the

seller’s guide

As an alternative to working with an experienced real estate agent, you might consider selling your home yourself; however, if you choose this option, be prepared for a lot of work! It can and has been done, of course, but if you don’t have the time and energy to commit to it (or need to sell in a hurry), this option might not be for you. Nine out of ten times, most homeowners do not have the time or the resources that a real estate agent may have, so it is best to use someone that is fully committed to selling your property, has access to a wide variety of resources and is focused on getting the highest price possible for the sale of your property.

Whether you choose to use a real estate agent or not, you still need to do your homework! The following is a checklist to help walk you through the process:

Know your property.

If you are not already, become familiar with facts about your property — such as property taxes, zoning, lot size, square footage, etc. Also, don’t forget to look at the terms of your existing loan.

Research the current market and property laws in your area.

How much are properties similar to yours selling for? What are the terms of the sales? What property disclosure laws do you need to take into consideration?

Set the price.

Once you know the specifics about your home and have checked out what similar properties in your area are selling for, set a realistic price.

    Determine financing alternatives.

    Contact lenders in your area to determine what the options are for your prospective buyer. You want to be informed before they ask, or your lack of knowledge may turn them off from dealing with you.

    Establish a marketing plan

    Now that you know what advertising will cost, create a plan on how to best (within your budget) reach prospective buyers, both local and out-of-town. Since many people do relocate from a distance, be sure to include Internet advertising in your plan. If your town is large enough, the “local” newspaper might have a national edition that you want to place your ad in, at least periodically.

    Write the text and/or design your ad

    At the very least, you will need a well-written few sentences that will run as a classified ad or a photo box ad. In addition, you might decide to run a larger, custom-designed ad in the paper and/or to use as flyers to hand out at open houses (or anywhere else you might meet prospective buyers). Don’t skimp on this. A professional, well-crafted ad can attract buyers while a poorly designed and executed one can turn buyers off to your property. Even if you do not have full service agent representation, you may consider assist-to-sell, which some agents offer at a lower price.

    Purchase and install a “for sale” sign

    This should be well-designed, attractive and weatherproof. The sign must be placed where it can clearly be seen from the street. If you are working with an agent, he or she will most likely provide the sign to you.

    Prepare a fact sheet

    Design a single sheet description of your property listing the features and benefits that will draw in prospective buyers. This should be attractive and professional looking. Have enough copies on hand to give out at open house showings. Again, if you are working with an agent, he or she will most likely do this on your behalf.

    Purchase “open house” signs

    Make sure that they include a place to write the address of your property and the date/time of the open house. In addition to one for the front yard, you’ll want to place several in conspicuous locations around the neighborhood, such as main streets leading to your house. For these, directional arrows can point prospective buyers to your house even if they don’t know the area. Make sure that you take these signs down as soon as the open house is over. You don’t want people showing up on your doorstep at all hours of the day and night.

    Set up a schedule of open houses

    While most are held on the weekend, this is not convenient for all buyers. Make sure that you coordinate your print advertising to include information about your next open house.

    Keep a list of prospective buyers

    As people come through during open houses, or as they call from reading your ads or seeing the sign out front, keep a list with their names and phone numbers. Concentrate your attention on those who seem serious about your property, as opposed to those who are just checking out the neighborhood or whiling away a Sunday afternoon. Make sure that you make follow up telephone calls to all those who seem seriously interested in your property.

    Once you have an offer, it’s time to negotiate

    Leave your emotions behind when you enter negotiations. You never want to get angry or give away the fact that you’re overly eager.

    Get your forms in order

    A number of forms are required for the legal sale of your property. In addition to the contract of purchase and any counteroffers, there are approximately 20 other forms that the seller is required to provide to the buyer. It is necessary to review the contract carefully to determine when these forms/documents are due and what the buyer’s rights are once they receive the document. The form and content of many of these documents are prescribed by state or federal law and must be adhered to in their entirety. The proper forms may be obtained from your local Board of Realtors or from your real estate agent who is representing you.

    Negotiate final terms of the sale

    Buyer(s) need to come to an agreement (in writing) regarding the following:

    • Price
    • Inspection contingencies
    • Financing terms
    • Date of closing
    • Date of possession
    • It would be prudent for you to have an attorney review any and all contracts before the deal is finalized

    Final walk-through

    When both the buyer(s) and a witness can be present, schedule a final walk-through before you complete settlement in order to determine that the property being conveyed meets the expectations of all parties involved.

    Find and make arrangements for the home you will be moving to

    Unless you have already built or bought a new residence, you’ll need to be the “buyer” for a new property while simultaneously being the “seller” for your current one. If possible, schedule both transactions to close at the same time, or else close your purchase shortly before closing your sale. You need to be moved out before the new owners take possession.