The prescribed process for selling a home varies from state to state. Most real estate agents will be glad to help figure out the market value of your house. They will also give you advice about what to do to increase property value. Before listing your house, there are important steps to take in order to protect your interests and get the most return.
A licensed appraiser can perform an appraisal on the property for a fee and will give you a detailed report that includes items like area property values in comparison to your own, a synopsis of the real estate market in your location, and issues that might adversely impact property value.
It is useful to have an idea what it will cost you to sell. If you are using a real estate agent, they can give you a precise estimate of the closing costs and any other fees that may be involved. If you are planning to sell yourself, consider the costs of advertising, signage, title company services, and any other possible fees (e.g., attorneys, appraisal, inspections, surveys, taxes and HOA fees).
Call your current lender to check the mortgage pay off amount. Subtract the mortgage pay off from the fair market value of your home. Then subtract the costs of selling your home from the remainder order to get an idea of the cash you can expect to be paid at closing.
If you are planning to buy another house, get pre-approval for the mortgage before you close on the sale of your current home. If your financial picture has changed since purchase of your current property, you might not qualify for a new loan. You may not be able to sell your house at the price you need to purchase the property you want. Either way, if you wait to close on your current home until you’re sure of your financial situation, you won’t end up in housing that you don’t want to be in.
Make repairs either yourself or by hiring a contractor. If there are too many repairs needed, your home will be considered a fixer-upper by agents and buyers. Small repairs could be made by adding a fresh coat of paint, repairing flooring, or spackling and painting picture hanger holes in the walls. Larger repairs may involve fixing damaged siding or replacing roof shingles. Mold and mildew odors and stains, damp basements, broken gutters, plumbing problems, and faulty electrical wiring are other “buyer interest dampeners” that should be attended to before listing your house.
Finally, get everything as spotless as you can. Clear out clutter and get rid of offensive odors. Organize shelves and closets, clear out cobwebs, and dust blinds and ceiling fans. Make the exterior sparkles by washing windows and having a neat and healthy lawn. Add to landscaping if you need to by adding potted plants and shrubs.
When your home is ready to show keep it available to real estate agents to show as needed. Potential buyers tend to be more at ease looking over a house when the owner isn’t there, so clear out and take a walk or run a quick errand. If you’ve prepared everything right, your house will sell itself!
Tips to Sell your Home
Here are some tips for a smooth sale when selling your own home. Before planting a “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) sign in your front yard, there are some key items you should know. First, you will have to do your own value assessment of comparable properties in the area. Then you will need to decide on an asking price based on your research. And you will have to act like a real estate agent and look at the property with an impartial eye to improve the interior and curb appeal.
Depending on what state you are in, you may be required to give a potential buyer at least one property disclosure. Disclosure requirements can be as simple as disclosing the age of the house and whether there are existing problems that a buyer needs to know. They may extend to notation of any disputes, or if the house is located in a risk zone (flood or earthquake). There may be other requirements, so research the statutory issues with which you must comply.
Federal law demands that sellers of FSBO houses disclose details of any lead tests (because of lead-based paints) to potential buyers. Many buyers and sellers don’t pursue lead tests, but you should at least provide a potential owner with a lead paint pamphlet available from the EPA at no cost.
Although showing your home isn’t difficult, it can be time consuming. You will have to flexible and expect to receive same-day and last-minute requests to show your home. Don’t be surprised if the call you receive is from a real estate agent or potential buyer is calling from their car parked in front of your house.
If you are showing the house yourself, answer questions as accurately as you can. Stay professional, and avoid letting your emotions take the lead. Potential buyers are usually looking at a possible home for themselves, so allow them to visualize themselves as residents, not you.
Selling your Home: do you really want to be an FSBO?
The idea of selling your own home as a FSBO (For Sale by Owner) has been around as long as there have been homes. Today, though, technology offers a new avenue for putting a home on the market yourself: The Internet. But does being a For Sale By Owner seller mean more profits?
There are many websites that cater to FSBOs. Internet entrepreneurs have created sites that offer very professional-looking options to do-it-yourselfers.
These sites have risen in proportion to the rising costs of housing and associated realtor fees and commissions. A far cry from the days when the only choices were hammering a homemade sign in the front yard running an ad in the newspaper, today FSBOs have access to all kinds of online resources, education, and instructions to list their homes–for a fee.
There are many services that you can access by using a website to sell your home, there are unexpected costs, and associated risks when attempting to sell your home as a FSBO. Weigh the risks of taking advice from an anonymous website. Carefully study any home-listing packages before ordering so that you fully understand all the costs involved. There may be hidden expenses that aren’t included in the banners and headlines touting the site.
Here are some common elements of FSBO packages that many websites offer:
Payment for services. Different packages may be available for varying costs. Read the fine print before you pay!
Picture submittal. There are usually limits on the number and dimensions of pictures that you can upload. Additional fees may be charged if you want to add more photos. For an extra charge, you can have the site sponsor take photos for you.
Yard sign. Some packages offer a nicely printed yard sign (or more, if you want) for rent. You will have to pay for a replacement if you incur any damage to it. The site sponsor will probably have a statement stipulating that they are not liable for damage to any buried services (e.g., electrical, gas, or telephone) from sign placement. Remember that it is your responsibility to find and avoid existing lines when placing your signs.
Print advertisement or flyers/brochures. Predesigned print advertisements may be offered at additional cost. You will need to make copies yourself, either from your own printer or through a copy or print shop.
Print purchase and counter offer form. Pre-prepared versions of these forms will likely be offered to you to print or download for a fee.
Disclosure property forms. A standard disclosure and federally mandated lead disclosure forms are made available once you pay for services. There are not usually additional fees, but you do need to pay your attorney to review them to ensure compliance with legal requirements.
Curb box. You may be able to rent a holder for information flyers. Again, any damage to the holder will be your responsibility.
Carefully weigh the advantages versus the costs of using an internet website as a FSBO. Without the use of a trained real estate professional, you can run into unforeseen hitches when trying to sell your home. Hidden costs can mount, and you may risk legal action by unhappy buyers. Read the fine print, and seller beware!
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