Seven steps to selling your home

1. Define your needs
Write down all the reasons for selling your home. Ask yourself, "Why do I want to sell and what do I expect to accomplish with the sale?" For example, a growing family may prompt your need for a larger home, or a job opportunity in another city may necessitate a move. For your goals, write down if you'd like to sell your house within a certain time frame or make a particular profit margin. Work with your real estate consultant to map out the best path to achieve your objectives and set a realistic time frame for the sale.
Name your price. Your next objective should be to determine the best possible selling price for your house. Setting a fair asking price from the outset will generate the most activity from other real estate agents and buyers. You will need to take into account the condition of your home, what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for, and state of the overall market in your area. It's often difficult to remain unbiased when putting a price on your home, so your real estate consultant’s expertise is invaluable at this step. Your consultant will know what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood and the average time those homes are sitting on the market.

Remember: You're always better off setting a fair market value price than setting your price too high. Studies show that homes priced higher than 3 percent of their market value take longer to sell. If your home sits on the market for too long, potential buyers may think there is something wrong with the property. Often, when this happens, the seller has to drop the price below market value to compete with newer, reasonably priced listings.
It’s really pretty simple.  Buyers always have choices.  So if your home is more expensive than other comparable properties, buyers will buy those other properties first.  And your home will sit on the market.

2. Prepare your home
Most of us don't keep our homes in "showroom" condition. We tend to overlook piles of clutter, old paint, scuffed floors, dirty carpets, and doors or windows that stick. It's time to break out of that owner's mindset and get your house in tip-top shape. The condition of your home will affect how quickly it sells and the price the buyer is willing to offer.

First impressions are the most important. Your real estate consultant can help you take a fresh look at your home and suggest ways to stage it and make it more appealing to buyers.
A home with too much "personality" is harder to sell. Removing family photos, mementos and personalized décor will help buyers visualize the home as theirs.

Make minor repairs and replacements. Small defects, such as a leaky faucet, old paint, a torn screen or a worn doormat, can ruin the buyer's first impression.

Clutter is a big no-no when showing your home to potential buyers. Make sure you have removed all knick-knacks from your shelves and cleared all your bathroom and kitchen counters to make every area seem as spacious as possible.
Get the word out.

Now that you're ready to sell, your real estate consultant will set up a marketing strategy specifically for your home. There are many ways to get the word out, including:

  • The Internet
  • Yard signs
  • Open houses
  • Broker open houses
  • Media advertising
  • Agent-to-agent referrals
  • Direct email marketing campaigns

In addition to listing your home on the MLS, your consultant will use a combination of these tactics to bring the most qualified buyers to your home. Your consultant should structure the marketing plan so that the first three to six weeks are the busiest.

3. Receive an offer
When you receive a written offer from a potential buyer, your real estate consultant will first find out whether or not the individual is prequalified or preapproved to buy your home. If so, then you and your consultant will review the offer, taking care to understand what is required of both parties to execute the transaction. The offer, though not limited to this list, should include the following:

  • Legal description of the property
  • Offer price
  • Down payment
  • Financing arrangements.  How much financed and by what date financing is secured
  • Deposit amount
  • Inspection dates
  • Appliances and furnishings that will stay with the home
  • Purchase & Sale Date (formal contract date)
  • Closing date
  • Contingencies

At this point, you have three options: accept the offer as is, accept it with changes (a counteroffer), or reject it.

Remember: Once both parties have signed a written offer, the document becomes legally binding. If you have any questions or concerns, be certain to address them with your real estate consultant right away.

4. Negotiate to sell
Most offers to purchase your home will require some negotiating to come to a win-win agreement. Your real estate consultant is well versed on the intricacies will protect your best interest throughout the bargaining. Your consultant also knows what issues are easiest to negotiate. Some negotiable items:

  • Price
  • Financing
  • Closing costs
  • Repairs
  • Appliances and fixtures
  • Painting
  • Move-in date

5. Purchase and Sales Agreement
Once both parties have agreed on the terms of the sale and have signed the offer, your attorney will work with the buyer’s attorney to prepare a contract.  This is also know as a Purchase & Sale (P&S).  Your consultant and your attorney will work together to resolve any issues as they arise throughout the process.

6. Prepare to close
Once you accept an offer to sell your house, you will need to work with your consultant to determine what needs to be done next. The property may need to be formally appraised, inspected or repaired. Your real estate consultant can spearhead the effort and serve as your advocate when dealing with the buyer's agent and service providers. Depending on the written contract, you may pay for all, some or none of these items. If each procedure returns acceptable results as defined by the contract, then the sale may continue. If there are problems with the home, the terms set forth in the contract will dictate your next step. You or the buyer may decide to walk away, open a new round of negotiations or proceed to closing. Also, begin to make arrangements for your upcoming move if you have not done so.

7. Close the deal
"Closing" refers to the meeting where ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer. Your consultant working with your attorney will guide you through the process and make sure everything goes as planned. After the closing, you should: 

Cancel electricity, gas, cable and other routine services.
If the new owner is retaining any of the services, change the name on the account.
Leave owner's manuals and warranties for all conveying appliances.