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Information for Sellers

How much of a deposit should I require when a buyer submits an offer?
When receiving an offer on a property, you should require an earnest money deposit of at least one percent of your selling price. The larger the deposit you receive, the better! If possible, always try to obtain a decent size deposit and have you or your attorney hold the buyer’s deposit in an escrow account. Make sure the buyer’s check clears right away.

If the buyer defaults on the contract, the buyer’s earnest money deposit can be used to help defray some of your legal expenses, carrying costs, and lost marketing time.

Why does a purchase offer need to be in writing?
All real estate contracts must be in writing to be legally enforceable. You should never accept just a verbal offer. Always make sure the offer you receive is in writing.

Your contract should specify the selling price, closing date, terms of possession, method of financing, amount of down payment, inspections to be performed and any sale contingency clauses. Your contract should also indicate which appliances and fixtures will be included with the sale and whether the items will be in “working order” or “as is” condition.

If your state law requires a seller property condition disclosure, then make sure the proper disclosure is attached to your contract. If you need to close by a specific date, then be sure to include the words “time is of the essence” in your contract. Before signing a contract, have your attorney review the offer to make sure it contains all the necessary legal terms and is filled out properly. To be valid, the contract must be signed and dated by all parties.

One final word of advice, if you are serious about selling your property, always continue to show your property and take back-up offers until your property is sold! If you decide to accept a back-up offer, have your attorney review and draft the appropriate language for the back-up offer.

Why do some contracts fail to close?
The three most popular reasons why contracts fail to close are due to property inspections, financing issues and buyer and seller disagreements. If you want to save time and money, consider having your property pre-inspected and always ask the buyer for a pre-approval letter. Make sure the buyer is properly qualified based on your selling price and your full property taxes.

How do I determine the value of my property?
To obtain your property’s current value, we recommend hiring an experienced appraiser. An appraiser will provide you with an objective price opinion and will support their opinion with recent comparable sales. We strongly recommend avoiding low cost electronic Internet appraisal services because they often fail to accurately represent your property’s true market value. The best way to obtain a quality appraisal is to have an experienced appraiser go through your property room by room. If you are selling an investment or commercial property, then you will also need to furnish an income and expense statement.

You can also determine your property’s value by performing your own market analysis. To do so, you will need to compare neighborhoods, property styles, square feet, bedroom and bathroom sizes, garages, basements, landscaping, construction quality, lot sizes, taxes, age of structure and specific household amenities. Try using our worksheet to perform your own market analysis. You can find some of this information by researching your local county tax records and deed transfers.

Note: Values are constantly changing so make sure you stay informed about your local market. Review employment rates, interest rates, property taxes and the supply of properties available in your region. With a little research and help from the experts, you should be able to come to the right pricing decision. Smart sellers always do their homework and set a realistic price. To learn more about the selling process, click on the Sell Tab at the top of this page or call an appraiser in our Helpful Pros Directory.

Why is pricing so important?
Correctly pricing your property is critical to your success. Properties that are properly priced will attract more buyers and sell faster. They will also sell much closer to their asking price.

How do I arrange showing my property?
Showing your property is a simple task. Always be sure to properly stage your property before showing it! Clean your carpets and windows, open your draperies, turn on your lights and simply show your home. During the process, listen to the buyer’s comments and watch their actions. Show some enthusiasm, but try not to oversell every detail of your home.

Be prepared to answer a buyer’s questions. Do so in an honest and positive manner. Know your property’s selling points and be ready to answer the question: Why are you selling your property?

If a buyer is interested in your property, offer the buyer an opportunity to view your property a second time. Have your survey, property inspection report, property profile sheet, recent list of improvements and seller disclosure forms located on a table for the buyer’s review. Exchange names and phone numbers for future follow up. After each showing, follow up with a phone call to each buyer to determine if the buyer has any interest in your property. Be ready to answer a few more buyer questions. Try to find out what the buyer liked or disliked about your property and have a contract prepared just in case the buyer wants to make an offer.

With each showing, you will become more proficient with process. Continue to clean and repair any areas that need attention and remember to let your property sell itself! For more details, review our selling tips by clicking on the Sell Tab at the top of this page.

How do I know if a buyer can afford my property?
Qualifying a buyer is easy to do because most serious buyers will have already obtained a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter from a lender of their choice. Before showing your property, ask each buyer if they are pre-qualified for a mortgage? If the buyer isn’t pre-qualified, then have the buyer call a Lender in our directory. Once qualified, the lender will provide the buyer with a mortgage pre-qualification letter.

Some buyers may be in a position to purchase your home with cash and may not require a mortgage. In this case, ask the buyer for a bank statement to verify their funds. If the buyer has a home to sell, review our section on sale contingencies and let the buyer know about our cost-effective service.

What should I look for in a purchase offer?
Each written contract should be carefully examined to ensure all terms are perfectly clear and properly signed by all parties. Review the contract purchase price, earnest money deposit, mortgage contingency clause, property inspection clause, terms of possession and all items included or excluded from the sale.

Check the contract closing date and make sure it meets your time requirements. Carefully review the time period of all property inspection and mortgage contingencies and make sure each buyer has signed and dated the contract. Before signing a contract, have your attorney review the contract. Hire an attorney that is efficient, reasonably priced and that specializes in real estate law. Check the attorney’s reputation and don’t be afraid to confirm their fee in advance. Fees can vary considerably depending on the complexity of your sale. Download and review a sample residential contract or call your attorney for a contract used in your jurisdiction.

For some excellent information concerning contracts, click on the Sell Tab and review our seller contract questions and negotiation tips.

What is an Abstract of Title?
Your Abstract of Title contains important documents that indicate past transfer of ownership from one owner to another. One of your attorney’s duties is to review the Abstract of Title to ensure there are no title issues or liens against your property. If you can’t find your Abstract of Title, then your attorney may have to create a new one. Creating a new Abstract can take weeks, so it is best to locate your Abstract of Title policy before marketing your property. Once located, drop your Abstract of Title Policy to your attorney and have your attorney inspect it for any issues. A poor or incomplete title can hold up a sale, so it is best to resolve any issues ahead of time. An attorney who specializes in real estate law will best be able to answer your legal questions. If you need help locating an attorney, refer to our Helpful Pros directory.

Why should I pay for a home inspection before marketing my property?
Home inspections are one of the biggest hurdles to selling real estate today! Many inspections lead to delayed closings, additional negotiations and cancelled contracts.

Losing marketing time or your sale can be very frustrating, especially if you are eager to sell! Disclosing problems before you negotiate will save everyone time, money and aggravation! Nobody likes property inspection surprises, so it best to clarify problem areas before entering into a contract.

If your property has been pre-inspected, discuss all specific issues of concern with buyers before signing a contract. Hiding problems and deficiencies are misleading and unethical! If you don’t want to lose a sale or spend time renegotiating your contract, then disclose or fix all major problems before you negotiate your sale. Why allow your sale to become complicated due to an inspection concern? More deals go sour for this reason alone! Pre-inspect your property and you will close sooner than later! Need an inspector? Refer to our Helpful Pros directory or for more information click the Sell Tab at the top of this page.

What happens if a real estate agent wants to show my property?
If an agent wants to show your home, why not let them? They may bring you an offer you can’t refuse! Bear in mind, the real estate agent will probably be working on the buyer’s behalf. So, before allowing a buyer agent to show your home, negotiate the buyer agent’s fee or let the buyer pay the agent’s fee.

To make sure there is no misunderstanding, have the agent document their real estate fee in writing. If you can’t agree upon a fee, then decline the agent’s offer and suggest they show other properties. Your needs and motivations will determine how much an agent’s service is worth to you. Remember, real estate fees are negotiable! With services like ours, fees should become even more negotiable. After all, aren’t you doing the marketing, showing and negotiating? Apply common sense and use good judgment. Don’t let agents take advantage of you. When in doubt, consult our service or your attorney, but never let yourself to be pressured into an uncomfortable situation.

How frequently should I hold an Open House?
You may host an Open House as often as you like. If you decide to host an Open House, here are some tips: Highlight your Open House date and time on our web site. Advertise your Open House at least one week in advance and place an ad in the newspaper to make sure your Open House is sufficiently advertised.

Review our Open House checklist and prepare a few property profile sheets to hand out to buyers. Don’t let financing be a mystery; ask a lender to configure some Good Faith Closing Cost Estimates and send the lender some business for helping you! Finally, print out our Buyer Registry and record the names and phone numbers of all potential Buyers.

After hosting your Open House, gather your open house signs and return to our web site to edit your listing. Confirm the accuracy of your listing by checking our web site one more time! Follow up by calling all interested buyers.

How long does it take to put my property online with your service?
If you have most of your information available, you can post your listing online in just a few minutes! Or, if you prefer, you can hire our complete real estate service. Schedule an appointment today and preview our yard signs choices and review our seller task list.