Home Seller’s Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive Home Seller’s Guide! Whether you’re a first-time home seller or have sold multiple properties before, this guide is here to provide you with valuable insights, tips, and resources to help you navigate the process with confidence. Selling a home can be an overwhelming and complex endeavor, but with this guide, you’ll gain a deep understanding of each step involved, from preparing your home for sale to negotiating offers and closing the deal.

Home Seller’s Guide – Step 1: LISTING CONSULTATION

No matter how much time you allocate for preparation, the prospect of selling your home can be stressful. The consultation phase is designed to ease this process, providing you with insights into potential listing prices and the current state of the market in your neighborhood. Home sellers often grapple with numerous questions, and we take immense pleasure in assisting individuals in comprehending the intricacies of the selling process to empower them to make well-informed decisions.

Getting Acquainted

Our collective objective is clear: to successfully sell your house! Collaboration is fundamental, and effective communication is the linchpin of our approach.

Why are you considering a move? Openly sharing your motivation for selling enables us to devise a strategy that aligns with your specific needs.

What is your timeline for moving? Will you require a lease-back arrangement from the buyer until your new home closes, or is time on your side, allowing you to patiently await an ideal offer?

What selling price would you find acceptable? While determining home value is typically viewed as a realtor’s responsibility, understanding your expectations is vital. This insight helps us gauge whether a more in-depth pricing discussion and a potential adjustment to our strategy are necessary.

Tell us About Your Neighborhood

What aspects of the neighborhood do you particularly enjoy?

Is proximity to a school a key factor for you?

Do you cherish the sense of community in your cul-de-sac with fantastic neighbors?

What amenities in the vicinity are your favorites?

How convenient is access to major highways?

While we already possess substantial knowledge about the area, delving into your personal preferences and insights is essential. This collaborative approach ensures that we have a comprehensive understanding of your unique perspective, allowing us to tailor our strategy to your specific needs and preferences.

Home Seller’s Guide – Step 2: Showing your Home

Once we have meticulously prepared your home for sale, captured compelling photos, and set an attractive price, the stage is set for the public to experience your property, whether virtually or in person.

Understanding Showings

A showing can occur in various forms – through an open house, a scheduled appointment, or a virtual presentation. Open houses are scheduled sessions where potential buyers can drop by without an appointment. Alternatively, showings can be arranged by appointment through our automated system.

Preparing Your Home for Showings

To position your home competitively in the market, we will discuss specific preparations. Additionally, we can connect you with professionals such as stagers who can enhance the appeal of your home. The preparation process involves two phases:

Phase One (Before Photos and First Showing):

  • Thoroughly clean your home.
  • Consider painting some or all your living spaces.
  • Address minor repairs like caulking tubs and windows.
  • Address major repairs if within your budget, such as countertop or appliance replacements.
  • Stage your furniture to accentuate your home’s best features.
  • Temporarily remove personal items like family photos.
  • Declutter every surface and storage space.
  • Reorganize closets and pack excess items.
  • Eliminate odors by cleaning the fireplace or shampooing rugs.
  • Create an inviting color scheme with curtains or pillows to warm up your home.
  • Upgrade lighting or lightbulbs for brighter rooms.
  • Enhance landscaping and power-wash decks and sidewalks if necessary.

Phase Two (Last Minute Prep / Before a Showing):

  • Maximize natural light by turning on lights and opening blinds.
  • Dispose of garbage.
  • Ensure beds are neatly made.
  • Clear and dust surfaces.
  • Temporarily relocate pets and stow away pet bowls.
  • Secure valuables out of sight.
  • Power down your computer.
  • Adjust the temperature for comfort.
  • Present fresh towels.

Expectations During Showings

Three key actions can significantly contribute to the successful sale of your home:

Leave During Showings – Buyers often prefer to explore homes freely without the presence of owners. Leaving during showings allows potential buyers to envision themselves in the space.

Ensure Availability – While it might be inconvenient at times, making your home as available as possible is crucial. Buyers eager to view a property may eliminate it from consideration if it is not readily accessible.

Listen to Feedback – Pay attention to feedback from buyers or their agents regarding ways to enhance your home’s appeal. This valuable input can guide adjustments that may expedite the selling process.

Together, we will collaborate to maximize exposure and facilitate a faster and more successful sale of your property.

Home Seller’s Guide – Step 3: Review Offers

After receiving your initial offer or offers, our next step involves a careful evaluation of the proposals and determining the most suitable response.

Understanding an Offer

An offer to purchase your home is a signed purchase agreement submitted by a potential buyer. This agreement encompasses key details:

  • The proposed offer amount.
  • The buyer’s outlined payment method, be it cash or pre-approval for financing.
  • Specified terms, which may include requests for closing-cost assistance or contingencies like the sale of the buyer’s property, final mortgage approval, a satisfactory home inspection, and an appraisal.
  • A targeted closing date.
  • An earnest money deposit.
  • A set timeframe within which the offer is valid.

Evaluating Each Offer

Upon receiving an offer, whether singular or multiple, we conduct a thorough assessment, considering various elements:

  • The offered amount.
  • Presence or absence of contingencies as outlined by the buyer.
  • The source of funds, whether it is an all-cash offer, financing from a reputable local lender, a well-known online lender, or an unfamiliar out-of-town lender.
  • Proposed closing date and possession date to ensure alignment with your preferences.
  • Any special requests regarding items to convey or specific inspection requirements.

Dealing with Multiple Offers

In the case of multiple offers, we have several options to explore:

Accept the Best Offer: If a standout offer emerges, you may choose to accept it promptly. However, caution is advised, especially when high offers are presented without clear financing plans or explanations for potential low appraisals.

Counter All Offers: A strategic move involves requesting all potential buyers to submit their best offers by a specified deadline, allowing you to compare and select the most favorable terms.

Counter a Single Offer: If a particular offer is close to your preferences but could be improved, you have the option to send a counteroffer to that specific buyer.

Throughout these negotiations, the Top Shelf Group will serve as your ally, utilizing our data-driven insights and expertise to navigate the process. Our goal is to secure an agreement that satisfies both you and the buyer, ensuring a harmonious final contract.

Home Seller’s Guide – Step 4: Home Inspection

Buyers commonly request a home inspection as a condition of their offer, and while the inspector delves deeper into your home than a typical buyer, the preparations made before the first showing should prove beneficial in getting ready for the inspection. 

Understanding a Home Inspection

A home inspection is a comprehensive evaluation conducted by a professional home inspector, covering your home’s structure and systems. The inspection report plays a crucial role in a buyer’s decision-making process, allowing them to rescind their offer or request repairs if the contract is contingent on a satisfactory report. In certain instances, a home inspection serves solely for the buyer’s information and cannot be used as a negotiation tool.

Elements Examined During a Home Inspection

The inspector will scrutinize various aspects, including:

  • Structural conditions such as the foundation, beams, and floors.
  • Roof condition.
  • Mechanical systems like heating and air conditioning.
  • Appliances, ensuring their functionality (although some inspectors may skip non-built-in appliances).
  • Plumbing, checking for leaks, rust, and water pressure.
  • Electrical systems, assessing grounded outlets and identifying code violations.
  • Safety issues, including stairs, handrails, mold, or chimney maintenance.
  • Other inspections could be requested, for example:
  • Septic systems.
  • Wells.
  • Underground pipes and sprinkler systems.
  • Swimming pools and spas.

Preparing for an Inspection

Before the home inspector arrives, consider these preparatory steps:

  • Clean your house.
  • Secure or crate your pets.
  • Ensure all lightbulbs are functioning.
  • Empty your washing machine, dryer, oven, and dishwasher, in case they are inspected.
  • Guarantee accessibility to areas like the attic, crawlspace, garage, and sheds.
  • Leave a note for any non-functional items, explaining your plan to address them.
  • Provide documents related to maintenance and repairs.
  • Share your phone number for communication with the inspector.
  • Vacate the premises during the inspection.

Post-Inspection Actions

Once the inspection report is available, we will collaboratively address any potential issues raised by the buyer. Options include negotiation, deciding to fix an item, offering funds for the buyer to address it, or providing documentation that the problem has already been resolved. The Top Shelf Group is here to guide you through the process and help you navigate any inspection-related issues that may arise.

Home Seller’s Guide – Step 5: APPRAISAL

As you near the end of your home sale journey, one of the last remaining steps is getting your home appraised.

What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is an objective valuation of your property that serves as a safeguard for the buyer and the buyer’s lender. While the buyer pays for an appraisal, the appraiser works for the lender. While an appraiser may look at some of the same things as a home inspector, the result is an appraised value of your property rather than a condition report.

How is my house appraised?

Appraisers use as many measurable pieces of data available to provide an accurate value of your property, including:

  • Comparable properties in your area that are of comparable size, age, and condition
  • The condition of your home’s systems and structure
  • The square footage of your property
  • The number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Your location
  • The quality of your flooring, plumbing, and electrical systems

Appraisers include research about other properties and neighborhood values, as well as an in-person visit for their evaluation of your home.

How should I prepare for an appraisal?

Preparing for an appraisal is like prepping for an inspection. Consider the following action items:

  • Provide a list of all major improvements to the home and the age and condition of your roof, heating and air conditioning system, and appliances.
  • Provide any permits required for home improvements.
  • Clean your house.
  • Provide full access to all rooms and spaces, including the garage, sheds, attic, and crawlspace.
  • Remove or crate your pets.
  • Leave the house, or at least stay out of the appraiser’s way.

How can an appraisal affect my home sale?

An appraisal could require renegotiation if the property value comes in lower than the sales price. The appraised value dictates the maximum amount the lender will allow the buyers to borrow, minus their down payment. Depending on how the contract was written, if the appraisal is low, we can:

  • Ask the buyer to produce extra cash to make up the difference between the loan amount and the purchase price.
  • Reduce your price to the appraised value.
  • Split the difference with the buyer.
  • Cancel the contract.

Home Seller’s Guide – Step 6: Closing

We are on the home stretch! Just a few final steps stand between you and the successful closure of your home sale.

Pre-Closing Checklist

Before the closing day arrives, make sure to:

  • Address any repairs specified in the contract.
  • Keep records of all receipts, invoices, and before-and-after photos of the repairs.
  • Compile appliance manuals and warranties for the new buyers.
  • Arrange for a moving company.
  • Schedule the cancellation of utilities for the day following your move.
  • Cancel any newspaper subscriptions.
  • Change your address with relevant entities.
  • Thoroughly review settlement documents, especially the settlement statement.
  • Verify the accuracy of the property survey.
  • Ensure the house is clean and well-maintained.
  • Prepare for the buyers’ final walk-through.

What to Expect at Closing

Sellers may or may not attend the closing, and we will coordinate with the settlement company to determine the best course of action. It is possible to sign all necessary documents before the official closing.

Seller expenses, deducted from the sale proceeds, typically include:

  • Final mortgage balance.
  • Real estate commissions.
  • Prorated property taxes, utility bills, homeowners insurance, and homeowners association dues.

If you cannot move before the closing, arrangements for a rentback from the buyer may be necessary. We can assist in completing the appropriate paperwork for a rentback if needed.

The buyer will conduct a walk-through within 24 hours before closing, checking the property’s condition. If any issues arise, we will collaborate to address them.

Whether or not you attend the closing, you will need to provide house keys, alarm codes, garage remote controls, and mailbox or gate keys to the buyer.

Post-Closing Steps

After the closing, you will:

  • Receive proceeds from the sale via bank check or wire transfer.
  • Cancel your homeowner’s insurance post-close to ensure coverage ceases on that day.
  • Safeguard closing documents and home improvement records for tax purposes.

Congratulations! You have successfully sold your home. Stay connected for any future real estate or homeownership needs. Whether buying or selling down the road, the Top Shelf Group will be here, ready to assist, and prepared to spring into action. If you have any questions about the process of selling your home, reach out to one of our knowledgeable team members for more information.

Top Shelf team

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