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Understanding the Home Selling Process

By the time you are ready to sell a home, it means that you have already been successful in purchasing a property. You survived that, so I am sure you will be able to survive the sale of your property. Remember, you will put on the seller's hat now, but try not to forget all the emotions and feelings you had when you were the buyer.

The information presented here is intended to provide you with an overview of the home selling process. No transaction is like another, and there will be differences in the processes with every transaction you are involved in.

When you make the determination that the time is right to place your property on the sales market, the first thing you must consider is your motivation for selling. What is the reason that you want to sell your home? Whatever the motivation, it will have a have an influence on all the decisions you make that affect the process.

The first decision you will make will be to choose a real estate professional to represent your best interests in the transaction. The interview process for choosing a REALTOR® to market your home for sale is similar to the process you would use when choosing a REALTOR® to represent you in the purchase of a home. During this process, however, you will be gathering valuable information which will help you determine the list price of your home.

Certainly, the ability to easily communicate with your real estate professional and to feel a sense of trust and comfort is very important. A real estate transaction is usually one of the most important transactions that anyone can make, and it is important that you trust and respect the REALTOR® you choose to help you with the transaction.

Obtaining a personal referral from someone you know and trust is ALWAYS the easiest way to find a good and competent REALTOR®. In my experience, when customers are referred to me by a previous client, it always works out to be a good and rewarding experience for all concerned.

During the interview process, every REALTOR® you speak with should present you with an information document called Information about Brokerage Services. The Texas Real Estate Commission provides this form, and Texas law requires all real estate licensees to provide the information to prospective buyers, tenants, sellers and landlords.

The intent of the form is to give the consumer information about the duties of the broker, depending on whom the broker represents. A broker can represent the buyer/tenant or the seller/landlord. The broker can also act as an intermediary with full disclosure and the written consent of each party to the transaction.

After you have interviewed prospective REALTORS® and you have chosen the REALTOR® to represent you in the transaction, you and your REALTOR® will prepare the listing agreement, the Residential Listing Exclusive Right to Sell. This document puts the terms and conditions of the listing in writing: The list price, the term of the listing agreement, the amount of commissions paid to the listing broker upon the sale of the property. The listing agreement will also include the Seller's Disclosure Notice and, depending on the age of the property, the Addendum for Seller's Disclosure of Lead-Based Paint.

There are several other forms and addenda that may or may not be necessary during the term of the listing, especially when you are presented with an offer to purchase the property. Some of these forms and addenda include, but are not limited to Information about Property Insurance for a Buyer or Seller, the Intermediary Relationship Notice and the Non-Realty Items Addendum to Contract.

Staging your home is a very important part of the sales process but it is not as difficult as you may have been led to believe. Curb appeal is very important to a home buyer, and you must not make the first impression of your home a negative one. Make sure the landscaping is neat and trimmed, and put a fresh coat of paint on the front door, followed by a shiny brass kick-plate!

If you have ever tuned to the Home and Garden channel (HGTV) on cable television, you will be familiar with the following advice: Clean it up, remove all the clutter from the closets, take down some of the personal items from the shelves, and remove some of the photos from the walls! Do your best to let the buyer feel as if they could live in the home. Sometimes buyers have difficulty overlooking lots of the sellers' personal items, and they cannot envision themselves living in the home.

This is a perfect time to clean out the closets, so potential buyers feel there is room for all their own shoes and clothing! Open up all the drapes and raise all the shades, so the bright sunshine will flood into the rooms!

Before long, you will receive a call from your REALTOR® informing you that a contract offer has been received on the property. Your REALTOR® will carefully review all the details of the contract with you, and explain all the plusses and minuses of the offer, and will provide you with a Seller's Net Sheet based on the terms and conditions of the offer. Your REALTOR® will counsel with you about the market conditions in your area, and work with you to decide whether or not a counter offer is necessary. Depending on the offer, you may choose to present the prospective buyer with Seller's Invitation to Buyer to Submit New Offer. Remember, in my opinion, the first offer from a prospective buyer should be looked upon as the beginning of a dialogue. Even a very low offer should be considered the beginning of the purchase process, and given careful consideration. Remember, this is business, and you should not take a "low-ball" offer personally.

Once you and the buyer have agreed upon the terms and conditions pertaining to the purchase of the property, the seller you will most likely begin the process of obtaining inspections and completing their due diligence during the "option period." I say "most likely" because all contract offers are different.Generally speaking, you will have negotiated an option period, for which you have been paid a non-refundable, option fee.

During the option period, the buyer may terminate the contract for any or no reason at all, and by doing so, the option fee will be forfeited. During this period, the buyer will have several decisions to make, based on the outcome of the inspections and other due diligence. The decision made by the buyer will be whether to go forward with the transaction or to terminate the transaction. Generally, there are three scenarios that result from the inspections and due diligence:
  • The buyer feels they have made a great decision to purchase the property, and the inspection process and due diligence reinforced that assumption.
  • They are glad they had the inspection, because it uncovered what they considered to be defects in the property, and they will choose to terminate the contract.
  • The buyers had been counseled by their agent, and expected there would be some issues with the property. The items uncovered by the inspector provided them with the comfort they needed to go forward with the transaction, however, the repair items uncovered by the inspector were somewhat more substantial than they anticipated,but they will go forward with the transaction assuming the seller will make some repairs they feel are necessary.
If you are presented with an Amendment to the contract, you and your REALTOR® will work together to determine the best course of action to take. If the negotiation of repairs is successful, you have pretty much passed the final obstacle of the home sale. After those negotiations, you can begin making the final preparations for moving from your home. As with any sale or purchase of real estate, the deal is not done until you have received a check from the title company for the sale of your home. In my experience, there has never been an instance where buyers and sellers got to this point in the process and the transaction failed to close. Of course, anything can happen!

This has been a very simple scenario of the process of listing and selling a home, and I hope it has given you some information and knowledge. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

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LynnS"I thought I couldn't qualify for a mortgage so I was reluctant to try to buy a home. Bill Evans helped me to find a lender and a wonderful home. Without his patience and understanding I'd still be throwing my money away on rent."

Lynn S.
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