Selling Your Home
Selling your home can be exciting with the prospect of a new home on the horizon, but preparing for the sale can be stressful. Here are some insightful tips.
Before you sell
- Get a professional appraisal done to see what your home is worth and what it should sell for in today’s market. Depending on which appraiser you choose, an appraisal will cost somewhere between $200 and $750.
- If you don’t want to go the route of a professional appraisal, you can always contact reputable real estate agents in your area who can give you an idea of what your house would sell for. Remember that realtors are not professional appraisers though, so there are limits on how you can use their reports.
Using a real estate agent
- The first thing to decide is whether you want to sell your house through a real estate agent. While an agent's sales commission is usually the single largest expenditure involved in selling a home, the expertise and experience it buys can be invaluable.
- An agent will draft a listing agreement detailing the terms of the sale of your home and stipulating the obligations of both parties.
- As part of the listing agreement, you will need to come up with a listing price. This is largely determined by the size of your home, its condition and location, as well as the current state of the economy. A good agent will be of tremendous help in determining a fair listing price.
- The listing agreement sets the amount of the agent’s pay, or commission. Commissions can vary widely, so it’s a good idea to shop around. Some agents charge a flat fee. Others charge a percentage.
As a precaution, you should consider consulting a lawyer before you sign a listing agreement with a realtor so that you know the agreement works in your favor.
Preparing and showing your home
- Before showing your home to prospective buyers, you should do everything you can to make it presentable.
- Make any necessary repairs and thoroughly clean the entire home and property.
- Try to remember the things that attracted you to the home in the first place. Whatever it was that you loved when you bought the home might be what turns a prospective buyer into a future owner.
Things included in the sale
- All the things that are “fixtures” (things attached to the house) in your home are part of the sale, unless you and the buyer agree otherwise.
- If you want to take a particular fixture with you, consider replacing it with something else before you list your house for sale.
- The washer, dryer, fridge, and stove aren’t fixtures, but you may be able to use them as bargaining tools if the buyer wants them.
Negotiating and accepting the offer
- A formal offer is a written bid for your property that includes any other conditions the buyer would like included in the sale.
- Upon receipt of an offer, you'll have to decide whether or not to accept it, or make a counter-offer to the buyer. Be aware that if you accept an offer you are legally bound to meet the terms.
It's best not to be in a hurry to accept an offer, otherwise you may find yourself settling for significantly less than your asking price.
Dealing with "subject to" clauses
- These clauses are conditions that have to be met before the deal to buy your house proceeds. Common ones include the buyer getting financing and the house passing an engineering inspection.
- Your home may be off the market for the time it takes the buyer to remove the condition, so make the time period for removing these conditions short.
- As well, the “subject to” clause should be very specific. The more vague the condition is, the easier time the buyer will have in getting out of it if they want to back out of the offer.
If you have a mortgage on your house
- Find out how much you still have owing on your mortgage and whether your bank will allow the buyer to take over your mortgage.
- Find out if you can pay off your mortgage and what the pre-payment penalty (if applicable) will be so you can plan accordingly.
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