Selling your home is as simple as 1, 2, 3, right? That’s what HGTV would tell you. Ever notice how their shows wrap up and put a nice little bow on the home-selling process in the last 90 seconds? Here’s what happens in those 90 seconds, and the months preceding it:
Deciding You Want to Sell, and Determining the Value of Your Home
This can be a chicken/egg situation. Sometimes you need to sell because of a new job, life circumstances have changed, etc., and sometimes you want to sell because your neighbor down the street just sold for way more than you ever pictured your home being worth.
Consult a professional right then and there. You should be able to get a fair market evaluation (I’ll do one for free) that takes into account comparable sales, market factors surrounding your home and neighborhood, and a reasonable estimate of what you would be able to net from a sale.
The two biggest pitfalls I see in this step?
- “Neighbor down the street” syndrome.
Zillow is a fine tool if you’re just doing a cursory home search, window shopping. It is not fine for determining an accurate projection of your home’s value. Their average margin of error is +/- $14,000, skewing your expectations right off the bat. In some markets, the average error range is as high as 19%! Don’t use Zestimates to guess your home’s worth.
The neighbor issue is similar. I’ve been approached in the past by sellers who had a “friend in the neighborhood” sell for $750,000, and want to sell theirs for that, too. A quick look at the friend in the neighborhood, who sold a 4,000 sq. ft. custom-built, 5 bedroom beauty versus the subject’s dated 3/2 ranch? Yeah, it’s not going to quite fetch $750k, but it is certainly marketable at the right price.
Preparing Your Home to Sell
I’m never going to tell someone to gut their bathrooms, remodel their kitchen, or reconfigure their house just to get it sold– there is a lot more money to lose in taking on such projects than can be recouped.
What I am going to recommend is subtle and more inexpensive changes to present your home in the best light possible to the widest array of buyers:
- Exterior maintenance: landscaping, grass, making it clean and providing curb appeal
- De-cluttering: how would buyers want to picture themselves living in the house?
- Paint/carpet: fresh paint and carpets bring a freshness to a home that buyers LOVE.
- Cleaning: if a buyer comments on a house being dirty…they’re not buying that house.
During this time, you will hopefully be working closely with a real estate agent (myself), he will be arranging for professional photos and virtual tour, and gathering all other pertinent information that would help your home sell as quickly as possible.
When Your House is on the Market
More often than not, home sellers live in homes while trying to sell them. That’s okay!
During our consultation, I will make sure to note how much notice you require to get the house vacated and showing-ready. This will be made very clear in the showing instructions, and I will be notified by text, email, and through my scheduling app of any requests made for showing– which you can confirm or deny.
“But Chad, I don’t want strangers in my house!” is something I’ve heard a few times– my showing service is Bluetooth-connected, and I know who showed your house when, and for how long.
The easiest way to get your home sold while you’re living in it? Leave it showing-ready every day, make more plans to explore the city on weekends, and let me aggressively target agents who have buyers looking for your home and get it moved quickly.
Negotiating the Contract, Getting to Closing
Offers will come on the Offer to Purchase and Contract (hereafter known in NC as OTPAC; this is the SC form). All terms will be detailed here. Most importantly:
- Purchase price: How much money the buyer wants to offer for your property.
- Due diligence and earnest money: Two separate checks, the due diligence money goes directly to you to do with as you please– the earnest money is a “good faith” down payment that is held with the closing attorney.
- Due diligence period: This is the time the buyer has the right to do their homework– obtain financing, inspect the property, etc.– and renegotiate the terms if deemed necessary. A shorter due diligence period makes for a stronger offer from the selling perspective.
- Financing terms: How will they pay for your house? Cash is king, and each loan program has its pros and cons. Part of my job is to speak with the buyer’s lender prior to our acceptance of an offer and make sure the deal will get closed with no hiccups.
- Closing/title attorney and closing date: Self-explanatory! But depending on circumstances, we may want to push a date forward or backward.
- Seller-paid closing costs: The buyer may request that the seller credit some money to the buyer for closing expenses. This is fairly normal! The way we treat seller-paid closing costs is simple: they serve as a deduction from the purchase price of the offer. The math is the same.
Upon my receipt of an offer, you will be immediately notified of these terms (and any special stipulations that may be added). We will have already set expectations, goals, and have outlined what an acceptable offer may look like, and we will see if we can meet or exceed those expectations with each prospective buyer. Its possible that some of the terms may be conveyed to me via phone call or text– we are not under contract until we have a fully signed offer on paper.
Once we are under contract, I will obtain due diligence money from the buyer’s agent and get it to you– its yours to keep regardless of whether or not the deal eventually closes! The buyer, during this due diligence period, will likely conduct inspections and may request fixes or concessions based on their findings. These are negotiable, my rule of thumb is always this: structural is a seller issue (to some extent), aesthetic is a buyer issue.
Beyond due diligence, we are more or less home free 99% of the time. The closing attorney will be in contact with myself and you to obtain information to determine your final net– mortgage payoffs, the existence (hopefully not) of any liens or judgments, closing costs– and get the numbers to us in a timely manner so we can confirm that they are correct.
Then, we go to the closing, sign some papers, and you and your family are on to the next chapter of your lives!