1. Obtain the Services of a Trustworthy, Reliable, and Experienced Realtor
Selling your home can be one of your most important financial transactions. Therefore it is extremely important that you take your time to select the realtor that is best for your situation. You should interview several agents and ask them key questions about their experience, dedication, and marketing techniques. Choose one who can and will communicate with you effectively and keep you regularly informed. You should make sure that the agent’s personality is compatible with your own. However, no matter how hard you try to choose the right person, sometimes they turn out to not do the job you expected. In your listing contract you should have the right to fire your agent and hire another agent in the same company or switch to another company, without a penalty or cancellation fee.
2. Calculate an Accurate Market Value
Before setting an asking price it is important to have an idea of how your home is valued in the current market. It is tempting to obtain an estimate from a lender; however many times a refinancing appraisal will arrive at too high a price. Lenders like to estimate the value of your property to be higher than it actually is in order to encourage refinancing. The best way to obtain a more accurate value is to ask your realtor for a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). It compares sales of similar homes in your neighborhood or community and will give you an up-to-date estimate of your home’s value.
3. Place a Reasonable Price on Your Property
You obviously want to get the most money for your property. Ironically, the best way to do this is not to list your property at an excessively high price. Overpriced properties tend to take a long time to sell and eventually sell at a lower price anyway. Too high a listing price will cause many prospective buyers to disregard your home before even looking and may lead some buyers to expect an excessive array of features. They will be disappointed when they actually see it. Remember, you are competing with many other homes, so a reasonable asking price that reflects the current real estate market will attract many more offers, and result in a fair sale price.
4. Let Your Realtor Effectively Market, Advertise, and Show Your Property
It is unusual to find a buyer immediately, so give your realtor enough time to effectively advertise your home. Even in a busy (seller’s) market some homes take longer than others to sell. In a slow (buyer’s) market it might take several months and some price reductions to sell your home. Your agent should use a variety of methods to market your home to the public and other realtors. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and the yard sign are still the most effective ways to sell homes. Internet websites and online promotion have become highly popular and increasingly effective. Your realtor should have an effective website and be equipped to receive all e-mail messages and phone calls from prospective buyers. You should allow your agent to install a lockbox so that other realtors in the same MLS can easily show your home when you are not there. Be prepared to have your home shown in the evening and on weekends.
5. Present Your Home in Excellent Condition
Your realtor will have many ideas about how to best prepare your home for buyers. However, the first impression a buyer gets is extremely important, so your home should always look presentable, clean, and as pleasant as possible. Make sure everything functions properly and make repairs if necessary. A poorly kept home that is in need of repairs will prevent many potential buyers from making offers thereby lowering the potential selling price.
6. Make Prospective Buyers Comfortable in Your Home
Buying a house, for most people, is a difficult and emotional decision. Therefore you should let prospective buyers examine your home without pressure. While they are looking, be friendly and hospitable and make sure your realtor points out all features and benefits. Always be receptive to questions and answer them honestly. You can negotiate and haggle with people after they make a written offer.
7. Beware of “Lookers, Site Seers, and Tire-Kickers” Who Will Waste Your Time
People who call or knock on your door because of a “for sale” sign in the yard may not really be interested in your home. They probably are 6-9 months away from buying and are more interested in seeing what is for sale in the community. They may still have to sell their home or may not be able to afford a home yet. They may still even be unsure as to whether or not they really want to relocate. People who obtain the services of a realtor are usually much closer to making a purchase, have been pre-qualified by a lender, and will be more interested in your home. Your realtor will help you avoid wasting valuable time with persons who aren’t serious buyers.
8. Help Your Realtor Negotiate an Offer Into a Contract
It is unusual for a buyer’s offer to meet the exact price and conditions you desire. Your realtor’s job is to communicate your position accurately to the buyer or buyer’s agent. Therefore, it is helpful for you to prioritize your needs and desires and make them known to your agent. The negotiation may continue back and forth for several days until either an agreement is reached about every item in the offer, or there is no agreement and the offer expires. When an agreement is reached and everyone in both parties sign it, the offer becomes a contract. You should realize that in order to obtain a contract, usually both you and the buyer will have to give in on some points.
9. When You Have a Contract, Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Real estate purchase and sale contracts can be complex and confusing. It is extremely important that you are well informed of the details in your contract because it is a legally binding document. Make sure to know your obligations and responsibilities before signing the contract by asking your realtor or attorney to fully explain everything. Not being aware of all of the amounts, terms, conditions, and timing could cost you a considerable amount of time and money and leave you little or no recourse if the buyer backs out of the deal.