We all know the drill: You've finally decided to put your home on the market and you're feeling excited, but also a little anxious about how it will go. The first step is figuring out what needs to be done before putting up that "For Sale" sign in front of your house. If you're like most sellers, there are probably a few questions lingering in the back of your mind too.
Well, we've got some answers for you! Here are ten of the most common seller questions with straightforward and practical answers that should soothe away any pre-listing anxieties and make the selling process a little smoother.
Q: When is the best time of year to sell?
A: There really isn't a best time of year to sell your home. The market constantly changes, which means your house may sit on the market longer than you would like if you choose the wrong month to put it up for sale. If you're trying to figure out the best time of year, go by local statistics and trends in your particular metro area.
In most areas, sales peak during the spring and summer months. Spring's beauty makes it a desirable time to sell your home. The warmer weather during the summer months means there are fewer days you'll need to spend mowing your lawn or taking care of other outdoor chores when you're not working. Plus, many buyers take summer vacations and may be in the market for a home they can use as a primary residence or investment property while they're away from their permanent place of residence. If you do decide to put your house on the market in fall or winter, make sure it's insulated well so you don't have any heating or cooling-related repair expenses before you find a buyer for your home.
Q: How much is my home worth?
A: The answer to this question is different for everyone. There are many factors involved in determining the worth of your home, such as its location, size and age. You can get a general idea of what your property is worth by talking with a real estate agent or checking online resources like Zillow.
Another way you can find out how much your home is worth is by getting prequalified for a mortgage loan. A banker will run an analysis on your finances and tell you exactly how much you qualify for based on the average prices from recent sales of homes similar to yours in your neighborhood.
Q: Will it cost me to sell my house?
A: Someone has to pay for the cost of advertising, so if you plan on hiring a real estate broker, you will have to pay a commission. Real estate agents are compensated with commissions paid by the seller when they sell your home.
If you're planning to sell your home without using a real estate agent, however, then all of the expense is on you. When selling a home on your own, it's important to market your house and find a buyer who is willing to pay the price that you are asking for. You can hire mortgage brokers, home inspectors and appraisers yourself or through referrals from family members or friends.
Q: What steps do I take to prepare for selling my home?
A: Your house is a big investment, so there's no such thing as being overprepared. Spend time doing research on how to sell your home and what the average costs are for commission fees, marketing, advertising and other expenses that may come up when you're selling a property.
Get some referrals from family members or friends who have used real estate agents in the past. When interviewing potential real estate agents, ask them about their success rate with similar properties like yours, how long they've been working in real estate and if they will show you comps [comparative market analysis], which shows you the price of comparable homes sold recently. Getting all of this information early helps you prepare for contingencies that might affect your ability to sell your home.
When it comes to showing your home, make sure you remember to:
- keep the floors clean and vacuumed
- clean all windows
- use coasters on surfaces that are likely to be touched by drinks or food, such as coffee tables and kitchen countertops
- put away any clutter in your home
- remove any personal items from your walls (i.e., pictures of family members)
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Q: Should I Make any repairs before listing?
A: There are two schools of thought on this topic. One camp says that you should make a few minor repairs and upgrades (such as new carpet, painting or landscaping) before listing your property to boost the value and entice buyers.
The other school of thought recommends avoiding any major renovations until the house is sold because making changes can lower the value unless you do them properly.
Q: What do I do if my house isn't selling?
A: First, it's important to keep things in perspective. You are not alone if your home is taking a long time to sell; the average home takes about four months to sell, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Consider talking with potential buyers and lower your price a little bit if necessary. Keep track of how many people toured your house and how many showings take place each week. If no one seems interested in making an offer for your property, then it might be a good idea to contact an agent that specializes in selling properties faster in case you need more aggressive marketing techniques or other options like discounted commissions or holding back some proceeds from the sale until you're certain everything has been settled between buyer and seller.
You may need to lower your expectations about selling costs or you may have better luck in a different market if interest rates go up and home prices fall significantly. Keep track of any expenses that popped up during the process, like paying real estate agents or paying for repairs.
You'll also want to consider whether or not you'll make a profit based on the factors mentioned above and if your house will still be worth more than what you paid after closing costs and commissions are deducted from the selling price.
Q: What should I disclose to potential buyers?
A: There are certain things that you're legally required to disclose, such as failing septic systems or faulty wiring. But it's also important to mention anything that would be a deal-breaker for most buyers. This includes any problems with the property (such as unruly landscaping in need of new plants) and facts like whether your home has ever been listed or sold before. Be honest about everything, since this will help potential buyers make an informed decision about if they should buy your house instead of looking at others on the market.
Q: What's the difference between a list price and a sale price?
A: Your list price is the maximum amount that you're willing to accept for your home. Some sellers accept offers that are below their list price, while others choose to hold out for the full amount.
The sale price is what your house sells for after negotiations with potential buyers and seller concessions (from any necessary repairs or improvements). This final price has an effect on how much you'll net from the sale, so it's important to consider all of these factors before agreeing to a final price.
Q: What are seller concessions?
A: These are extras like a new roof or some other improvement that you agree to pay for in order to get the buyer's offer accepted. If your house is already in excellent condition, it may be difficult to persuade buyers that they need extra repairs before agreeing to an acceptable price for your home.
Asking the buyer to make concessions can help you reach an agreement faster and possibly at a higher price point. It's important to note that most offers will not have room for seller concessions, so if there are things you want changed, then this could affect whether your house sells or even at what price.
Q: How does the inspection phase work?
A: An inspector typically conducts a thorough examination of all the major components that comprise your property. This could include the roof, plumbing system and electrical work, all which help potential buyers make an informed decision about if they're going to buy your house or not.
This is also a chance for you to get any repairs done at no additional cost so you can close on time and move on with life without having to worry about these issues plaguing you in the future. If there are unaddressed problems discovered by this inspection process, then you'll have ample opportunity to resolve them before finalizing the sale and moving on with your life.
The home selling process can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. With just a little bit of preparation and research, you'll feel confident in your ability to sell your house for the best price possible. It's important that you make yourself available during showings so potential buyers are able to ask any questions they might have about the property or its history. In addition, try not to get discouraged if there is no offer early on in this process - thanks to today's technology, people often see houses online before making an appointment with you! Hopefully this article has answered a few of the questions you have and has helped you feel a little more secure about selling your home.