Once you’ve selected an agent and decided that the time is right, then it’s time to list your property for sale. The term “listing”, by the way, simply refers to the process of signing an agreement (called a “listing agreement”) with an agent, legally dedicating them to represent you as your Realtor. That document also defines the terms of the agreement, including such things as:
- The asking price for your home (though you’re certainly able to negotiate)
- The date on which it will officially be offered for sale
- The amount of time that you’re allowing the listing agent to get your home sold (most often 120 to 180 days; if the listing does not sell within that period, then you’ll need to sign a new agreement with that or another agent)
- The total brokerage fee (or fees) you agree to pay your agent when they get your property sold, including that which they’ll offer to other agents who may produce a buyer (typically half of their total commission)
- The terms, conditions and services that your agent will need to meet in order to get paid (most notably, getting your property sold)
- The items you intend to offer as part of the sale of your home (including such things as appliances, drapes or other personal property)
- Details for any concessions you intend to offer, including such optional things as cash incentives for buyers to use toward closing costs
Law also requires you to sign one of two forms pertaining to the known condition of your property: a disclaimer or disclosure. Signing them legally binds you to the information you provide about your home’s condition. If you aren’t an expert in such things as determining the condition of roof shingles, for instance, don’t worry. These forms only touch on the basics and what you’re aware of at the time of listing. Every buyer is entitled to a separate whole-house inspection (which I strongly urge every buyer to have performed), which reveals and provides a professional opinion on every defect in a home’s condition.
Disclosure: Includes a predetermined list containing many of your homes structural, mechanical (heating/air, electrical and plumbing) and other attributes, allowing you to indicate your knowledge of their exact condition and/or replacement history. For instance, if you know that your roof has a small leak in a certain location, you’ll need to declare that here. (Though, I will strongly urge you to have it fixed prior to listing.) Otherwise, if you know the exact age of your roof, you may provide that information so a potential buyer can be informed and able to make their own assessment regarding its lifespan.
Disclaimer: Is more or less the “as is” declaration in real estate transactions. If you know of existing conditions or issues, you’re required by law to provide that information on a disclosure form; otherwise, if you’re unaware of any issues and prefer to make a blanket statement, this is your form. I strongly urge my clients not to utilize disclaimers when possible, because, based on my experiences, this can be perceived as a red flag by potential buyers (who may see it as pleading the fifth).
Determining personal property: What stays and what goes
Though it might seem obvious to you that some of your home’s accoutrements aren’t a part of the real estate transaction (like drapes, for instance), it isn’t safe to assume that potential buyers see it the same way that you do. For this reason, your best bet is to play it safe. Before signing your listing agreement, we’ll walk through your home and discuss any personal property items that could come into question. My advice typically goes as follows: If it isn’t screwed in, nailed to the wall or otherwise attached, it goes with you, but we’ll want to discuss anything that may be questionable and make those explicit in the listing.
At the same time, there may be items that you’d like to offer, or at least make optional, for the sake of sweetening a deal. Good examples include anything that you’ve had custom made for your home—like drapes, for instance. But this can include virtually anything. Maybe it’s a wall-mounted television that fits perfectly above your fireplace. Perhaps your new home has a stainless steel built-in dishwasher and the refrigerator in the house you’re selling is black. You may opt to offer those items with the house. First-time homebuyers could find that attractive; others may not. If the buyer isn’t interested in your fridge, they can strike it from the offer and ask you to remove it before closing. The good news is, by being explicit, everyone is on the same page about what goes and what stays from the beginning, unless otherwise negotiated.
While home warranties aren’t known to make or break a deal necessarily, based on their relatively low cost (starting at around $250), they’re certainly something to consider. Not only can a home warranty add a touch of extra assurance for potential buyers, but it can also reduce your risks while your home is on the market.
There are a few “flavors” of home warranties. The more expensive the policy, chances are, the more it covers. A typical warranty has a term of one year but could be extended if you’re so inclined. Everything from major appliances (like refrigerators and stoves) to mechanical systems (heating and cooling equipment, electrical and plumbing) to the roof and structure itself can be covered.
We’ll discuss the costs and options when you list your home.
Once your property is listed, then it’s time for us to get to work—you’ll get to work preparing it for sale and I’ll be working around the clock to get it sold. We’ll take a look at the specifics in the next section.
If you’re ready to get started, CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment for me to come out to your home. I’ll gather everything I need to determine a proper asking price, then, when you’re ready to list, we can sign an agreement and I can get to work immediately.