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The Basics of Selling a Home

A home for sale

The process of selling your home can differ from state to state. Before putting your house on the market, there are some important steps you must take to get the most from your investment and to protect your interests.

Step One

Get pre-approved to buy another house before you sign a contract to sell your own home. If your financial situation has changed since your last purchase, it’s possible that you may no longer qualify for another loan. You may also be unable to sell your house for a price that will allow you to buy another house you want. If you get pre-approved, you won’t end up renting or buying a house you don’t really want. When applying for a pre-approval, be sure the lender discloses the estimated costs required for you to purchase a new home, such as: the down payment, closing costs, points, origination fees and title fees.

Step Two

Call your lender to check the mortgage payoff and calculate your estimated proceeds. First, you will need to subtract the mortgage pay off from the fair market value of your home. Second, you will need to subtract the costs to sell your home from the remainder in order to get an idea of the proceeds you can expect to receive at closing.

Step Three

Determine your home’s fair market value. A Realtor will provide a written comparable market analysis as part of their listing and will also provide helpful suggestions of what you can do to increase the value of your house. You might also consider hiring a licensed appraiser to determine the value. Professional appraisers will provide you with a detailed report that will usually include: the neighboring property values in comparison to your own, an evaluation of the real estate market in your area and a determination of issues affecting the property’s value.

Step Four

Estimate what it will cost you to sell your house. If you are using a Realtor, you may have to pay their commission. If you are planning to sell by owner, then you must consider your costs for advertising, signs, attorney fees, closing agents and other possible fees involved. These other fees may include: appraisal, inspections, surveys, taxes and home owner association fees. Realtors can give you an accurate estimate of the closing costs and any other fees that may be involved. Realtors are professionals that deal with these transactions every day and can prove to be a valuable resource for you. In many instances the Realtor can net you more from the sale than you can on your own, plus they offer the guarantee that unless they close the transaction at a price and terms acceptable to you, their services cost you nothing.

Step Five

Make repairs. Today’s home buyer will not “fix up” a house. Nobody has the time, talent or interest in fixing up properties. You want to get the most out of your house and dissuade potential buyers from submitting insultingly low offers. “Allowances” for things like replacing carpeting usually do not work because buyers always seem to double the cost in their own mind. Your house is competing with other houses for sale. It must be in good condition or today’s buyer will buy elsewhere.

Step Six

Before you show your house, do some spring cleaning, regardless of what season it actually is. Organize your shelves and closets, dust off the blinds and window sills, clean away the cobwebs and wash all windows and appliances. You will want to make everything as spotless as possible, remove any offensive odors and clear the clutter. You will need to present your home in a clean and appealing way to the potential buyers. You might consider having the house professionally “staged” to bring out its maximum appeal. You may also need to work on the exterior part of the house by scraping and painting porches and windows and maintaining an appealing lawn. You can also add low maintenance decorative flowering plants and shrubs to dress up your yard. Now that your home is ready to show, make it accessible to real estate agents with potential buyers at all times. Most buyers feel more comfortable being shown a house when the owner is not present. If you decide to take a walk while your house is being shown, make a note to the agent if there are any pets on the premises. You will want to be sure that your cat doesn’t get out the door or that your dog is securely locked up in a crate or in the back yard. You want everything to go as smoothly as possible.

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