Seller Q & A

Selling a home is an important decision.  As your local real estate expert I am committed to helping you sell your property for the highest price attainable within the time frame that fits your plans and to make the home selling process as efficient, stress-free and successful as possible.   When you partner with me, I will perform my due diligence and always represent your best interests. You can trust me to be your guide every step of the way, from consultation to completion.  


Question 1: When is the best time to sell my house? 
Property sells year round based primarily on supply and demand, as well as other economic factors. The time of year you choose can affect the length of time the house takes to sell and the final selling price.

Generally the real estate market picks up in the early spring which often places upward pressure on interest rates.  During the summer, the market usually slows as many prospective home buyers take vacations during mid-summer.

After the summer slowdown, sales activity tends to pick up for a second, although less vigorous, season which usually lasts into November. The market then slows again as buyers and sellers turn their attention to the holidays.

The supply of homes on the market diminishes because sellers often wonder whether or not they should take their homes off the market during the holidays. Buyers are still out there and now they have fewer homes from which to choose. Homes on the market at that time have considerably less competition. Generally speaking, you'll have the best results if your house is available to show to prospective buyers continuously until it sells. 


Question 2: Are there important factors to consider when selling a home? 
The two most important factors when selling a home are price and condition. Your REALTOR® can help you with pricing it properly. Your REALTOR® can also work with you to determine any cosmetic defects that should be repaired.

A third factor is exposure. Make sure your home gets the exposure it deserves through open houses, online advertising, direct mail, distinctive signage and listing in the local multiple listing service. Select the real estate professional that you believe will sell your house; not the one that quotes you the highest price.  


Question 3: How much is my home worth? 
There are two methods used to determine a property’s value: an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA). Appraisals vary in cost and are defendable in court. They average about $300 for a single family home and more on multi-family dwellings. Appraisers review numerous factors and base information on recent sales of similar properties, their location, square footage, construction quality, excess land, views, water frontage and amenities such as garages, number of baths, etc.

A CMA is an informal estimate of market value performed by a REALTOR®. It is based on recent sales and current listings that are similar in size, style and location which will compete with your property.  A range of values will be determined in order to arrive at a probable list price. Many REALTORS® offer a free analysis. The analysis or opinion should be in writing and should involve professionally accepted appraisal practices.

Some individuals choose to research their own cost comparison at the county recorder’s office. This process can take several hours of sifting through indexes to match street addresses and parcel numbers. Once matches have been chosen a tax card can be used to find the assessed value, size, style, number of rooms, baths, etc.


Question 4: What should I do to get my house ready? 
First and foremost, "declutter" counter tops, walls, and rooms. This enables the buyer to visualize their possessions in your house.  Be careful not to strip away too much or your house will feel cold and uninviting. 

Clean all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls, and ceilings. The kitchen and bathrooms should be spotless. Organize closets. Make sure basic appliances and fixtures work and repair leaky faucets and frayed cords. Bake cookies to make the house smell good. Hide the kitty litter, and consider placing nice containers of fresh flowers throughout the house. Playing light background music is also a nice touch.

Next, consider the "curb appeal” of your home. First impressions count as potential buyers driving by a property will decide whether or not to see the inside of the house based on how it looks on the outside.  Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden and clean debris from the yard. Clean windows inside and out and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking. Also, make sure the doorbell works. 


Question 5: Should I make repairs? 
Tending to minor repairs before putting the house on the market may lead to a better sales price. Buyers often include a contingency "inspection clause" in the purchase contract which allows them to back out if numerous defects are found. Once the problems are noted, buyers can attempt to negotiate repairs or a lower purchase price with the seller. Any known problems that are not repaired must be revealed as a material defect. You do not have to repair the problem; only disclose it and you should price the house appropriately for that defect.


Question 6: What are my obligations to disclose? 
Among the items sellers often disclose are: homeowners association dues, home improvements or repairs that do or do not meet local building codes and permits requirements, neighborhood nuisances or noises which a prospective buyer might not notice, and any restrictions on the use of property, including but not limited to zoning ordinances or association rules.

Your real estate professional will review the seller's written disclosure form with you and guide you through its completion.  Note that sellers do not have to disclose the terms of other offers. You may, however, disclose the existence of other offers, so that all parties are aware that they should be submitting their best offer.


Question 7: Are there standard contingencies in an offer? 
Yes.  Financing and inspections are the two basic contingencies in a purchase contract.  


Question 8: Should I be flexible in granting contingencies? 
Several factors come into play when allowing contingencies including: whether you are in a buyer's or a seller's market, your home’s condition, pricing, motivation, along with the quality and quantity of the offers you receive. Contingencies that are negotiated are written into your contract. Both buyer and seller can express their requirements during the negotiation phase.

One contingency that is often seen is the sale and closing of the buyer’s home before they can purchase yours. Whether this requirement can be attained depends on the parties involved. Financial capabilities usually play a major role in these negotiations as few people can afford to own two homes simultaneously.


Question 9: What do I do if there is little to no activity on my house? 
Price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home, even in a slow market. If a home is not getting the activity it needs in order to sell it is probably because it is overpriced for what the market is willing to bear. The first step is to lower the price. Then, reevaluate your home to see if there are any cosmetic defects that you missed that can be repaired.

Second, make sure the home is getting the exposure it deserves through a variety of marketing activities.  A third option is to remove the home from the market and wait for overall housing conditions to improve and catch up to the price you are asking.

Finally, frustrated sellers who have no equity and are forced to sell because of a long term illness, divorce or financial considerations should discuss other options with their mortgage lender and their REALTOR®.


Question 10: Is it possible to sell for less than my mortgage? 
A "short sale" is for home sellers who are upside down on their mortgage, i.e. the home's value is less than the amount of the mortgage. Short sales are often complicated and a hardship must exist in this type of transaction.  Home owners can then negotiate with lenders and split the difference between the sale price and loan amount, which must still be paid. If the loan has been sold into the secondary market, the lender will have to get permission from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to negotiate a short sale. Fannie Mae has a policy of looking at each loan individually. If the loan was a low-down-payment mortgage with private mortgage insurance (or PMI), the lender must then involve the mortgage insurance company that insured the low-down loan. The house may be sold once these issues are resolved or negotiated.  


Question 11: How will a foreclosure affect my credit? 
A property foreclosure can have the most damaging effects on a borrower's credit history. Ask the lender who holds the mortgage note on your property what courses of action are available and what effects those actions might have on your credit report.

Regarding the effect on credit history, a deed in lieu of foreclosure or a short sale are not as adverse an event as is the forced foreclosure. However, even after a foreclosure or bankruptcy, some lenders will provide loans after a period of 7-10 years. The borrower may have some obstacles to overcome to prove to a lender he or she is once again credit worthy.  


Question 12: How long will a bankruptcy or foreclosure stay on my credit report? 
Bankruptcies and foreclosures can remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years. However, there are lenders who will consider an applicant who went through a bankruptcy as recently as two years ago, provided good credit has been re-established. A lot depends on when the bankruptcy was discharged and what credit the borrower has re-established since. It is usually better for the applicant if more time has passed.  Another consideration will be the circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy.  Was the borrower forced into bankruptcy due to financial difficulties resulting from a job loss, or was the borrower’s credit overextended due to excessive expenditures?  


Question 13: Is it possible to refinance after bankruptcy? 
It is usually difficult to refinance after a bankruptcy. If you have been struggling but are keeping current on your payments the lender may be accommodating. Contact your lender and explain your situation.  They may suggest a way to work out alternative payments until you recover.

I look forward to working with you and am available to answer any additional questions you may have.  Let me apply my market knowledge and expertise to achieve the successful sale of your home.