Questions and Answers about Selling Your Home
How can I acquire information about recent past sales and current listings?
Realtors use a computer to compile data of past sales of similar houses in your neighborhood. He/she also does a list of current sales with the same criteria and reviews both of these in a Competitive Market Analysis with you.
What are some of the factors affecting the market?
Mortgage rates, weather, location and condition of the property, tourist season(s).
Can I sell my house by myself?
Yes. You must take the responsibility of showing it, advertising it, and you must work very closely with an attorney. Be sure you have a qualified buyer.
What are buyers looking for?
Good condition, good value, good location. Keep in mind that a good location for one buyer may not be so for another. You are in control of the condition of the property, and also in making the decision to price your home correctly so that it will sell.
Working with Real Estate Professionals
What is agency disclosure?
Agency disclosure indicates who (if anyone) is being represented by the agent; that is, whether the real estate agent represents the buyer, the seller or neither party (transaction brokerage).
How do I select an agent to sell my house?
Choose someone who is a full time agent for better service. He/she should be a member of the Board of Realtors, a professional organization, and have computer access to the Multiple Listing System and the information contained in the tax records. He/she must have a good reputation, personality and enthusiasm for selling your house. He/she should have an experienced track record of having sold a reasonable number of properties.
Are my Realtor fees negotiable?
A: By law, commissions are negotiable. In some cases, a lower than average commission may be appropriate. However, most sales are made in cooperation between two agencies that split the commission. If the commission is below the 6% common in this area, agents from other realty companies will be reluctant to show it. On the other hand, if extra expenses or services are anticipated, such as arranging for extensive repairs, or managing the property, a higher commission may be in order. There also have been instances where the seller has offered to pay a higher rate of commission in order to motivate the Realtor and make him more aggressive in their attempts to market and sell the house.
How long do I have to list my house?
A: The first listing period is usually 6 months. This period gives your Realtor ample time to advertise and show your home, and to complete a sale, which generally takes about 60 days.
How do I prepare my house for sale?
Make your house attractive on the outside to give it curb appeal because people drive by first before deciding to go inside. Keep the lawn manicured, paint the front door if needed, and have nice flowers or plants at the entrance. This brings people up the driveway and in your front door. Take an objective look at your house and fix up things that need repair. Make rooms look uncluttered and spacious.
What should I expect my Realtor to provide?
What are some marketing strategies I might have available?
Multiple listing program; advertising with pictures of house, broker's open house to expose it to other Realtors; open house for the public, on-line listings on the Internet, direct mail promotions, personal networking with other Realtors, programmed fax contact with other agents.
What are some other services I should expect from my Realtor?
Realtor should make a list of repairs that need to be done. If necessary, he should provide you with names of professionals to do repairs and possibly arrange for contractors to gain access to the property. In some cases Realtors can arrange property management (someone to do yard maintenance and take care of the grounds). Your agent should also make the property available to appraisers and inspectors, if you are unable to be there.
Should I consider holding a purchase money mortgage from the buyers?
That is a personal decision. It depends on your own financial situation as to whether it would be a benefit or a hindrance.
What are costs I could incur in selling my property?
A: Brokerage fee, instrument survey, mortgage points, attorney fees, recording mortgage discharge, tax stamps, abstract update, inspection costs and repairs.
How do I know if the buyer is qualified for a mortgage?
Your Realtor should find out from the buyer's Realtor if their offer is a solid one. Sometimes a lending institution will give the buyer a letter showing that they are preapproved.
How long will it take for my buyer to get mortgage approval?
Approximately 4-6 weeks.
Do I need to pay points for the buyer?
Points are a percentage the buyer pays to obtain a lower interest rate. A VA mortgage requires the seller to pay points. Usually you adjust the price of the house to fold in the cost of those points. Paying points is negotiable and it may have some tax advantages.
Are any of my seller costs deductible?
Some of your seller costs may be deductible. You should consult your tax advisor.
What is a house contingency - must sell to buy?
A contingency is when a buyer asks for about 60 days to sell their current house. Your Realtor usually counter offers 30-35 days to do so. This comes with a "bump clause" so if you get another acceptable offer in the meantime, you would notify the first buyer and they would have about 3 banking days to remove the contingency.
Should I take my one time exemption?
You have a one time opportunity to take a $125,000 exemption from capital gains tax. You may prefer to defer your gain by buying a new house which fits the tax guidelines. You should consult your financial advisor as to your own situation.
When do I need to contact an attorney?
As soon as you put your house on the market you should let your attorney know. We are frequently asked, by both Buyers and Sellers, "Do I really need an attorney? (link here!)
When do I give up possession of my house?
Possession is a negotiation between buyer and seller. Sometimes the seller can rent back from the buyer for a couple of months after the closing. Closing is important to the buyer to lock in the interest rate but possession can take place at a later date.
What should I do to get ready for closing?
As soon as you've received a purchase offer on your house, have your attorney review it. Also, look in your safety deposit box or wherever you keep your important papers for a copy of your abstract. It is much less expensive to have your abstract updated than it is to get a new one.
Where does the closing take place?
The closing usually takes place at the office of the Buyer's attorney or Buyer's Title Company.
Do I need to be present at closing?
You do not need to be at the closing. The buyers, their attorney, your attorney, and the bank attorney would be present at the closing but you could sign the papers beforehand if you don't want to attend the closing.
What happens at closing?
Papers are signed and a check for the amount due to you (less any liens and expenses) is given to your attorney.