Many home sellers want a stress-free sale where they can simply list their houses and find qualified buyers quickly. Then, they can hand over the keys. It would be so easy! Selling a house involves many moving parts. Some you can control and some you cannot.
Geography can have an impact on how long your house stays on the market and how much you can charge. If there is a lot of competition and low inventory, you will likely sell your house faster and get a higher price. In contrast, homeowners who have seen a decline in home sales will have to be more aggressive to find the right buyer.
Due to the extraordinary growth of the housing market after the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a rise in prices and bidding wars, and very low inventory levels over the past two years. The market will eventually settle down as prices stabilize and mortgage rates rise.
You need to be ready as a seller and take control of the variables that can have a significant impact on your bottom line. A smoother closing can be achieved by hiring a professional real estate agent and optimizing your home’s online appeal.
1. A market-savvy agent is the best choice
It’s easy to look up real estate agent’s sales records and professional designations online. This will help you choose the right person to do business with. You can check out the online profiles of agents to see how long they have been in the business, how many sales they have made and any designations they might hold. You should pay attention to where and how they market their listings. Also, professional photos are a must.
Jorge Guerra, Global Liaison of the National Association of Realtors, says that any designation they have earned is a big plus because it shows they have taken the time to study a niche.
Many homeowners may be tempted to sell their houses without the assistance of an agent in order to save money on commissions. This is called “for sale by owner” or FSBO. These fees are usually 5 to 6 percent of the total sale price, and sellers can save thousands of dollars.
An experienced agent can do a lot to make their fee. They can market your home to as many people as possible and help you negotiate for the best price. You will need to manage your own home and all aspects of the sale, including marketing, reviewing offers, and closing.
Remember that real estate fees are at an all-time low. You might even be able to get a break at closing.
2. You should establish a time frame for the sale of your home
A major undertaking, selling a house can take up to four months from beginning to end. It may take longer depending on the local market and the availability of inventory.
Once you have decided to sell your home, start looking for real estate agents who are qualified to help you.
Consider having a pre-sale inspection done at least two to three months prior to you list. (more details are below! To identify potential problems, such as structural or mechanical issues, in order to make the sale easier. You should allow enough time for repairs.
Start staging your home and doing deep cleaning about a month before you list it.
Here is a list of things you should do before you list your home.
- Interview real estate agents.
- You can declutter and possibly move excess items to a storage facility.
- To identify potential problems, you can request an optional inspection of your home.
- If repairs are necessary, schedule them.
- Deep cleaning.
- You can stage your home.
- Professional photos can be taken.
3. Get a pre-sale home inspection
Although it is not mandatory, a pre-sale inspection of your home can prove to be a smart upfront investment. An inspection report will help you identify structural and mechanical issues before you sell your house. Although it may be expensive, you will know in advance any issues buyers might flag during their inspection.
Sellers might be able to speed up the sale process by being a step ahead of the buyer and doing repairs along with other home preparation work. It should be ready for sale by the time it hits the market.
4. Spend your money wisely and avoid unnecessary upgrades
You should ensure that you get a high return on your investment if you are going to spend money on expensive upgrades. If you can only make a profit or lose money, it doesn’t make financial sense to replace granite countertops. These improvements might not be necessary to sell your house for top dollar, especially if there is low inventory in your area.
This is where a professional real estate agent can be of great assistance. These agents often have a good idea of what the local population wants and can help plan improvements accordingly. It doesn’t make financial sense to add skylights or steam showers if local shoppers don’t want them. A new coat of neutral paint, a new carpet, and a clean-up landscape can make a big first impression.
The best return on investment is generally in the kitchen and bathroom. You might be able simply to replace your doors and hardware if you have older cabinetry. You can easily swap your standard kitchen cabinet doors for Shaker-style Shaker-style ones on a weekend.
5. Professional photos
Your agent can arrange for a photographer to take marketing photos of your house. It is crucial to have high-quality photos. This will make a difference in whether your listing sells quickly or languishes.
Many real estate agents include professional photography and virtual tours in their range of services. You might consider hiring a photographer on your own if they don’t offer these services. Professional photography fees will vary depending on the size and location of your property, as well as how long it takes to photograph the property.
Professional photographers with strong portfolios know how to make rooms look bigger, brighter, and more appealing. Your lawn and outdoor spaces are the same. Online photos that are poorly lit can put off potential homebuyers.
6. Place your home on the market
These are some tips to help you get your home ready for the market and attract buyers so that you can sell quickly.
The online appeal of your home is key
Although curb appeal is something you’re familiar with, professionals now believe that online appeal is even more important. Guerra states that your home’s first exposure is online. Your web presence is what will decide if someone calls to make an appointment or clicks on the next listing.
It should be staged and kept clean for public viewing
Many real estate agents suggest sellers stage their homes. A home staging job involves removing unwanted furniture, personal possessions, and other unsightly items from the property while it is on the market. Then, you arrange the rooms to maximize flow and purpose.
A professional stager can help you stand out if you are selling a home that is in a slow market or if you have a luxury property. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of professional home staging in the United States is $1,200. However, prices can vary between $500 and $2,000.
Let another person show the house
When potential buyers visit your home, make yourself scarce. Allow them to imagine themselves in your space without the distraction of talking to you. Buyers are usually accompanied by their agent to view your house. Your agent can also be asked to attend showings.
Grant Lopez, Realtor at KW Heritage, and ex-chair of the San Antonio Board of Realtors Texas says that buyers can be hesitant about expressing their opinions when they see the homeowner hiding. It could prevent them from considering your home as an offer.
7. Be realistic about the price
Buyers don’t want a higher price than the “comps”, even in highly competitive markets. It’s important to set the right pricing. Overpricing a home can lead to financial disaster, and underestimating its value could result in you losing money.
Consult your local comps to get a good idea of the value of your home. These data sheets provide information about properties that have been sold in the area. This will give you an overview of the homes in your area that are currently being sold.
Lopez states that a common mistake made by sellers is to price a home too high, then lower it frequently. This practice is believed to yield the best return by some sellers. In reality, it is often the opposite. Potential buyers may avoid homes that are too expensive.
Multiple price reductions can give buyers the impression that your home is in poor condition or it’s not desirable. It’s better to price your home so that it attracts the most buyers, eliminating the need to make multiple price reductions.
8. Examine and negotiate offers
Once your house is officially on the market and potential buyers have seen it the offers should start to come in. A real estate agent or attorney is the best source of advice and support. Buyers will often offer more than the asking price if your local market favors sellers. You might even get multiple bids. If sales in your area are slow and you don’t receive many offers, it may be worth negotiating.
You have three options when you are offered a deal: accept the offer as is or make a counteroffer.
Counteroffers are a way to respond to an offer and negotiate terms and prices. Always make counteroffers in writing. Buyers should respond within 48 hours. While you can offer credit for carpet and paint, it is important to keep your original asking price. To sweeten the deal, you may offer to remove certain appliances.
You might feel tempted to choose the highest offer if you are lucky enough to receive multiple offers. You should also look at the other aspects of your offer, such as:
- Form of payment (cash or financing)
- Types of financing
- Amount of down payment
- Requests for credit or personal property
- Closing date
If a buyer relies on lender financing, they must appraise the property. The deal may fall apart if there is a difference between the appraised value and the purchase price.
9. Avoid unexpected seller closing costs
Both the seller and homebuyer have to pay closing costs. The commission paid by the real estate agent is usually between 5 and 6 percent of the sale price.
Other costs that sellers often pay include:
- Transfer tax to the government
- Recording fees
- Outstanding liens
- Attorney fees
If the buyer has agreed to pay any closing costs or repairs credits, the seller will also pay them. The closing agent or your real estate agent will provide you with a detailed list of the costs that you’ll have to pay at closing. The buyer usually pays the bulk of closing costs (usually between 2 and 4 percent of the sale price), but you may also have to pay fees.
10. Assess the tax implications
Many home sellers will not owe any taxes on the profits they make from selling their primary residence. You don’t have to pay tax on profits above $250,000. If your home has been owned for two of the last five years, you won’t owe taxes.
The amount that you can exempt from taxes for married couples is $500,000. If your home sale profit exceeds $500,000. You can still exempt it from taxes. However, the IRS will consider it capital gain and report it to you.