once that is determined, the escrow officer performs a variety of tasks to help both the buyer and the seller in their transaction. All of the funds are distributed to the appropriate parties. The escrow holder obtains the seller’s signature (notarized)
on the grant deed, and determines prorates on property tax, etc. The escrow holder also facilitates recording the grant deed under the new owner’s name. The escrow holder also acts as a coordinator for the buyer’s lender. They handle the signing of the loan documents by the buyer as well as the funding. Your real estate agent will be of assistance in overseeing all of the steps involved with the escrow process.

What is earnest money?

Earnest money shows good faith and that you are serious about buying the property.  Typically, sellers ask for one percent of the sales price, and it is credited toward the purchase, unless there is 100% financing.  The contract will spell out the conditions for when earnest money is refundable and when it is not.

Should I let agents show my home when I'm not there?

Yes. In fact it is better if you are not at home. Buyers may feel like they can’t voice their opinion to their agent if you are present. Additionally, if an agent has to work around your schedule to show your home, they will have far less opportunity to show your home to clients. If you are home during a showing, try to keep to one room of the house and make yourself as invisible as possible. You want to give the prospective buyers the feeling of a model home—a house that looks like it could be lived in but no one lives there.

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