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Home Sellers Checklist
So, you've got to get your home sold, but you don't know where to start or even what the entire process really looks like. How do you find the best agent? What kind of money do you put into your property, and how should you prioritize the repairs?
Determine Fair Market Value & Set a Price
Before you look at Zillow and just slap a price onto your property, make sure that you take the time to do your own homework. Work with your real estate agent and look at properties that are currently listed and homes that have sold in the last six months. Use properties that are most like yours in detail, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, age, and features and benefits. This way you're comparing apples to apples. And consider as well the current market trends. Is it a sellers' market? Is it a buyers' market? Take all this information, factor it together, and use that to help you come up with their asking price. Researching your competition can really help you understand where your home fits into the market, and if you're ever in doubt on price, it's always better to price your home low and encourage bidding wars. Plus, it's never a good look to reduce your price.
Calculate Your Selling Expenses
Whether you're replacing the floors or repainting the exterior, selling a home is always going to require some sort of initial investment, so make sure you understand all of these costs and that you're financially prepared prior to the selling process. Start by having someone come out and give you professional estimates for all the repairs and projects that you want to do to get your home in sell condition, and then prioritize those projects based on which ones are going to give you the most return for your investment. Then determine your budget and complete as many of the projects as you can. Next, factor in your closing costs. As a seller in the state of Georgia, you can expect to pay between 7% and 10% of the total sales price of the property. This is going to include things like your real estate agents commission, attorney fees, any mortgage payoff fees or wiring fees, and then prorated taxes that need to be paid.
Determine Your Home Equity
Your home equity is simply the value of your home minus what you owe. Really simple, and since this is probably going to act as a down payment for your next property, it's really a good idea to do this at the very beginning of the seller’s process. So to get your equity, we need to take your fair market value, which we've already determined in step one, and now simply deduct what you owe. So for example, if you have a $300,000 mortgage and you owe 200,000, then your payment, or your equity, excuse me, is going to be roughly $100,000.
Hire the Right Professionals
Your home is the biggest sale of your life and no doubt a really emotional process, so surrounding yourself with a team of trusted professionals to guide you through the process and offer you that of separation is going to be really important. These are the folks that you're going to be working with very closely over the next several weeks, so you trusting in their expertise is very important. They should make themselves available to answer any of your questions and respond to you and the rest of the team in a prompt manner. Always try to look for someone who is full-time, proactive, energetic and loves what they do, because they'll bring that same energy to work for you. Do your research, ask for referrals, ask for reviews, and interview several different attorneys, real estate agents, and mortgage lenders to make sure that you are hiring the best team.
Design a Digital & Print Marketing Plan
Your agent should have a detailed and aggressive print and digital marketing plan to get your home in front of as many people as possible. With the massive view of social media, the days of an agent just during your property onto the MLS are long gone. It does not get the house sold, and to be quite honest with you, it's a disservice to the seller. With 86% of people starting their home search online, you must have an agent who understands how to effectively use digital marketing and social media to get your home sold for as much money as possible in as little time as possible. Sit with your agent to design a custom print and digital marketing program that works best for your needs.
Get Your Home Ready to Sell:
Believe it or not, this can be one of the hardest steps for homeowners, because it's at this point where you really need to start emotionally detaching yourself from your house. You can only look at your house through the eyes of the buyer and you need to project that mentality throughout when you're getting your home ready to sell. If you're walking through a house and it had a sagging deck and worn floors, are you willing to pay top dollar for it? Probably not. Is a buyer going to be able to imagine themselves in your home when it's cluttered and your effects from the last 10 years are scattered throughout? Doubtful. Buyers are looking at your home both inside and out. They're looking at the layout, admiring the beautiful features, making sure the appliances work and checking to see if there are enough bedrooms and bathrooms, but they're also looking for anything to get them a better price, and you can bet what their eyes don't see, the inspector will.
So let's minimize the opportunity and take care of any issues ahead of time. It's always better to be proactive than reactive in these situations. Some of my clients even get a pre-listing inspection, which will obviously detail any work that needs to be done prior to listing the home and you can eliminate those issues before they even arise. Now that the repairs are made and the home has been staged and is ready for buyers, it's time to look to launch your print and digital marketing campaigns. You want to start by hiring a photographer and videographer to showcase all the wonderful features of your property. Then come up with some really well-written copy that tells a story and really describes what makes your property unique. Combine the media with the copy and use these to create digital and print pieces that will go out both on the MLS, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Craigslist, your blogs, your home's personal website, and more.
Set Up Showings & Open Houses:
If you have followed and implemented your checklist up to this point, no doubt you're getting plenty of requests for showings. Your agent can either show your house by appointment only or they can use an electronic lockbox that will keep track of each agent that's come into the property, and it also makes for safer and easier access when showing. And I know it's really tough, but please try to make your home as available as possible to buyers and always keep it in show-ready condition. And if you're looking for a little bit of constructive criticism before you put your home on the market, nothing works better than having an exclusive open house for agents and brokers. And to be quite honest, nothing attracts them more than having free food at an open house.
Review Offers & Negotiate a Contract:
As you start to receive offers, sit with your agent to comb through them carefully, and start to weigh the pros and cons of each one. You want to take into consideration obviously the offer price, then you want to talk about how much money is the buyer putting into escrow. This can sometimes indicate how much skin they're actually willing to put into the game. Are they writing the offer with any contingencies, such as having to sell their property in order to buy yours? What is their proposed closing date, and is it lining up with the date in which you need to move? And are they asking you as a seller to contribute money to closing costs, and if so, how much? You also want to consider whether or not the offer you received came with a preapproval or prequalification letter to support the buyer's ability to get a mortgage.
There are an endless number of ways to negotiate these contracts and an endless number of variables to play with, so as you're going through the offers, try to keep an open mind. And guys, don't take these offers personally. We've all bought something, and what do all buyers want? The best deal for the least amount of money, so you can't blame them for trying, because when you go to buy a home, you know you're going to do the same thing. So try to keep your emotions in check and look at every offer as an opportunity to negotiate.
Prepare for Closing:
After you accept an offer, the buyer will begin their due diligence period. This is a period of time that you guys have already agreed upon in the contract in which the buyer has to complete all their due diligence, such as a home inspection, pest or termite inspection. There will also be a financing contingency, and again, this is a designated period of time which gives the buyer an opportunity to secure the mortgage. Now you can appreciate, since you've already taken care of any necessary repairs that could cause any issues and you've already received a preapproval letter from the buyer, this is going to minimize the opportunity for the buyer to back out of the contract.
Once you’ve successfully completed the due diligence phase, the appraisal and title will now be ordered, and for the most part, the rest of the work is going to be behind the scenes and lies in the hands of the real estate agent, the attorney, and the mortgage lender. There are a tremendous amount of items that need to be taken care of prior to your closing and you really can't afford to skip any of them. So keep this checklist handy and make sure you refer back to it so that you don't overlook any items or have issues when you get to the closing table. And if anything else, if you have questions, make sure you reach out to your real estate agent.
Meet Misty Harris - a U.S Army Veteran and licensed professional REALTOR with JP & Associates Realtors Metro Atlanta. Misty has always been passionate about real estate. It began with her admiration ....