“There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to selling – and you can’t plan for most of them.”
Sellers often think that the most important part of a real estate agent’s job is getting the house under contract. The end game is actually getting to settlement. Between contract and settlement, many unplanned events can occur that will derail a sale:
- Buyer financing that is unacceptable to the seller and their representatives
- Buyer or seller contract contingencies that can’t be met
- House doesn’t appraise at the listing price
- Home inspection turns up serious issues that can’t be negotiated or that allow the buyer to back out of the contract
An experienced real estate agent has seen all of these scenarios and more!
The relationship between a seller and their Realtor is an important one. I am your advocate. I will make sure your home is priced right, and I will guide you through the transactions that will end in a successful home sale.
It’s best to start the process before the house goes on the market by discussing strategies for pricing and showing your home and deciding what improvements need to be made, depending on your objectives.
Selling your house will be a very stressful process! I’ll take as much stress off your shoulders as possible by managing the things that can be controlled, and work hard to make sure you have the best outcome possible by always keeping my eye on the next step.
What Is (and Is Not) Important in Determining the Value of Your Home
MARKET VALUE is simply the price a willing buyer will pay to a willing seller without duress or pressure.
What Determines Market Value?
Location is the biggest determination of value – location within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, location within the county, and location within the neighborhood.
When comparing properties within the same neighborhood, the following affect market value:
- Size of house
- Condition of house
- Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and fireplaces
- Improvements such as new kitchens, baths, skylights, decks, roofs, HVAC systems, windows, etc.
- Additions such as first-floor family room, garage, breakfast room, bedrooms
- Size and usability of the lot
- Garage(s), carport, and/or off street parking, assigned spaces
How Is Home Value Determined?
Home value is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay in today’s market based on the comparison of your house to others on the market, both in your location and in other neighborhoods.
What Does NOT Affect Value?
- The original cost of the house
- Remodeling costs
- Cash required to purchase a new property
- What a realtor says your house is worth
- What an appraiser said your house is worth
- What the tax assessor said your house is worth
- What the house might have been worth anytime previous to the time of contract
Most sellers have a rough idea of their home’s fair market value from looking at recent sales activity and prices obtained for similar homes in their neighborhood. A fair market value of a specific property and the price at which it should be listed needs to be determined by a careful analysis of both the property and the existing market at the time the home will go on the market.
Steps for Selling Your Montgomery County, Or Washington D.C. Home
A Home Sale, from Listing to Settlement
Step 1- What Are Your Goals For The Sale Of Your Home?
- Why am I selling my home?
- Where do I want to live next?
- How much time do I need for completing the sale of my home?
- Will the proceeds from the sale of my home allow me to easily purchase the new home I desire?
- Will the sale of my home make it easier to achieve my short and long term goals?
Answering these questions and any others you feel are important will help you to clarify the decisions associated with the sale of your home.
The insight provided by the answers will also guide your agent in understanding your needs and serving you properly in achieving your goals.
The sale of your home is an important decision. The future opportunities and consequences of selling should be thoroughly understood before you put your home on the market for sale.
Your agent can help you sort out your options by providing advice on pricing, property preparation, extensive information on market conditions and access to qualified buyers.
For more information on selling your Montgomery County home contact Lauren Kline, Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc., Realtor® at (301)518-9005.
Step 2 – Pricing Your Home Properly
Pricing is an art, not a science.
Your agent will analyze numerous factors, including:
- The condition of your home,
which could contribute to getting the highest price in the shortest
time frame with the least expense on your part,
- Recent “sold” comparables in the neighborhood,
- Directly competing “for sale” properties,
- The general state of the local market including interest rates and “for sale” inventory levels.
In the final analysis, the value of your home is determined by what a ready, willing and able buyer will agree to pay for it.
Step 3- Preparing Your Property For Sale
First impressions are important.
In preparing your home for sale, it helps to look at your home from the buyer’s perspective, look for the following:
- Curbside appeal counts. So does having a clean, uncluttered, staged home which shows off its best features to maximum advantage.
- Minor and sometimes major repairs should be completed in advance.
- Your agent knows the details required for this kind of preparation. If needed, she has
access to contractor resources to help you in the preparation process.
- Your agent can help you determine whether the time and cost of doing certain repairs and
making specific improvements will be worth the effort.
- Your agent is connected to the real estate market on a daily basis and knows what buyers want and what they ask for.
- Following through on her suggestions will generally garner you thousands more dollars at the settlement table.
Step 4- The Marketing and Advertising Strategy
Now that your house has been prepared and is ready to be viewed, it is time for your agent to market and advertise it.
You will need to decide how you are willing to get the word out that your house is available for sale.
There are several ways to market your home.
- Marketing it discretely is one approach and can be accomplished through agent networking.
- A more open approach is the norm, and allows for broader and faster exposure.
- Evidence of the success or your agent’s marketing strategy is a combination of buyer showings and offers received.
- A good agent will spend the time and the money to achieve these.
- Assuming an open approach, your agent will enter your home into the Metropolitan Regional Information System (MRIS) database reaching thousands of realtors.
- A yard sign should be posted.
- Your home will be posted on relevant websites and advertised in newspapers and magazines. Your agent will hold broker open houses so that realtors can preview the property for their clients.
- She will also hold weekend open houses for prospective buyers.
- Property flyers which show the beauty and special features of your home will be created and distributed..
- Mailings will be sent to the surrounding area and to other agents.
- Your agent will carry out telephone follow up with realtors who have seen the property and with unrepresented buyers.
- The goal is to create high awareness of the availability and desirability of your home and to generate strong interest and enthusiasm to make the best offer possible for its purchase.
Step 5- What Happens When You Receive an Offer
- Once a buyer decides they wish to purchase your home, an offer will be prepared and presented.
- Often this presentation is done in person with all parties represented; the listing agent, the sellers, the buyer’s agent and the buyers.
- You and your agent need to review the offer carefully. Your agent will go over what needs to be done to successfully execute the transaction based on the terms and conditions of the offer received.
- Your agent is likely to make recommendations, including corrections and additions to the contract and suggested pricing counter offers.
- The contract should address the interests of all parties; however it is the responsibility of your agent to negotiate toward the best terms and conditions for you.
- Once the contract is fully ratified, you have accepted the terms. No changes can be made to the contract without written agreement from the both seller and buyer.
- The contract, although not limited to the elements below, should include the following:
- A legal description of the property
- The sale price
- The escrow deposit
- The down payment
- The financing terms and approvals
- The deposit amount
- A description of inspection rights, repair allowances, if any, and who will pay for them
- The method of title conveyance
- Who will handle the closing and the date of closing
- A list of items that do not convey, if any
- Any contingencies asked for and agreed to by both parties
Step 6- Negotiating The Price And Terms Of Sale
- It is your agent’s responsibility to protect your best interests throughout the offer, negotiation and acceptance process.
- She will work with you in explaining what specific clauses mean, what the buyers are offering, what they are asking for in return and how these issues could or will affect you.
- Elements that you may find yourself negotiating include:
- The type of financing utilized to complete the sale
- Closing costs and the proportion of those costs you will pay
- Repairs to the home required as conditions for sale
- Inclusion/exclusion of appliances and fixtures as part of the sale price
- Landscaping additions, improvements and allowances included in the sale price
- Painting included in the sale price
- The occupancy date for the homes availability to the new owner
Step 7 – The Escrow Deposit and Escrow Period
- An escrow deposit is a good faith deposit made by a buyer. It says to you as the seller that the buyer is serious about buying your home.
- It is held by the brokerage firm of the buyer’s agent. It is deposited to an escrow
account once the contract is ratified (agreed to by both parties).
- The amount of the escrow deposit is deducted from the necessary down payment. The down payment is due and payable at settlement.
- During the escrow period your agent will oversee the execution of the terms of the sale contract.
- A successful sale will occur if all the terms of the sale contract are met by both you as the seller and by the contracted buyer.
- Your agent will coordinate all the necessary contract provisions and items needed to finalize the sale of your home. She will keep you informed and do everything possible to ensure a smooth and timely closing to the sale of your home.
Step 8- Preparing For The Close Of Your Home
You are almost there…
- A few days before closing you should be in contact with the Settlement Attorney/Agent to ensure that all documents needed to close your sale are in order and properly executed.
- By now you should also have made arrangements with a mover.
- Remember that before you go to settlement your property needs to be broom clean and in substantially the same condition as of the contract date, and as specified and agreed to in the sale contract.
Step 9- Settlement On Your Home’s Sale
- A successful settlement results in the transfer of legal ownership of your home to your contracted buyer.
- You have successfully sold your home and should now be in possession of the proceeds of the sale
Step 10- Your Future
You can now utilize the proceeds from the sale of your home according to your plans. Your agent can help you find a new home or refer you to someone who can, if you are leaving the area.