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Selling Your Home

The process of selling a home is similar to that of buying a home. It's a big task. It often involves many home improvement projects, hours of research, and lots of patience.

Everyone's situation is unique in some way, but there are some basic steps that you should know about. This article discusses a few important steps to take when you decide to sell your home.

Researching Your Local Market

You could have the nicest house in the neighborhood, but you might still have trouble selling it. A home that has been improved in many ways can still lose value because of:

  • Trends in local or national markets
  • Decrease in value of surrounding homes
  • An uptick in crime
  • New development that changes the character of the area

On the other hand, your ability to sell a home improves when:

  • The economy is strong
  • Unemployment rates are low
  • Interest rates are low
  • The supply of houses for sale is low and demand is high

The time of year that you list your home for sale also matters. Most people tend to move during the spring to late summer. They do not tend to move during the dead of winter.

One of the best ways to determine your home's value is to look at what comparable homes are selling for in your area. These are often referred to as "comps." A realtor can give you examples of comps in your area.

Looking at a house online is not as good as looking at a comparable house in person. It may have the same square footage and number of bedrooms, but for other reasons it might be worth more or less than your home.

Visiting open houses in your area will give you a better sense of what's available. It will also give you a better sense of what people are looking for when they buy a home.

Pay attention to things like:

  • Landscaping
  • Light fixtures
  • Color choices

That said, keep in mind that what really matters is the price other homes actually sell for. It's not what the seller is asking that is most important. Also, note how long it took to sell. An overpriced home could sit on the market much longer. If you need a fast sale, that may influence your asking price.

Ways To Sell Your Home

If you plan on buying a new home after selling your existing home, you will want to do similar market research in any new neighborhoods where you are looking. You should consider factors like square footage and the availability of storage space. Take note of any needed upgrades to match your preferences. It's essential to have sufficient storage space and keep closets organized. Some other important selling tips include:

  • Be sure to declutter and deep clean your home to make a great first impression.
  • Consider investing in some home staging to maximize your home's appeal.
  • Think about renovations that could increase your home's value.
  • Make sure faucets and other hardware are in good condition.
  • Update any outdated fixtures, including countertops.
  • Make sure the living room has an inviting appearance.

Put yourself in the shoes of prospective buyers. Think about how they would likely want to see a space where living could be easy, calm, or fun. Explore this section of FindLaw for more tips on how to sell your home.

Do You Need a Real Estate Agent?

Even if your state doesn't require you to hire a real estate agent or real estate attorney before selling your home, it's often a good idea to do so. A real estate agent can make the process go much more smoothly. Keep in mind, however, that you will pay for that service. It's important to remember to make sure you also have enough money for other expenses that may pop up.

Selling a home is time-consuming. It can be complicated, even with the help of an experienced agent. With professional help, sellers are often able to get a better price. After all, the real estate agent's commission depends on the selling price, so they have an incentive to get you the best deal possible. That rate is usually five to six percent of the sale price.

A real estate agent can help you prioritize home improvement projects. This will allow you to get the biggest return on your investment. If they regularly work in your area, your listing agent may even know companies in your area that can help you finish nagging projects. These can be the kinds of projects that have gone uncompleted for years. Their knowledge of the housing market is invaluable.

Your agent can also:

  • Show your home while you're at work
  • Help you negotiate offers
  • Assist with all the necessary paperwork, including required disclosures

If you decide to go it alone, there are resources that can help you. Make sure you have plenty of spare time. It's important to have at least some experience in finance and knowledge of real estate law. Consider renting a storage unit to temporarily store personal items and family photos to depersonalize the space.

You may choose to handle the marketing and negotiations yourself. In this case, you might only then work with a real estate attorney to ensure all the legal paperwork is done properly. You need to be sure that all of these are handled properly for the closing. 

It's essential to understand your legal responsibility in a home sale. Your responsibility includes being ready to be transparent with your listing and conversations. At the heart of a sale is a contract. You shouldn't make any assumptions about what's in the contract without reading it carefully.

Getting Your Home Ready To Sell

Even if you think your home is ready to hit the market, you should have it professionally inspected. This will allow you to avoid surprises when a prospective homebuyer's inspector comes through prior to closing. It's always a good idea to do everything you can to prevent an unexpected and unwanted finding during the pre-closing home inspection. You can prevent such problems by having a home inspection earlier on in the process of selling your home.

Your inspector will identify things you'll want to do to prepare your house for sale. If bigger problems are uncovered, you can then decide if you want to invest in making the repairs or if you want to sell at a reduced price. Examples of such problems are plumbing or roofing issues.

Not everything needs to be fixed or improved as long as any deficiencies are clearly communicated to potential buyers. Being upfront about problems allows you to avoid the potential for a lawsuit later.

Ensure your listing photos accurately represent your home's condition. It often helps to depersonalize it by removing family photos. That way, at your open house potential buyers can visualize themselves in the home.

Home Closing

If a buyer wants to make an offer on your home, they will sign a purchase agreement spelling out the terms of their offer. When you sign that agreement, it becomes a legally binding contract. There are ways to give yourself some wiggle room in the contract. Wiggle room includes allowing for contingencies.

A common contingency is that the sale of the home is contingent upon you finding a new home to move into. It can also include the buyer being able to sell their home before purchasing yours. Don't forget to include the sale price and any included appliances or fixtures in the agreement.

Once the paperwork is signed, a closing date will be set. The closing is when the property is legally transferred to the new owner. At that point, you receive the sale price you've worked hard to achieve. Be sure to walk through the property one last time to ensure everything is in order. Hand over any storage space keys to the new owner.

For tips on closing on a home, review our tips and pointers on the process. You can also learn more about the problems that often arise during closing on a home.

Need More Help? Contact an Attorney

The process of buying or selling a home can be complicated. Complicated legal issues can sometimes arise. You might need to speak with a real estate attorney. If you do need to speak with one, contact a qualified real estate lawyer. If you're a first-time seller, you're likely going to need more help than otherwise would be the case. It's important to get the help you need, as home selling can be hard even if you have done it before.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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