Seller's Frequently Asked Questions

There is a lot to think about when you are considering selling your home. The first part of the plan is where you will go, the second is when. When you have made up your mind to move, the rest falls into place. Here are some things to consider:

How can I find an Agent?
If you are moving out of the area and need help in locating an agent in your new city, let me know. I network with agents all over the United States, agents who are Certified Residential Specialists and agents who are familiar with working with Seniors. I can put you in touch with a qualified, experienced agent who can inform you of market conditions in your new area and help with your moving plans.

What's my first step?
Choosing an agent should be your first step. You should choose a professional Realtor who has a strong marketing plan, who you feel will skillfully negotiate in your best interest, and who will manage the transaction from start to finish. This is a business transaction so I don't recommend hiring a friend. As the saying goes, you can't fire a friend. In addition, don't select a Realtor based on his or her estimate of the value of your home.

What changes should I make to my house?
Your Realtor can help you decide what changes or improvements should be made to your property before it goes on the market. Curb appeal is important so the landscaping should be spruced up. Inside, look at your property as if you are the buyer, with a critical eye. Go from there. Do what you can within your budget. The goal is to get the most for your home and its condition is one of the components of a high price.

How do I set the price of my home?
The answer to this question is complex. Your agent has to be in tune with the market to know how to price your home. Our market can change from day to day so be sure your agent is on top of the current trends for your area. You should be aware of competing properties and properties that were sold within the last 6 months. The number of days on the market, overbidding and circumstances of the past sales are all relevant information to help establish your price. Honest but truthful - what doesn't affect the value of your home is 1) what you paid for it, 2) the amount of money you need from the sale, 3) what you want from the sale, and 4) what an appraiser says your home is worth. Keep in mind, bottom line, value is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay in today's market, based on comparing your home to others currently on the market.

How can I communicate with my agent?
Open communication is the key to a successful transaction. You should be comfortable asking your agent plenty of questions. Discuss your goals, timing and wish list at the beginning of your transaction. Most agents are connected with email, to the Internet and have voice mail and cell phones so you can easily keep in touch.

Is there a "best time" to put my house on the market?
Along with economic factors such as supply and demand, the time of year you choose to sell can impact both the length of time it takes to sell your home and its ultimate selling price. Weather conditions are more or less of a consideration depending upon where you live. Typically, however, the real estate market picks up around February, continues strong through late June, and tapers off during July and August. September through November generally marks a rally not as strong as late winter and spring, followed by a slowdown from Thanksgiving through and beyond the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

How should I price my home?
You must take into account the prevailing state of the real estate market and especially local market conditions. The real estate market continually changes, and market fluctuations affect property values. So it is critical to determine your listing price based on the most recent comparable sales in your neighborhood. A comparative market analysis provides the background information on which to determine your listing price. Review the comparable sales data provided to you by the different agents you've interviewed. If all agree on a specific price range, you're wise to go with this consensus. And be wary of an agent whose opinion of value is much higher than the others.

What's the downside, if any, of pricing my home on the high side?
Several factors may come into play:

  • You might help sell similar homes that are priced lower

  • Your home may be on the market longer

  • You could lose market interest and qualified buyers

  • You might create a negative impression of the property

  • You could lose money as a result of making extra mortgage payments while incurring taxes, insurance and unplanned maintenance costs

  • You may have to accept less money

  • A potential buyer may face appraisal and financing problems resulting from the inflated price

How long should it take to sell my home?
Here again, it depends upon market conditions. But if your home is priced right and in good condition, you should be able to expect the minimum market time in your area. On the other hand, if your home is overpriced and needs work, the opposite likely will be true.

As a seller, what are my disclosure obligations?
Obligations to disclose information about a property vary from state to state. The focus on disclosing defects has become more intensive in recent years, often including locally mandated disclosure forms for revealing any material defects. Typically, you must disclose all the facts affecting the value or desirability of your property that are known or accessible only to you. For example, you are required to indicate any significant defects of which you are aware about the home's major systems, the presence of environmental hazards, room additions or repairs made without the necessary permits or not in compliance with building codes, zoning violations and much more.

What should I do to prepare my house for sale?
There are many things you can do to make your home show better without spending a lot of money. Following are some things you can do to make sure would-be buyers are impressed when they arrive, also known as "curb appeal."

  • Paint your front door, shutters, trim and any other outside features showing signs of wear

  • Wash windows inside and out, replace screens or glass as needed

  • Replace faded wallpaper and/or glue areas that have come loose

  • Repair worn woodwork

  • Repaint scarred or dirty walls in a neutral color

  • Steam clean carpeting or replace it, if necessary

  • Repair loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet draws, broken light switches and other minor flaws

  • Check and repair caulking in bathtubs and showers

  • Open draperies and curtains to let the light in during the showing

  • Keep fresh, clean towels in the bathroom

  • Use candles or air freshener to give rooms a pleasant scent

  • Strategically light your home, even during daytime showings, to create a cozy mood and highlight positive attributes of each room.

Many discount real estate brokerages charge a very modest fee for services. Why shouldn't I use one of them to sell my home?
Typically, all discount real estate brokers do is to put homes in the multiple listing service. They won't guide you through the sales process, market or show your home, qualify your prospective buyers, handle the often-delicate negotiations with buyers or do many other vitally important things that a full-service real estate professional will do on your behalf and best interest.

How can I be sure a buyer is qualified and that the loan is not on shaky ground?
This is another valuable service your listing agent will provide. An agent representing you as seller should communicate with the lender in advance and have some assurance that the buyer is pre-approved for a loan at the onset of the contract negotiations. Ideally, the buyer is a non-contingent buyer and a pre-approved buyer.

Do I have to sell to the person with the highest offer?
No. If you prefer a lower-priced offer, perhaps with a better-qualified buyer and/or more attractive terms, you can accept that offer instead. Or you can give counteroffers to one or more of the buyers. Beware, however, that if you turn down a full-priced offer, you may owe your agent a full commission even if you decide not to sell your home.

Can I back out of my contract with one buyer and accept a new, higher offer from a second buyer?
It is very unwise to try to back out of the contract because a purchase offer that's accepted is a legal contract that the buyer can seek legal remedies to enforce.

Who is responsible for making repairs, if any, as a result of home inspection reports conducted for the buyer?
Because the buyer orders one or more home inspections doesn't obligate the seller to make repairs or modifications as a result of those inspections. Typically, however, inspection reports are used to negotiate repairs of major problems, or environmental or safety hazards that may be noted. The purchase contract should provide guidance for these negotiations.

How do I calculate the net proceeds on the sale of my home?
From the proposed purchase price you typically subtract:

  • Balance on your present mortgage

  • Other liens, if any, such as equity loans and judgments

  • Broker's commission

  • Legal costs of selling, such as escrow agent's and attorney's fees

  • Transfer taxes

  • Unpaid property taxes and water bills

If required by the contract, items such as the cost of survey, termite and other inspections, necessary repairs, buyer's closing costs and more