A home seller’s checklist

So many choicesReader Question: Monty, we are going to be selling our home soon. The word has gotten out in the neighborhood, and conflicting advice is pouring in about which agent to use and how to go about selling the house. How do we sort this out without upsetting the neighbors?  Randy and Susan P.

Monty’s Answer: Hello Randy and Susan, and thanks for the question. It is good fortune to have so many friends in the neighborhood. It seems like real estate is one of those topics that everyone has opinions about, but there are many common myths to avoid. Every neighborhood has “armchair agents” to contend with.

Here is a checklist to increase your odds of selling for a top dollar price in the shortest amount of time.

1.   Clean up, paint up and fix up. Prospective buyers will not see any potential work that will cause them extra money or work. The goal is to see your home is in top condition and fresh.  Here is an article titled “Clean up, paint up, fix up” that provides more information.

2.   Have your home professionally inspected. Look for a home inspector that guarantees the inspection and re-inspects for the buyer. There are several advantages for pre-sale inspections. Read this article titled “Home inspections” for more about home inspections.

3.   Interview at least three real estate agents. The key attributes are honesty, knowledge and commitment. Attend open houses and watch them work. Ask them important questions, such as; is there a way to account for the differences between comparable homes? There are 22 other questions to ask each agent you can view in this article.

4.   Determine the best asking price. As a part of the agent interview process, ask each of the 3 “finalists” to render their opinion on the best price to expect and the lowest price you should accept.  Your task is to understand the process each agent utilized to get to those opinions. Are they all using the same comparables? Do they make adjustments between the comparables? Here is an article titled “How to challenge home appraisals” that may be helpful.

5.   Choose the agent. Assume you gathered answers to interview questions from three preselected agents. There has been interaction with each of them by sampling their service directly. Review the quality of their answers and the efficiency and effectiveness of their work and communications. Make your choice on the key attributes listed in item 3 above.

6.   Schedule reporting appointments. Once your home hits the market, establish expectations with your agent on reporting activity. Price initially at the top end of the value range unless your circumstances and local market conditions suggest otherwise. In most situations, there is a direct correlation between price and time. It will be helpful to monitor new listings that compete, competing properties that have sold and unsold homes that expire from the market. Selling a home is a process, not an event.

7.   Negotiate efficiently. When the first offer presents itself, dealing with it correctly is now much easier. Establishing the price was an exercise that provided relevant information from a variety of sources. Then, keeping tabs on the activity in the market and feedback from prospects has armed you with information to judge the strength of the offer and how one might respond. Here is an article titled “6 good tips to prepare for an offer on your home” to review when the agent calls to present an offer.

8.  Keep tabs on the contingencies. There may be “drop dead” dates in the contract where you have the responsibility to react. Ask your agent to list the necessary dates and insert them into your calendar. You do not want to take a two-week vacation during the time an inspector is due at your front door.  This is also a good time to be lining up the movers and creating lists of items to be handled after the closing and moving date.

It is important to complete the checklist tasks in order. Your neighbors may forget what advice they provided as time passes. If they bring it up in the future, simply acknowledge them with a thank you and tell them the advice was considered. If you end up with an agent that was recommended, or took a fix up suggestion, send the source a thank you note.


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