In America, a lot of people sell their homes move every year. Whether this is your first time, or 5th, it is good to get and stay familiar with what you can expect. And there are few expectations that home sellers need to be more acquainted with than the home selling time line. It is important for several reasons— for starters, if you don’t know what kind of timeline you are looking at when it comes to selling your home, then you may become frustrated with the whole process. A more tangible reason, however, is the need for solid preparation. While sometimes a move can catch us off guard, if you have enough time to prepare you really should be starting as soon as you can.
Below we have a rough estimate of what you can expect when it comes to selling a home. We start with a few months before the home is listed as a lot of the necessary heavy lifting happens then. Now, it is important to remember that this is only an estimate and is in no way a guarantee. Talk with a real estate agent in your area to find out more about what you can expect out of your local market as far as timelines go.
Before you list your home
Like we said earlier, the real heavy lifting happens in the months prior to the listing date. Take care to be diligent when it comes to preparations and start working on prepping your home as soon as possible.
No later than 3 months before listing date
About three months before your home is going to be listed is when you really need to get started. It doesn’t have to be all at once, but it has to be something. This stage isn’t that intense, however if it goes well it can help you out a lot in the long run.
Determine your move date (preferably 3 or 4 months from now)
Now, this may not seem super important to have on a list, but really, it is. Having a date in mind gives you direction for the next few months. It is important to realize that this is not the listing date, this is the move date. You want to plan everything accordingly around when you are going to be moving since the actual move is the crux of this whole operation.
Find all the important documents
The next thing you need to do is to find all the important documents. This includes mortgages, titles, and so on and so forth. In short, any official document that pertains to the house. If you can, get the receipts of any major repairs made on the home as well (these aren’t necessary for the sale of the home, unlike the mortgage and such, but they might help in negotiations).
In some cases you may not have access to all these documents because they will be held by a bank. If that is the case, then you won’t need to worry about that specific document. However, make sure that you know where all these documents are and the status of these documents (pertaining to leans and such) so that you can sell it with confidence that there will be no negative legal ramifications.
Do a home inventory
The home inventory is a vital step in the home selling process. Why? Because this is where you will determine what needs fixing or altering. What you are going to want to do is to grab a paper and pen and walk every inch of the inside and outside of you home. As you go around, check everything you can and make note of anything that needs attention. This can be things that need repairing, things that need touching up, or even things that simply need to be deep cleaned.
Even if you think your home is completely fine, this is an important step to do. You’d be surprised how much you can find when you do even the swiftest of walkthroughs (which you shouldn’t do— take time to do a thorough walkthrough).
Do any needed repairs
At this point, you are going to want to start taking care of the things on the list you made during the inventory stage. Did you find a room that needs to be repainted? What about a hole in the kitchen wall? Or a light fixture that needs replacing? If so, take care of them now. However, only do those that you feel comfortable doing. If it has anything to do with plumbing or electrics, call a professional. They will be able to take care of it safely.
Warning: Do not do any repairs you don’t feel comfortable doing. Anything dangerous should be handled by a professional.
Note: Do not start any major renovations at this point. If you are 3 months away from the listing date, it is not the time to start a renovation. Not to mention, renovations that are meant to raise property value usually don’t raise it enough to break even. So, just don’t do it.
2 months before listing date
At the 2 month mark is when things start getting hectic. However, if done correctly, they should make sure everything runs smoothly when the listing actually comes around.
Pick a real estate agent
Choosing a real estate agent is one of the most important parts of selling your home. Your real estate agent can do a lot for you in both the preparation of your home for sale and the marketing of the home after it’s listed. You see, real estate agents are not only experienced and trained in all the ins and outs of preparing and selling homes, but they also have many contacts in many different industries. If you find that your home needs some plumbing work done, your agent may know of a plumber in town that they trust to do good work for a good price.
Clean the house
When you sell a home, there is always one constant: cleaning. If you don’t clean your home, and keep it clean, people will be less likely to buy it. This is because it is hard enough to handle our own messes, let alone someone else’s. But, don’t worry about deep cleaning just yet. At this point just do a quick tiding and cleaning to make it easier to pack up and get everything else ready— but don’t worry, the deep cleaning is coming up soon.
When you do the cleaning, you can do it yourself, of course— or, if you want to get things done a bit faster, you can invite some friends over and have a cleaning party (if you offer to pay them in food you are more likely to get help). However, if you are in a crunch, a professional cleaning crew can always help out. Just remember though, if you are on a limited budget, you may want to save the hiring of a professional until you get to the deep clean later.
1 month before listing date
Now, here is where we kick things up a notch. In the last month or so before you list your home, you need to make sure that everything is in order and that the home is ready to be shown.
Packing up your things
The first big step of this month (and you may even consider starting this a bit earlier) is packing. This is super important because, it can actually have a strong psychological effect on a potential buyer. You see, when we live in our homes, we tend to accumulate enough stuff to the point that we feel comfortable, but, for a stranger, our level of clutter may be excessive and irritating so it is best to ‘cut the clutter’ as some people say. It is advised to cut your stuff down by about a half or a third. This will make the house feel more open and comfortable.
Now, to be clear, we don’t mean that you have to throw this stuff out. You can pack it up and move/ store it for you new home.
Once you have cut down the amount of stuff you have, you can start working on packing up everything else. Just be sure that, as you pack, you are taking things out of the house so that it doesn’t look cluttered from all the boxes and packing materials.
Staging your home
In short, staging is making sure your home is nice and pretty and ready to be shown to potential buyers. It involves décor, the arrangement of furniture and so on. What you are going to be doing is trying to make your home feel as inviting and warm as possible. Have your real estate agent, or even a staging professional help you get everything staged correctly, if you are uncomfortable with the idea.
Another big part of staging is depersonalization and neutralization. This is the idea that you want to make your home as neutral, yet still inviting, as possible. So, you are going to want to take down personal photos, repaint brightly colored walls, and maybe even borrow some different furniture if necessary. A good guide to use is to compare your home to a model home or a hotel since these are designed to be pretty, homey, and attractive to a wider variety of people— not everyone will be a fan of your Boise State Broncos themed entertainment room and, though they may be able to repaint it themselves, it may be a slight turnoff for them at the start which would make it hard for them to visualize themselves living there.
The deep clean
Now, it is the moment of truth— time for the deep clean. Once you have everything looking nice and homey, it is time to make sure that everything is spick and span. And we mean everything. You see, like we said earlier, it is hard for people to deal with their own messes, let alone someone else’s. If they come in your home and feel uncomfortable because of either the untidiness or the actual dirtiness of the place, then they will have a hard time buying the home. So, it is best to make the home as clean as possible.
Another really important thing to keep in mind when you are cleaning is that in a few weeks you will have a photographer coming through your home to take pictures. These pictures need to represent your home as well as possible so get the house clean and tidy and keep it that way.
Now, there are some other reasons for getting your home clean now instead of later. You see, even if you think the house will look good in the photos, once the house is on the market, a person could want to see the home at any time, so it is best to get it really clean now so that it is easier to prepare for someone to come look at it later.
Start looking for a new home
Now, depending on your circumstances, you will want to start looking for your new home earlier than a month before listing. If you haven’t started yet though, start now! If you start looking too late, you run the risk of not having a home to move to when your current home sells. Talk with your real estate agent about finding a new home that will fit your needs.
Some real estate agents strictly work with buyers or sellers, but, luckily, the real estate agents at the Hughes Group are not only trained to work with both, but are also great at it. If you work with a Hughes Group agent, they can help you sell your current home and look for your next home at the same time. No need to hire a new agent for each transaction. So, take advantage of their help while you can.
3 weeks before the listing date
At this point, things are going to get crazy. Why? Well, not only are there things that you need to do during this time period, but you also need to make sure that you finish up everything from the previous sections to make sure that your house is in order. If you come to the point where you are just completely overwhelmed, talk to your real estate agent; they can help you come up with a plan to get everything finished up and, if necessary, push the date out. The latter being the option that you would want to avoid unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Get professional photos taken of the home
At this point, you really need some good looking, professional photos of your home for you real estate agent to put on the web and flyers. What you will want to do is to make sure your home is clean and arranged perfectly before the photographer gets there. They will then take a bunch of pictures of every part of the house and give them to the real estate agent. However, it is important to remember that good, professional photos will cost you— but it is worth it. Without good photos, selling your home will be quite difficult. Talk to your real estate agent and ask them for recommendations on who to hire to take the pictures for you— they will have a list of photographers that they trust.
Pick your selling price
Deciding what to sell your home for is a bit of a daunting task. There are so many factors that go into the decision with some of these factors changing pretty frequently. Your real estate agent will be your best friend at this point as they are more aware of the current market. They will help you compare your home to similar ones that have sold in your area. If you want to know exactly what your home is worth, however, then you may need to call in an appraiser. Their word is almost law when it comes to value assessment.
A few things to keep in mind when it comes to pricing. Don’t overprice your home in case someone tries to negotiate for a lower price. This is a bad business move. What will likely happen is someone will see the home and realize that it is not worth the asking price and will steer clear of it. It will also throw off people who could have been looking for a home just like that. If you overprice the home it won’t show up when the search for homes. Just keep that in mind.
Listing the home
You finally made it— it is time to list your home! What happens now is your real estate agent takes down all the measurements of your home, the pictures, a small description of the home and neighborhood and will post it on what is called the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service. This is the official online service that all real estate agents in the area use. Once your home is listed there, it will appear on website like this whenever someone searches for homes with the same parameters. It is a pretty nifty system. By having your agent upload your home to the IMLS you immediately get your home broadcasted over hundreds of real estate websites so, no matter which a person is using, they will be able to see your home.
After you list your home
This is the point where we cannot give you any actual time frame, only thing things that you need to do. How long a house takes to sell is dependent on the price, the location, the market, and a host of other factors. No matter how long it does take, however, you will need and want to do these following things.
Be ready for showings
Showings are vital to the home selling process. No person wants to buy a home without doing at least a single walk through first. So, you need to have your home in a state where you could make it show ready in a matter of minutes. That means keeping it all relatively tidy— including bathrooms and kitchens. It may even be beneficial to have a plan in mind for what you will do when someone schedules a showing that way it becomes easier to do when the time comes.
Now that you have your home listed, and you can keep it tidy, you will need to keep packing. If you don’t you run the risk of having to rush-pack when you get an offer. So, keep working at it. One of the best strategies is to work backwards when you do this. By work backwards, we mean that you start packing the things you use the least first. That way, the essentials, like kitchen supplies and what not, are still there for you to use, but you are making progress on the packing process still.
Keep looking for a new home
If you haven’t found a home to move into yet, you need to keep working on that. There may be a very motivated buyer that comes along that wants to buy the home right away and, if you can’t get out of there fast enough, you may lose that deal. So, it is best to try and find a home ASAP. There are other reasons for wanting to find your new home soon; for instance you’ll have a place to move all the things you pack up from your current residence. So, keep looking, but be sure not to rush the decision.
Put out advertisements
When you are selling anything, including a house, on the open market, you are going to want to place advertisements for it. These can be on Craigslist, Facebook, in the paper, signs on major streets leading to your home, etc. Whatever you feel the best about, and can afford, is just fine. Consult with your real estate agent for more tactics and ideas for selling your home.
Show the home
When people come to look at your house, it is recommended that you not be there. So, make sure that you are able to tidy the house and leave at a moment’s notice when you are at home, and leave it in show-ready order when you leave for the day. This will make it easier to show the home when it is convenient to the potential buyer.
Put on open houses
Open houses are another big part of advertising a home for sale. They allow you to invite the public to look at your home without setting an appointment. These are useful because people who may not have been considering your home might tour it and find it fits their needs. There are many nuances that are involved with holding an open house so be sure to get the help of your real estate agent. They will know how to host an open house, when the best time would be for an open house, and so on and so forth.
Receive and negotiate offers
After a while, most homes that are priced well and in good condition will sell (that isn’t a guarantee though). Before you sell though, you will receive offers on the house. You will take these offers and consult with your real estate agent. If you and your agent feel like it is a good offer, then you can either accept it or submit a counter offer. If you don’t feel it is a good offer, then you can reject it or submit a counter offer. Eventually you should come to a price during negotiations that is mutually beneficial and all parties can agree on.
Let the inspectors and appraisers do their work
Once you have accepted an offer, usually the buyer will send in an inspector and an appraiser that they have hired. The inspector will ‘inspect’ the home for quality and safety. They will check the foundation, the rook, the frame, the electrical, and everything in between to make sure that a home is safe and or not a liability.
The appraiser, on the other hand, will appraise the home to determine its current market value. If the appraiser comes back to the buyer and says that the home is worth less than what they negotiated, they can renegotiate with you for a better price.
It is important to cooperate with the appraiser and the inspector. If they can’t do their job, then no one will be buying your home anytime soon.
Sign the papers and give up the keysLast, but not least, there is the signing of the papers. These will seal the deal and the keys will be passed over to the new owner.
And that is that— the steps to sell a home. It may not be glamorous, or quick for that matter, but it is a process that we here at the Hughes Group have done hundreds of times and we know it inside and out. We can help you through this whole process no matter your experience level. Give us a call today for more information!