As times change and new technology disrupts the real estate industry, the process of selling a home has become more complex and what once was customary isn't so much.
Whether you're a first time seller or just haven't sold a home in a few years, there is always something new and in the 10 Things to Know when Selling a Home, we'll cover many of these items and how homeowners should prepare themselves and their home.
10 Things to Know when Selling a Home
- Presentation is Everything: Homes never get a second chance to make a wonderful first impression and the reason staging is important. Photos and videos are uploaded to the NWMLS, Facebook, YouTube, personal websites and national portal sites and garnering consumer attention is not without competition. If a property has cell phone pictures, too many vertical pictures (please stop taking vertical pictures ... they're terrible real estate photos), or artistic shots then buyers easily skip past the home and move onto others with more appealing images/videos. Spend the time, get it right, and hire professional to do the work.
- Staging is Mandatory: During a listing presentation, we cover staging and preparing the home for pictures and video. Staging has caught wind because cameras and photographers have become more proficient in capturing the essence of rooms. Here some suggestions: kitchens need to have clear countertops, rooms should have no essential furniture removed and/or arranged to increase space, beds should be made with dresser tops having little on them, and bathrooms need folded hand towels and almost all daily items stowed. Don't forget to go outside and clean up and freshen up the landscaping.
- Its Harder Than it Looks: Selling a home isn't easy even though us seasoned listing agents make it look that way. Coordinating staging, photography, preparing the listing contract, opening title and escrow, ordering sign installation, making flyers and videos and uploading across platforms, following up with showings, answer cooperating agent's questions regarding availability and offers, and scheduling home inspection items are just some of the items dealt with. For FSBO sellers, the process can be overwhelming and stressful especially when a stranger knocks on the door wanting to see the home. As listing brokers, one of our goals is to make it seem easy and reduce the stress of sellers by handling and coordinating these tasks.
- Showing Times will Vary: After a home is listed on the NWMLS and syndicated through the internet, it is time to respond and schedule selling agents showing requests. That is why its recommended to make the showing instructions as easy as possible so many folks can walk through which encourages more offers. If FSBO then the seller will have to accommodate showing times and take phone calls to arrange the times - not always easy unless a person's employment allows for.
- Homes Sell for What the Market Determines: Its common to hear "I need to get [insert dollar amount] out of my house". Understandable as proceeds from the sale tend to be used for another purchase. when selling selling for a loss is never preferred. However, being that homes sales are market driven, a seller's needs are usually on a buyer's radar. Listing agents recommend listing a home on: recent SOLD comparable properties, recent Pending and Pending Inspection comparable properties, days on market for comparable properties, appreciation (or depreciation) of a property's neighborhood, upgrades that have been completed, and the property's current condition. These factors determine a property's market value.
- Be Prepared to Answer a lot of Questions: Listing agents have many questions when listing a home. Starting with the listing agreement and listing input sheets to the 6 page Seller Disclosure Statement of the (also known as Form 17), features and amenities of the home, showing instructions, when was the septic last pumped, where are you planning to move to and are you buying another home? are just some of the items. This doesn't include escrow which will have a questionnaire for loan amounts and identity, and more. So, just be prepared.
- Be Prepared for Unexpected Information: As the process of selling trucks along there may be a time when information may surface that is unexpected and unknown. In the industry we call it Discovery. Liens, incomplete bankruptcies, and maintenance items are just some discovered items that may arise. Be prepared as some items can take longer than others to solve.
- Be Prepared for People to Walk Through the Home: It can be unsettling to have strangers walk through your house, open closest and pantries, look in bathrooms, and even attics and crawl spaces. Real estate brokers, on average, do a good job qualifying buyers prior to showing them homes. Qualifying for purchase is just as important as qualifying for safety since a seller has to trust the agents as well as the people the agent is providing access for. We tell our sellers to lock up valuables, personal items, prescriptions, and guns just to be safe.
- Should I Record Visitors to My Home? The Washington REALTORS made a video of just that which here is the gist: "It is unlawful to intercept a conversation by recorded device without written permission" though the same doesn't apply for video. It is very common for security systems to be present in homes and I've been told by my sellers that "we watched the buyer's walk through the house ... they stayed a long time" which gives confidence that the buyer likes the home.
- How Will the Seller's Proceeds be Received? At time of closing, also called recording, the escrow company will disburse the seller's proceeds by check or wire. This time is often confused with the signing where the closing documents are signed at that is not the case. The sale has to record at the County before its all said and done and that is when its legal for escrow to disburse the funds. Also, always contact escrow, via phone or in person, to set up a wire as fraud does happen.
There are many more questions and topics about selling a home. What would you like to know more about and/or what questions could be answered?
Also, to learn more about what we do to sell homes quickly and for top dollar, please visit our Selling in Snohomish County page.