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Guide to Selling Your Home Before You Move Out

So you have decided to sell your home?
There are many things to consider and many questions that you will have as you prepare for this sometimes confusing and complicated process.  
Get Answers to Questions like

  • Should I sell it myself or use a Real Estate professional?"
  • "How do I price my home?"
  • "What are the costs to me when I sell my home?"

The outline below will answer your real estate questions and help you through the process from the day you decide to sell to the day the sale of your home is finalized.

Can I go it alone - What it is like to be a FSBO (For Sale By Owner)?
The Risks of Selling Your Property Yourself

  1. When you sell your home yourself, you have limited exposure to qualified buyers, who are working with real estate professionals to find their dream home, which theoretically means your home will take longer to sell on the market.
  2. The longer a home is on the market the lower the selling price is. Why? Because most buyers think that if the home has not sold after a while...there must be something wrong with the home.
  3. Most buyers find it extremely awkward to negotiate or even to talk directly with sellers and therefore avoid FSBO properties. The real estate professional has been trained to overcome objections and negotiate a successful home sale transaction.
  4. You have no way to screen the home buyers who call and want to see your home.   You may be compromising the safety of your family.
  5. If you use a Lawyer to help you negotiate the real estate offer, then your Lawyer's fees will be considerably higher.
  6. You only pay the commission to the real estate broker if they successfully sell your house at the price acceptable to you.   During the marketing time, the real estate broker absorbs the marketing costs.
  7. Accepting an offer for your home is one thing, ensuring a safe and successful closing of a real estate transaction is quite another. Real estate transactions sometimes have problems to be resolved near the closing.   This is the time that your experienced real estate professional can be the most helpful by acting as a great mediator. Lawyers MUST act only on their client's instructions and are not paid to negotiate.

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Using the Services of a Real Estate Professional When Selling

Using the services of a Real Estate Professional begins with finding the person that you feel will best represent your interests in the marketing and negotiating processes. Statistically, family and friends make up 68% of a real estate professional's business, which means that consumers do business with the people that they know and trust.

If you do not know a real estate professional that you would trust to sell your home, please ask the people in your sphere of influence who they have successfully used for real estate services.

You may find it helpful to interview more than one real estate professional. The purpose of the interview is to hear how the professional would market your home to find a qualified buyer and how they would communicate the processes from the time of real estate listing to the closing day.

Tip: Use our Real Estate Marketing search tool to find a real estate agent that can sell your home as quickly as possible.

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Step 1

The Listing Appointment is when the real estate professional comes to your home to make the presentation of his services, to look at the unique features of your home, and discuss the marketing strategies, including the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This person is called the listing agent. The listing agent works for the listing broker, who is the broker in charge of the real estate company with which your listing agent is affiliated. The listing agent will need to also collect information and documentation about your home to assist with the marketing, such as, utilities, condo by-laws, survey, deed, homeowner association rules, floor plan, and any warranties that relate to your real estate property.

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Determining the Value of Your Home

To help you set the price of your home, your real estate professional should present in writing a Comparative Market Analysis, or CMA, which is an algebraic expression of the value of your home compared to recent sales of similar real estate properties in your neighborhood. Plus and minus dollar amounts are given to your home based on the measurable tangible differences of the same features in the homes that have recently sold. The conclusion will be a marketing price range. Your real estate professional should also tell you the average numbers of day’s homes in your area are on the market.

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Step 3

The Listing Agreement

Once you decide that you are going to list your home with the real estate professional, you will then execute the listing agreement, a document that includes the listing price, the number of days the listing is for, the items in your home that convey to the new buyer, and any other contingencies of the sale.

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Step 4

The Marketing Process

Many things go into procuring a buyer for your home. Your real estate professional may do any one or all of the following real estate marketing activities:

  • Put a "For Sale" sign in your front yard.
  • Hang a Lockbox on your front door ( a lockbox is a universal metal container for your house key that is hung on the front door and can only be opened by a special key or combination by licensed Real Estate Sales Representatives. It provides access when the owner is away, thus assuring full exposure to prospective buyers).
  • Mail marketing flyers to potential buyers.
  • Advertise your home in local homes catalogues.
  • Send "Just Listed" postcards to the neighbors.
  • Hold an "Open House" for Buyers and for other real estate professionals.
  • Post your home on all applicable real estate websites.
  • Market you home via email to other real estate professionals in your market.

As the homeowner, your responsibility during this marketing process is to do everything possible to showcase the home in its best light during the showing times. When a prospective buyer comes to look at your home, you should talk all family members and all pets away for a while, so that the buyer can really "try on" your home. Below is a list of 13 "lucky" things that you can do to make the home really "shine"!

  1. Consider Renovation. Though not a necessity, certain renovations, such as new kitchens, bathrooms, and professional landscaping may reap a financial benefit that far out weighs their cost. Your Real Estate Sales Representative will discuss the costs and benefits of any renovation with you personally.
  2. You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression. Make sure your home's front door is clean and freshly painted if necessary. Also keep lawn trimmed, yard clear and the home's walkways clear of snow, sand and ice.
  3. Decorate For A Quicker Home Sale. Faded walls and worn woodwork significantly reduce your home's appeal. A new coat of paint is an inexpensive way to increase your home's value.
  4. Let The Sun Shine In. Open curtains and draperies to show visitors how bright and cheerful your home can be. Dark rooms can seem both small and depressing.
  5. Sweat The Small Stuff. Dripping faucets, loose knobs, sticking windows and other minor flaws are often more visible than you think. Take the time to make these small repairs.
  6. From Top to Bottom. Display the full value of your attic and basement by removing all unnecessary articles. Brighten a dark, dull area by painting the walls.
  7. Keep Stairways Clear. Cluttered staircases appear messy and detract from your home's appeal. They're also unsafe.
  8. Make Closets Look Bigger. Neat, uncluttered closets show that the space is ample.
  9. The Importance of a Bathroom. Beautiful bathrooms will help sell your home. Make this room sparkle.
  10. Make Bedrooms Inviting. Remove excess furniture and use attractive bedspreads and curtains.>
  11. Let There Be Light. Proper illumination is like a welcome sign and very encouraging to the potential buyer.
  12. Keep It Quiet. Turn off the television. Either use soft, mellow music to set a relaxed mood, or keep the stereo silent.
  13. Don't Forget Your Four-Legged Friends. Keep pets out of the home while potential buyers are visiting. Many prospects are afraid of or allergic to pets, and will not be able to properly consider your home if they are present.

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Step 5

When the Offer Comes In - Negotiating the Sale

Your real estate professional will bring you the written Offer-to-Purchase contract. The buyer will not be present at the contract presentation. The buyer's real estate professional may be present. After reviewing all of the terms that the buyer has offered, you as the home seller will have 3 options:

  • Accept the real estate buy offer as written.
  • Make a counter offer to any part of the contract.
  • Your real estate professional will help you make the appropriate choice.
  • Reject the offer totally.

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Step 6

Managing the Transaction - No Unexpected Surprises

Once you have negotiated an acceptable offer on your home, you will begin the wait for closing day. During this time, the lender and the inspectors will be completing their work. The home will be inspected for items that need to be repaired, as well as for wood destroying insects. The real estate appraiser will appraise the home to certify the value. Your real estate professional is truly the quarterback during this time. He/she will be coordinating all of the inspections and assisting with many different things.

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Step 7

Closing the Sale

Once all of the mortgage processing has been completed and the buyer's financing has been approved, the closing date will be set. This is the day that you, the home seller, will convey title to the property to the new buyer and receives the proceeds check from the sale. It will also be the day that you will move out of the home into your new home.

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