HOME SELLERS GUIDE
There are a number of steps to selling any house. Experience has taught us that every home sale
is unique. Yet every sale — from putting the house on the market to settlement day — shares a
Long & Foster’s Home Sellers Guide is designed to help you understand the selling process
beforehand. This inside know-how will help you make smart decisions every step of the way —
and set aside any worries you may have from the beginning.
Of course, this short guide cannot answer all your questions. For specific answers to your specific situation, please feel free to contact me!
Putting Your House On The Market
The first step toward putting your house up for sale is to meet with a real estate Sales Associate at your home. This is what we call the “listing appointment”.
Clean Up, Fix Up, Or Toss Out
Today, the home that stands out among similarly-priced houses is the home that sells. Why? Because it makes a good first impression that lasts right to the settlement table.
You may not be able to improve the market value of your house (finish basement, remodel kitchen, etc.), but you can improve its marketability. And usually this can be done with more elbow grease than hard cash. The key is to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. In fact, if you drop by some open houses (you may soon be a buyer yourself), you’ll pick up some pointers. Then practice making your house as appealing and uncluttered as the home you wish to buy.
Leave The Selling To Me
While the home seller is actively getting the house ready to show, the listing broker is actively spreading the word that the property is available. Generally speaking, the listing is promoted to two groups: the real estate community and the buying public.
Many home sellers are surprised to learn that approximately 56% of all buyers come from referrals between brokers and their vast network of contacts. Approximately 17% of buyers come from inquiries stimulated by “for sale” signs in yards. The remaining 27% of buyers come from a combination of the real estate company’s reputation and image, open houses, and advertising or other promotional efforts. Obviously, the most productive source of buyers is working closely with other brokers, and this is where your listing broker begins.
Signing On The Dotted Line
A buyer makes an offer by submitting a written and signed offer to purchase, which will become the sales contract when ratified by everyone’s signature. Once the seller and buyer sign the paper, they are bound by the contract conditions.
The “presentation of a contract” begins when the selling broker registers the offer with the broker’s own office and notifies the listing broker of the offer. The listing broker then arranges a presentation appointment with the home seller, and with the selling broker in some areas. (The buyer doesn’t attend the presentation.)
Either the selling broker or the listing broker presents the terms of the offer, depending on local customs. The listing broker acts as the home seller’s advisor. Part of the presentation is determining that the buyer is qualified financially to make the purchase. (Should either the seller or buyer be out of town, the contract is presented via telephone and confirmed later by FAX.)
Processing The Transaction
The listing or selling broker (depending on local custom) oversees a contract through to closing and helps to place the financing, process the case, arrange various inspections and review financing and “points”.
At this stage, all contingencies will be satisfied and removed. The buyer will select a settlement and/or a title company, and the listing or selling broker will notify those firms and provide the vital information.
A number of professionals come into the home selling process during this period, including a home inspector (if requested by the buyer), well and septic inspectors, termite inspector, appraiser and attorneys. A mortgage approval can be made at application in many cases subject to verification of the information provided. However, on the chance that the financing falls through, the seller should keep the property in showable condition.
Buyer’s Final Inspection
The purpose of the walk-through inspection prior to settlement is to determine if conditions in the contract are satisfied. The time for the buyer to inspect and note defects for correction by the seller is during the contract negotiation and prior to signing the sales agreement. Repair or replacement items should be noted in the contract. Most resale homes are sold in “as is” condition, however, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing items should be in working condition.
It is up to the buyer to perform the inspection, not the seller who may or may not be present. The buyer should be accompanied by the selling broker and/or the listing broker. The home seller should be sure utilities are on so that equipment can be operated.
Signing Papers And Transferring Keys
The big day is here! Tonight you can pop open the champagne, but today there will be a lot of paper signing and a poignant passing of the keys (don’t forget the garage keys, and the electric garage opener, too).
At the settlement will be an attorney or title company representative, the buyer, listing and selling brokers, and all owners. The home seller should bring all warranties on equipment (or leave them in the house) and any instructions on equipment maintenance or operation.
The attorney will have searched the title, and obtained old and new lender instructions. First, all unresolved walk-through deficiencies are resolved.
With the buyer, the attorney explains the deed of trust, deed of trust note, and settlement sheets. The buyer signs all three, and pays the balance of the down payment and buyer’s closing costs.
With the seller, the attorney explains the deed and settlement sheets and gets the home seller’s signature on them. The seller pays appropriate closing costs.