This is a guest blog contribution from Adam Slivka of Integrity Home Realty. You can visit his website, here.
Selling your home is not only a big decision, but also quite the undertaking. You want to get a decent price for it, and you likely want to sell it within a reasonable timeframe.
So, where do you start? How can you ensure the selling process goes as smooth as possible? Let’s dive into our definitive guide for selling your home.
Step 1: Assess your current home finances.
Do you still owe on your mortgage? Will you suffer a penalty if you sell your home now? These are important factors to consider before you look for a realtor or throw your home up on the market.
Are you buying a home before or after your current home sells? If you want to buy another home after your current home sells, it’s also a good idea to plan ahead. Get that pre-approved mortgage or find out when you can get it. What can you afford? What kind of houses will you eventually be hunting for once your home sells? Assessing the future and the future of your finances is always an excellent place to start. Financial panic is not something you want later on down the road. Get in the know now, so you won’t have to worry later.
Step 2: When should you sell?
Arguably, there will be situations where you need to sell your home quickly – such as if you’ve recently accepted a new job offer in another city. But timing does play a role when it comes to how fast you can sell your home and how much bang for your buck you can get for it.
Do your research here! Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market right now? A buyer’s market means there are more homes for sale than there are people wanting to buy. A seller’s market refers to there being more buyers than there are houses for sale. In an ideal world, a seller’s market is preferable, however this can affect your purchasing power if you need to buy a new home as well.
Step 3: Find a realtor that suits you and your needs.
Realtors know the lay of the land. If you aren’t sure if it’s a good time to sell, have them inform you of the market. They will be able to offer you advice on what to do to get your house sold. After all, they’re the experts in the area.
The key is to find a realtor you can trust. Don’t be afraid to shop around if you don’t already have one. And check their background. Do they have experience selling homes in your area? What do previous clients say about them?
Consider meeting with a few different realtors to find the right one for you. And ask questions! The right realtor can really make a world of difference.
Found your realtor? Read and sign a listing agreement on pre-approved terms.
Step 5: Set your home’s asking price.
A price too high could scare off potential buyers. A price too low could make them wonder what’s wrong with your home. This could also mean you potentially risk losing thousands of dollars.
Your realtor can help you set a fair market price. They will complete a competitive analysis to determine what value is appropriate right now. They may make further recommendations to up your home’s value.
Step 6: Preparing your home to sell.
You realtor can, again, help you out here. You want the first impression of your home to go well. These matter. When you’re living in it, it can be hard to tell exactly what needs to be done. Another person’s opinion can greatly help in this manner.
Try viewing your home through a potential buyer’s eyes. What will they see or notice first? If there are tears in that outer front screen door, fix ‘em! Make a list of what needs to be fixed, replaced or cleaned.
Generally, you should do the following to prep your home for viewings:
- You know that nice clean feeling you get when you walk into a hotel room? That’s exactly how potential buyers should feel when they walk into your home.
- Clean! Clean! Clean! Clean the baseboards, windows, doors, walls, and every nook and corner you’ve got. And don’t forget about the kitchen and bathrooms. These are two rooms that should be absolutely spotless.
- Do your repairs. Finish that renovation before viewings start. Or finally paint that one wall that’s had different test colors splashed across it. Repair that screen door or that broken kitchen cabinet. These little things matter. And buyers will notice them. It’s less enticing to buy a fixer upper than it is to buy an already repaired and renovated home.
- If you’re painting, consider neutrals. Buyers love neutrals. Why? Bold colors throw off some buyers and also are more personalized than a plain white, grey or beige wall.
- Stage your home. Your realtor or a professional stager can help with this one. What looks better where? What shows better? Find out and do it. This one could make a big difference!
Step 7: It’s listing time!
It’s time to list and market your home. And again, your realtor will be an expert at this. They know where to post it and how to market it. That ‘For Sale’ sign will go up.
Many realtors also start with a general open house to give buyers a brief glimpse in. Serious buyers will often book a second viewing of the home.
Then, the viewings start! Prepare to be accommodating to last-minute viewings. This is your home’s time to shine.
Step 8: And then hopefully, the offers roll in.
You receive an offer. If you hired a realtor, they’ll guide you through this process.
Next up is viewing the offer and the price. A firm offer means they are ready to buy. A conditional offer means they will buy the home based on certain conditions, such as passing a home inspection or potentially selling their home or getting financing in place.
You have the following options when it comes to negotiating or accepting an offer:
- You can reject it. It’s too low. It comes with too many conditions.
- You can accept it. It’s on price, and the closing date and conditions laid out seem reasonable.
- You can propose a counter-offer. This is where negotiating comes in. It may have to do with the price or the conditions, such as a closing date that works better for you and your plans.
Step 9: All the legal details.
Your counter offer was accepted or you accepted their offer. It’s closing time! A lawyer and realtor will likely cover most of this, but it’s good to be aware of what’s going on.
First, consult with your lawyer. They will take care of the transfer of property info and signing. They will make sure everything is legally binding and that certain deadlines are met. Right before the closing date, you’ll sign the homeownership over to the buyer.
Step 10: Closing.
While all the legal details are taking place, make sure you are abiding to all the conditions laid out. If action is required on your part, do it. Most of these conditions will have deadlines and penalties or agreements can fall through if they aren’t met.
And don’t forget to…
- Contact your utilities provider, telephone or cable company, and others to transfer or remove the service from your name.
- Do the same with your home insurance. Cancel or transfer it.
- Plan your move. Contact a moving company and set a date.
- Change your address. You can frequently do this at your local post office or at usps.com.
Time to Move!
This blog was written by Adam Slivka of Western PA Homes and the original copy can be found by visiting, Selling Your Home: The Definitive Guide. For more helpful resources on the process of buying or selling homes, check out these additional links.