Selling your home is
a big decision. You probably spent more than a couple years there, and
your family will have created many memories and neighborhood friends.
Maybe you expected to stay put but circumstances have changed, or maybe
you always knew you'd move sooner or later. Either way, it's always a
little unsettling to pack-up, pull up roots, allow potential buyers to
scrutinize your home, and manage all the details of the transaction
while still providing for your family financially and emotionally.
This list of frequently asked questions is intended to give you a
starting place and make you feel a little more comfortable on the
adventure you'll be undertaking. From there, see Selling your Home with
a REALTOR¨ and personal advice from consumers.
Is this the right time to sell my
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to sell
your home. There are times when you may need to sell, such as when your
job location or lifestyle change, or you have serious money problems.
You may have outgrown your current home or are now able to afford a
better place and are ready to move up. When the economic forecast is
good, you may want to sell and take advantage of the strong market.
Additionally, if you have inherited a home, it wouldn't make sense to
continue making payments if it will be empty.
What is the most important factor
in deciding to sell?
Be certain! If you are not sure you want to sell, you won't but forth
the required effort or negotiate in good faith. Beyond being a waste of
time, in certain instances a buyer can force you to honor a signed
contract even if you change your mind. Save yourself the trouble.
How do I determine the sales
potential of my home?
The basic influencing factors include location, appearance of house
and neighborhood, size, condition, view, percentage of owners to renters
in your neighborhood (owners tend to have a pride in ownership), and
What are the steps once I've
decided to sell?
First, choose a REALTOR¨ and ask for a comparative market analysis.
This will help you determine a fair asking price--high enough so you get
what your home is worth and realistic enough so you interest buyers.
Secondly, look into the current mortgage interest rates. It will affect
what potential buyers can afford, and what you can afford if you move
Also, consider the time of year. The most popular time of year for
families to move is in the summer, when children are out of school and
the holidays are a long way off. Early spring is usually the best time
to list and receive the maximum exposure.
Fix up the overall appearance of your home, with an eye for the
little, easy things like cobwebs in the corner. More on this below.
How can I best work with my REALTOR¨?
Ask about and understand what marketing steps he or she will take and
when they will occur. Define your expectations of the transaction and
Disclose problems, keep your house in good condition and let the
REALTOR¨ take the lead with buyers.
Keep your house clean, the yard neat, and be ready at any time. Let
your REALTOR¨ show the house, but if you are at home during a showing,
look neat and stay inconspicuous. You probably have less experience, may
make buyers uncomfortable, and may want to avoid hearing any negative
comments buyers may have. Finally, you must allow inspections, fix
anything necessary, and show up at the closing.
What should I do to get my home
ready for showing?
Start by taking a look from the street. This is the first impression
potential buyers will get. Remember what you liked when you first saw
the house. Have you improved on it or let anything go? Next, walk slowly
through the interior. Eliminate odors, especially pet and smoke. Clean
the windows and pull back the drapes to maximize light, bright rooms.
We've found a great house at a good
price. Should we buy?
You have three basic options. You can wait until you sell your
current home. With this option you risk losing the new home to another
buyer, but you may find one later you like even more. Secondly, you may
add a contingency clause to your offer, stating that you must sell your
current house before closing on the new one. Third, if you are having
trouble selling your current house, you may consider renting it out or
refinancing it for cash to help you buy. The problems associated with
this third option include finding and managing tenants, trying to sell
the house with tenants, and closing costs and higher mortgage payments
with a refinance.
What are the important factors when
considering an offer?
Consider all of the following: price, terms, clauses, personal
property requested, and the amount and who holds the earnest money.
What can I do to help get potential
You may offer to pay points, which will reduce the rate and interest
on the loan. If the buyers have adequate income but are a little short
on cash, you may pay the non-recurring closing costs at the settlement.
Another option, which should never be taken without fully understanding
the risks, is to hold a second mortgage for buyers who cannot qualify
for the full amount.
Are there any special
considerations when selling a condo?
The most obvious difference is the maintenance fees. You may want to
remind buyers that maintenance fees can often work out to less money
than single-family home maintenance costs because condo fees are shared
by all owners.