The Home Selling Process
Through the years as a Nashville Realtor, I have worked with people at various levels in their knowledge of the home selling process. One thing that rings true is that, unless you do it every day, you don’t know or understand it all. I will take you through an overview. Certainly there are nuances and each circumstance can cause the process to change a bit. Also, make sure you consult with your local Realtor because some of this may be different based on what state you live in. There are also details that I am leaving out in order to not put you to sleep so make sure to get all the information and trust the person you are working with.
- Listing Consultation – If you are using a real estate agent or a Realtor (yes, they’re different – if you want to know how, read this), you will likely meet at their office or at the property they would like to sell. This is where you will discuss and sign the listing agreement with their company that outlines what they will do, what you will do, and how much you will pay them. You will discuss the comparable properties in your area, average days on the market, and the list price of your property.
- Prepare Home for Market – If you haven’t done so yet, get to work on making your property sparkle and shine. First and foremost, make sure it is clean. Do necessary repairs, paint, clean carpets, pressure wash, landscaping, get a storage unit, etc. I have a list I give my clients that in a perfect world, all the items would be done. It’s good to have your Realtor give you suggestions as to what is necessary. You and/or your Realtor may also find it helpful to use the services of a professional stager. If you are living in the home, they can help decide what to pare down and how to arrange the furnishings to best showcase the home. If the property is vacant, it is sometimes advantageous to use a staging company that can provide furnishings and accessories to help buyers envision the home being lived in.
- Professional Photography/Videography & Measuring – One thing that is a MUST HAVE in most markets is professional photos. It amazes me how many photos I see that actually hurt the sale of a home. Your Realtor should cover the cost and your job is to have the house looking like a model home before the photographer gets there. There are exceptions here as well. If the property is an investment property that is currently being rented, there may be no way around having unnecessary items in the photos and it may not necessarily be in model home condition. In these instances, it is important to highlight the positive features in the photos as well as the descriptions. Your Realtor may also have your property professionally measured. Some Realtors do this with every home and others will just have this done if there is a discrepancy in total square footage. This is also the time when your Realtor will install a sign and key lockbox at your property if you have agreed to these items.
- Showings – Properties and areas can be very different in the way showings are handled. In general, in the Nashville area, most agents will pay for a 3rd party company to schedule and log all showings. Some agents will schedule all showings themselves (I don’t typically recommend this except for certain properties). So as a general rule, here’s how it works: A Buyer’s agent calls the 3rd party company to schedule a time to show your property. You get a call from the 3rd party company and you must confirm that the day and time being requested is OK. (Let me interject here. The more restrictions you put on when your house can be shown, the longer it will take to sell so be as flexible as possible.) After the showing happens, your Realtor should try to get feedback. I don’t like the word “try” but I can’t help but use it here. Sometimes agents just will not respond. I’ve made phone calls, sent emails, even text messages and some agents seem to have fallen off the face of the earth after they see your home. Though I always like to get feedback so we know what people think and perhaps change any repeated objections, sometimes it doesn’t happen and we just have to surmise that if they liked it, we would have an offer.
- Receive Offer – Hopefully this happens very quickly after all your hard work. Your Realtor will negotiate the terms of the offer on your behalf and make suggestions as to how to respond to the many points. Once you (Seller) and Buyer agree, it will be a contract. In most cases, the Buyer will provide Trust Money as a deposit of sorts that will go toward the price of the home if they close successfully and in some cases, will be yours to keep if they don’t. (That explanation is for another time.)
- Inspections – Typically, home buyers will opt to have the property inspected by any number of professionals during a specified number of days. Your Realtor can advise you on whether or not you can be at the home during those inspections. Once inspections are complete, the Buyer will likely provide the Seller with a list of items they would like repaired – this is another point of negotiation. Once repairs are negotiated, you will need to have those repairs completed according to the contract.
- Appraisal – Most Buyers that get a loan will have an appraisal completed. Typically, the lender is making sure that the property appraises for at least the agreed upon purchase price. Your contract will outline the options if it does not appraise at purchase price value or above and your Realtor can help guide you as well.
- Final Walk Through – The Buyer of your property will likely do a final walk through typically within a day or two of closing. They are making sure that nothing has changed since they saw it last. In a perfect world, the Seller and all their possessions would be gone at this point. This will help ensure that the Buyer can be satisfied. Sometimes accidents happen, the floor gets scratched moving the refrigerator, a mailbox gets backed into by the moving truck. If these things occur, your Realtor will help negotiate how the repairs will be handled.
- Closing! This is what everyone has been looking forward to. You (the Seller) has sold their property, the Buyer has purchased your property and the Realtors finally get a paycheck. You should always use a reputable title company and preferably one with a real estate attorney. They will get certain information from you and will work behind the scenes to handle any clouds on the property title including liens and will make sure the proper paperwork is signed and recorded at the court house.
Congratulations! Again, there are many variables in this process. I always think the best plan of action is to hire professionals to handle this process for you. You will likely have enough to worry about if you are physically moving so leave it to the people that do this every day. If you trust them, you will have a much easier and less stressful experience selling.
Photos courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, stockimages, and digitalart via www.freedigitalphotos.net
Michelle Froedge is a residential Realtor and Principal Broker in the Greater Nashville and Williamson County areas of Tennessee. Wife to Robert, “Mom” to Tyler and Livvie, Auntie to Zelamie, she is a vegetarian and sings in her spare time. Michelle has lived in Nashville and Franklin since 1997 and has been selling homes since 2004.