Toby Williams

remax community One realty

Finding a listing agent

When looking for an agent, I would suggest talking to a couple different agents to get price opinions and determine who you feel comfortable with. It's my opinion that the latter is more important. Many agents can list your house and put it on the MLS system for everyone to see. There's nothing magical about that. You need to find an agent who you feel comfortable with and trust. Ask about  the different things they do for their listings and what they think really helps sell a house. An agent with a good understanding on your local market will know where buyers are coming from and how they're finding your house in their searching. Try to clear your mind of all of the presumptions and stereo-typical ideas you've been told/see on TV. In reality, some of those things may work, or not work, in your market. Pick an agent that knows the market and that you trust.

Setting a sales price

Price is the most influential factor in selling your home. Price it right the first time to get the highest offer. Many times we talk to sellers who ask us to give our price opinion on their house, but then want to list it for a price that's higher. They will then say "Well, we can always lower it if we don't sell". Now, this is true, but let's take a look at what usually happens with this theory....

The house is priced at top price and comes on the market. All buyers looking in that price range see the home and are excited to see a new home on the market. They may tour the house if the price doesn't scare them off. They like the house and ask their broker for their opinion. The buyer's broker looks up comparable properties and comes up with the conclusion (as the listing agent did originally) that the home is a bit overpriced. So, the buyers are either going to walk away and not make an offer, or they're going to make a low offer. Let's say they make a low offer. The seller is then offended at the low offer and counters.  The deal eventually will probably fall apart and not work out.

What happens when you price it right? When you price the property right, maybe even a little aggressive, the buyer is going to be more excited to view your home and take action. You'll get more foot traffic touring the house. When a buyer makes an offer, it's more likely to be a good offer because their agent will confirm that you priced it right. You won't be offended by the "low" offer on your inflated price, and the transaction will go much smoother to the end.

My advice on pricing.....take your agent's advice! Don't overprice your home and be greedy. One of my favorite sayings I was told is "pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered". Price your house right, and take a good strong offer. Overprice your home, and watch it sit on the market, eventually coming down in price and selling where it should have been on day one.

Preparing your home for the market

First and foremost, figure out what repairs need to be done that are obvious turn-offs for buyers. Most sellers don't do it, but I think that it's a proactive approach to have a home inspection on older homes.  The buyer is going to hire a home inspector to inspect your property for damages and potential problems. It's best to take care of those problems before listing your home so that they do not become potential issues later in the process. They're going to come up on the inspection, so let's take care of them, or at least have knowledge of what is to come from an inspection.

Next, de-clutter!!! We all think our home is nice and neat. 90% of homes I list need to be de-cluttered. Buyers want to be able to imagine where their couch is going to go, not look at your 1980's comb collection. A clean and de-cluttered house always shows better. A good practice is to look at homes online.  Pay attention to houses that show well. The pictures are probably bright and showcasing features of the home, not furniture and nick-nacks. This is what your home to look like.

You may notice that homes that are selling have upgraded countertops, flooring, and fresh paint. If you can financially do some upgrades, great. Before you do anything, talk to your broker and ask if it's worth it. Upgrades may help in "sell-ability", but not get you a dollar more. It's something you need to discuss before spending money you'll never get back.

Some things you may consider would be touching up paint, shampooing carpets, adding fresh mulch, trimming bushes and deep cleaning every room in the house. Spend a good weekend getting it ready for the market with these things and make sure your first impression is a good one!

What to expect while on the market

So, you've got your home ready and your broker pounds in the sign in the front yard. You expect 20 showings in your first day and an offer that night. Well, it could be like that, but most likely it will take a bit longer.

There's usually a big push to get the house ready and on the market. A small whirlwind of preparation and to- do lists getting checked off has happened. The house then hits the market. Most likely, the first 2 weeks are going to (hopefully, if priced right) be pretty busy with showings, and then it's going to fade off. This is normal, but be prepared for the lull after the storm.

In the first week, you're going to get all of the buyers in your price range looking at your house because you're the new kid on the block. These are the buyers who have been in the market for a house and haven't found what they're looking for. So, that's your initial lookers. Then, if none of them are interested enough to make an offer and buy it, you're waiting for a new buyer to come on to the market.

For example, 10 buyers are in the market looking for a property similar to yours when you list . Maybe 6 of the 10 are interested enough to tour it. If they don't move on it, then those 10 are waiting for the next new thing. You're then waiting for the next new buyer. That's why you get a rush at the start, then the interest slows down.

That's why it's so important to price the property right at the start. Use that excitement of being the new house on the market to grasp attention and get an offer. That initial excitement and attention is going to set your property apart from the others. Take advantage of it.

After 2 weeks go by, usually the pace slows and you'll be "on the market". This can be a tough time for some people. Even though the average home sells in 6 months (national ball park avg.), many sellers expect it to happen much sooner. After a couple months, you'll get tired of picking up after the kids in case someone calls for a showing. After 4 months, you're tired of watching people drive by slow and stare, but never call to have a showing.

When you're on the market, make sure you're periodically checking in with your broker. Let them know your frustrations (if any), or if you're wanting to get more aggressive with price. The market is always changing, and maybe it's dropped off since you listed. Maybe your broker should re-evaluate your pricing and make a reduction. This also depends on your timeline. If you want to speed things up, then make a price reduction to get some more action. If you're ok with being patient, great. Let things ride as they are and wait for the right person to come along. Either way, communicate your wants clearly with your broker.

Receiving an offer and the sales process

The day has come that you've received an offer. Your broker will get a hold of you and go over the offer with you. There's a lot that goes into an offer. The offer will not only have the price that they are offering, but it will also contain financing, inspection, title, and other types of contingencies that are part of it.

Now is the time for you to evaluate the offer with your broker.

Take your time and go over all aspects of the offer with your broker. You will decide to accept, counter, or decline the offer. Once you have found mutual ground with the buyer and accepted an offer, the process will begin.

The selling process timeline summary

1. Mutual acceptance- when the seller and buyer agree on ALL details of the offer.

2. Inspection- on a home sale, the buyer will most likely have it inspected and come back to the seller with requested repairs to be done, or an amount to reduce the price to accommodate for the work needed. Those items will be negotiated by the buyer and seller. If they can't come to an agreement, the deal can be terminated.

3. Sewer/Well Water Inspections- if the home has a septic and well, the seller is responsible for having the septic pumped/inspected. The well water is also tested by sending a sample to a lab for analysis, usually by the buyer's broker. Again, if there are issues with the systems, the seller can do repairs, or the deal may be terminated if the buyer is unsatisfied.

4. Appraisal- the buyer's lender will have an appraiser come to the property to appraise it. They will be looking for any health and safety issues with the house, and determining what they think the value is. Most likely, they will have a copy of the purchase and sales contract to go off of, giving them an idea of what price is trying to be met. If the appraiser calls out any items that need repaired (ie peeling paint on a home older than 1978, or need of stair railings, etc) those items must be fixed in order for the lender to loan on that property.

5. Waiting time- after the appraisal is done and approved, there is usually a few days or weeks of waiting for the buyer's lending to get final approval and move to closing.

6. Title Report- behind the scenes, the title company is also working on the seller's title. They will research and provide an accurate title report that shows any issues with the title, or that it's a clear title that can be transferred to the buyer without encumbrances, liens, or problems. The seller pays for this title insurance.

7. Closing- the last step to selling a property is going to closing. The title company will call and set up a time for you to sign the necessary paperwork to transfer your property over to the new buyer. You and the buyer will separately sign all the documents for the sale. The title company will then receive the funds from the lender to pay you, and also get the documents recorded at the county offices. The finalization of payment and recording usually will happen the day after everyone signs the documents.