What to Know About Selling Your House

July 17, 2017

Are you thinking about selling? There’s a lot to know before you take that big step, and it’s easy to overlook some of the important steps. Here are some things you should keep in mind:

On Selling Your House

You have to satisfy your legal obligations. That means you must disclose problems or potential problems that might affect the value your house. The specific requirements vary by jurisdiction, but it is illegal to conceal or attempt to conceal a problem. The best path is generally to err on the side of disclosure and avoid potential liability in the future. Problems will likely be discovered during the inspection anyway, and your forthrightness will create trust with prospective buyers. Plus, you’re not required to correct any problems just because you disclose them. That is something that can be negotiated with buyers.

To determine whether you should hire a real estate agent when selling your house, you need to know what the agent will do for you. A good agent will research comparable sales in your area to help you set the right price for your house – i.e., the price that will net you the most money but isn’t so high as to turn buyers off. The agent will also give you advice on what you should and shouldn’t do to sell your place, such as sprucing up the curb appeal or removing personal photos from view. Additionally, the agent will advertise and show the house to buyers and other agents, arrange the inspection, appraisal, and closing once you have a buyer, and handle most of the paperwork. In exchange, the agent will ask for a contract giving him or her the exclusive right to sell the house for a set period of time, such as six months, and will expect to be paid out of the sale proceeds, usually 5% to 8% of the sale price. As the seller, you are expected to pay a similar amount to the buyer’s agent as well. Learn more about selling your home with and without an agent.

If you decide to hire an agent, make sure you research the agent’s reputation and check his or her referrals. Pay attention to the terms of the contract you sign, including the percentage the agent expects as commission (which may be negotiable), and the duration of the contract. If you haven’t worked with a particular agent before, consider signing as short a contract as possible, so you don’t find yourself stuck with an agent you’re not satisfied with.

You’ll have to keep your house clean all the time. Buyers and their agents may show up on short notice or even no notice, even if you have hired an agent to represent you. To make the best impression and get top dollar for your home (and who doesn’t want that?), you’ll need to declutter, depersonalize, and above all, keep your home pristine.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do if you are selling your house is to emotionally distance yourself from your house. You’ll need to stop thinking of it as your home, and try to see it through someone else’s eyes. That means removing your personal items to make it easier for prospective buyers to visualize themselves in the space. It also means removing half of your belongings or more to make the house look more spacious and help buyers see their belongings in it. This objectivity will also help you figure out the appropriate sale price of the property, based on the sale of other similar properties in your area. And that will help you sell your home as fast and as profitably as possible.

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