No question- selling a house is a complicated and sometime confusing process. The real estate market in greater Cincinnati is challenging for not only first time sellers but also for people who have not sold in the last 5-7 years. Lots of questions about the “process” and the best way to handle paperwork and of course answering the number one question “What is my property worth?”.
In this article, you’ll find the answers to some of your questions -which will probably prompt even more questions. That’s normal. The “process” or “timeline” for getting your house on the market varies slightly from agent to agent, however, the basics are the same. There are 2 ways to sell a house -use a real estate agent or sell it yourself. The information contained here is based on the fact that I’m a licensed Realtor (c) and I’m assuming if you contact me- you’re most likely going to list your home rather than try to sell it yourself.
What’s my home/condo worth? Always the 1st question sellers ask and, quite frankly, hard to answer unless your property is ready to list and show within 72 hours of meeting with an agent. Why- well the Multiple Listing Service of Greater Cincinnati allows up 72 hours (not counting weekends/holidays) from the time the listing contract is signed before the information must appear in the MLS. And once your property is listed- it must be available for showings. So unless you’re at the starting gate ready for the checkered flag- any details in a competitive market analysis for pricing could change depending on the number of properties for sale, mortgage interest rates and the condition of your house or condo by the time you’re ready to “sell”.
First step. Become a motivated seller. If you’re not sure about selling and you’d just like to sit down with an agent to get an idea on how much your property is worth- be honest about your intentions. Assuming you are really motivated to sell (house too small, need to move closer to family members, work or schools or you already purchased the next property), the initial meeting with a Realtor covers what needs to be done to prepare your property for the market, general discussion about pricing and establishing a timeline to sign paperwork and put the “for sale” sign out front.
“Staging/De-cluttering/Cleaning”. Nearly all buyers start house hunting online and if your property looks cluttered, damaged and/or dirty- you have already lost tons of potential buyers. Google “staging” and you’ll find tons of information. Most agents are good about walking around and through your house making suggestions about what needs to done. As a seller it’s your decision to correct problems or take your chances and hope for the best. Nobody likes to spend money fixing things in order to sell- but if you want buyers to make decent offers- the property needs to be in tip top shape. Painting, carpet cleaning and removing excess furniture is usually the place to start.
Home Inspections. 2 schools of thought about having your home inspected prior to listing- most sellers in our area don’t “pre-inspect” but if you want to know what’s wrong and correct problems before hitting the market -then a home inspection makes sense. 99.999% of today’s buyers get a home inspection and things usually pop up on the report that require negotiation between the sellers and buyers. Sellers who spent money on a “pre-inspection” sometime get stung when the buyer’s inspector finds additional items. Unfortunately it’s part of the process of selling a house today. More details in part 2 on options to deal with inspection reports.
Residential Property Disclosure Form and Lead Base Paint Disclosure Form. If your home/condo was built prior to 1978 -the Lead Base Paint Disclosure must be filled out. Sellers of most residential properties (always exceptions) must fill out the Ohio Residential Property Disclosure Form. It shouldn’t be filled out by your agent and if you have questions -contact your legal adviser. If you had a “pre inspection” which revealed problems and you corrected the issues, the form allows you to add comments and details. As a seller if you’re aware of problems (leaky basement, major electrical or plumbing problems, sewers backing up into house- sellers need to read the form and answer honestly. Which brings me back to getting ready for the market- most inspections will catch major issues so plan on covering the repairs/replacements prior to closing so putting a house up for sale in the middle of heat wave summer with broken air conditioning is not the best approach to capturing the highest dollar contract.
Getting your ducks in a row. After the initial meeting with your agent you have forms to fill out, a “honey do” list of things to be completed inside and outside your house and scheduled an appointment to review and complete the contract paperwork. Prior to that appointment, dig out payment stub(s) for any mortgage and/or loans on the property. Your agent will need to get the account # and contact information -so when your property sells payoff information can be obtained by the title company responsible for handling the closing. Also need a functioning key to access the house. Preferably a key to the front door. It sounds funny but many people who have been in their residences for years and only use the door from their attached garage sometimes cannot locate a key. Assuming you are not present for every showing (bad idea) the key remains in a lock box attached to front door so cooperating Realtors can easily show the property.
You’re already exhausted and your house isn’t officially on the market -yet. Part 2 will take you through the next steps of how to sell your house -Cincinnati style covering topics from opening your house to prospective buyers through contract negotiations, inspections and hopefully….closing.