As we charge towards the end of the year many of you may already be considering Spring 2015 as the target to sell your Barrington home. So we thought providing a checklist for selling a house will help with your preparation before listing and from contract to closing.
1. Preparing Your Home
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Skip this and be prepared to give away dollars. There are so many things sellers can do to add value to a home before selling and a lot of it does not carry a huge expense. Barrington is not a sellers market and likely never will be. With median prices round $600,000 and so much of our real estate a lot higher than that, sellers should not expect homes to sell in days. Some do but it’s the exception.
- Maintenance – If it needs doing, take care of it before you list for sale. Deferred maintenance is easily spotted by buyers and they may cast a generalization over your home based on one single maintenance item. Don’t let buyers consider yours an un-cared for home.
- De-cluttering – This can be a simple as removing too many family photos to as much as thinning your furniture by half. Homes with too much furniture look small and cluttered, no matter the size of house. Too many family photos are distractions. It might be tempting to just move items to the garage or to boxes and start piling them up in the basement but this can indicate a home is not big enough for the intended use, or the garage for that matter. Move them offsite if you can.
- Neutralize – Bright colors are wonderful for young children but they are not going to be the taste of every buyer who walks through the house. Dark carpets can close a room up. While many of us might look at a neutral palette as pretty boring, the reality is they are easy on the eyes and make buyers feel warm and welcome.
- Update – Most sellers will resist this item because undoubtedly it’s going to be the most costly. It must be understood that buyers want perfection. Be prepared for many rejections based on parts of a house that need updating. Remember it’s going to cost a buyer the same money to update and they’ll have more resistance to that than you!
The goal with all of your preparation is to remove objections. Give a buyer less reasons to dismiss your home.
2. Preparing Your Family
Unless you plan on leaving the home entirely before listing for sale, your family will need to understand what you and your Realtor expect. Teenagers need to know you expect their rooms to be kept in spotless condition. You might even give them their own checklist for selling a house! Young children need to know they you’ll be taking them out and about more often than usual. Pet’s will not understand what’s going on, but you need to have a plan for them for showings.
Routines may need to change for a while or be more flexible. The goal is to make your house as available for showings as possible.
3. The Financial Checklist for Selling a House
Your Realtor may also have a checklist for selling your house as a method of establishing what kind of sale you’ll be. Short sales are not very common here in Barrington but they have not gone entirely. Be prepared to answer some financials questions about your mortgage amounts. You should have a statement from your lenders. The idea is to find out if you can afford to sell. As time goes by and prices rise, more and more owners will regain lost equity and get back to a positive equity situation. If you still in a negative equity situation, do you have the resources to pay off any owed debt at closing?
Your financial checklist for selling a house will give you a breakdown of the costs, from commission to title fees, attorney fees and settlement charges, even an estimate for inspection issues and repairs.
Lastly your financial checklist for selling a house will include a marketing price range for your property based on comparable sales. You might like to read about Home Value Estimators. The best option is to get your price range from a Realtor. If you don’t like the numbers, maybe it’s not the right time to sell. Only you can make that determination. Make it now, before you list for sale.
4. Selecting Your Realtor
This subject has been discussed in our article about How to find a real estate professional to sell your home. It’s worth a read before you make your decision, there may be aspects you hadn’t considered. I consider this one of the most important aspects of your checklist for selling a house in 2015.
You should both take some time to discuss your expectations for showings, property accessibility, follow up communications and any calendar events for you both, i.e. vacations.
5. On The Market
Once your property is listed forsale, you have a plan for the family, pets and showings, the anticipation sets in. Every time a buyers comes to view your home, you’ll hope they like your house enough to buy it. It’s human nature. Market reports for your area can help you gauge the likely time you’ll be on market. Luxury homes in our area are selling again but they still have the longest marketing times. Those above $2 million take the longest to sell.
A good Realtor should manage your expectations on amount of showings and likely time to secure your buyer. I caution buyers about the truthfulness and reality of feedback received from showing agents. The only feedback you want is an offer. I am not a lover of this antiquated system of asking for feedback, my article explains why.
6. Receiving & Accepting Offers
Your checklist for selling a house includes a visit to the process involved for receiving and accepting or declining offers. We are writing this article for the Barrington and Northern Illinois area but readers should know this may be different down state, in other states or indeed countries.
Most of the time locally we make offers to purchase real estate in writing on a standardized contract. Very occasionally an offer is presented verbally.
Tip: Should an offer be presented verbally, a seller has the right to request it be put in writing. A Realtor cannot request it without a sellers direction.
All offers made must be presented to the property seller. Sellers can do one of three things when offers are presented. Accept, decline or counter. Offers must be presented right up to your closing!
It’s unusual to receive more than one offer at a time but it does happen. Your Realtor will give you guidance on how to deal with multiple offers. There are some aspects you’ll need to seriously consider and this post is not meant to address those instances. Offers may also come in while a transaction is in process.
The best offers are those presented with proof of financial ability to buy your house.
Our standardized contract forms are quite long, they are approved by a group of attorneys and Realtors may only fill in the blank spaces. Realtors that write anything extra on a contract are in essence practicing law without a law license. The contract forms cover everything from price, closing,inspections and more. If anything else is required, your attorney should be the one to write and add addendums.
A buyer can have all and any inspections they desire, it’s their due diligence period and their cost. The most common is a general home inspection, Radon tests are certainly very common. Lead based paint testing and Mold testing is less common. A buyer can choose a structural inspection should they desire. There is a 5 day period after the contract is signed and delivered to allow for inspections. Lead paint has a 10 day period.
There are some inspections and reports that are done by the seller if indicated on a contract. Here in Barrington the most common is a well and septic report, and this is the sellers cost. Termite inspections might also be requested of a seller.
The goal of inspections is to inform a buyer of things they cannot necessarily see when viewing homes or are not qualified to understand. It is not a way for a buyer to create a shopping list of repairs to ask a seller to take care of, especially as a buyer has likely observed these and taken them into account when making an offer.
Here’s an example. A buyer might observe a hot water tank and assume it is working. An inspection reveals the hot water tank is well beyond it’s natural life and is in imminent need of being replaced. This is an additional cost the buyer was unaware of. It makes sense for the buyer to request a new tank or ask for a credit. I cannot tell you how many hot water tanks fail during a home transaction, it seems to be the most common of all. The seller will have to replace it because the property was sold with working mechanical’s. The ultimate goal is a fully functioning and safe property sold.
Following these inspections a buyer will likely request repairs or a credit for some of the items on the inspections. Sellers are not obligated to agree to all or indeed any of the items requested. Your attorney can help and your Realtor has a lot of experience but ultimately it is the sellers choice. If terms cannot be agreed a buyer can decide not to proceed with the purchase.
8. Contingencies to Clear Before Closing
The first contingencies to be resolved are the inspections and also the attorney review period. This takes care of property problems and legal changes made to the contract by attorneys as they deem necessary.
After that if a buyer is seeking a mortgage, this needs to be cleared to close. That means the lender has confirmed everything is in order for them to lend on the property and the money has been set aside to fund a loan at closing. Your attorney will watch the date on the contract this is deemed to be achieved by.
The last big contingency that may be a part of your sale, is a home being sold by your buyer. Your contract will include all the dates that this needs to be achieved by. Home sales or home closings may be a contingency. Your Realtor will explain how both work if they are part of an offer. You may or may not accept an offer with these types of contingency.
Your attorney will make sure the dates are met and all contingencies cleared. If a date is not met he’ll likely receive a request from the buyers attorney to extend the date by a few days.
9. Moving Out and Moving On
To sell you need to move out of the home. As the sale of your home progresses you’ll be planning your new home at the same time. By now you should be towards the end of the process of finding a new home, or perhaps temporary accommodation. It all depends on your circumstances and the reason for selling.
You’ll need to start thinking of the physical aspect of moving all your belongings out of your home in time for closing. Getting quotes for moving companies or storage and hiring some-one should not be left too late. Your home needs to be vacant of people and belongings to be able to close. If you had tenants in the house, the same applies. It’s your job to make sure they are also gone.
If you have furniture items to sell, Craigslist is a great way to do that. Just be sure to add great photos. Give away items free rather than trashing them, there are people that cannot afford new or second hand, they’ll be so appreciative.
A caution about personal items you are selling to the buyer. These are generally not part of a real estate contract. You may have furniture to sell and your buyer decides they would like to buy it. Be warned that buyers can change their minds at the last minute and now you have to move the items out. I always advise talking with your attorney about personal belongings being sold to buyers. They can be more of a problem than you might imagine!
Your checklist for selling a house is almost complete. Together with your attorney, the closing of your sale will be scheduled. Many sellers do not attend their closings, they leave that in the hands of their attorney. You can pre-sign your documents at his office or by mail if you are now out of area. You will have provided instructions on surplus funds, or you may be closing a purchase very shortly after. All that remains is to empty your mail box, forward your mail, close down or move utility accounts.
We hope you enjoyed this checklist for selling a house.
We are easy to contact by phone, text or email, when you are ready to start the process. If you have any questions, please contact Corinne.
For now we wish you and your family a Happy Christmas and New Year.