In today’s market the price is only part of the picture. A number of significant factors come into play including: the amount of the down payment, appraisal (a real biggie), seller’s disclosure, earnest money, liability issues, repair limits, title issues and the timeliness of the sale. How these are negotiated and handled throughout the transaction can make the difference between smooth sailing and a nightmarish voyage in the sale of your home.
Here are some tips to help make your home selling process as smooth and hassle-free as possible:
Understand Why You Are Selling Your Home
Your motivation to sell is the determining factor as to how you will approach the process. It affects everything from what you set your asking price at to how much time, money and effort you’re willing to invest in order to prepare your home for sale. For example, if your goal is for a quick sale, this would determine one approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the sales process might take longer thus determining a different approach.
Thinking through your goals and communicating them with your Realtor will help keep both of you focused on what your are trying to accomplish and will enable your Realtor to best consult with you on the way to reach those goals that will be to your greatest benefit.
Enlist the Most Qualified Help
According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly two-thirds of the people surveyed who sell their own homes say they wouldn’t do it again themselves. Primary reasons included setting a price, marketing handicaps, liability concerns, and time constraints.
Hiring the Realtor can give you the peace of mind knowing that your sale is handled by an experienced professional who will be your advocate, consultant, and ‘go-to’ person for everything that needs to be done to get to a successful closing.
All Realtors are not the same! You can learn a lot about an agent by letting him talk to you about how he helps his/her clients and how he/she does business. Within a few minutes, you will probably be able to determine if this agent’s style is in line with yours.
Ask as many questions as you can up front. Finding a good agent will save you huge amounts of time, effort, and frustration. A professional Realtor works as a consultant, knows the market and has information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, and will provide their background and references. He will also take care of the details involved in the paperwork for your transaction and facilitate the communication between you, the buyer, the buyer’s agent, the lender, and the title company to ensure that your transaction proceeds as smoothly as possible to a successful closing.
Be sure you choose someone that you trust and feel confident that they will do a good job on your behalf.
Invite the Honest Opinions of Others
Relying solely on your own judgment can come back to bite you. Don’t be shy about seeking the honest opinions of experts such as Realtors, appraisers, and interior decorators. You need to be objective about your home’s good points as well as bad. Fortunately, your Realtor will be forthright about discussing what should be done to make your home more marketable.
Your Realtor will also be invaluable in bringing his expert knowledge to the table in the arena of negotiations. Invite their consultants’ opinions to help you determine the best options during each stage of your transaction.
Get Your Home ‘Sparkling’ Clean and Fix Everything, Even If It Seems Insignificant
Scrub, scour, tidy up, straighten, get rid of the clutter, declare war on dust, repair squeaks, the light switch that doesn’t work, and the tiny crack in the bathroom mirror because these can be deal-killers and you’ll never know what turns buyers off. Remember, you’re not just competing with other resale homes, but brand-new ones as well.
Be a Smart Seller – Disclose Everything
In Florida, sellers are legally required to disclose all known defects to their buyers in writing. The more thoroughly and accurately you fill out the ‘Seller’s Disclosure’ document, the more your liability is reduced. This will help head off any complaints from your buyers about your home’s condition during the transaction and lessen the likelihood of lawsuits later on.
Keep Emotions in Check During Negotiations
If you are like most people, you have some emotional as well as monetary investment in your home. After all, it has been your castle. Remember that distancing yourself from these emotions during the negotiations and adopting a more businesslike manner will help you keep your ultimate goals for your home sale in mind. You’ll be able to weigh your options more clearly and listen to the counsel that your Realtor offers for your benefit. You’ll definitely have an advantage over those who get caught up emotionally in the situation.
This is an area where your realtor should shine. A good Realtor will shield you from the buyer(s) and their agent and be a buffer, sounding board, and problem solver should you get upset with the negotiations.
Finding Out the Motivations and Purchasing Power of Your Potential Buyers
Your Realtor will help you find out as much information as possible about buyer(s) who make offers on your home. The better you know your buyers the better you can use the negotiation process to your advantage. This allows you and your Realtor to control the pace and duration of the process.
As a rule, buyers are looking to purchase the best affordable property for the least amount of money. Knowing what motivates them enables you to negotiate more effectively. Quite often, when buyers would “like” to close is when they need to close. Knowledge of their deadlines for completing negotiations again creates a negotiating advantage for you.
Your Realtor will also be of help in obtaining the buyer’s mortgage pre-qualification or pre-approval information from their lender or their Realtor so that you can learn if the buyer is financially qualified to purchase your home.
Deadlines Create A Serious Disadvantage
Avoid trying to sell by a certain date. This adds unnecessary pressure and is a serious disadvantage in negotiations.
Using a Low Offer to Your Advantage
If you receive an offer you feel is too low, evaluate it as objectively as possible with your Realtor. He will give you guidance as to if the offer is indeed unreasonable, and give you options as to how to respond. While sometimes it is to your advantage to counter a low offer to continue the negotiations, there are also circumstances that your Realtor will discuss with you when it is better just to reject the offer outright.
If the buyer really wants your home, they may come back with a price and terms that are much more appealing to you. Having a real estate consultant’s guidance, experience, and objectivity will help give you more peace of mind during the negotiation process. He will also prepare counteroffers at your direction and suggest clauses and terms that will protect your interests.
Ensure That the Contract is Complete
To avoid problems your Realtor will go over your contract ensure that all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out. It should include such items as the date it was made, names of parties involved, address of property being sold, purchase price, where deposit monies will be held, date for loan approval, date and place of closing, type of deed, including any contingencies that remain to be settled and what personal property is included (or not) in the sale.
Be Responsive to Contract Deadlines
Once your home is under contract, be attentive to the steps that the real estate contract requires you to take, and complete them in a timely manner. Your Realtor and his/her team will keep you informed of what you need to do. These steps include:
Signing and initialing addendums and memorandums to the contract in a timely manner.
Responding promptly when your Realtor lets you know what time(s) the buyer is requesting to conduct the home and/or termite inspections.
Ensuring that any necessary repairs that the contract requires are made in the time allotted. Make sure that the repairs are completed by qualified individuals.
Giving copies of all receipts and paperwork related to the repairs to your Realtor.
Your Realtor and his/her team will keep you informed about what you need to do at each step of the process so that you know what you need to do, and how long you have to do it. Being responsible to meet the obligations of the contract in a timely manner will enable your transaction to progress as smoothly as possible to the closing. Failing to fulfill the terms of the contract in the time frames that are specified can put you at risk of losing the sale, and can open you up to lawsuits by the buyer for failure to perform on the contract.
Get Sound Advice About Any Changes to the Contract
Your Realtor will help you evaluate whether it is wise to agree to any requests to amend the contract. For example, if the buyer requests a move-in prior to closing or asks for you to pay for a portion of their closing costs in lieu of you having to make any repairs to the home, your Realtor will advise you as to whether these requests open you up for more liability, or could be negotiated to the benefit of both parties.
After 25 years’ experience in real estate, David and the rest of The Hard Working Nice Guy’s Team are convinced that our services are needed now more than ever. We have been able to obtain results for our Sellers that they didn’t believe possible and, in the process, have created successful transactions where our services cost the Seller nothing.
If you have any questions about this article, or would like to set up a time to speak with David Gallup, please email me or call our office at 800.458.6863 x 353. We’d be glad to help you.
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