When the time comes to sell your house, trust in the expert advice and experience of a REALTOR®. REALTORS® are trained to specifically know your market, and are held to a high standard of ethics by the National Association of REALTORS® . Although there are those that think this is an unnecessary step when selling their home– and are not interested in paying the fee of a REALTOR® — they are really selling themselves short of the best possible real estate transaction. Selling your home at the price you want, and what the market allows, is not as easy as some people would believe. With a REALTOR® by your side throughout the entire process, you have the satisfaction of knowing that everything will be taken care of in a knowledgeable and professional manner.
In this article, which is part two in the Value Added by a REALTOR® Series, we’ll take a look at:
- The home selling process
- How a REALTOR® can help sell your home quicker and for a better price, without the hassle!
The Home Selling Process
So you’re finally ready to put your home on the market. You’ve patiently waited until it was the optimal time, and done your research regarding the market for home prices in your area. But what happens next? Potential buyers don’t just show up and ask to see your house. You’ve got to get it out there and in front of them, and a REALTOR® can help you do all that and more.
Find a REALTOR® and Set the Price
Enlisting the help of a REALTOR® is the first step you should take when trying to sell your home. Chances are a family member or friend has used one in the past and can make some recommendations for you. This is the best way to ensure you’re getting a REALTOR® you can trust, and develop a good working relationship with. REALTORS® are held to a very high standard of ethics, they want to help you sell your home as quickly as possible, but are bound by their Code of Ethics. REALTORS® have duties to clients and customers, and rely on specific standards of practice. They will not engage in activities outside of their scope of their real estate license or areas of expertise. This gives many people the confidence to know that their REALTOR® is bound to act in their best interest at all times.
Once you’ve found your REALTOR®, you can sit down and work out an acceptable price to list your home. REALTORS® have their finger on the pulse of your local market– they know what the last 10 homes in your area have sold for, and what they were originally listed at. This type of in depth knowledge is hard for most homeowners to get on their own. They can offer comparative market analysis that is specific to the local market. REALTORS® also know how competitors are pricing homes and how that is influencing the seller’s market. You can also trust the opinion of your REALTOR® to inform you of any necessary repairs you’ll need to complete before listing, and if anything can increase sales price of the home and shorten the listing period of the property.
Create a Marketing Plan– and Make Changes to Your Home as Necessary
Once you and your REALTOR® have come to an agreement on a listing price, it is time to create a marketing plan for your property. This means you’re going to need a marketing plan, and a list of all possible updates and repairs to make to your house before it is sold. Your REALTOR® can help you put together a game plan that includes first having your property listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). These sites constitute a network where sellers’ agents can lists properties for other agents to view. There are multiple MLS’s throughout Ohio, and agents are required to be members in order to view or list properties.
Your REALTOR® will also be able to accurately judge what type of advertising might best suit your home and its market. Regardless of your target buyer, (although millennials are the largest group of homebuyers at 11%) your REALTOR® can ensure your listing is complete with high quality photos and even videos to make your home as appealing as possible. Normally, REALTORS® will put together a brochure or booklet that will highlight the aspects of your home, and engage in social media marketing as well on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Sellers are encouraged to share additions, upgrades, and customized features of their home (such as a new roof, custom cabinets, finished attic, etc.) with their REALTOR®. Your REALTOR® can then highlight these features in the marketing materials and posts.
If any changes are required, such as a broken shower in the basement, or other major defects, your REALTOR® will dutifully point out what repairs should be made to lessen the chance of a buyer backing out of a transaction.
Open Houses and Showings
Marketing your house goes hand in hand with ensuring that your home gets in front of buyers– and one of the best ways to do this is through open houses and/or showings. Your REALTOR® will be able to advise you on how to prepare your home for a showing, and may even recommend having it professionally staged. This step is all about first impressions, and you want to make sure you’re presenting your home in the best light possible. Open house dates and times can be advertised on listing sites and on the REALTOR’s® social media accounts.
Showings are also an opportune way to have buyers walk through and assess your house. Your REALTOR® can arrange times with the buyer’s agent, so that you can plan accordingly and be outside of the home. Most REALTORS® will also screen potential buyers and can request proof of pre-approval of the potential buyers. The agent of the buyers will present the home for showing as well, and will walk through it with the buyers.
Negotiation and Offer
Once you have a prospective buyer– or buyers– who are ready to put an offer on the table, your REALTOR® can help you evaluate the offers and make suggestions on whether or not to accept it or to try negotiating. If you’re selling your home in a seller’s market, there is definitely some room for negotiating– especially if your home is in a desirable location and you are entertaining multiple offers.
Your REALTOR® can also help navigate you through the next important steps in the process once the negotiation is over, and you and the buyer have come to an agreement.
The Next Steps: Inspections, Appraisals & Escrow
The buyer will want an official inspection of the property– which will confirm that they are purchasing a property that is in the condition that is claimed to be in. This is usually held within 2 weeks after the accepted offer. The buyer reserves the right to place contingencies in their offer that include the right to cancel the sale if their inspector finds major problems with the house, and the seller is not willing to fix the problems or renegotiate the selling price. This is where your REALTOR® can offer you some good advice on how to respond to the buyer contingencies– they may suggest fixing the problems outright, or reducing the selling price of the home to help compensate for the cost of repairs.
Mortgage lenders will require a potential new property to be appraised by a professional appraiser. Appraisals ensure that the value of a home is worth the purchase price. Cash buyers may also have an appraisal completed on a new property. Appraisers look at the overall value of the home, and assess the condition of the property if the buyer is not paying in cash, and is working with a lender. The appraisal also takes into consideration what comparable properties in the area sold for in recent months.
Although the appraisal is not an official inspection, if there are any outstanding problems or deficiencies, it will be noted in their report to the lender. It’s a good idea for sellers to accompany the appraiser– or for their REALTOR® to do so– so they can point out any improvements and special amenities the seller has commissioned.
Once the buyer and seller have come to an agreement, the closing process can begin. This can include procedures such as the inspection, appraisal and potential repair requests or remedies. After the inspection, when appraisal and remedies have been completed, an escrow or title agent will now act as the intermediary to finalize the home purchasing and closing process. Escrow typically lasts for around 30 days, but can vary from transaction, and gives the title company time to pull and inspect the title of the property for any potential liens. This is the time to formalize the moving dates.
In Ohio, the closing is usually an “open table” format where the seller and buyer sit face-to-face and sign documentation formalizing the sale. It’s the closing agent’s job to make sure all parties have completed their tasks for finalizing the sale. Real estate sales processes do vary from state to state, depending on the laws and typically procedures of a given state.
You and your REALTOR® have made it this far, and all that is left is for the buyer to do a final walk through, and you both to sign the paperwork. The final walk through is typical 24 – 48 hours before the closing. Your agent can arrange the walk through with the buyer’s agent– to make sure they are buying a home in the condition that was agreed upon. The final step in the process is to show up at the closing location and sign the appropriate documents. Once this has been accomplished, the property is officially sold. Depending on your occupancy agreement with the buyer, both party agents can negotiate when and how to hand the keys over to the new owner.
The REALTOR® Experience
Selling and buying a home is one of the biggest transactions you can encounter. By entrusting your home’s sale to a REALTOR®, you are taking the emotion out of the process and allowing decisions to be made that are in your best interest. REALTORS® are committed to treating all parties in the real estate transaction fairly and honestly as it is a part of their code of conduct. The REALTOR® collects their commission after the sale of the property– and not a minute before. You know they’re working with your best interest in mind, and this motivates them to sell your house for as much as the market allows. Your house is one of the biggest investments you will make, and you should trust the sale of it to a professional with your best interests in mind.
Almost as soon as you decide the time has come to sell your home, you should consider finding a REALTOR®. Their professional advice and insight throughout the home selling process makes for smooth negotiations with prospective buyers, and will be sure to get you the best price possible. Don’t undertake this complex and important task alone, find a local REALTOR® to help you all the way.