The Selling Process
It all starts with the thought...and it grows it's own life from there. Once you've decided you need or want to sell, your on your way. But there are lots of steps before the sign goes in the yard and your house appears on the internet. Now that you've decided to sell, make a decision about the REALTOR you want to use, they can help guide you through the steps that are necessary to get your home on the market. And they'll help your do everything from staging to finding the right handyman to get the house ready.
Even the most well maintained home has things that need to be done. Buyers want houses that look 'perfect'. No house is perfect but it's in your best interest and the interest of getting the best offer to have your home looking as close to picture perfect as it can be. Many home owners have a home inspector come and visit and give them a list of items that require repair before they list the house. A buyer will have a formal home inspection and come up with a list of required repairs, most sellers will complete these repairs as part of the final sale. We tell Sellers, take the high road, get the repairs complete and keep a list of what you do and the receipts. Repaint the rooms that are either painted in wild colors or just need to be freshened up. Remember colors can turn people off so you want the house to look nice but not with anything too 'wild'. Clean the carpets, freshen the drapes and the whole house look sparkling.
When selecting your REALTOR there are several ways to begin. We always tell our clients to start by talking to friends and family who have sold or are selling and ask them what they think of their REALTOR. A referral will guarantee you get a Realtor who has done a good job for somebody you know. They also won't want to let their friend down so they will be 'on their toes' from the first meeting. It will also provide you with a name of somebody you will feel is not a referral. Always check references, no REALTOR is going to give you the name of somebody who had a bad experience - check for yourself. Ask for a list of houses this REALTOR has sold and ask them to see what they did to market that home. If you can't find anybody that has a referral for you, check the Internet. The California Association of Realtors and the Internet both have sites that offer referrals. You want a REALTOR that is familiar with your neighborhood but more importantly has continued their education, and is up to the minute on what works in marketing.
You may want to meet with more than one REALTOR. Have a list of questions ready for the interview. Be sure you ask all the questions to each REALTOR and then compare the answers. Ask each candidate what they think your home is worth and what their plan to get your home the most exposure will be. But what it all comes down to is which REALTOR do you feel the most comfortable with. Which one actually makes you feel good. You are about to have an close relationship with this person, it has to be somebody you like and you feel you can trust.
Once you have selected a REALTOR they will want to really get to know your house. All the good things you love, things that maybe you don't love so much and they'll give you a critique about what you have done to get your house ready. This may also involve the REALTOR making some suggestions about things that should be packed and removed from rooms. In some cases a REALTOR will recommend a 'stager'. This is a designer that will recommend how furniture should be moved, colors in the home that should be changed, etc. This will cost you very little and can make the difference between a short and a long sales process.
The two biggest decisions you will have to make is whether to have a lockbox on your home and whether to allow the agent to do open house. The Lockbox issue is a difficult one. The new lock boxes today record everything, when an agent open the box an email message is sent to the listing agent with that agents, name address, company and phone numbers. It does not show us how long that person was in the house. But if you come home and door or window if open or lights are left on, your agent knows exactly who was in the house. Much safer and more secure than ever before. And, lockbox timers can be set so that the box can only be opened during specific house. But there are still some people who will want their home by appointment only. Remember this will restrict the number of REALTORS who can show your home. If they can't get an appointment that fits in with their tour schedule they will eliminate your home from the tour. The second decision is the open house. We want as many people as possible to see your house but allot of people do not want a parade of strangers in their home. Have this conversation with your REALTOR and decide if open house is right for you. There are 2 different kinds of open house. During the week the REALTOR may want to do an open house just for other REALTORS. The more REALTORS that see your home the more they will be willing to present it to their clients.
Now you get to put a sign on your lawn and have a flyer ready to show your house off in the best best light. The marketing plan from your agent will probably include a plan for showing your home on the Internet. Be sure you check out the MLS, Realtor.com and other sites to see how your home looks. You should know how other people are viewing your home. Read what the REALTOR writes and if it's not right or your don't think it says it all, share other information with your REALTOR.
And now we wait for the right Buyer to come along. Have a set plan to meet with your REALTOR weekly to discuss the progress, how many people have looked at the house what comments do they have and what are the other Realtors saying. There is a silent rule of thumb. If people are not showing your house, it's probably not priced right. You may want to talk about adjusting the price. If you hired the right Realtor and you believe and trust them, take their advice if they say you need to change the price do it, you are paying them for their expertise.
When you get an offer, be sure you meet with your REALTOR in person to discuss the details of the offer. We tell all my clients, an offer is not the end of a negotiation, it is only the beginning. Feel free to counter the offer on many points, not just on the price. The goal will be to make both parties happy with the negotiation. There should not be a winner and a loser in a negotiation everybody should feel good about the final numbers and details.
Be cooperative, let the inspections happen, be level headed about the requests from the buyers, and when you hear that all the paper work from their lender is complete, inspections are done and a move in date is agreed to, start packing. It's a stressful process, trust your REALTOR, and get ready for all the excitement that comes with something new. Remember you are selling but you are moving on to something new yourself, don't let the stress of your sale spoil the joy of your move. Your REALTOR is there to be a comfort, a knowledgeable friend and a trusted allie.
Good Luck with your sale, we hope the process is short and sweet! If we can answer any of your questions or be of any help please don't hesitate to contact me. If you need a referral of a REALTOR in your area, call us we keep in touch with agents all over the country.