Do I need to hire a real estate professional to sell my home?
While the prospect of eliminating an agent’s commission from a future sale of your home might sound very appealing, this is something prospective sellers should give a second thought to. The selling process can be quite complex, where the services of a knowledgeable REALTOR® or professional could come in quite handy.
This process typically takes time and patience, an understanding of local trends and conditions as well as negotiating skills, just to name a few. By having these skill sets, an agent can properly price your home to showcase it in any market.
There are many reasons why it’s more beneficial to have a real estate agent working for you, if you’re attempting to sell. A typical agent-assisted home sale sold for 40% more than sales where a professional wasn’t used. Some of the biggest challenges for homeowners, “for sale by owners” (FSBO), who don’t use the services of a real estate agent are: Pricing their home right, navigating the paperwork and selling within a fixed length of time.*
*2019 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers
How long will it take to sell my home? Can it be sold quickly?
Not in all cases, but the majority of the time sellers are eager to sell their home as quickly as possible. This, of course, is dependent on a number of different variables from the home’s initial offering on the market to its settlement date. Some variables include the listing price of the home, the present state of the market, the customized marketing plan used to showcase the property, the contingencies in the sale (such as inspections), the lending approval process and the review of the closing disclosures.
Your home can sell quickly and that usually involves making it appealing to prospective buyers. Guided by your REALTOR®, the home should be staged, if applicable, to give the impression it’s move-in ready. When a home has a clean and compelling feel, it has better chances for minimal market time.
How can I determine the value of my home?
This is as loaded a question as you’ll find in real estate! One of the goals for any real estate professional is to ensure the seller gets the fair market value of his/her home. One way to determine a home’s value is to have your agent provide comparable home sales in your area over the past six months or more. This process will help in setting the listing price.
Your agent will also examine the square footage (size) of your home, its age, its neighborhood, its condition, if there have been any upgrades (specifically to the kitchen, bathrooms, flooring or windows), when the roof was installed, the size of the lot and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
When is the best time of the year to sell my home?
Generally speaking, the optimal time to showcase a home is late winter or early spring. There are many factors which ultimately determine what the “best time” is for a particular seller. Every life situation is different. Certain sellers find themselves in a variety of circumstances, which may not even permit them to hold off their home’s market release. Weather can also play a major role in determining what the optimal time may be. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, typically the months of April and May see the largest increase in housing supply.
Your story could be different, and therefore, timing is a conversation you need to be having with your REALTOR®.
There are instances where a fall or winter release are appealing to homebuyers. These buyers are serious about purchasing a home and with less competition from others, your home may be incredibly appealing, especially in this seller’s market. Serious buyers are always lurking! A lower supply of homes (less competition) in the colder months of the year means a higher probability of showings for you, the seller.
Furthermore, if an agent is telling you the colder months are a bad time to sell, you would do best to walk away. Successful agents sell regardless of the time of year or the market conditions. They adapt and adjust; they are up for the challenge!
What costs would I, the seller, be responsible for when selling my home?
Some homeowners don’t realize the costs associated with selling a home. Some of the most common costs are: Real estate commission, transfer tax, deed preparation and repairs associated with inspections or appraisals. Seller concessions, home warranty, survey, capital gains and home equity loans may come into play for select sellers.
What should I include or avoid when selling my home?
You want prospective buyers to visualize themselves in your home. Therefore, depersonalizing is usually a wise choice. There are certain things you’ll want to refrain from communicating to homebuyers. Your real estate agent will be able to provide perspective on this as well.
As a homeowner, you should also seek to avoid selecting the wrong REALTOR®, overpricing your home, not accommodating showings and being unrealistic when the time comes to negotiate a sale.
You’ll want to include those fixtures, which are attached to the property: built-ins, window blinds, various appliances, etc. If you don’t want something included, you can specify those exclusions in the listing contract or remove the items before the showing period begins. These excluded items can and should appear on the agreement of sale when the time comes.
Can I price my home higher in order to leave room for negotiations?
Today’s homebuyers are well-educated. Many have been actively searching for months online and some have seen their fair share of homes (actively on the market, not selling). Serious buyers, utilizing their agent’s guidance, have a very good idea of market value. Thus, there’s no reason to overprice your home to provide a cushion for the negotiation process. Such a move, would be a pricing error sellers often make. A properly-priced home will sell for close to the list price. Overpricing can actually adversely affect the homeowner, costing him/her more money, time and resources over the long run.
What are seller concessions and how do they affect me?
A seller’s concession (aka seller assist) is anything that’ll sweeten the deal as cash back to the homebuyer. It’s money paid toward the closing on behalf of the buyer. Generally, this is the legal way to allow buyers to roll their closing costs into their loan. Although sellers are offering what appears to be a gift, they’re actually only providing the assist above what they’re going to net in the deal.
Seller concessions create a situation where the purchase price has now been inflated. This wouldn’t pose a problem, unless the home doesn’t appraise at the higher purchase price. A seller assist can be a significant amount of money and can be the difference between a seller being able to sell his/her home or a homebuyer being able to afford one.
How much commission do you charge?
Commission is always, always negotiable. With that being said, as the cliche goes, “you get what you pay for.” In effect, the seller is paying for the services being offered by the listing agency. If you select an agent based upon a lower commission, you’ll make a critical error toward your success. Think about it: If you were forced to work for a lower wage than what you presently earn at your job, would you work as hard?
What should I be disclosing to potential buyers?
Putting your home on the market? Ensure you’re clearly defining your home’s possible defects (material ones especially) to homebuyers. It’s best to be upfront and honest. Buyers appreciate transparency, not to mention it can save sellers from anxiety and a lawsuit in the future. Give buyers the truest picture of what you’re actually selling.
Is the Zestimate on my home’s value accurate?
A Zestimate, as defined by Zillow, is their “estimated market value for a home, computed using a proprietary formula,…calculated from public and user-submitted data.” Look for your address on their website, you’ll discover your home’s Zestimate. Although the Zestimate algorithm has improved over the years, it still lacks consistent accurate home valuation. And this makes sense, how can artificial intelligence (AI) correctly determine a home’s worth without being on the ground floor?
When attempting to determine your home’s value and price it right, it’s vital that you seek the advice of an experienced REALTOR® who knows your neighborhood well and not some Internet genie.