1. Meet with Your Realtor: The most important, delicate and fluid part of the selling process is determining a solid listing price. Your agent does this by comparing many aspects of your property (size, condition, location, special features, etc.) to other properties that have sold recently. You will give your Realtor a tour of your home, and explain what makes it special. Armed with that information, she then does her research and returns to you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), and a recommended listing price.
2. Times and Transitions: Your next step is to determine WHEN you would like to put your house on the market. This could be influenced by a variety of factors, including finding another home, time of year for maximum pricing, school schedules and more. Your agent will explain the impact of all of these factors to help you determine the optimum time to bring your house to the market and whether you will need to include a requirement in the listing that allows you to remain in the house for a bit after closing to find another property (Post Closing Occupancy Agreement).
3. Sign the Contracts: When you and your Realtor have determined answers to all of the above, you will sign a “Listing Agreement” that will allow her to enter your house in the MLS and act as your fiduciary agent in the sale of the property. You will also need to sign some additional disclosure contracts that are required for Colorado property transactions (what you know about the home’s history, where you get your water, what the square footage is).
4. Prepare Your House: To help your home sell for the highest price, your agent will probably make some valuable recommendations on how to prepare it for “public consumption.” I provide my clients with free staging consultation and assistance, as well as providing them with a handy staging guide. Taking the time to do these simple projects can result in your house selling faster and for more money. Most of it involves packing up possession that you are planning to pack anyway!
5. Professional Photography and Marketing: Nearly every home buyer starts their home search on the internet these days. When you’ve finished preparing your house, your agent should schedule a professional photography session to present your house in the best possible way. From those photos, she will then create marketing materials to use in a variety of areas.
6. Enter Home in MLS: When all of the above is completed, your home is ready to be entered into the MLS. You have the ability to set guidelines about showings. You can set time frame windows (“no showings after 6pm”), the amount of notification time you need, include special notes about pets and more. Your agent may want to hold an Open House the first weekend you are on the market. If you are in a strong seller’s market, expect a LOT of traffic the first few days after you hit the MLS. You might want to strategize an alternate living situation for a few days – take a short getaway, visit family or friends, etc. This is particularly useful if you have pets that you’ll need to remove from the home before showings.
7. Offers!: The most exciting part of the process! Getting an offer is a wonderful thing. Getting multiple offers is even better. Regardless of which applies to you, your agent will carefully go over each of the points in the offer contract, and explain how they impact the sale. She will also want to directly contact the buyer’s lender to verify that they are (at this juncture), financially qualified to purchase your home. When you find an offer you’d like to accept, you sign their contract and return it to them. The buyers then have a day or two to deposit their Earnest Money that will be held in escrow until the closing.
8. Working Through the Details: The offer you select will include deadlines for the many important steps the buyer will be taking in the sales process, such as inspection, reviewing the title, getting insurance approval, reviewing HOA rules, appraisals and more. Should the buyer take issue with any of these points, they have a time frame indicated in the contract to lodge an “Objection.” The contract also provides a time frame for buyer and seller to work together to get these issues resolved. Your Realtor will be right by your side as you go through this process to explain everything and offer information to help with your decision-making.
9. Closing: When all of these hurdles have been cleared, buyer and seller head to the closing table (usually at a local Title Company). This is often a happy occasion, complete with the ceremonial “passing of the keys.” The Title Company will pay off your existing mortgage (if applicable) from the proceeds of the sale, and provide you with any additional funds via cashier’s check or wire transfer. Your Realtor will work with you prior to closing to determine how you want to receive those funds, and ways to protect those monies from fraud.
Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Your Realtor will work with you every step of the way during the sales process, answering your questions and helping you craft the perfect strategy for your own unique situation.