Step 1 was to Prepare House To Sell. It was here that suggestions and tips were noted to get your house in good showing condition. If you want top dollar and a fast time-frame, you’ll need to invest in top effort.
1) Consider the Logistics
What is your time-frame? Where will you be moving to? Will you be purchasing another property? Will financing be required? How much do you need to “net” (net proceeds) from the sale? These issues and more should be discussed with a real estate Agent or professional, trusted advisor. Based upon these answers, a game plan should be constructed which then focuses back on the root question, “When should your house be placed on the market?”
2) Select A Real Estate Agent (see Step #3)
If you do not wish to engage with a real estate Agent who has fiduciary responsibility to you, you might consider selling the property yourself. It is a more cumbersome, time-consuming, and dangerous route, to be sure, thus we suggest you engage the services of a real estate Attorney or a real estate Agent willing to act as a “Transaction Agent” (see Consumer Notice ) to provide the required forms and guidance through the transactional process. Feel free to call our office if this is the route you would like to consider further.
3) Complete the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement
This disclosure is required in Pennsylvania. Your ultimate Buyer will not produce an offer until your disclosure has been reviewed and considered acceptable. This is a lengthy questionnaire and not easy to complete, so we thus suggest you get a head start. Show your answers to your real estate Agent and ask any questions – you might want to refine and further edit. The point here is to have this disclosure completed fully and accurately by the time your house is placed on the market.
4) Price Appropriately
First, a fair-market price range should be ascertained. It’s not an exact science; it’s an art and a science based upon the real estate market in general, the real estate market locally, and sometimes the real estate market micro-locally. In addition, it’s based upon the condition of your house and property, relative to other similar sold properties in your immediate neighborhood and area. You can do some preliminary homework on your own, but a real estate Agent should provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis. See questionnaire. This analysis will detail the most similar, sold properties which have recently closed and reveal the pluses and minuses of these properties compared to yours. This analysis, in conjunction with your input, should reveal the fair-market price range for your property.
Next, you’ll want to consider where in this range you should preliminarily price your property. Again, this is both an art and science, but mainly hinges upon your time-frame requirements and discussion with your Agent.
5) Prepare To Market
In preparation of the marketing campaign, consider who will be the likely Buyer of your property. Based upon the “who,” the “how” to market will become clearer. See 2018 - NAR Profile of Buyers & Sellers.
Photos, photos, and more photos – prepare the interior & exterior for photos. Good quality photographic representations of your property are paramount for a successful marketing campaign. Coordinate with your Agent for a photography appointment. Also, if you already have some great photos, especially those that might capture a seasonal element, present those to your Agent for possible inclusion.
Your property’s characteristics, features, and descriptive remarks are also important to accurately and fully note for a successful marketing campaign. Your real estate Agent, along with your input, will complete the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) questionnaire form.
Before the photos, characteristics, features, and descriptive remarks are input into the MLS, you should review for accuracy. You should be fully satisfied before your listing is posted and broadcast to the general public. The curtain is raised upon your instruction, are you ready for “show time?”
6) Market and Show
When your real estate Agent begins his/her marketing campaign, primarily posting the “listing” into the MLS, it’s “show time.” You should coordinate with your Agent regarding any restrictions – after all, it’s your house and people will enter when and how you dictate. Any day/time restrictions? Any access restrictions? Do you want people, i.e. potential buyers, to behave in any particular way while in your house (e.g. removing shoes)? Your Agent might suggest certain security protocols as well.
7) Consider the Purchase Offer(s)
At some juncture, you will receive an offer, which might be immediate if priced well and your house shows well or which might take many months. You might even receive multiple offers, all at once. When received, you have three options: Reject, Make Counter Offer, or Accept. While on the surface it might be apparent that the highest sales price offer is the winner, but there are many, many factors to consider when evaluating the offer. You might want to review a sample Pennsylvania Standard Agreement For The Sale of Real Estate (a.k.a. “Sales Contract”) so that you can better understand the various options that will be presented to you (e.g. settlement date, contingencies, escrow deposit, etc.). Your acceptance of an offer is not necessarily about who offers the highest sales price. It’s about who offers the best offer, in sum, for your wants and needs at the moment.
8) Perform, per the terms of the Sales Contract
Once the offer is fully negotiated and fully executed, you have a Contract. The Buyer has responsibilities and duties specified to be performed within certain time-frames, typically based upon the execution date (when everyone has signed, initialed, and dated correctly). So do you, the Seller. Time is of the essence! You should work closely with your Agent to ensure your duties are correctly performed within the required time periods.
Your responsibilities will include the removal of ALL of your personalty prior to settlement, ordering the municipal re-sale certificate, responding to your Buyer’s requests based upon the inspections performed, ordering any and all mortgage payoff statements, among possibly many others.
Your Agent should provide an updated estimated “Net Proceeds” figure to you, as you near settlement. If you are purchasing another property, you should coordinate between the title insurance companies to have your net proceeds from the sale wired.
9) Consummate the Transaction
Finally, just as you thought it would never end – it does, at settlement. Settlement usually takes place at the title insurance company’s office, on the date noted in the Sales Contract. At settlement, all of the parties to the transactions sit around a conference room table. At the head of the table, the title insurance agent sits and conducts the proceedings. On the one side of the table, the Buyers, their mortgage broker, and their Agent sit. On the other side of the table, you, the Sellers, sit with your Agent or Attorney.
If you recall from when you sat through settlement long ago, the Sellers just have a few forms to sign – the Deed, Settlement Statement, and a few other forms and disclosures. It’s the Buyers who have the large ream of paperwork to sign, courtesy of their lender. Once everything is complete, you will present the keys to the Buyers and receive the net proceeds from the sale.