Home Selling FAQ’s
What is a Seller’s Agent and why do I need one? A Seller’s Agent is a Real Estate Broker who will represent you, protect you, and walk you through every aspect of your home sale. Your agent has your best interests in mind while providing expertise and negotiation on your behalf, as well as informing you of all of your rights, options, and responsibilities during your home sale transaction and beyond. As your Seller’s Agent, I strive to provide excellent advice and coaching through every step of your transaction so that you feel empowered to make informed decisions regarding the sale of your most valuable asset.
What is a REALTOR®, and what makes them different from a Real Estate Broker? Not all Real Estate Brokers are created equally! There is a significant and valuable difference between a REALTOR® and a licensed Real Estate Broker. All REALTORS® are Real Estate Brokers, but not vice versa. The actions of a REALTOR® are regulated by the National Association of REALTORS®, who provide a strict Code of Ethics for practicing real estate. This is a standard which REALTORS® are held to while representing clients, while a Real Estate Broker is not. When choosing representation in your home purchase, the choice of working with a REALTOR® over working with a Real Estate Agent may save you a lot of frustration down the road.
What are the costs are associated with selling a home? In Colorado, it is standard and customary that the seller pays the commission to both the listing firm and the cooperative agent. In addition to the commission, the seller is responsible for the Title Insurance Policy for the buyer, prorated taxes and home owner association dues, and some closing fees. Upon hiring us to represent you in the sale of your home, you will receive an estimated seller settlement statement, showing all costs involved as well as an estimated “in pocket” proceeds amount.
What if the buyer back’s out of the contract? Sometimes, the buyer that you put under contract will have second thoughts or elect to terminate the contract to buy your home. The Colorado contract are written to protect the buyer, and there are a variety of reasons that they can elect to terminate, including property title commitment, inspection, due diligence items, appraisal and loan objection. It is never fun to have a buyer terminate, and we will do all we can to prevent that from happening. If your buyer terminates for a valid reason, we would return their earnest money and go back on the market. All parties should work in good faith, meaning with the intent to cooperate and solve issues, but there are some things that are out of your control.
How long does it take to sell a home, and when do I move out? Typically, it takes most sellers a few weeks to get their home ready for sale. Once you are ready to hit the market, I will have professional photos taken, prepare Madison & Company’s extensive marketing materials for your property and go active. Once we begin showings, feedback will be provided to give you and idea of what the buyer and their agent are seeing when they tour your home and how it may compare with others they’ve seen. We are not looking at every criticism, we are looking for consistency that would inform any adjustments to consider. After you accept an offer, the buyer will conduct set the loan process in motion, conduct home inspections, order an appraisal and, barring any property, title or appraisal issues, work toward closing their loan within 30-40 days. Cash transactions can be as quick as 10 days from contract to close and all of this is negotiated before you sign the offer. Possession is usually given at closing, but that can be negotiated to give you more time if necessary.
When I move out, what is expected of me? When you turn over possession to the buyer, there are a few things to consider. We need to be diligent to make sure all the agreed upon included items listed on the contract remain in the home (like window coverings, garage door openers and appliances). When you vacate the home, you do need to leave it in move in ready condition, with no personal items, trash or debris left behind. We encourage all of our sellers to leave the home in a condition that you would be happy having it turned over to you if you were the buyer. Before closing, we will provide a detailed reminder of inclusions and further information.
Home selling… the 13 things you need to know
The home selling process is an exciting but sometimes stressful experience. It is our goal to keep you informed and updated through the process. Although each experience will vary, we hope this outline of the timeline and flow of the transaction is helpful!
#1 Preparing your home for market During this process, I will give you guidance and tips on how to make your home show in its best light. De-cluttering and removing personal items allows a buyer to see themselves living in your home, increasing your chances of receiving an acceptable offer. Before hitting the market, we ask your home to be professionally cleaned (or look like it!) and ready to show. I’ll have professional photos taken and prepare marketing materials the week before you go on the MLS.
#2 Showings and Open Houses- Once we hit the market (typically on a Thursday) we will start showings bright and early on Friday morning. I love having the opportunity to hold your home open one or two times the first weekend to get as many perspective buyers in to view it. The first week your home is on the market is the best chance you will get an offer at or above your listing price.
#3 An offer is received! This is an exciting part of the Journey- a buyer likes your home and we have received an offer! In some cases, we may get more than one offer on your home. As offers come in, I will review them, call the buyer agents, speak to their lenders, verify assets and provide you with comprehensive information to help you decide if an offer is for you and which would be the best one. It’s not always about the price, as there are many other factors that make one offer stronger than another.
#4 Earnest money due- Usually within 1 to 3 days of offer acceptance. After your offer is accepted, your buyer will deliver their earnest money to the Title Company to be held in escrow and applied to the buyer’s cash needed to close total. In the event the buyer defaults on the contract, this money may be retained by you, but that doesn’t happen too often.
#5 Disclosures- Usually delivered within 2 days of being under contract. As part of the necessary documents needed to sell your home, you will complete a variety of disclosures to provide to your buyer. It is important that you take the time to provide accurate information on these disclosures and doing so will help the process continue towards closing smoothly.
#6 Title Commitment- Usually within 7 days of being under contract. A big part of the process is verifying that the property title is clean and that you as the seller can sell the home and transfer ownership to the buyer. I will verify there are no issues or defects on title that can hold up closing, and provide you with a resource at the title company who will be able to answer property specific questions.
#7 Property Inspections and Due Diligence- Usually to be completed within 10-14 days. Per the contract, the buyer will have the opportunity to do a battery of home inspections and due diligence on the property. This is the buyer’s opportunity to really get to know the systems of the property. The cleaner your homes systems are, the better! The buyer’s agent will then send over an Inspection Objection, which is a written notice of items the buyer would like corrected or credited for. We will review their notice, work through their requests, and get to a resolution that works for everyone.
#8 Property Insurance- Typically needed to be secured in about 14 days. As we move deeper into the contract, the buyer will need to secure a homeowner’s insurance policy. During this process, don’t be surprised if a representative of the insurance company comes to your home. If this does occur, they may ring the doorbell, but they do not need access in your home, they are looking for insurability concerns like downed fences, trees encroaching the property and roof issues.
#9 Property Appraisal- In most cases, the appraisal is completed within about 20 days. The appraisal is ordered by the buyer’s lender and an expense to the buyer. The appraisal assures the lender that the home is worth what you have agreed to sell it for. In most cases there are no issues with value, but in the event the home value comes in less than the purchase price, I will work with the selling agent to come to a resolution with the buyer.
#10 Loan Objection- This is typically 5 to 7 days prior to closing. The Loan Objection is the buyers’ last opportunity to get out of the contract if their financing falls through and is typically the last day the buyer can terminate the contract without risking their earnest money.
#11 Buyers Final Walk through- The buyer is allowed access (per the contract) to visit the home prior to closing to make sure it is in the condition they have agreed to purchase it in. This walk through can be a few days pre-closing or right up to closing. I do ask that you allow access for this walk through- the house can be in a packing state and if need be and you can be present at the home.
#12 Closing- Usually 30-45 days after offer is accepted. OH HAPPY DAY!! This is the day that you sign all of your documents and “close” on the transaction. Closing normally takes a few hours, and often the buyer and seller close together, giving an opportunity to meet the seller. Normally, you will receive your proceeds from the sale at closing, in the form of a wire or cashier’s check.
#13 Possession- Often the day of closing, but up to 60 days after closing. About 50 percent of the time, possession is given at the time of closing, but there many situations that allow you, the seller, a few days post-closing to move out. Also, it has become common to allow the seller to ‘rent back’ the property after closing to allow you to find a replacement home.
Pricing your home for success!
Determining a listing price for your home is one of the more challenging pieces of the home selling process. There are many factors that go into deciding on your final listing price, including location, condition, upgrades, prior maintenance and comparable sales history, just to list a few! Here is some information to help us get to the ideal list price for your home.
Market Value- Your home’s market value is the highest price a buyer would be willing to pay and you would be willing to accept in an open and competitive market. Our goal is to get top market value for your home. Together, we will review comparable neighborhood sales and get a feel for your homes market value, based on recent sales. Market value can vary widely within a neighborhood as each homes’ individual character can play into a potential buyer’s desire to purchase your home. Things like plantation shutters, custom closets, super plush carpet, a well-maintained yard, being move in ready and a cool floor plan can all increase your home’s value to a buyer. Perceived defects or inefficiencies in a home can decrease your home’s value to other buyers, so keep in mind different buyers will value aspects of your home differently.
Appraised value- The appraised value of your home is an evaluation of value based on recent local market conditions, neighboring property values, and the overall quality of the home; completed by a licensed appraiser that is hired by the buyer’s lender. The biggest factors in this valuation are size (including square footage and number of beds and baths) location and build quality. The appraiser relies on market data to support the value of the home, hopefully getting in alignment with the market value. The appraiser doesn’t get the opportunity to access the homes being used in the report, just the data on the properties, so some of the things that may increase your homes market value don’t help with the appraised value.
How can we make sure we price your home correctly? Houses have floors and ceilings, and so do home values. In this ever-changing market, it is important to understand how values can differ, and make pricing strategies around them. If we price your home too high, it could lead to longer days on market giving potential buyers the perception that there may be something wrong with it. Conversely, we don’t want to leave any money on the table by pricing your home too low.
It’s go time! Here is what you should expect the week of listing your home!
Monday- This is the time to finish all of the last-minute details on getting your house ready to sell. We want to make sure that your home will shine for the photos. If we don’t put your home in the best light online, we will not get the showings your home deserves and that we need to fetch your home’s top dollar in this market. Clean, clean, clean!
Tuesday- Today is photo day! My photographer will be out to take your HDReal photos today. Please refer to the Photo Checklist for tips on making the photo shoot as quick and painless as possible. I can’t wait to see how your homes pictures turn out!
Wednesday- This is sign day! Front Range Signs will be out to install your for sale sign and if this hasn’t felt real yet, it will now. Madison & Company signs are pretty, I think you’ll be proud to have one in your yard. I will be by to add a Coming Soon rider to the sign, leave you with another to announce the open house, and put the lockbox on the door. Be sure to get two extra sets of keys made, one for the box and one for me in case a Realtor leaves them inside!
Thursday- Today your home will go “live” in the MLS and be searchable on ReColorado, Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and a host of other real estate sites. This gives prospective buyers and their agents will be able to set showings for Friday and a busy weekend. I will do everything I can to maximize your property’s exposure and attract as many potential qualified buyers as possible and my heavy market research will give us a good idea of who your buyer will be so that I may target market to them.
Friday- Showings start today! Your home should be “Show Ready” by 9:00 am, meaning beds made, counters cleared, dishes put away, trash removed, an my big pet peeve- toilet seats down! The more pristine you are able to have and keep your home; the more interest buyers will have. We want them to visualize their family in the home. Showings will continue as needed, hopefully we will have offers to present within the first week.
Saturday or Sunday- A wonderful Madison & Company Open House will be held whichever day you prefer, allowing prospective buyers the opportunity to tour your home (even if they don’t have an agent). Curious neighbors will drop in to see your home and we welcome them as a great source for word-of-mouth marketing.
Some other things that will happen during this week, although maybe not as exciting or noticeable to you- I will announce your property to all of our Madison agents so their clients can be first to know about the new listing. I will do a major push on social media sites for both the public and on closed professional groups where brokers often exchange coming soon listings. I will prepare and start our targeted online marketing campaign, getting your listing in front of thousands of prospective home buyers looking specifically in your area. I will walk your neighborhood introducing your listing to your neighbors, letting them know the details of your home, inviting them to stop by the Open House, and asking them to help us keep an eye out during showings (we have found that this really gets your neighbors invested in the process, which they really love!) And of course, I will be with you every step of the way, offering guidance and advice. This is always a team effort and rest assured that my team will work hard on your behalf to get you top dollar for your home.
A Guide for Home Showings
When deciding how to show your property, there are several options for how your home showing scheduling can be handled. The choices vary in the frequency of contact you receive from the showing service, as well as your involvement in showing approval. You are free to choose what works best for you, and your preferences can be changed at any time, including alteration of showing time restrictions, instructions to showing agents, and showing appointment approval options. Please know that it is critical that you leave your home during showings. Buyers do not feel comfortable with sellers being home, and you may feel that you are being helpful, but it most often hurts you in the end.
Go: This option will allow showings to be scheduled without notifying you in advance. If you know that there are hours that will always be okay to show (if you will be working, out of town, or if the home is vacant) we can set up using this option. We can send you daily or weekly reports detailing the showing activity at your request.
Courtesy Call: With this option, Centralized Showing Service will call you to let you know about the requested appointment, but will assume it is okay to show. Approval is NOT REQUIRED, but if an appointment will not work for you, you do need to inform Centralized Showing Service so they can cancel the appointment.
Appointment Required: If you would like to approve each showing request, this is the best option. Centralized Showing Service will call to inform you of the appointment, and your APPROVAL is REQUIRED prior to the appointment being scheduled. The showing service will call until they obtain your approval.
Each Monday, you will receive a detailed report with the activity and feedback from brokers and the buyers who have toured your home. We will review the feedback and make adjustments as needed. Please keep in mind that feedback is very subjective, and it could be the other agent’s view or their buyers.Showings can be stressful to sellers, so we have some guidelines to follow to help get to your end goal of offers in hand as quickly as possible. We also want to let you know some of the challenges that see during showings.
#1 Make sure you can leave the house for showings While it is never enjoyable to be forced out of your home for extended periods of time, often with short notice, it is critical that you leave the home during scheduled showings while we market your home. Numerous studies done by The National Association of Realtors indicate that the most uncomfortable showing experience for a buyer is running into the seller during a viewing.
#2 Make sure pets (and their messes!) are not present for showings Not only can pets be a distraction to a perspective buyer, they can also be a liability. Some buyers are fearful of or allergic to dogs or cats and if they see your pet, they may not even tour your home. It is a good idea to do a quick “yard check” as well- you don’t want any pet surprises tracked back into your home by a buyer that didn’t watch where they stepped while checking out your yard. Cats typically can stay but if at all possible dogs should be taken with you for showings.
#3 Make sure your home is show ready! You only have one chance to make a good first impression, and that could not be any truer when it comes to selling your home. For showings, please make sure the house is picked up, smelling good and inviting. It is important that you remove any personal info. In touring a property buyers can be curious and you don’t want to distract them from their vision of this as their own home. Limiting family photos is also helpful- we want buyers looking at your home’s features, not yours.
#4 Make sure the key is in the lock box Nothing is more annoying to a buyer then getting to the house only to find out the key has gone missing. Your key is safe in the lock box, but if you do remove it, please make sure it is back in place prior to showings.
Potential showing challenges
I will do all that I can to ensure that your home is secure and respected during showings, but there are things that come up from time to time that are less than desirable for our sellers.
#1 Your home is left unsecured This is by far the most frustrating thing that you may experience during showings… you come home after a day of showings and find the back door left unlocked. We request all agents secure your home after showings, but in a crazy market, this may not get done. Please make sure you return to your home nightly so we can make sure your home is secured. If you are out of town for showings, please have a friend or neighbor help out with this.
#2 Someone uses your bathroom Buyers may be out for hours looking at homes and they may need to use your restroom. Please make sure your toilet is in good working order and there is toilet paper available, just in case. We don’t want someone flushing something else in a pinch. If you are not okay with your restroom being used, please let us know and we will put up signs in your restrooms asking buyers to refrain from using the facilities.
#3 A buyer helps themselves to a drink or a snack Again, this does happen from time to time, and if there is a bowl of candy or bottles drinks out, a buyer may assume that it is okay for them to help themselves. To protect against this, please make sure your food and drink are put away. If you would like, I am happy to supply some bottles of water, cookies or snacks to leave out- often buyers do really appreciate the gesture!
#4 Something gets broken, damaged or taken Typically, buyers are very respectful of homes they tour but we prefer to be proactive on this piece. We ask that you remove any fragile items that may get bumped by a buyer, or a buyer’s kiddo. It is in your best interest to remove any items of value, monetary or sentimental. Please remove any medications, firearms, jewelry and your kid’s favorite toys for showings.