Find a REALTOR®
Don’t sell a home without one. Besides helping you find the buyer, a REALTOR® assists you with every aspect of your homeselling experience. From marketing to open houses, contracts to disclosures, appraisals to inspections, questions and concerns, our sales professionals are experts in the industry and are eager to help you every step of the way.
Decide How the Local Market Will Affect Your Sale
Do some research. Simply chatting with your neighbors can teach you a fair amount about the heat of the local market. Also, read your local newspaper's real estate section and talk to real estate agents you meet at open houses.
Use Comparable Houses to Identify Market Value and set Your List Price
The best source of pricing information comes from houses directly comparable to your own. In the real estate industry, a "comparable," or "comp," is a house with similar features, preferably located near yours. A Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices sales professional can provide you with a competitive Comparable Market Analysis of your home.
Make Your House Look Its Best
Before putting your house on the market, make it look as attractive as possible -- buyers will pay thousands of dollars more for a house they like the look of. Usually you don't need to do a major remodel, although a fresh coat of paint can brighten your home's prospects considerably.
Fill out Any State-Required Forms
Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices sales professional can assist you with this. The buyer will probably shoulder the main paperwork burden in this transaction -- preparing the purchase contract. However, in many states, the seller is responsible for filling out a disclosure form, telling buyers what they know about the property's physical condition.
Advertise and Hold an Open House
Advertise on the MLS. If you're working with a real estate agent, the agent should help place put the property into the online Multiple Listing Service, and maybe in the classifieds too. If you don't have an agent, you can take the same steps yourself (one website, www.iggyshouse.com, allows you to put your house on the MLS for free). Then interested buyers can make an appointment to see the house in person.
Hold an open house.
Many home sellers find open houses a useful tool. They're certainly good for bringing in the crowds. Some of the visitors will merely be curious neighbors. Welcome them, too -- they may mention your house to their househunting friends. Others will be genuinely interested buyers, including some who were reticent about making an individual appointment.
With any luck, one or more prospective buyers will present a written offer to buy your house.
Evaluate the offers.
Here's where your real estate agent can play an important role, meeting with the agents who present offers and helping you decide which offer is the strongest. It won't necessarily be the one for the most money! A high bid with shaky financing, or one made contingent on the buyer selling his or her house first, may actually drop to the bottom of your pile.
Consider a counteroffer. If none of the offers you receive are acceptable, you can counteroffer, suggesting changes in terms or even a higher price.
After counteroffers have gone back and forth between you and the buyer, and you've both signed off to indicate your acceptance, you're technically "in contract" to sell your house. At that point, you're legally bound to sell your house, and can't change your mind without potentially facing a lawsuit. (The exception is if you included conditions or "contingencies" in the contract, such as the buyer furnishing you with proof of his or her financing, and these conditions aren't met.)
Closing the Deal
The signed purchase contract will include a closing date, usually several weeks in the future. During this time, the buyer will line up financing, inspections, insurance, and more. As the seller, your duties will include:
- Making your house available for inspection
- Negotiating with the buyer over repair issues that come up, and
- Moving out your possessions.
- You probably won't meet with the buyer on the closing date. Usually the two of you sign various documents separately, in the office of your escrow sales professional.
Once the closing occurs, the buyer has the right to full possession of the house. If you can't be out by that date, you may be able to negotiate a short-term rental agreement with the buyer.
After the Sale: Tax Considerations
Assuming you make a profit on your sale, you might have to pay capital gains tax. The IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/ can tell you more.