Home Seller’s Handbook
18 Suggestions for Selling your Home
A home that stands out among similarly priced, competitively financed houses is the one that sells. With a little effort, your home can be sold more quickly and possibly at a better price. When applicable, the following suggestions for preparing your home to sell are worth the special attention.
First impressions are lasting.
View your house through the critical eyes of a home buyer. Make sure your home has "curb appeal." The front door greets prospects. Make sure it is clean and freshly painted. Depending on the season, keep your lawn trimmed and edged, and remove snow and ice from the walks and steps. Keep garage doors closed and trash containers out of sight.
Paint and touch up for a quick sale.
Faded walls and scratched woodwork reduce buyer appeal. Your house will show the best with a fresh coat of paint. Remember, it is difficult to anticipate the tastes of strangers. Use neutral colors and show buyers a sparkling clean home.
Let the sunshine in.
Windows should be clean. Open curtains and draperies and show the buyer how bright and cheerful your home is. For and evening inspection, turn on all your lights. Proper illumination of the house is a welcome sign to a potential buyer.
Minor repairs can make major differences.
Replace all burned-out light bulbs. A dripping water faucet discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing. Loose knobs, sticking doors and broken cabinet drawers detract from your home's value; please fix them.
From top to bottom.
Show buyers the full value of your attic, basement and other utility spaces by removing all unnecessary articles. Brighten dark, dull basements by painting walls; cure damp smells with a bag of limestone. Now is a good time to wash the outside of your water heater, change the furnace filter and make sure inspection access is easy.
Keep stairways clear. Avoid cluttered appearances and possible injuries.
Make closets look bigger.
Neat orderly closets show that space is ample. Since you will be moving anyway, remove or pack items that can be stored elsewhere.
The kitchen is important.
Many buyers judge housekeeping by the kitchen. Oven, stove and other appliances should be spotless. Repair or replace anything that sticks, squeaks or drips. Counter space should be kept open and uncluttered; store countertop appliances. Floors and walls should be bright and clean.
Bathrooms help sell homes.
Rust stains and dripping faucets suggest faulty plumbing. Check and repair caulking and grouting. Tile should be free of soap film. The sink, toilet and tub should sparkle.
Arrange bedroom neatly.
Furnishings should be uncluttered. Pay special attention to closet spaces. Use attractive bedspreads and curtains.
Clean the garage.
The ideal garage holds only cars. Sell, give or throw away unnecessary articles. Clean oily spots on cement floors and use strong overhead lighting. Keep storage areas and workbenches orderly. Remember, from the outside your garage looks best with the door down.
Showing the family room/living room.
These areas, as centers of family activity, should be open and inviting. Try fresh flowers, wood in the fireplace and either air conditioning or fresh air to set the atmosphere.
Three is a crowd.
Avoid having too many people present during inspections. It's best to show the home when no one is there. Then the prospective buyer won't feel like an intruder who wants to hurry through the house.
If at all possible, keep pets out of the house.
Music is mellow.
But not when showing a house. Turn off the radio or television. Let the salesperson and the buyer talk, free from disturbances.
Silence is golden.
Be courteous, but don't force conversation. Try to stay in the background, but be prepared to answer questions if asked. The potential buyer wants to inspect your home, not pay a social visit. Never apologize for the condition of your home. After all, it has been lived in. Let the salesperson answer any objections.
A word to the wise.
Let the buyer's agent discuss price, terms, possession and other factors with the buyer. Direct any questions you may have to your listing agent.
Details are important.
Complete the seller Disclosure of Property Condition for all potential buyers to review.
Seller's Handbook: Closing Details
Several professionals may come into the home-selling process after the offer is accepted, including:
- a housing inspector (if hired by the buyer)
- a termite inspector
- an appraiser
- attorneys who are affiliated with the buyer's lending institution
Buyer's Loan Processing
If the buyer is financing the purchase of your house, the process will typically take 30 to 60 days. On the chance that a buyer's financing will not be given final approval, you should keep the house in good "showing" condition.Your
As part of the contract process, you must prove to the buyer that you have a clear title on the house – that you own the property, and that there are no legal claims against it. Proof of title is provided by:
- The abstract of title being continued and certified by the abstractor as complete and accurate.
- The attorney representing the buyer and/or financial institution then searches the title and issues an opinion that the title is clear.
You sales associate or attorney can help you gather the paperwork that the contract requires. Some of the details you'll probably need to handle include:
- Notifying your lender that you will be paying off the mortgage and asking for a statement of what you owe. Your outstanding balance will be subtracted from the amount you receive from the seller.
- Having any fix-up work done according to the contract so that final inspections may take place.
- Gathering all warranties and instruction books for your home's appliances or major systems to give to the buyer.
- Once you have a closing date established, notifying the utility, telephone, water and other services to advise them on your final billing date.
Buyer's Final Inspection
A walk-through inspection several days prior to settlement allows the buyer to determine if conditions of the contract are satisfied. The buyer should have inspected and noted any defects during the contract negotiation and prior to signing the sales agreement. It is up to the buyer to perform the inspection. The buyer should be accompanied by the selling and/or the listing agent. The seller may or may not be present, but should make sure that utilities are on so that equipment can be operated.
Signing Papers and Passing Keys
At the settlement (closing), the home seller should bring all warranties on equipment (or leave them in an obvious place in the house) and instructions on equipment maintenance or operation. Be sure to bring all keys and electric door openers.The real estate agent will explain the settlement sheets to you. These outline the closing costs to you.
Typical costs for the seller include:
- State deed transfer tax
- Termite inspection
- Loan discount fee
- Mortgage balance pay-off
- Interest on the mortgage up to the date the mortgage is paid-off
- The real estate agent's commission
- Pro-rated taxes and homeowner's association dues, if applicable
If property or homeowner's insurance have been in escrow with your lender, you'll receive any money that is accumulated in that escrow account for bills not yet due. You'll actually receive these funds at or after settlement.
The seller, the buyer and the agents receive a copy of the settlement sheets.
The listing broker's closing department will actually disburse money after all the funds are in hand, the new lender has reviewed the papers, the title has been examined and the deed recorded.
Congratulations! Sold and Settled!
Seller's Handbook: Getting Your House on the Market
Preparing for listing
As the seller, you hire an individual real estate broker to represent you during a specified contract period. This represents you during a specified contract period. This written document is call a "Listing Agreement." A real estate agent or sales associate will meet with you personally to prepare the agreement.
Before you actually list your house, however, both you and your sales associate must do some homework.
To prepare for the listing appointment, you will need to collect and provide the following information:
- The legal description of the property.
- The number of rooms and their sizes.
- Past utility bills, property taxes and insurance.
- Information about your mortgage, including the type, terms and assumability.
- Any liens against the property.
- Special items or improvements about the house. Be sure to point out things that may not be apparent to others as they walk through the house.
- The positive points about your neighborhood, such as demographic information and proximity to services, shopping, schools and other areas.
- Any defects that aren't apparent. You have an obligation to the sales associate so that buyers can be informed.
The sales associate will study recent sales of comparable homes in the neighborhood as well as listing of similar homes that are currently for sale. Using a comprehensive real estate information tool – called the Home Buyer's Guide T-III – your associate will be able to show you solid facts and figures. We want you to get the best price for your home in the shortest time possible. To do this, you need accurate and current information about the real estate market.
Seller's Handbook: Offers & Contracts
An Offer to Buy
A buyer makes an offer by submitting a written and signed offer to purchase. This document becomes the sales contract when signed by all parties involved.
"Presenting the offer" begins when the selling agent registers the offer with Iowa Realty's office and notifies the listing associate of the offer. The listing associate then arranges a presentation appointment with the home seller and the selling associate. The buyer does not attend.
As the seller, you will be given a sample net proceeds sheet. The calculations on this sheet are done to let you see the "bottom line." Part of this presenting the offer meeting also includes determining that the buyer is financially qualified to make the purchase.
You now have three options:
You can accept the offer as written.
You can make a counteroffer, changing any unacceptable conditions. This counteroffer is written on a special form and signed by you.
When this is given to the buyer, the buyer can withdraw, accept or counter the counteroffer. You can reject the offer if it is totally unacceptable. When both buyer and seller agree to all terms (including changes made in any counteroffer) and indicate agreement by their signatures, the contract becomes "firm." With signatures and notification to all parties, a sales contract now exists.
It is possible to receive more than one offer to buy. All offers that are registered before a final acceptance must be presented to the seller. As the seller, you should hear each offer and ask questions. You do not need to act until you've heard all offers. If more than one offer is accepted or countered, an order of precedence must be established, such as primary, first backup, second backup and so on. Your listing sales associate will answer your questions as they occur.
Home Seller's Handbook: Peace of Mind
The Iowa Realty Promise
QC Iowa Realty agents pledge to do the following:
- Furnish you with a list of comparable home sales to help you establish an accurate market price for your house.
- Explain how our more than 1,000 professional sales associates and our referral network covering all of the United States can help attract out-of-town buyers for your home.
- Explain how the Iowa Realty agent will represent you under our agency program.
- Explain how we create market awareness of your home through Iowa Realty's extensive marketing program.
- Explain how buyers are matched with sellers through Iowa Realty's exclusive Iowa Realty Referral Network.
- Assist you by answering specific questions and giving you a copy of our "18 Suggestions for preparing your home for sale."
- Review our checklist of concerns with you to eliminate surprises.
- Prepare a sample net proceeds sheet to show you approximately the amount of money you will clear when the sale closes.
- Place your listing on the local Multiple Listing Service so your property gains maximum market exposure.
- Place our "FOR SALE" sign on your property (with your permission), for immediate exposure to the buying public.
- Present the Home Warranty Program for your peace of mind during the listing process and after the sale has finalized.
- Update you with frequent program reports, by phone or personal visit, on what's been done to sell your property.
- Financially pre-qualify prospective buyers before showing your property so that only the most interested and qualified people come to your home, eliminating as much inconvenience to you as we can.
- Assist you in evaluating and negotiating all offers to purchase your property for the best price and according to your best interests.
- Assist attorneys, lending institutions, surveyors and cooperating Multiple Listing Service realtors, associates and brokers in obtaining all the documents needed to finalize the sale.
This promise is our service commitment to you. Your Iowa Realty agent is here to help if you have any questions or comments.
Seller's Handbook: Showing Your Home
Preparing for Showing
A home that stands out from similar houses on the market is the home that sells. A good first impression lasts – and gets offers fast!
You may not be able to improve the market value of your house by finishing the basement or remodeling the kitchen. But you can improve its marketability. How? "Clean up, fix up and toss out." Look at your house from a potential buyer's perspective. In fact, if you visit some open houses, you'll probably pick up some pointers. Make your home as appealing and uncluttered as the home you wish to buy.
Leave the Selling to Us
While you are preparing your home to be shown, your Iowa Realty sales associate is "spreading the word" that your property is available. This listing is promoted to two groups: other real estate agents and the buying public.
Approximately 60% of all buyers come from referrals between brokers and their vast network of contacts. About 10% of buyers come from inquires stimulated by "FOR SALE" yard signs. The remaining 30% come from advertising and other promotions, including open houses. Let us sell your home!
When your home is to be shown, we will always attempt to make an appointment with you, giving you as much advance notice as possible. To help the best impression, we suggest you:
- Turn on all your lights, including the outside entrance, even during the daytime.
- Turn off the TV.
- Ask a friend to keep pets, especially during your Open House.
- Put out your best towels, tablecloths and other accessories.
- Make sure there's a property profile folder visible, with the data sheet on utilities, features and other details about the house.
- If you're home when the prospects arrive, greet them politely and then excuse yourself. Having too many people around during the showing may make the potential buyers feel like an intruder, making it difficult for the selling agent and buyers to be at ease. Leave the selling to us.