Home Sellers Guide to Real Estate
The Bay Area real estate market is on of the hottest in the nation, and home sellers everywhere are looking to cash in. With increased demand, rising rent prices and a low housing inventory, home sellers will remain in the driver’s seat when it comes to naming a price.
But home selling can be a tricky process that requires you to interact with a range of real estate professionals, including brokers, attorneys, escrow agents, home appraisers and more. That is why California Property Brokers has compiled this instructional document to help guide you through the process.
In the clearest terms possible, this is how you should go about selling your home:
Inspect Your Home
This covers a lot more than just dusting the tables and cleaning the chairs. Although house cleaning is necessary, you need to have your home checked by a professional real estate appraiser for major structural and maintenance issues that may impact your listing price.
This includes everything from water damage and electrical issues to compliance with applicable zoning codes. If you’ve lived in a house long enough, some of these regulations may have even changed. And out-of-date appliances like water heaters may lower the value even further.
Lastly, you need to have an abstractor run a detailed title search. This will help you verify that there are no defects in the chain of title for your house (or the land its on). If you cannot give an interested home buyer a warranty deed, the price they are willing to pay will drop considerably.
Hire A Broker
Many ambitious home sellers try to go it alone, but navigating the home selling process will ultimately cost you more time and money than you would save. Real estate brokers streamline this process by connecting you to interested home buyers, explaining the home selling process, and giving you recommendations on everything from title insurance to home stagers.
Real estate brokers can also refer you to a real estate attorney, which you will surely need when it comes time for closing. This early stage is when you should start to make first contact with other professionals who will be involved in the home selling process.
Market Your Home
Work with your broker to design a comprehensive plan for selling your home to the right demographic. Here are some advertising mediums that they may incorporate:
- MLS – MLS stands for “multiple listing service,” an online network of brokers, home sellers, and home buyers in any given area. There are multiple MLS platforms, and your broker can work with you to determine which one is best. A standard MLS will let home buyers search by square footage, location, number of bedrooms/baths, special features like pools, and even proximity to important locations to public transit or schools.
- Networking – This can take place anywhere, from a formal meeting set up by your broker with a specific buyer, to a conversation with co-workers at break. Be vocal about wanting to sell your home, have professionally designed brochures to pass out, and interact with any friends or family on social media to tell them about your home. The more communication, the more options you have.
- Open House – Traditional sales methods such as yard signs and open houses will never go out of style. An open house should always be staged, professionally catered, and tailored to the individual situation. Seek the advice of a professional decorator or home stager for the best way to accent your home’s features.
Negotiate A Price
Home appraisers are an important of the negotiation process, because they give you a baseline for how much to realistically quote. If you price your home too low (not recognizing its value) you may be leaving money, LOTS of money, on the table. If you price it too high, an experienced home buyer may walk, forcing you to search for prospects all over again.
The classic mistake is to price your home too high, thinking the negotiating process will naturally lead to a “middle-of-the-road” compromise. More often, the compromising goes more in the buyer’s direction, even in a seller’s market like the Bay Area. So price your home realistically, and consult closely with your real estate broker after every serious offer. Brokers are born negotiators.
Prepare For Closing
Closing is the period of time when an impartial third party (escrow agent) collects all the necessary money and documents, and holds them in trust until they are ready to be released. Closing will generally occur 30-45 days after you have signed the sales contract. You should be represented at closing by a real estate attorney that you trust.
This is when you get paid, so you want to make sure everything is in order. Know what type of deed you are transferring, and retain multiple copies of seller disclosures, addendums, and the purchase contract. You do not have to attend closing if you don’t want to, but many home sellers show up to make the symbolic signature that transfers their deed. Also be aware that the home buyer is entitled to a final walk-through of the home.
You have to be prepared to move out! Finalize your living situation before you move into the closing period, and make sure that you can afford whatever place you are moving into for the interim. The purchase price will not be disbursed until 1-2 days after closing, so you should arrange the timing of any new purchase accordingly. You don’t want your nice furniture to have to sit in a storage shed somewhere, and completing a move before closing can make the whole process more hassle free.