First time selling your home? Maybe you’re ready for more space, looking to downsize, or perhaps you simply want a new adventure in a new location. No matter the reason, we think it’s essential to be prepared for the entire sales process. Selling your home can be emotional and stressful, especially for first-time home sellers, as likely it’s your most significant investment.
As a first-time seller, you have the advantage of having gone through the buying process. Now’s the time to spend your time prepping your home to look it’s best for potential buyers. Plus, depending on your plans, you may also have the extra pressure of selling your home and buying a new one at the same time. Let’s go over the entire process from top to bottom so that you feel a little more prepared before you sell.
Your Guide To Being A First-Time Home Seller
We think that having a basic understanding of the home-selling process can give you some peace of mind as you make your next move. Here’s a step-by-step guide that gives you everything you need as a first-time home seller.
1. Decide If You Should Sell Your Home Or Buy A New One First
The first thing you should do is figure out when you’re buying your next home. Some people decide to sell first so they don’t have to worry about two mortgages at one time. We suggest talking to a real estate agent and look at your current housing market. In a buyer’s market, there’s a better chance that a seller will accept an offer on their home, even if it’s contingent on the sale of your current home. However, in a seller’s market, homeowners might not be keen on accepting a contingency that forces them to wait around.
We also suggest that you address your finances before getting too far into the process. Contact your current loan servicer to discuss your remaining mortgage balance so that you know how much equity you’ll have when you decide to sell. Learning this information will help you budget for any improvements you’ll need to make before listing.
2. Choose The Right Agent
The next step is to find the right real estate agent to work with you during this process. The trick is to find someone who knows the area inside and out and is willing to work around your busy schedule. At 41 Realty Group, we have agents on our team that specialize in helping sellers and their unique needs. The right real estate agent will help you set the right price, negotiate offers, and give you the advice you need to sell your home for the best price.
Plus, real estate agents will be there every step of the way to help you navigate through any sticky situation that might come up.
3. Set The Right Price
A critical step in the home selling process is to set the right price. Both appraisers and real estate agents will give you an opinion based on comparable sales that occurred within the last 3-6 months in your specific neighborhood. They look at several factors, including the house’s age, square footage, location, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Your agent will perform a comparative market analysis for you to recommend a price that is right for your home based on current market conditions.
4. Prepare Your Home To Sell
It’s probably no secret that there are many details to take care of before you officially list your home and show it to buyers. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Fix The Little Things
You know that to-do list you’ve had for years of all those little things you need to fix or replace? Now’s the time to do them. Maybe it’s a broken door handle, a faulty outlet, a sink that drips, etc. They might seem small to you, but potential buyers might attribute that to the house not being adequately maintained in the grand scheme of things.
You might not need to do costly and extensive renovations. Though they will be impressed by the new countertops or new roof, they likely won’t want to pay more for those updates.
Declutter And Clean
When showing, it’s vital to declutter and eliminate distractions that take away the buyer’s focus. Now is the perfect time to sell or toss anything that you aren’t planning on taking with you when you move. Clear out the closets and organize all of your storage areas.
Once the clutter is all cleared away, the next step is a deep clean throughout the house. This is the time to scrub the baseboards, wipe the dust from ceiling fans, and get behind all those nooks and crannies you usually skip.
Stage Your Home
Staging your house is a powerful tool that a first-time home seller should utilize when it’s time to sell. It can be as simple as cleaning well, removing extra clutter, and repainting a wall or two. Staging helps potential buyers look at your house like it’s already theirs. They will want to see details to help them imagine themselves living in this space. Try to make your home as comfortable and neutral as possible.
Your real estate agent will help you find just the right placement of furniture, or even help you bring in rented pieces and decorations to freshen up your space.
5. Market And Show Your Home
Once you’ve prepared your home and made it fit for selling, your selling agent will start marketing your home to buyers. Marketing involves several different elements, all designed to paint your home to the best light and find the right people interested in buying. They’ll most likely start with professional photographs of your home to create an online profile. This listing will include all the details about your home that buyers will be looking for.
Your agent will also use the multiple listing service (MLS). The MLS is a private database that is used only by licensed agents to find homes for buyers. Your home will be listed on the MLS and syndicated to all popular home search websites. Agents will also put a sign in your front yard, perhaps use flyers and direct mail for marketing your home, using a video tour, and of course, share your property across their social media pages.
Another marketing strategy is open houses. Your agent will give you tips on when the best time to host an open house is and what you can do to prepare for buyers coming in and out of your home.
6. Negotiate And Accept An Offer
Negotiating is a significant part of the home selling process. As a first-time home seller, you can expect your agent to work on your behalf to ensure your best interests are represented. They want you to save money and get the most for your house.
When entering the negotiating phase, our advice is to have realistic expectations and remain flexible and open with your agent. They will help you set realistic pricing goals and tell you what buyers will be looking for and what offers they are likely to make.
Especially if you’ve been on the market for a while, talk to your agent about what you can do to speed up the process without losing too much money. They’ll be your guide when it comes to handling all the tricky parts of this negotiation process and help create a win-win for you and the buyer.
7. The Closing Process
Did you accept an offer? Congrats! Now comes the official closing process. Here’s how it works:
First, you’ll prepare for the appraisal and inspection. A licensed appraiser will evaluate your home and make sure that the amount matches or is similar to the sale price. An inspection is ordered by the buyer to assess your home’s structure and systems. This is done to find out if there are any significant repairs needed.
Frequently your listing agent will recommend having a pre-inspection before putting the home on the market so that no surprises come up that you might have to pay for later. If things do come up during the inspection, your real estate agent will help negotiate repairs and help you decide what you should do, whether it’s making repairs yourself or lower the house’s price.
The next step in the closing process is to get all your paperwork in order. Likely you’ve already filled out the listing agreement and the purchase agreement. Now your agent will work with the title company to get the rest of the documents squared away. This will include title work, property tax documents, property surveys, any plans and permits associated with your home, and your homeowner’s insurance information.
As soon as all the terms of your purchase agreement are met, and the loan paperwork is ready to go, an escrow agent will deliver a settlement statement that details all the money transfers. On closing day, you’ll sign all the paperwork required to transfer ownership of your home officially.
8. Tie Up Loose Ends
Once you get through closing, you’re just about done with the entire process. We wanted to mention a few loose ends you’ll need to tie up. Don’t forget to change your address with the post office and cancel your homeowners’ insurance on the home you just sold. Now is also the time to close all accounts delivered to your home, like utilities or newspaper subscriptions.
If you have any manuals that go with appliances in your home, leave them on the counter for the new owners. That’s it! You’re free to begin the next adventure in your life.
Ready to get started? We can help! Give us a call at 41 Realty Group, and we’ll answer your questions, help you sell, and even help you find a new house.