If you’re considering selling your property, this guide will lead you through the process step-by-step.
WHEN YOU’RE READY TO LIST
This website has an extensive collection of articles geared toward preparing to sell, so we’re going to assume you’ve already gone through that! If not, follow these links below:
Once you feel that you and your property are ready to be officially listed, we have an order of events/timetable. Please note that everything in this blog post is based off of standard practice and ‘average’ offers. Your actual offer/timeline of sale may vary from what we’ve posted here just based off the different items of negotiation.
THE LISTING AGREEMENT – First, we will meet and go over the paperwork for getting your property listed. This meeting will be where we determine the price, decide on exactly when your listing will go live, and discuss showings! This can happen well before you are ready to begin marketing your property.
SCHEDULING PHOTOS – Before listing the property on the MLS, we’ll want to get professional photos taken of your house and property to include in the listing.
GOING LIVE ON MLS – Once your photos are ready and your listing agreement is signed, your property will be entered into the Multiple Listing Service where buyers will begin seeing that your property is for sale.
SIGN/LOCKBOX/EXTRA KEYS – At this time, we will place signs in the appropriate locations, and a lock box on your property, which will require you to provide us with an extra set of keys and alarm codes, if applicable.
DISCLOSURES – Lastly, we will give you a Disclosure Packet, which you should fill out in anticipation of getting into contract.
The state of your home/property during a showing is very important, since buyers make a first impression within seconds. Hopefully by now, you’ve done the legwork to ready your property for sale, so that buyers can see it at its best (See above).
Even still, there are a few things that you can do make the home look more attractive to buyers during showings. If it is possible, prior to having a showing at your property:
DETERMINE WHAT KIND OF ACCESS YOU WILL OFFER – As part of your listing, we will have the opportunity to provide buyer’s agents with a set of showing instructions which are your chance to determine how and when you want to allow people to walk through your property. Access typically depends on the occupancy situation and can vary from be a “go and show” to requiring 24 hour notice prior to showings. We can discuss all the options with you at our listing appointment.
MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR PETS – Each person’s pet situation is unique. If possible, remove your pets from the property prior to showings. If this is not an option, they should be outside, and ideally your potential buyers would not interact with them at all.
TIDY UP – Go room-by-room and double check that the beds are made, the dishes are done and that the bathroom isn’t in need of immediate attention. The cleaner the better, but if there is time, at a minimum do a quick-walk through to tidy up before the buyers arrive.
TURN ON THE LIGHTS – This is especially important if it’s dark outside, or if a certain room has poor lighting. If it’s a sunny day, open all the blinds and curtains and let in as much natural light as possible, even if you don’t prefer it that way. Consider not only using any overhead or ambient lighting, but also employing small lamps, accent lighting or under-cabinet/closet light systems. Buyers might not even notice these upgrades if they aren’t turned on. Even in the middle of a bright summer day, having lights on is standard practice for showing your property.
DEAL WITH ANY ODORS THAT ARE UNPLEASANT – Make sure your house smells good. Many sellers buy strongly scented candles or air fresheners, but buyers are often concerned that these fragrances may be covering up other odors or situations. It’s best to allow some fresh air in prior to the showing, and to just be sure there isn’t anything unpleasant lingering in the air.
CONSIDER WHAT YOUR HOUSE SOUNDS LIKE – Turning off the TV, stereo systems or any other noises that are not necessary will help your property show better. Sometimes quiet or soft background music can make a property feel more homey.
LIVED-IN TOUCHES – Speaking of ‘homey’… If it’s winter and you happen to have a fire going in the wood stove, or if your showing overlaps with the 2 hours that lasagna will be in the oven, you’re in luck! Buyers love a cozy, lived-in feel!
VACATE THE PREMISIS – There are situations where having an owner present during a showing can be an advantage, but often it takes away from the buyer’s experience of walking through. Be sure you’ve left the property in time for the showing so that the buyers feel welcomed and don’t worry that they are imposing on you (even if they are).
BE SURE THE BUYERS ARE GONE BEFORE COMING BACK HOME – This isn’t typically a problem, but sometimes showings run late or buyers want to linger (usually a good sign that they are interested). Ideally, if there is a timing issue or some other circumstance, you we will be informed so that we can reach out to you and let you know, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. If you arrive home and the showing is still happening, consider waiting until the buyers leave before coming back onto the property.
WEEKLY SELLER REPORT
As part of our service to you as your listing agents, we will provide you with a weekly report to keep you updated on everything that is happening with the sale of your property. In a perfect world, we hope to get your property into contract before you ever even need an update, but it can be helpful to know that we have a plan to keep you in the loop should it take longer to sell.
This Seller Report is especially useful for out-of-the-area sellers who want to stay informed at a distance.
THE REPORT WILL INCLUDE:
A summary of the activity on your listing from written by us, your Listing Agents
Number of showings and feedback provided from the buyer’s agents
Number of views on each online marketing platform
Local Multiple Listing Service
Social Media – Facebook/Instagram
Ideas and Strategies for moving forward if the listing isn’t getting enough activity or has gone stale.
GETTING AN OFFER
Oftentimes, buyer’s agents inform the seller’s agents that their clients are interested prior to submitting an offer in writing. Sometimes there might be discussion of multiple offers coming from different buyers. Usually, each situation is somewhat unique, but regardless, you will be contacted and we’ll discuss the best way to handle any incoming offers. You typically have 3 days to consider the offer and respond before it expires.
In the current seller’s market, most of our clients are opting to predetermine an amount of time that they would like to show their property for, usually around 1 week. We can then decide on which day you will look at offers, and this gives plenty of time for active buyers to get in to see your property as well as get their offers together.
Once you have an accepted offer, based on the individual terms, we will begin the contract phase of your sale, which means that what happens from here is largely dictated by the terms as they were negotiated on paper. Once you’re “In Contract,” we’ll send you a timeline of important dates so that you always know what’s happening.
The first part of the contract is dominated by the Inspection Phase. In the terms of your contract, there will be a specific number of days allotted for the buyer to investigate the property. During this phase, if you have not already completed inspections prior to listing your property, the buyer will likely want access. If you already have inspection reports, you would provide them to the buyers at this time, although that does not mean that they won’t also complete their own inspections. The Disclosure Packet you filled out will also be provided and the Escrow Company will pull a Title Report and Natural Hazard Disclosure. Based on all of the above, there may be new findings associated with your property, and the buyers may want to renegotiate.
NEGOTIATIONS AND CONTINGENCY RELEASE
As per the contract, the buyer may try renegotiate the offer during the inspection phase, particularly if/when large unexpected things come up during the investigations into the property. To avoid this scenario, please read this quick article on Inspections for Sellers. This can be a disheartening part of the selling process, but it’s good to be aware that it IS part of the process.
If a buyer is ready to move forward with the contract, they then
“Release the Inspection Contingency” which means that they can no longer back out of the contract based on the inspection clause without suffering damages (losing their deposit) – so it’s a significant step forward in the process.
The Inspection Period is by default 17 days on the contract, but can be longer or shorter based on the terms of your negotiated offer and can also be released early or requested to be extended by the Buyer.
APPRAISAL AND LOAN CONTINGENCIES
Once the Inspection Contingency is released, then the contract enters the time period of the last two contingencies, which are Appraisal and Loan. If the buyer is offering all cash, then this phase of the contract is absent. However, the vast number of buyers are financing the purchase, so this typically part of the process.
First, the Lender will order an appraisal to verify the value of their investment. On your end, you simply wait for word from us that the appraisal was completed, that there are no conditions and that it came in “at value” – meaning that the price which has been negotiated in the contract is OK with the Lender.
If the appraisal comes in “low”, then the Lender will require that the loan value be changed to reflect what the appraisal says. Typically such a change creates another negotiation period to address the financial discrepancy.
The buyer may release the Appraisal Contingency at this time depending on the terms of the contract.
Next, the buyer’s lender will be working on creating the loan. The Loan Contingency may or may not be released at this time, depending on the terms of the contract.
ESCROW AND CLOSING
Towards the end of the contract period you will likely be vacating the property (depending on the situation and if you haven’t done so already.) However there are many little steps that are being taken behind the scenes to finalize the transaction:
* The Buyer’s Lender will create Loan Documents and the Escrow Papers will be created by the Title Company. On the last days of your contract, the Buyer will sign both sets of these documents.
* You, as the seller, will sign the Escrow Papers.
* The Lender will transfer the money through the Escrow Company to you.
* The Title company will then record the sale at the County Office. Once the sale is “on record” then it is final, complete and done!
As your Realtors, our last actions will be to pass the keys on to the buyer’s agent and to remove the signage from what is no longer your property!
…WAIT THERE’S MORE?
Sometimes there are lingering things that need to be handled when a property is transferred. Maybe there are owner’s manuals stashed somewhere, or the buyer wants to ask you a question about paint color. Sometimes, other, bigger issues can come up, and you as a seller, might need to reach out to us as ask for information or help. Please know, that as your Realtors, we work for you regardless of wether or not the transaction is closed. All you ever have to do is call us.
Also, we WILL ask you for feedback and reviews, because your honest impression of working with us is so important, and future buyers and sellers love to see and read reviews from past clients, so we’ll still be in touch