There is no corner to hide in at your house. The laundry room has been converted to a closet-sized bedroom. Your office doubles as the kids’ playroom. The garage is too small for your off-highway vehicle. It’s time to sell your home.
You may have other reasons for selling, but the goal will be the same. If you’re like 89% of home sellers, you will be looking for a good real estate agent. Then what? Read on for a sneak preview into the home selling process.
Listing Your Home
At this point, you may be wondering what your home is worth. This will depend on:
- The Market – Is there high demand for homes in your area?
- Location and Condition – Is your house centrally located and in tip-top shape?
- Listing Agent – Who is representing you and marketing your home?
The most important variable, your listing agent, can help you manage the other two and get the best price for your home.
Choosing a Local Realtor in Sanpete
If you’ve lived in Sanpete Valley long, you probably know at least one Realtor. It is important that you feel comfortable with your agent, but here are some other criteria to consider:
- Experience – Have they helped negotiate reasonable selling terms on similar homes? How quickly?
- Strategy – Do they have a plan for selling homes like yours?
- Network – Do they have the ability to market your home before it is listed on the MLS?
- Image – Will their reputation or personality reflect poorly on your home?
- Company Association – Do they work for a company and does the company have a positive reputation? (A well-known company can make a huge difference.)
- Location – Do they live and participate in the community where your home is located?
- Honesty – Do they appear to be sincere? Do they have a reputation for being honest?
- Communication – Do they understand your needs and the needs of potential buyers?
- Negotiating – Do you think they will be able to negotiate competently on your behalf?
- Work Schedule – Are they available to meet your needs or is real estate their second or third job?
- Commission – Will they earn it? Cheaper is not always better. Saving 1% in commission doesn’t pay off if the cheaper agent sells your house for 2% less.
Home Seller’s Listing Agreement
You’ve mercilessly reviewed your options and decided XYZ is the Realtor for you. Now it’s time to sign a listing agreement. This agreement secures a commitment between you and your agent for a set period of time, typically six months to a year. Less than six months would not be sufficient to properly market a house.
Part of the agreement requires you to fill out a Q&A form designed to reveal any known issues with your house. These seller disclosures should be answered honestly to prevent any backlash.
As part of the buyer’s due diligence, some professional services will be ordered to ensure your home is in reasonable condition. Ordering these services yourself may give you a leg up in the sales process. Be sure to keep the following reports and all of your other paperwork together in a safe place for when you need them.
Property Inspection Report
A professional will provide you with this report following a non-invasive inspection of your home. They will go over your home’s structure and systems to make sure that things are functioning properly and in good order. This report will help you make informed decisions about what to fix before selling your home.
Pest Inspection Report
It is a good idea to have a professional inspect the premises for any unwanted guests. Some infestations can have a severe impact on your home’s value. Rot and fungus are other problems that may turn up, but it is to your benefit to have the opportunity to fix these issues upfront.
Pricing Your Home to Sell
Buyers will be most interested in your home when it first hits the market. If priced right, your home will generate more showings and have the best selling potential at this time. If the starting price is too high, you may miss out on the initial excitement over your listing and have to lower the price well below market value.
Market knowledge is crucial when pricing your home. There are many conditions that can affect the market, but some of the critical ones are:
- Interest rates
- Job growth
- Types of loans available
- Economic outlook
- Number of similar homes on the market
- Time of year
The housing market is seasonal, especially in Sanpete Valley where weather can be a huge factor in moving or even looking at properties. The following seasonal patterns should be considered with other housing market trends when choosing an appropriate listing price.
Late Winter to Early Spring (March – April)
During this season, the Utah housing market is starting to thaw, much like the ground. Families become more active as the weather is more attractive.
Spring to Early Summer (May – June)
This is the best time of year to sell a home because Utah home buyers tend to be flooding the market. You may very well sell your home right away if the price is right.
Summer (June – August)
While not quite as active as the Spring, this season is still pretty ripe for home sales. The days are longer and the weather is nice, a good mix for potential home buyers. Homes are also more attractive this time of year, especially when the lawn is green and landscaped.
Late Summer to Early Fall (September – October)
Utah home sales can sometimes be as strong in the Fall as they are in the Spring. People may be looking to get into a new home before the end of the year, so take advantage of the weather and make your home shine before the winter sets in.
Marketing Your Home
When you put your house on the market, you are selling a product. You want your product to be in the best condition possible and you want to present it to the right people.
Preparation and Staging
Think back to when you were searching for the home you are trying to sell. What made you like that house? Sure, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is important, but none of that matters if a buyer can’t visualize themselves living there.
To help them visualize, you need to provide them with a proper canvas. Here are a few tips for creating that canvas:
- Remove all clutter and depersonalize your home.
- Hire a professional cleaning service to secure the best first impression.
- Accent the features that made you want to buy that house.
- A fresh painting can go a long way to making things feel new and inviting.
- Stage your home
If you’ve ever been to a hotel, you may have noticed that the lobby is lovely. The furniture is arranged just right and there are plants and other small items that perfectly accent the space. These details are what make customers feel comforted enough to spend the night. When you stage your home, you will be doing something very similar.
According to StagedHomes.com, homes that are staged sell, on average, in less than 12 days and sell for 17% more. While these results may vary by market, it has been proven time and again that staging makes a huge difference.
Marketing Methods For Selling A Home
Now that your home sparkles as it shines, your Realtor should be ready to list it with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This essential first step is just a small part of the marketing process. Other things to consider include:
- 15 – 25 professional photos of your home. According to some studies, homes with professional photos average 139% more clicks on websites.
- List your home on additional major websites such as Trulia, Zillow and other similar sites. Online exposure and marketing of your home is huge! According to the National Association of Realtors, 89% of all home buyers shop online before visiting homes or contacting an agent.
- A professional sign should be placed in front of your home. Vacant homes should have a lockbox placed on the door so showing agents have easy access.
- Color financing flyers can be placed with the sign in your yard to give potential buyers professional materials to take home.
- Open houses could be considered, though they tend not to work well in Sanpete County.
- Magazine advertising and newspaper ads can get your listing in front of more people and set it apart from others.
- Update your marketing strategy every 30 days or so.
A great agent will provide timely feedback and have many strategies to get your home in front of buyers and give it the best opportunity to sell.
Receiving An Offer On Your Home
From the time you receive an offer until the time you hand over the keys, the process gets more technical. Your Realtor will help you navigate what is to come, but here is an overview to get you started.
Home Buyer/Seller Negotiations
When you cast out your line and get a serious buyer on the hook, the buyer will draft a purchase offer, usually through their real estate agent. Their agent will present the offer to your agent, and your agent will pass it along to you.
It is very rare for an offer to be accepted without adjustments, which leads us into negotiations. This is an area where your Realtor can really shine.
You may receive multiple offers, and there should be a deadline for receiving them. Multiple offers can lead to offers above your listing price. A great agent will walk you through all of the details and discuss the best strategies for negotiating with potential buyers.
Understanding the Escrow Process
Escrow is a just a fancy word to describe money (or documents) being held by a neutral party until the contract indicates otherwise. The length of time the money is held could be anywhere from weeks to months. Your real estate agent should monitor this process and let you know how it is progressing.
During escrow, the escrow agent will prepare all documents needed to close the sale. Much of the escrow period is to account for contingencies established in the offer. These contingencies typically allow the buyer time to research the property before committing to the purchase.
Here is part of the process:
- The buyer deposits earnest money into the escrow account.
- Additional inspections are performed if needed.
- The home is appraised if the buyer is obtaining a loan.
- The loan is approved and underwritten, if applicable.
- If the property is in a homeowner’s association, the HOA will provide documents.
Once all contingencies are removed, your escrow agent will contact your mortgage holder and any other lien holders of your property to request a payoff amount. The escrow agent will prepare a settlement statement that includes your payoff amount and closing expenses.
When the time comes, you will meet with the escrow agent and sign the deed of transfer and other required documents. The buyer will meet separately with the same agent to sign their loan paperwork and closing documents.
Closing On Your Home
Once the buyer has signed the loan documents, the escrow agent will return them to the lender for final approval and funding. The sale will be recorded with Sanpete County after the escrow agent receives the closing funds from the buyer and the buyer’s lender.
On this occasion, referred to as “closing”, ownership will pass from you to the buyer. You will hand over your keys, garage door openers and anything else that allows you access to the property. Congratulations! You’ve just sold your home.