Now that you have decided to sell your home and have determined the fair market price, it is time to begin thinking about the most effective way to market your home to potential buyers. Whether you intend on selling your property yourself or have contracted with a licensed real estate agent, there are many ways of increasing the exposure of your home to the buyer market.
Remember, when you hire a reputable real estate agent, they will coordinate and incur the costs of the majority of your home’s marketing needs. In addition, they have access to a network of other real estate offices and agents within their Multiple Listing Service. Networking is key when trying to sell a home!
Below are some ideas that you, or your agent, can use to create greater market exposure of your home:
Make a List of Special Features: Write down all of the fabulous and unique features of your property. What are some of the characteristics you truly love about your home? What improvements have you made to your property recently? Be as descriptive as possible. Use this list to help design flyers, and other marketing materials for your home. If you are working with a REALTOR®, provide them with this list so that they can create these flyers and advertisements for you.
Newspaper Advertisements: Place an ad in the classified section of your local newspaper. Many real estate offices advertise their listings in local newspaper publications as well.
Real Estate Publications: There are many magazines and publications that feature homes currently on the market. Again, many REALTORS® frequently advertise their listings in these publications. Also, some local areas have For Sale By Owner publications in which you can promote your home if you choose not to work with an agent.
Signs: Place a For Sale sign on your front lawn for additional exposure. Make sure there is contact information, such as a phone number, so that interested buyers are able to schedule a showing. Many REALTORS® use Talking Signs where a buyer can call and hear pre-recorded information about your home. If you live off of the main thoroughfare, you may want to use Directional Signs to point interested parties towards the location of your property.
Real Estate Flyers: Design flyers that you can distribute throughout the community. Also, place an information box in your front lawn so that passers-by can find out details about your home. Include color photos highlighting some of the unique features of your property. Provide as many property details as possible to intrigue a potential buyer. Also, provide contact information so that the prospective buyer can schedule a showing.
Networking: Tell friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers that you are placing your home on the market. They may know someone who is currently looking to buy. Also, if you use a real estate agent, they have a network of real estate offices and agents who are members of their Multiple Listing Service. Your REALTOR® can also send out announcements to their customers to let them know you have listed your home. Even if their customers aren’t interested, they may know someone who might be interested in your home.
Open Houses: Host an open house at your home. Make sure your home is in immaculate condition as you will have many people wandering your house looking through closets and cabinets. If you are selling your home yourself, be prepared to answer the many questions prospective buyers may have, such as the age of the roof, water heater, air conditioner, and furnace. These are important details to a prospective buyer. If possible, prepare flyers and other literature about your home that details all of this information. Place this literature in a prominent place in your home.
The Internet: The Internet is a great way to market your home. If you choose to work with a real estate agent, many now have personal websites where they are able to feature their listings. In addition, your property will be included in a listing database where potential buyers are able to search for listings that meet their specific home criteria. Property listings on websites offer color photos, as well as property details.
Virtual Tours: A virtual tour is video or moving photographs of your property. Your agent can create a virtual tour of your home to include on their website. Virtual tours are a great way to show potential buyers the special features of your house. The moving photography enables buyers to get a feel for the atmosphere of your home so that they can decide if it matches their needs.
Very few people have the luxury of paying cash for a new home. When purchasing a home, most buyers must take out a mortgage. A mortgage is an instrument that secures a loan against a house. It may also be referred to as a Deed of Trust.
When you secure a loan to pay for a home, you will sign a promissory note and a mortgage at the closing proceedings.
Below are some helpful hints to aid you in the process of applying for a home loan:
The First Step:
Before you even begin looking at homes to purchase, you should contact a mortgage specialist to get pre-qualified or pre-approved. By doing this, it increases your chances of having your Offer to Purchase accepted by the seller. A seller is more likely to accept an offer from a buyer who already has funding versus one who still needs to get a loan.
In addition, it is a good idea to obtain a copy of your credit report prior to contacting a mortgage specialist, so that you can clear up any errors that may appear on your report.
: This is an informal way to see how much you may be able to borrow. Pre-qualifying can usually be done over the phone by providing the mortgage specialist with your income, your long-term debts, and the amount of down payment you can afford.
: This is a mortgage lender’s commitment to loan money to you. When getting pre-approved, you provide your loan specialist with all of the necessary financial records needed to apply for a loan. Getting pre-approved will provide you with the exact amount that you can afford and it shows sellers that you are serious about buying a home.
Applying for a Loan
There are several financial records that your mortgage specialist will need in order to process your loan application:
Your lender will also need a copy of the sales contract for the property you wish to purchase. In addition, if you are selling a home, you must also provide its sales contract to your lender.
During the processing of the application, you can expect the lender to verify all of the information you have provided. They will also run a credit report to see your past payment history as well as to verify outstanding credit balances. Be careful not to apply with too many lenders, in that numerous checks against your name within a recent period can throw up a red flag and cause your credit worthiness to go downward. Your lender will also check your FICO score, which is a points system that indicates your credit worthiness.
Types of Loans
There are several different types of loans available when applying for a mortgage:
These loans can be broken down into two types: Fixed-Rate loans and Variable-Rate loans. A Fixed-Rate loan is generally a 15-year or 30-year loan. The interest rate of this type of loan does not change during the life of the loan; therefore, your principal and interest mortgage payment will stay the same until the loan is paid off.
A Variable-Rate loan is one in which the interest rate will change over the life of the loan period. These types of loans are commonly referred to as Adjustable Rate Mortgages, or ARMs.
These loans will generally have a fixed rate for the early life of the loan, such as the first 3, 5, or 7 years, and then roll over to a variable rate loan once the fixed period ends.
Government Program Loans:
These loans are insured loans through either the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A government program loan generally requires a smaller down payment than a conventional loan. In addition, the interest rates on these loans are commonly below the current market rates. FHA loans have special programs for first-time home buyers and low-income home buyers.
This type of loan is for buyers who plan to close on their new home before they can sell their current one. A bridge loan can be set up to completely pay off the old home’s mortgage, or it can be set up by adding the financial obligation of the new home to the existing amount of debt. A bridge loan is a short-term loan, usually one year, and includes large, prepaid interest.
Once your application for a loan has been processed, the lender will make a decision concerning making a commitment on the loan. If the lender decides to approve the loan, you will receive a Commitment Letter from the lender notifying you of their decision. The Commitment Letter may include certain conditions, such as repairs to the home, before the final approval is made. Also included in the Commitment Letter is the "lock-in" rate. This is the lender’s promise to make the loan to you at a specified interest rate and number of points. A lock-in rate is generally honored for a certain period of time, such as 30 days. If the lock-in period expires before your closing date, you may have to pay additional fees to extend your lock-in period.
If the lender decides to reject your application for a loan, you will be sent a rejection letter notifying you of their decision. If you receive a rejection letter, you may present this to the seller to reclaim your earnest money you offered with the Contract of Sale. This letter is proof that you complied with the purchase agreement, and have been formally rejected for a loan.
Once your loan has been approved and you have decided on a closing date, you will want to do a final walkthrough of the home to ensure that the home is in "as-was" condition. In other words, you want to ensure that the home appears as it did when you offered the Contract of Sale. In addition, this is your opportunity to determine if requested repairs have been made to the property and meet your approval.
The closing procedure will be conducted by a lawyer, generally at the closing attorney’s office. The day before, you will be told the total dollar amount you will need to bring to closing by the closing attorney. They will also provide you with any additional information you may need to prepare yourself for the proceedings.
On the day of closing, remember to bring:
Closing Costs Include:
During the closing, details of the sales contract will be explained to you. If everything meets your approval, you will sign all of the contracts to finalize the deal.
Now that you have found your dream home, it is time to begin to think about the packing process and what all is involved. You will want to start early, so as to give yourself time to sort through all that you have accumulated throughout the years. The less you have to transport, the easier the moving process will be.
Below are some general packing guidelines:
Items Not to Pack
There are certain items that movers will not transport because they are classified as dangerous or hazardous. These items will need to be disposed of properly prior to your move, or you will need to make alternate transport plans for these items.
Included in the items that cannot be moved by your movers are:
Any items of great value should remain in your possession during the move. These items include:
Packing Materials You Will Need
Once you are ready to begin packing, you will need to collect all of the materials you will need to pack your furnishings. Recommended packing materials include:
Bubble Wrap and Tissue
Scissors and/or Cutting Blades
Other Tips For Specific Items:
Computers: Make backup copies of all files on the computer. All detachable cords and cables should be removed and individually wrapped. If at all possible, it is best to pack these items in their original packaging. If the original carton and packaging is not available, be sure to use plenty of padding to protect these items when packing. When packing printers, be sure to remove the ink cartridge before transport.
Glassware: Pack each glass with 2 pieces of packing paper, and fold the 4 corners into the glass. This will create a protective lining for the second glass to be inserted into. Wrap the third glass as you did the first and add the fourth and stack onto the other glasses. Completely wrap the stack of glasses with several pieces of paper and tape securely to the bundle. Place the bundles upright in a carton that is packed with newspaper bundles at the bottom for extra padding. Stemware should be packed separately. Place newspaper on top of the items as well for extra security. Once the carton is securely taped, mark its contents as "Fragile-Glassware."
Dishware: Place wadded newspaper along the bottom and sides of the packing carton. Place the first plate in the center of a stack of packing paper and then wrap 2 sheets over the plate. Place a second plate over the first and repeat. Continue until you have a bundle of four plates and tape the bundle securely. Place the bundle in the box on its edge instead of flat in the carton. Add extra wadded newspaper to the top of the box for extra security. Secure the carton and mark the box "Fragile-Glassware."
Lampshades: Place packing paper between each shade and then nest together into a single stack. Lampshades should be packed exclusively in their cartons without any other items. Fragile shades, such as ones made of silk, should not be nested with others and should be packed in a carton alone. Pad the carton with packing paper before sealing.
Pictures and Paintings: Place an "X" of masking tape over the glass to help protect the picture itself in case the glass is broken during transport. Wrap small pictures individually with bubble wrap and place upright in the packing carton. Fill the cartons with towels and/or bedding for extra padding. Larger items, including mirrors, should be specially packed by your movers. Once all of your pictures are packed, fill the carton with extra packing paper and seal the carton. Mark the box "Fragile-Pictures/Paintings."
The process of selling your home can be an emotional and exhausting process. There are many things you will need to do in preparation of placing your home on the selling market. By following some simple guidelines, selling your home can be a more enjoyable and smoother process.
If you are planning on purchasing a new home in the near future, it is a good idea to place your home on the market as far in advance as possible. If you wait to place your home on the market until after you have found a new one, you may end up paying two mortgages until you find a buyer for your home.
Also, consider the fact that closing and moving dates will need to be coordinated. More than likely, the buyer of your property is selling their current home as well. Make sure that all parties involved commit to a specific time period for the closing dates. Put your closing date agreement in writing and negotiate monetary penalties for failure to comply.
As you begin to think about looking for a new home to purchase, you may also want to start preparing your current residence to be placed on the market. Start cleaning out attics and basements of any unwanted or unused items. By doing this early on, it will save you time when beginning to pack for your big move.
Choosing An Agent
Many homeowners decide to sell their property on their own to save themselves the cost of commissions paid out to a real estate agent. Commissions are generally around 5% or more of the selling price. You may want to consider, however, the costs you will incur to market your home yourself. You will be responsible for placing ads and creating flyers for your house. Also, you will have to devote much time to answering phone inquiries about your home and showing the property. Consider whether or not you will feel comfortable showing your home to strangers who show up unannounced.
Should you decide to sell through a licensed real estate agent, ask your friends and family for recommendations. Interview several agents before choosing the one you wish to hire. Find an agent that you trust and feel comfortable with.
Below are some of the advantages of working with a licensed real estate agent.
The seller’s agent will:
Setting a Price for Your Home
Once you have decided to sell, the next big step is to determine what the fair asking price should be for your home. Try to avoid overpricing your property; this may cause your home to remain on the market for an extended period of time. Instead, you should price your home so that you get a fair return on your investment and in a reasonable time period.
If you have chosen to use a real estate agent to represent your interests, he/she can guide you in setting the price at just the right amount. The agent, or a licensed appraiser, is able to complete a Comparative Market Analysis on your home. A CMA compares your home with similar properties that have sold within a specified period of time. This will enable you to set a comparable price to others that have been on the market.
Other factors to consider when setting a price for your home:
Preparing Your Home to Sell
There are many minor things you can do to your home to enhance its marketability. Remember, you want your home to make a great first impression to a potential buyer. Spend some time prior to placing your home on the market cleaning out storage spaces, closets, and cabinets. Remove any excess clutter from your home as well. You want the prospective buyer to remember the architectural features of the house and not the furnishings you have in it. The potential buyer needs to be able to envision their furnishings in your home.
Below is a list of things you can do to increase the value of your home:
Consider Curb Appeal:
It is estimated that more than 50% of homes are sold before the buyers even get out of their cars. Stand across the street from your house and review the curb appeal.
Garages, Carports, and Sheds
Kitchens and Bathrooms
Create a Pleasant Atmosphere
Overall, make sure your home exudes an inviting atmosphere. You want the potential buyer to have a pleasant experience visiting your home so that they remember the positive attributes that your home possesses.
Once you have made the decision to purchase or sell a home, the next step is to find a real estate agent who will best represent you and your housing needs.
There are three types of real estate agencies: the Buyer’s Agent, the Seller’s Agent, and the Dual Agent.
These are the three typical Agent/Client relationships that may occur. The terms of these relationships may vary from state to state, so please verify the terms of these Agency Agreements in your local area before signing any agreements.
The Buyer’s Agent
Many prospective home buyers do not feel it is necessary to contract the services of a real estate agent. They feel that the listing agent will represent them fairly during the buying process. However, what many buyers do not know is that the listing agent, or Seller’s Agency, works solely on behalf of, and in the best interest of the home seller. Therefore, it is essential that the buyer seek out and find a Buyer’s Agent that will best meet their needs.
A Buyer’s Agency works solely on behalf of the buyer. The buyer’s agent will assist their client in the negotiation of the terms of a contract. In addition, they will gather information on zoning issues, past tax data, schools and community services, and any other information deemed necessary by the buyer before making the decision to extend an offer on a home.
Many prospective home buyers have the misconception that once they begin working with an agent, he/she represents the buyer. However, this is not always the case. Unless there is a signed Buyer’s Agency Agreement, the agent that is working with the buyer still represents the seller’s interests in the transaction. Without the agreement, there is certain information that the agent cannot disclose to the prospective buyer:
Finally, there are no extra costs associated with signing a Buyer’s Agency Agreement. Any commissions paid to agents involved in a sales transaction are paid at closing by the seller.
The Seller’s Agent
This agent solely represents the seller. If there is an agent involved in a sales transaction, by default, that agent will represent the home seller unless there is a signed Buyer’s Agency Agreement with the buyer.
When looking for an agent to work with, it is best to interview a minimum of 2 to 3 real estate agents before making your final decision. Ask friends and relatives for names that they would recommend.
Below is a list of questions that may help you in deciding on which agent will best meet your needs:
When selecting a real estate agent to represent your interests, it is important to find an agent that you trust and feel comfortable with. Remember, this is probably the biggest sales transaction you will have in your life, so it is important to work with someone that you are sure will get you the best offer!
The Dual Agent
A Dual Agency Agreement occurs when two agents who work for the same Broker each represent a buyer or a seller in the sales transaction. This agreement must be disclosed to both the seller and the buyer, and any privileged information cannot be disclosed to the interested party without the permission of the other party.
What to Look for in an Agent
In addition to finding a real estate agent that you feel comfortable with and whom you trust, make sure that he/she is a dedicated professional who will work with you until your goals have been met.
They should be familiar with the area. Not only should they be familiar with the housing market, but also with area churches, schools, clubs, and parks.
Also, look for an agent that is a licensed REALTOR®. REALTORS® are individuals who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), and must adhere to its strict code of ethics.
By following these guidelines, your home buying or selling experience should be a pleasant one!
Disclaimer: GMAR makes no representations or warranties of any nature with regard to the privacy and/or business practices of the websites linked from or to GMAR.org nor with regard to their use of any information they may collect.