Home Selling Guide
Congratulations on deciding to sell your home! Use this step-by-step guide as a way to prepare yourself for the process.
Interview real estate agents
- What experience do they have? How many homes have they sold in the last year?
- Can they provide recent references?
- Will you work with one person, or a team of people?
- How will the agent market your property and actively update you throughout the process?
Become an expert in your market
- Read blogs.
- Watch homes for sale – What do they sell for? How long do they stay on market?
- Attend open houses in your neighborhood.
Review listing paperwork
- Review listing and purchase agreements used in your area.
- Ask your agent for an overview of the selling process and timelines.
Prep the home
- Make a list of the home improvement projects that you’ve been avoiding.
- As your real estate agent to help your prioritize the projects. Some improvements can have a huge impact when selling a home.
Prepare to Sell
Choose a Real Estate Agent
- Have your agent prepare a comprehensive Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) – a report that analyzes your local market by comparing your home to homes actively on the market and recently sold.
- Understand what barriers you will face in trying to sell your home.
- Ask your agent to give you an “Estimated Net Proceeds” worksheet – so you know your approximate selling costs, your breakeven point, and your estimated proceeds.
Determine your price
- Have an idea of what your holding costs will be while you have your home on the market. Make sure you have the reserves to cover this.
- Discuss different pricing options for your property. There are several strategies to pricing a home, and you should discuss them at length with your agent.
- Know what the average Days on Market (DOM) is for your area. This can be an indicator for how quickly / slowly your home will sell. Be prepared for both scenarios.
Talk to your agent about staging tips
- Make sure the house is properly staged to appeal to the broadest number of buyers.
- Deep clean the home and keep it that way during the listing.
- Take care of repairs that are plainly visible or will cause problems during the home inspection.
- De-clutter & de-personalize.
Gather your records
- Collect all receipts and work orders of repairs and maintenance that have been performed on the home throughout your ownership.
- Dig up warranty and appliance information.
- Provide copies of floor plans or blue prints, if available.
- Provide details on any utilities, HOA fees or other costs associated with the home.
Sign listing paperwork
- Plan to spend about an hour with your agent filling out the listing paperwork.
- Agree with your agent on a procedure for how agents may access your home for showings.
- Set the “go-live” date for your listing. Timing matters, so discuss with your agent.
- Fill out the seller disclosure documenting known defects in the home.
Insist on professional photography
- Great photos online will bring people to the home for showings. Bad photos will keep potential buyers away.
Advertise the home for sale
- The most important place for your agent to list a home is the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), since 90%+ of buyers find their home through online listings.
- Your agent should also ensure it is posted in a variety of other top real estate websites.
- Having a For Sale sign is a great way to market to neighbors and those driving-by. It also makes it easier for agents / buyers to find your home when they are out touring.
- Your agent should plan to host an open house when the listing first goes live. This is a great chance to introduce the listing to the customers in your market.
Monitor your progress
- Review your listing statistics on a weekly or bi-weekly basis with your agent. Know who is seeing your house, what their feedback is, and how your home is actively being marketed.
- Make sure you have your agent keep an eye on market activity – what are comparative homes selling for? Are they dropping their price? It is important to know what your competitors are doing.
- If the number of showings is low, or if you are getting negative feedback, be prepared to discuss a price drop or other strategies with your agent.
- My house hasn’t sold – Should I take it off the market?
- Should I lower the price of my home?
- Why won’t anyone write an offer on my house?
- When do sellers list their homes for sale in King County?
- Picking the wrong day to list your home for sale is a money-losing strategy
- Should I leave my home on the market during the holidays?
Review the offer
- Sit down with your agent to understand the terms of the offer. Ask lots of questions!
- Is the listing price fair? If not, what are the logical negotiation steps to reach your pricing goal?
- What contingencies has the buyer included in their offer? What are the risks to you as a seller?
- How much earnest money is the buyer willing to put at risk? Under what circumstances would you retain the earnest money?
Estimate your selling costs
- If you haven’t seen one already, have your agent pull an “Estimated Net Proceeds” worksheet so you can understand your selling costs.
- Your actual closing costs will be pro-rated by the escrow company based on the exact closing date, but you can come pretty close on your estimate.
Don’t get offended
- Keep your emotions in check. Be courteous and business-like, even when the buyer isn’t being reasonable.
- Every buyer wants to negotiate a better deal, and you won’t know what their real motivations are until you negotiate. Stick with the negotiation.
- Remember, if you were a buyer, you’d probably try some of the same negotiation tactics.
Keep your eye on the prize
- Offers may fail based on an argument over $500. That’s hardly a relevant amount in the grand scheme of selling a home worth 1000x that amount.
- If you can’t put an offer together with this buyer, what are your alternatives? How long before the next offer comes along? Understanding the current market conditions is critical to good decision making.
Pay attention to deadlines
- Ask your agent to prepare a list of timelines that outline the purchase & sale agreement deadlines.
- When does the buyer’s home inspection contingency expire?
- When do other contingencies expire, like financing, title and HOA?
- When can you expect to sign closing documents?
Negotiate after the buyer’s inspection
- Inspection negotiations can be tough. Buyers want a perfect house and sellers don’t want to fix every little item.
- Be reasonable and ask your agent for advice on the best course of action.
Make moving plans early
- Be flexible, however, as closing dates sometimes change.
Get the house ready for transfer
- Contractually, you have agreed to sell the house in the condition that the buyers have seen it during the inspection process. Take care in keeping the house maintained.
- Consider deep cleaning the home after you move out as a courtesy to the buyer.
- Collect all keys, garage door remotes, manuals and warranty documents.
Prepare to close.
- Plan to sign closing papers 1-5 days in advance of closing. Make sure you are in town or have made arrangements for signing.
- Review the settlement statement with your agent to make sure all of the numbers look correct.
- Check with your agent on what date/time the keys officially change hands.
- Ask escrow when the proceeds from your sale will be available.