What Are the Steps Involved in Selling a Home?
When you sell your home, you may find yourself in a stressful and time-consuming process. A real estate lawyer who knows the steps involved and how to handle them can make it easier. In this blog, we discuss the steps involved in selling a home and how a lawyer can help you.
A real estate attorney familiar with the laws and processes in your area can navigate a transaction properly, ensure you only sign solid contracts, and manage the entire process properly.
Preparing the Property for Sale
While it is possible to sell a property as is, most homeowners need to make some repairs before putting their house on the market. You probably will not want to invest too much money into these repairs, but sometimes, a few fresh touches make a big impression. Painting rooms that need it, for example, is usually a weekend job but creates a look that says the home is clean and well-kept.
Sellers Should Clean a Home From Top to Bottom
Even if a home does not need significant repairs, cleaning and staging the home properly is important. This is more difficult if you still live on the property, but not impossible.
Other considerations might include renting a carpet cleaner, deep cleaning surfaces, polishing furniture, and working on the landscaping. You will need to keep the lawn cut and hedges trimmed neatly while the house is on the market, too. Adding a few seasonal flowers in pots or flowerbeds also increases curb appeal.
This is also the time to identify your team who will help you sell the property. Many people opt to work with a real estate broker or agent. Others do not. While agents make the process easier for sellers, they also reduce the money you make from the transaction. At the very least, you will want to work with a real estate lawyer to ensure your assets remain protected and you navigate the sales process properly.
Establishing a Listing Price
If you hire a real estate agent, they do much of the work related to pricing and marketing the home. If not, these tasks will fall on you. Knowing how to price the home will depend on the local market and the money you need to make from the sale.
It is important to consider all the circumstances, too. You might price your home lower if you need to sell it to move quickly or list it at a higher price if you have several months to wait for the right buyer.
How Do You Determine a Fair Listing Price?
The first step in determining a listing price is to consider the comparable properties nearby. Look at the recent purchases in your neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods. Compare homes with similar square footage, acreage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Consider additional amenities. Get a good idea of the popular price range based on square footage.
Then, consider how much you need to make. Are you in the same ballpark? Do not forget the other expenses that will come out of the purchase price.
You must also think about:
- Your real estate agent’s commission, if you hire one
- The fees you will pay your real estate attorney
- Closing costs
- The possibility of additional repairs
- Moving costs
- How much you still owe on the property (if applicable)
From there, you decide on the price you want to list the home. Remember, houses sell for over and under this value, depending on the market and other circumstances. This is just a starting point.
Listing the Home
If you have an agent handling the sale, they will list your home on several websites and notify other brokers of the opportunity to show the house to their clients. They manage all advertising to sell and promote the house on your behalf. This is one reason why houses sold with help from an agent generally sell faster and for more money.
You May Consider Selling a Home by Owner
When handling a for-sale-by-owner listing, marketing the house is up to you. This part of the process seems easy, but it is often a stumbling block for homeowners who are too busy to focus on promoting their homes.
To officially list your home for sale and ensure potential buyers know about it, you should:
- Write an accurate, compelling description of the home and neighborhood
- Take high-quality photos to show the home’s best features
- List the home for sale on online real estate sites, which could have fees
- Advertise your home on social media
- Put up for sale signs in the yard
- Consider other options to promote your home
Once you list your home, prepare to have agents and individuals contacting you for showings. If you still live in the home, you might want to consider scheduling an open house on the weekend instead of having people in and out every day.
Open houses are also good opportunities to advertise your home and have potential buyers see it. Promoting them as special events with new signage, online advertisements, and print ads in local real estate magazines could draw more people to the open house and help your home sell faster.
Realtors perform a lot of tasks in the sale of your home. If you sell your home yourself, you will want a real estate lawyer to ensure you don’t skip any essential steps that could derail or delay your sale.
Showing the Home
When showing your home, first impressions are the most important. Many potential buyers decide how they feel about a property as soon as they pull into the driveway. This is why it is so important to ensure your landscaping is inviting, the house has plenty of curb appeal, and the lawn is well-kept.
Sometimes, something as simple as a great-looking front yard could convince a buyer to pay more for a home than they would otherwise. Their first impression of the inside of your home will matter, too. It is imperative that you prepare your house for showings.
This should include:
- A general clean up
- Decluttering inside and out
- Putting away toys, dishes, and other personal items
- Putting some items into storage to better display the space
- Repairing obvious issues, such as burned-out light bulbs
- Keeping the floors vacuumed and dusting the furniture
If you work without an agent, are part of the package. Showing your own home is often difficult because potential buyers will not be comfortable being honest if you are present. For this reason, it is best to leave the property and let their agent show them around.
Do not overlook the importance of safeguarding your valuables during this process. You will want somewhere to store jewelry, important documents, collectibles, and other items while people visit your home. Also, consider your pets. They will need to be out of the home during showings, too.
Reviewing Offers for the House
Hopefully, you will begin to receive offers on the home shortly after listing and showing the property. An important step in the process is reviewing these offers and responding. How this process works will greatly depend on the economy, the real estate market in your area, and how well you marketed your home.
If you have an agent, they will guide you through this process. If not, it is up to you. You should have a plan for your range of acceptable offers and when you will make a counteroffer. You should also be prepared to take your emotions out of the equation and treat each offer as a business decision.
You will need to consider include:
You should know how much you will accept and what a fair price is for the property before receiving offers. Consider whether each offer gives you the revenue you need to make. Be careful not to rule out the first offer just because it is the first.
Most offers come with one or more contingencies. These are a key part of the agreement.
The most common contingencies from potential buyers include:
- A home inspection without significant issues
- Their ability to secure financing
- The appraisal value of the property
Some buyers might also use the sale of their own homes as a contingency. You need to consider the real estate market in their area before accepting an offer with this type of contingency. In a hot market, this does not create the same type of risk as it would when there is a recession or the market has cooled.
The Potential Buyer’s Financial Standing
Some buyers make an offer with better financial standing than others. When two offers are similar, you might want to choose the one with a mortgage pre-approval, a cash offer, or a larger down payment. This helps ensure the sale will go through without significant delays.
If you accept an offer from a buyer who does not get approved for a mortgage, you could waste time and pull your home from the market, only to have to go back to the first step.
Their Flexibility and Your Needs
If you have specific needs, you should choose an offer from a buyer who can meet them. For example, if you want your children to finish the school year before you move, you might want a buyer who is willing to wait a few months before moving in.
Do I Need to Make a Counteroffer?
When you get an offer that is close to your ideal in price, contingencies, concessions, and other details, you can either accept the offer or negotiate. Negotiating is a good idea if you have several offers that are close in scope. This could create a bidding war, which is the best-case scenario for a seller.
One option for sellers with a lot of interest in their property is to give interested parties an offer review date. This means you will accept offers until a specific day and time. You will not consider offers after this deadline. This does not mean you must choose one of these offers, but it allows you to collect multiple offers and compare them at the same time to decide.
The Sales Agreement
Most real estate transactions begin when the buyer and seller reach an oral agreement. Then, the parties create a sales contract that lists the price, contingencies, timeline, concessions, and other details. Both parties sign this agreement.
When you work with a real estate lawyer, they can create this document or review the agreement from the buyer’s agent. Ensuring this agreement protects your rights and includes all the necessary details is essential to getting the money you deserve, closing the sale, and making sure the process goes smoothly.
Preparing for Closing
From the time you agree to accept an offer, the role of your real estate attorney will be especially important. Even if you use an agent, the lawyer or a title company will play an essential role in this part of the process. They must clear the title, handle any title insurance policies, and prepare the paperwork for closing.
At the closing meeting, all the necessary legal documents get signed. This includes paperwork for the mortgage, transferring the title of the home, and more. The seller walks away with their money, and the buyer has the keys to their new home. This meeting often takes place in the attorney’s office or at a title company.
After the meeting, the overseeing attorney prepares and files the necessary documents to finalize the transaction.
You Can Connect With a Real Estate Attorney While Selling a Home
Whether you work with an agent or not, a real estate attorney could greatly benefit you while selling a home. They ensure your contracts are solid and clear the title on your house to prepare for closing. Many also host the closing meeting and oversee the paperwork and process.
You can contact a real estate attorney for sellers near you to learn more about their services and how they can help you navigate the steps to sell your home.