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Some people choose to sell their homes themselves as an alternative to working with an experienced real estate agent; however, if you choose this option, get ready for a lot of work! Don’t get us wrong it can and has been done, but you do have to commit quite a bit of time and energy to it. Also, if you need to sell in a hurry, this option might not be for you.
If selling your home on your own sounds like too much work, you might want to consider assist-to-sell programs, you hear about with 1% commission, which are popping up on TV and the internet. These can include yard signs, a marketing strategy, and flyers at a very reasonable cost to you. Nine out of ten times, most 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.

Make sure you are familiar with all the facts about your property. Things like property taxes, zoning, lot size, and square footage, for starters. Look at the terms of your existing loan to make sure you know the terms and payoff. Make sure you know how to order payoff on your loan, and where to instruct title to do so.

Research the current market and property laws in your area.

How much are properties just like 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. Remember you can ask any price, but if the buyers need a mortgage and have to have an appraisal this will determine the price that can be paid for the property.

Determine financing alternatives.

Contact lenders in your area to determine financing options for prospective buyers. There are also different loans, FHA, VA and CONV, will your property qualify for all types of financing? Make sure you are informed prior to accepting an offer, finding out to late that your property does not qualify for certain types of financing could cost you time and money.

Perform a “walk-through” of your property.

Look at your home from both a perspective buyer and a home inspector. Take notes on all items that need to be repaired or replaced. Things to consider include:

Outside:

Does your home need new paint? (either because the old paint is cracked or faded, or because a choice in color that might turn off prospective buyers)?

  • Is the lawn and landscaping attractive and well-kept?
  • For a condo, how is the front door, and balcony?
  • Are the windows and doors attractive and in good condition?
  • Are the roof (and the gutters) in good condition?
  • Is the grass nicely cut, are the hedges trimmed, are their any leaves scattered? If so sweep them up. Are all children’s toys stored away?

Inside:

  • Are the interior paints and finishes in good condition (recently updated), or do they need to be freshened up? This is one item you can get the most return on your money. New paint can sometimes make a sale.
  • Are the appliances in good working order and updated?
  • Are the plumbing and electrical systems in good condition? Is everything functional?
  • Are the carpets and floors clean and in good condition? Like the paint, are they attractive and well-kept? Floor coverings are worth paying for so that your home makes a good impression.
  • Is the grout (sink, shower, tub, windows) clean and in good condition?
  • Are all light fixtures and light bulbs working properly, and is there good lighting in each room so that prospective buyers won’t think you’re hiding something?

Know your neighborhood.

All prospective buyers will want to know about the local schools, shopping, parks, transportation, crime rate etc. Be prepared so you can answer all of their questions honestly.

Establish a marketing budget.

How much are you willing to spend to sell your house?

  • Real estate commission if you use an agency to sell.
  • Advertising costs, signs, other fees if you plan to sell by owner.
  • Attorney, closing agent and other professional fees.
  • Excise tax for the sale.
  • Prorated costs for your shomeownernual expenses, such as property taxes, home owner association fees.
  • Any other fees typically paid by the seller in your area (surveys, inspections, transfer tax)
  • Real estate agents deal with transactions every day and can give you a very close estimate of seller closing costs.

Don’t forget the Internet

As you have probably noticed from the website you have found this article on, most agents have their own website, which includes their clients’ listings as well as the entire MLS search. If you work with an agent, your property will most likely be placed on their website (if they have one) and on the full MLS search as part of the services they will offer you.

Establish a marketing plan

Now that you know what advertising will cost, create a plan on how to best reach prospective buyers, both local and out-of-town. Since many people do relocate from a distance, especially to Vegas 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.

Write the text and/or design your ad

You will need a well-written few sentences that will run as a classified 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 add can turn buyers off.

Purchase and install a “for sale” sign

This should be a well-designed, attractive and weatherproof. The sign must be placed where it can be seen from the street in all directions. If you are working with an agent, he or she will provide the sign for you.

Prepare a fact sheet

Prepare a description of your property listing the features and benefits that will attract 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 obvious locations around the neighborhood, such as main streets leading to your house. Signs with 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. (OR maybe you do)

Set up a schedule of open houses

While most are held on the weekend, this is not convenient for all buyers. Schedule at different days and times during the week. 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, phone numbers, and email. Concentrate your attention on those who seem serious about your property, as opposed to those who are just checking out the neighborhood. Make sure that you make follow up with 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, emotional, or give away the fact that might make it seem like you need to quickly sell your home.

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 followed in their entirety. The proper forms may be obtained from your local Board of Realtors. If you have an agent representing you they will take care of the forms, and dates for 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 a good idea to have a real estate attorney review all contracts /documents 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 the sale and exchange money and keys. This is in order to determine that the property being sold is still in good working order and ready to for the new buyers.

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

Unless you have already bought a new home, you’ll need to be the “buyer” for another home while simultaneously being the “seller” for your current one. If possible, schedule both transactions to close at the same time, this saves you from moving twice; because you need to be moved out before the new owners take possession unless there is a special clause in your contract.

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