Calculate the Floor Determine the minimum sales price you need to meet your financial goals of selling your home. Most seller’s want a profit at the end of the transaction, often referred to as “net proceeds.”
Find out the amount of money left on your mortgage, assuming you have one.
Estimate the likely sales price – Zillow’s Zestimate can provide a rough guess.
Estimate the total transaction fees (attorney, agent commission, etc.).
Subtract the mortgage and fees from the sales price.A positive number is a rough estimate of your net profit. A negative number indicates you may need to wait for the market to improve or you will have to put additional money into selling your house. Knowing your net proceeds (profit) will be important if you need to later reduce the sale price which will equally reduce your profit. Once you have your real estate agent, they can provide a seller net sheet.
Know your competition Setup alerts in your favorite home search app for your town and neighborhood. Also tour open houses in your area. Both will provide comparison points to gauge the condition and competitiveness (e.g., does it meet the expectation of today’s buyers?). If you haven’t renovated your house within the past 10 years and have not kept up with maintenance, you will face stiff competition and likely need to address these issues or realize it will impact the sale price.
Get your home ready to sell Do not underestimate the importance of this step! Make all significant and needed repairs, such as a failed retaining wall or end-of-life HVAC unit, otherwise the house will sell for less and take longer to sell. (Real estate agents are required by law to inform buyers of any “material facts” about the home.)Be strategic with choosing improvements. Repairing, painting, and staging can go a long way without huge costs. Focus on the kitchen and bathrooms which are critical selling points. It is also a good idea to aggressively reduce the amount of clutter around the entire house, particularly on countertops and in storage areas like closets, garages, and basements.
Hire your selling team Selling your house requires many professionally trained team members and the most critical is likely your real estate agent. The agent can recommend and often coordinates the rest of the team which may include inspectors, appraisers, attorneys, mortgage brokers, and more. Here are some tips for hiring an agent that works for you. Work with your agent to set price, marketing plan (including any open houses), and communication schedule.
Keep it Fresh Your house needs to be kept showroom ready for any showings and open houses. Click to download an easy-to-follow House Showing Checklist.
Negotiate and Accept an Offer At this point you should have worked with your real estate agent to identify your closing attorney and escrow agent (a third-party responsible for handling the money), if not the attorney.
Offer to Close You’ll need to work closely with your real estate agent and closing attorney during this stage. The buyer will need to have access to your house for appraisals, inspections, and surveying. There will likely be a final round of negotiation to either perform repairs found during the inspection or provide a credit to the buyer at closing. The agent and attorney will guide you through the final walkthrough and the paperwork needed to close.
Final Tasks before Closing In some towns, you will need to obtain a certificate of occupancy (CO) before the house can be sold. This ensures the house is fit for others to live in but usually includes checkoffs for fire and safety. Some are now requiring smoke, carbon monoxide, and newer explosive gas detectors which can add up to several hundred dollars. Check with your local town hall and schedule in advance as this can take several weeks. A couple of weeks before closing you should also contact your utility and service providers (TV, subscriptions, etc.) to notify them of your move-date to either cancel or transfer service to a new address. You will also need to obtain and pay final utility bills ahead of closing.
Review the Seller Closing Disclosure (CD) or Settlement Statement No later than 3 days before closing, the lender must provide a final monetary details of the transaction. Double-check this statement for accuracy.
Move-out In the hurried pace between contract to close, do not forget that you must move out! The busy season for movers typically starts in April and lasts through September, so book in advance! Larger houses and longer distance moves require more preparation. For more advice on moving check out our Tips for Hiring a Moving Company article.