Selling your Home

 

Pre-Listing/Preparatory Phase:

  • Compile as much information about your home as possible.  Anything that a buyer would want to know about your home needs to be readily available. We will compile several pages of information that a potential buyer might find useful about your home. 

  • Listing Agreement and property disclosure:  You will sign the following: Working with Real Estate Agents Brochure (this brochure explains the agency relationship between agents and their clients), HOA disclosure (if applicable), and an Exclusive Right to Sell Property, Lead addendum (if necessary), NC Property Disclosure, Oil and Gas Rights disclosure, etc.

  • MLS Input: Information about your home is loaded to the Triangle Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  This information is automatically loaded onto local real estate websites and many national real estate websites (realtor.com, homes.com, trulia.com, Zillow, yahoo real estate, etc.).  PLEASE review your MLS listing for any errors. We want to make sure we have everything correct before the listing is “Active”.

  • “Coming soon” – we will utilize this tool to generate pre-marketing interest in your home.  Many buyers are now searching for “coming soon” homes and will “jump” on a new listing when it becomes “active” the first weekend.

  • Tidying up, cleaning and preparing for your first showing.

  • Pre-inspection and needed repairs and updates necessary to facilitate the sale of your home.

 

Items to complete/gather before we list your home

  • Disclosures

  • Utility information

    • Make a list of the following services you use: pest/termite contracts, security contracts, phone, internet, cable, garbage collection and other relevant recurring monthly services.  Compile a list of costs for: water, garbage, gas, electricity, etc. for the past 12 months

  • HOA contact information and access to the HOA website

    • What do your HOA fees cover?  We need a copy of the financial statements from your HOA (balance sheet and income statement). You will need to request this information from your HOA.

  • Are there any known or rumored special assessments from the city/county or HOA?

  • Do you have any of the following: recent appraisal, radon mitigation system, home warranty, termite contract, recent survey?  List any upgrades to the property and provide contacts for the contractors who completed the work.  If you have recently upgraded/replaced the roof, HVAC, water heater, etc. make note of these changes.  Make a list of features you like about your home.

  • Is there any unpermitted work on the house?  Do you have copies of any permits you obtained for construction since completion?

  • Supply a copy of your title insurance.

  • Do you have polybutylene plumbing, synthetic stucco, masonite siding, stone veneer, etc.

    • Do you have a septic tank, private or community?  Do you have a recent inspection or pumping date?

  • Wells:  If you have a private well, we will need well info (inspection info) with depth/flowrate etc.  Is there a community well?  If so, who provides service?

  • Mortgage companies and estimated payoff amounts

    • Is your mortgage secured by FHA or VA and is there a pre-payment penalty?  Do you have a second mortgage?

  • Are there private roads adjoining your property (is there a written agreement on how they will be maintained)?

    • Are there any known encroachments or easements on or across your property? 

  • Are there any lead paint or asbestos issues?

  • Do you live in a flood plain?  If so, we need a copy of the flood insurance.

  • Do you live in the city limits?

  • Are there any issues with industrial nuisances (noise, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, road proximity, airport, etc.

  • Vacant land nearby or adjoining your property?  Are there any construction plans that you are aware of?

 

Marketing Your Home

Your home is in a competition with other listed properties.  You are competing for available buyers.  Once listed, we constantly monitor the local market, update you on current conditions and make adjustments as needed.  We will utilize our marketing tools effectively and efficiently to find a qualified buyer. 

  • Pre-Listing Inspections: Pre-listing inspections can be utilized as an extremely effective marketing tool, communicating to prospective buyers that your home is in good condition. 

  • Coming Soon: A unique way to market your home while you prepare your home for your first showing.

  • Home Price: We closely monitor closing prices, pending contracts and listings in your neighborhood/area to determine an “in-market” list price.  An overpriced home will not sell.  Your best opportunity to sell your home will occur within the first 2 weeks.  If you properly price your home from the beginning your chances of success are much greater. 

    • Price positioning: Your list price can have an impact on how many buyers see it online.  We will make sure your home is priced for effective market exposure.

    • Price reductions: When necessary, price reductions can be an effective marketing tool.  Price reductions are uploaded into the system and show up as a change to your listing.  This notification will email or notify any buyers and agents who have searches set up that meet your property’s criteria.

  • Home Presentation/Staging: Properly staging your home can have a huge impact on buyer perception of your home.  We will help you make your home as ‘warm and inviting’ as possible.

  • Appraisals: An appraisal can make a buyer feel confident that their offer price has been confirmed within the past several months by a professional appraiser.  Appraisals are used on a case by case basis.

  • MLS and the internet: Our local MLS has syndication agreements with national real estate websites.  Your property information will be loaded into the Triangle MLS where participating TMLS companies market to their branded websites. 

  • Yard Sign: A for sale sign will be put in your front yard. 

  • Property Disclosure: You will complete an NC property disclosure form and it will be available through MLS to prospective buyers and agents when they view your property.  It is important to read the property disclosure thoroughly and understand what you are communicating to a potential buyer.  Properly filling out this form can prevent potential buyer backlash during and after the sale of your home.

  • Openness and Honesty: Gather any information about your home that will be helpful to a potential buyer. 

  • Incentives: additional ways to make your property more appealing.  Paying for or offering closing costs, a home warranty, personal property (refrigerator, washer/dryer), etc.

  • Showing Availability: Make your home readily available for showings.  Your house will show at the most inconvenient times (weekends and evenings).

  • Social Media: with a targeted ad campaign we can target audiences who have mentioned that they are in the market looking for a new home.  All our listings get a Facebook post and paid targeted marketing.

  • Open House: The first weekend your house is on the market we will hold at least one open house.  If availability dictates we may hold an open house on both Saturday and Sunday. 

  • Showing activity and what it means: If your home has little to no showing activity or you have many showings (typically 10 or more at a price point) with no offers, this can be an indication that your home is overpriced. 

 

 The Showing Process

  • Your house will be shown to prospective buyers through a company called Showing Time.  Showing Time allows any “member” agent show any house that is listed in the Triangle MLS.

    • Your home’s information is loaded into the Showing Time database.  Showing Time only allows member real estate agents, appraisers or home inspectors to show your home to their buyers.  You will be contacted by Showing Time when a showing has been requested on your home. 

  • Your home will have a lockbox (with your house key) attached to the door.  Showing Time will give the lockbox combination to an agent when requested.  The agent/member’s information is logged into the Showing Time database.  Showing Time will give the agent specific instructions when they schedule a showing your house.

  • There are several ways to set up showings for your house.  You determine how and when you want your home to be shown.

  • Buyers are always escorted by a member agent of the Triangle MLS home but the agent may not follow the buyer around to every room.  We have never had anything stolen from any of the houses we have listed but please keep your valuables safely out of view and/or locked away.

  • Whenever your house is being shown it is best to leave your home and let the buyers look at their leisure.  

  • Typically you will have several hours to 24 hours’ notice before a showing but there are times that showing requests will be made for an immediate showing.  You must always be prepared to show your home on a moment’s notice.  Always make sure your home is ready for a showing. 

  • Most buyers will not take the time to reschedule a showing if it is denied.  DO NOT deny a showing if possible.

  • We will solicit feedback from buyer’s agents who have shown your home and find out what they liked/disliked about your home.  You will receive feedback via email from the CSS system.  This is a good opportunity to find out what is “working” for your home and what is not.

  • We will send you a link allowing you access to the Showingtime system to view feedback from showing agents.  Please call if you have any questions about accessing the Showingtime website.  NOT ALL AGENTS WILL LEAVE FEEDBACK.  It is frustrating when showing agents don’t leave feedback, but it happens.  Every agent who shows your house is prompted via email (3 times) to leave feedback

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Offer and Contract

 

Motivation(s)

If you can determine the motivations for selling/buying you can better understand how to negotiate with the opposing party.  Always look at the transaction from the “other side” and try to understand the buyer’s point of point of view.  Determine your needs and keep everything in perspective.  There will be times when your frustration will reach its limit.  The goal is to sell your house not “beat” the opposing party.  You need to understand “buyer perspective” when negotiating the sale of your home.  Do not be offended if you receive a low offer price on your home.  Anyone who brings an offer wants to buy your home and that is a good thing!  Finally, your first offer(s)/buyer(s) are usually the highest price and best terms you will receive during your home sale.  If repair negotiations become difficult, try to work things out.  Heavily pressured buyers rarely react favorably.

 

Negotiating

When you are negotiating with a buyer you are negotiating several things: price, due diligence date/amount, earnest money deposit amount, personal items to convey with the house (if any), and closing date.  Price is not always the ultimate deciding factor in a negotiation.  There are several components to every negotiation, and in almost every real estate transaction there are (2) two distinct negotiations:

 

  • Initial contract negotiation is where you negotiate for contract price, other terms/conditions (home warranties, earnest money amount, due diligence date and amount, personal property, closing costs, etc.) and date of possession (closing date).  These three components work in a give and take fashion during the negotiation process. 

  • Repair Negotiation this “second negotiation” involves negotiating repairs to the house (this is the most stressful part of any transaction).  Sellers are not mandated to make repairs, but some give and take is expected during this phase.  In some instances

 

Offer Process/Initial contract negotiation

  • Always make or demand the initial offer in written form.  We will also ask the buyer to submit a pre-approval letter from a mortgage officer when an offer is submitted.  A pre-approval letter does not mean the loan is approved, it only means the buyer has been “initially vetted” by a mortgage officer.

  • Typically, there will be some ‘back and forth’, “verbal” negotiation on price and terms of the sale.  Once the verbal terms are reached the buyer will put the revised terms in writing.  As soon as we receive the revised form we will sign it and send an executed copy the buyer’s agent. 

  • The buyer will typically offer a due diligence fee and/or earnest money deposit with their offer.  The due diligence fee and earnest money amount is completely negotiable.  Market forces will dictate the duration of due diligence and the amount of the due diligence fee.  Due diligence terms can vary widely on the same property depending on many variables.  We will keep you informed on what to expect when negotiating these terms.

  • The due diligence fee is typically viewed as the buyer “compensating” the seller for removing their home from the market while they (the buyer(s)) conduct their due diligence assessments.  The earnest money is a “good faith” gesture that shows the buyer’s willingness to “tie up” money to purchase a home.  The earnest money is usually held by the listing/buying firm or the closing attorney.  Due diligence and earnest money apply to the purchase price of the home.  The exchange of these fees does not usually occur until the contract is signed by both parties.

  • There is no contract until all parties have signed the paperwork and any changes have been initialed by all parties.  Verbal agreement does not constitute a contract.

 

After the contract is set there will be many activities that take place prior to the closing of the transaction.  Most activity will occur immediately following the contract date, during the early stages of the due diligence period. 

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Due Diligence/Escrow

You can expect the buyer/agent to request access to your home at a minimum of 4 times from the point of initial contract until closing.  The buyer will typically need access to inspect the home, conduct an appraisal, verify repairs and conduct a final walk through.  The buyer may not be able to conduct all their inspections in one day.  Expect the following inspections to occur, home inspection, termite inspection, radon testing, survey, chimney inspection, etc.

Your work does not end once you have a contract on your home.  It gets harder and more stressful.  This is the most difficult part of any real estate transaction.  Buyers can seem unreasonable during a real estate transaction.  You need to be a voice of reason and understanding.  Once your home is under contract, we will update you on the progress of your transaction and keep you focused on what we need to do to complete the sale.  Just because your house is under contract does not mean it is sold. 

The Due Diligence period typically lasts between 14-28 days but can be shorter or longer depending on the terms agreed to in the contract.  This is the phase of the process where all the work to ensure the home can be transferred to the buyer is conducted.  A lot of time is spent in this phase making sure all ‘due diligence’ is completed by the buyer.

Prior to the expiration of the due diligence the buyer can leave the contract for any reason and the seller must return the earnest money to the buyer. 

 

  • Due Diligence Date and Fee: The due diligence fee applies to the final purchase price.  If the buyer elects to withdraw from the contract at any time prior to the expiration of the due diligence period, the seller will typically keep the due diligence fee but return the earnest money.  If the buyer elects to withdraw from the contract after the due diligence period has expired the seller usually keeps the due diligence fee and the earnest money as additional compensation.

  • Earnest Money: This fee is typically given as a good faith gesture to the seller and is held in a 3rd party trust account. 

  • Inspections: The buyer will conduct inspections to ensure the property is in saleable condition: home inspection, pest inspection, survey, radon, chimney inspection, and any other inspections that might be warranted (typically an engineering evaluation). 

  • Mortgage: If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage they will be working with their mortgage officer during this phase to get approval.

  • Appraisal: For buyer’s who are getting a loan, their mortgage company will appraise your house.  This ensures the bank that your house is worth the price the buyer is going to pay for it.  Your house must appraise for the contract price or greater or the buyer’s mortgage company can refuse to write the loan.  If your house does not appraise for contract price we will most likely renegotiate the sale terms with the buyer. 

  • Additional/Due Diligence Negotiation: Once the buyer has conducted their inspection(s) of the house the buyer can ask the seller to make repairs or compensate the buyer for items that are not working as intended.  If buyers haven’t completed all their “due diligence” it is not uncommon for the buyer to ask for an extension of the due diligence period.

  • Closing Attorney/Agent: The buyer will select an attorney to represent them in the closing of the real estate transaction (sellers typically do not have their own attorney in a real estate transaction).  The closing attorney will have you complete a “seller information sheet” that details the loan information and any other necessary information they will need to process the sale of your home.

  • Movers: Make sure you contact a moving company early in the due diligence process to reserve a moving date.  Many movers are booked weeks and sometimes months in advance.

 

 

The Due Diligence Request/Repair Negotiations

 

Any repairs that are agreed to be made or contract modifications must be completed prior to the due diligence date.  As the due diligence date draws closer with no signed agreement, we may take some “defensive maneuvers” to protect the contract.  We like to resolve any issues long before the due diligent date.  “Pushing” up against a due diligence date can lead to reactive and bad decisions.

 

  • Typically, the buyer will ask you to make repairs if any deficiencies are found during the inspection(s). 

  • You are only responsible to make repairs that you and the buyer agree to in writing. 

  • Plan on budgeting 1% to 2% of the contract price for repairs.  This is not always the case but it worth planning for the worst-case scenario.

  • When negotiating with a buyer to make needed repairs the seller may jeopardize the contract if he/she refuses to work with the buyer to address items of concern. 

  • A buyer may ask the seller for anything (even renegotiation of original contract terms) prior to the expiration of the due diligence date. 

  • You do not have to make repairs but refusing to make functional repairs and negotiate with the buyer could result in the buyer electing to leave the transaction.  The only loss to the buyer will be the due diligence fee and any costs incurred with inspection(s), etc.

  • It is highly recommended that you use a professional to make all your repairs.  There may be times when you can do some of the repair work on your own.  I recommend that you always have a NC licensed contractor do any plumbing, electrical or HVAC work. 

  • Always get an engineering evaluation if you need to make structural modifications. 

  • Once all repairs are complete the buyer may conduct a re-inspection with their inspector to verify repairs are completed as agreed to in the contract.  The buyer will conduct a final walk-through (typically the day before or the day of closing) to ensure that all repairs have been completed and the house is in good condition prior to the closing. 

  • Keep a copy of a receipts for repair work on your house.  The receipt serves as a record that the work has been completed and will be shared with the buyer.

 

Closing Preparation

 

  • We will complete a seller information sheet for the closing attorney.  This makes it easy for the Contact all your utility companies at least 1 week and preferably 2 weeks prior to closing (Water/Sewer, Electricity, Gas/Propane, Cable, Telephone, Trash pick-up, newspaper etc.).  Let them know when the closing date will be.  Let your utility companies know that you are moving and the utilities (electricity, gas, water) need to be taken out of your name and shutoff.  Many times you will find that the buyer has already ordered the transfer into their name.  Always have the utilities cut-off the day after the closing.  If the closing is delayed you can call them and have them keep the power/water, etc. on until the closing is complete.  It is the buyer’s responsibility to make the actual transfer into their name. 

  • Contact the Post Office to give them a forwarding address.

  • Notify your insurance company that you are selling your house and will be canceling your Home Owner’s coverage.  DO NOT cancel your insurance until your house is sold and the deed is recorded.

  • You must have all your personal belongings cleaned out of the house and off your property (unless otherwise agreed to in the contract).  The house should be thoroughly cleaned and ready for the new owner to move in.

  • Keys - Make sure that we talk about the disposition of keys so the buyer can know when they can receive their keys.  Keys are often transferred at closing but the seller is not obligated to give the keys to the buyer until the deed is recorded.

 

Closing Day

 

  • Closing is typically conducted in an attorney’s office.  Typically, the closing is a simple formality as all of the difficult work is complete.

  • If married; both the husband and the wife must attend the closing unless prior arrangements have been made for Power of Attorney to be granted.

    • If necessary, a “power of attorney or POA” document can be utilized to sign for someone who is unable to attend the closing.  The original, notarized, power of attorney must be available when signing.

  • Bring your driver’s license as the attorney requires a photo I.D.

  • If available, we will fax you a closing statement prior to the closing (the closing statement is a record of all the charges and credits that the buyer and the seller incurred during the sale of the house/property).  We typically have a chance to review a settlement statement before closing but this is not always the case.

  • Bring house keys and garage door openers or bring one key and note where the garage door opener, owner’s manuals for appliances, and other keys are in the house (typically in a kitchen drawer).

  • Bring Deed and Lien Waiver, unless prepared by the closing attorney.

  • After the closing, ask your Home Owner’s Insurance Company if they will refund you any “unearned portion” of your Homeowner’s Insurance Premium.

  • If you have an escrow account on your loan you will be due a refund from the bank for your taxes and insurance.  Call your bank to verify the amount and the expected date of payment.  You will not be able to get this check until several weeks after the closing has occurred.  Call you bank and give them the closing date and ask them to give you the amount they will refund to you

 

  • Important Note - The attorney will not be able to disburse funds until they have received the money from the lender and after the documents have been recorded with the Register of Deeds office at the courthouse.  You will not be able to receive your proceeds at the closing.  You may pick up your check or have it mailed after close.  We typically pay to have the funds wired into your bank account but can make other arrangements if you desire.

 

Post-closing

 

  • Call your insurance company and cancel your coverage. 

  • If you had a loan on your home and an escrow account, you can expect a refund of your escrow account within 2-4 weeks.  Make sure your old mortgage company has a forwarding address.

 

ALWAYS KEEP “THE BIG PICTURE” IN MIND.  WE WILL GET YOU TO THE FINISH LINE!