Selling your home in the greater Nashville area is a process. It may not happen overnight – but with the help of the experienced Cindy Jasper HummerHomes Team, it can happen far more quickly than you expect.
The more organized you are during the process of your home sale, the easier the entire experience will be for you. Below, we’ve outlined each step of the home sale process, and given you specific tips and items of concern at each stage. Remember that these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules, and that they’re intended to help you navigate the sale process. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call us at 615.300.4695, or email Cindy personally at email@example.com.
Step 1: The Decision
Are you ready to sell your home?
People sell their homes for many reasons. Some sell because they need to upsize or downsize, or because of life changes such as marriage or divorce. Some sell for financial reasons, while others are simply upgrading to a new neighborhood, a new city, or even a new state. Some sellers are simply ready for a change -- something fresh and exciting.
Whatever your reasons for selling your current home, make sure that you are really prepared to part with your property. Once the sale process is commenced, it’s much harder to change your mind. Also, remember that the moving process can be emotionally and physically draining, so before you commit, be sure this is what you really want. Also, you should address the financial implications of selling your home. Tax issues, especially for those who are subject to capital gains taxes, are a big consideration. If you’re retiring, or if you plan to reinvest your proceeds in a smaller home and forego a mortgage, you need to consider your options carefully to avoid being hit with a big tax bill, however the funds you are able to conserve after the sale have the potential to provide you with an elevated quality of life and a more enjoyable lifestyle. If you have secondary mortgages or home equity loans on your current home, you should have your home appraised to ensure that its projected selling price will equal or exceed the amount you’ve borrowed against it; if the appraisal price is lower than what you owe, this may not be the right time to sell.
Are you ready to buy a new home?
In many cases, people who choose to sell their homes do so with the expectation of purchasing a new home. For many people, an increase in income, coupled with an increase in their current home’s value, makes moving up a feasible option. This is considered by many experts to be a solid wealth-building strategy, as real estate prices have risen steadily throughout the last few decades. The Nashville area, specifically, has proven to be a solid investor’s market, and metro Nashville to be one of the nation’s fastest-growing real estate markets.
When you’re ready to sell your current home and purchase your new home, there are some things you should consider. First, do you sell first or buy first? This is a personal decision, and not one that should be taken lightly. If your financial situation allows you to qualify for your new mortgage independent of the proceeds of your home sale, you have a broader range of options. Another option is to rent out your current home instead of selling, which allows you to keep your current property as an asset until the time of your choosing, however when considering this option remember that being a landlord requires time and effort beyond simple homeowner’s duties. The HummerHomes Team offers rental services to select clients; ask Cindy or another Team member for details.
Back to Top
Step 2: Check out the Market
How fast your home sells, and what price it sells for, are subject to the ever-changing real estate market conditions. Fortunately, the greater Nashville area is a fast-growing market even in these slower nationwide conditions, so sellers here have an advantage over their counterparts in other areas of the country. This also makes competition all that much stronger.
When you understand what is happening in the local, statewide, and even national real estate markets, you’ll move more smoothly through the entire home sale process. More than anything, it’s important to make sure that your expectations are realistic. Also, knowing what homes similar to yours have recently sold for can help you decide what offers you should accept, and how hard you can drive a bargain. Cindy Jasper and the HummerHomes Team will prepare for you our comprehensive Right Price Analysis™, which will show you the sale prices of every comparable home within five miles of your property that has sold in the last 12 months. With this information and our expertise at your disposal, you will be able to make an educated decision about your home’s listing price, and about what you can reasonably expect to receive at closing.
If you’re purchasing a new home at the same time as you’re selling your current home, you will have to consider other aspects of the market conditions. ‘Hot’ markets are wonderful for sellers, but those who are upsizing may not benefit from a quick sale if their new home price is significantly higher. Conversely, those downsizing may not benefit from selling their home in a ‘cold’ market, as the price on their new property would already have been smaller than the price received for their sold home. Those who need to sell within a specific time period will feel the demands of the current market more keenly, and so must make a special effort to market their current home as well as possible.
Seasonal changes also affect home sales. Spring and Fall are the primary selling seasons. Typically, no one wants to move during the winter unless they have to, and summers are often hectic with children, vacations, and recreational activities. Of the two selling seasons, Spring is the busiest, since many buyers have children and desire to be settled in their new home before the start of the school year. There are exceptions to the seasonal rule, naturally. Vacation homes in both hot and cold climates should invariably be put on the market during the busiest tourism season.
Back to Top
Step 3: Choose Your Realtor
You will find no more important asset for the sale of your home than a professional, dedicated Realtor. A good Realtor acts as your partner in every aspect of the home sale process, and the contribution of their knowledge and expertise can make the difference between a difficult, low sale and an easy, profitable one.
It’s important to develop a strong business relationship with your Realtor. If you don’t like working with your Realtor, the home sale process could be miserable for both of you. Conversely, if you and your Realtor can develop a strong personal bond, the sale process will surely be streamlined and enjoyable.
Your Realtor can and should provide you with data on the current real estate conditions in your market area, as well as comparable home sale prices from the last 12 months. While your Realtor cannot set your listing price for you, they can give you valuable insight and advice to help you choose an appropriate figure. They can also help you identify and deal with problem areas in your home or on your property, and help you rectify issues that may discourage potential buyers. Your Realtor can market your property in a variety of different mediums including print and internet forums and even television; a professional marketing plan can expose your home to thousands, even tens of thousands of potential buyers in a matter of days. Lastly, your Realtor can coordinate the promotion of your home, direct open houses and showings, and even share your listing with area real estate agents who may have clients interested in a home just like yours. Marketing a home takes time and effort: make sure that your Realtor is willing to invest both.
When choosing a Realtor, experience is important. Realtors with proven track records in the greater Nashville area are more likely to sell your home quickly and for the price you want. They are also likely to have a larger network of professional connections, which makes sure that your listing reaches all the right people.
When you’ve chosen your Realtor, be open to their suggestions. Sometimes, it may be necessary to invest some money in repairs or upgrades in order to obtain the selling price you want for your home. Your Realtor may recommend home staging, landscaping, or other techniques to improve your home’s presentation. However, don’t be afraid to be honest; if some improvements are beyond your price range, or if you need a quick sell, say so. Your Realtor may come up with alternate suggestions that are more agreeable to both of you.
Back to Top
Step 4: Set a Price
When you’re ready to set the initial listing price for your home, be sure that you’re in the right range. If you set the price too high, your home could sit on the market for months – not a desirable option if you need a quick sale. If you set the price too low, you could potentially leave money on the table. A comprehensive home appraisal will give you a ballpark figure; your Realtor’s expertise should fill in any blanks.
More than anything, it’s important to be realistic. Recognize your home’s strengths and weaknesses, and accept that these may affect your home’s final selling price. Also, consider market conditions. If you must sell in a cold market, you may have to accept a lower price for your home, or else wait around for the right buyer.
Also, your neighborhood may affect your home’s sale price: overbuilt homes generally do not net the kind of prices that similar homes in other neighborhoods might: when you’re selling, it’s not always the best thing to own the nicest house on the block. If your home is overbuilt, you may have to settle for a bit less in order to sell within your time frame. Again, it’s important to maintain a realistic outlook.
Back to Top
Step 5: Get Your Home Ready
Once you’ve decided on a listing price, it’s time to prepare your home for showing. If your home needs any significant repairs, it’s best to address these as early as possible in the sale process, to avoid having potential buyers walk into a construction site. Remember that a buyer forms an impression of your home within 60 seconds of entering, and that first impressions are everything when it comes to selling real estate.
A pre-sale inspection is a good way to start getting your home ready for buyers. A professional inspection report is a good way to prove that you were (or were not) aware of any defects in your property prior to an offer being made, and prevents allegations of non-disclosure later in the sale process. This inspection will also give you a heads-up about any necessary repairs, and allow you to address these issues before buyers see the home.
Be a Neat Freak
Your home can never be too clean as far as a buyer is concerned. A clean home implies a home well-taken-care-of for the entire period of ownership. Also, it allows the buyer to appreciate the most attractive aspects of a home without being distracted by dust bunnies. At this point, you should also pack up and store any superfluous items that might distract buyers. When you work with the HummerHomes Team, you will receive a professional home staging consultation, and also have the option to employ rental furniture and accessories to make your home show like a magazine spread. Also, think beyond the visual. Candles, incense, or potpourri can freshen up your home, and disguise odors from pets or cleaning products. Seasonal touches, like a fire in the grate during the winter or a display of fresh fruit during the summer, add appeal. Soft music is an option if you have a home-wide stereo and intercom system, as it shows off an important amenity.
To Remodel or Not To Remodel?
Generally, it’s not a financially sound idea to make major improvement to a home just before selling. However, if deficiencies in the property come up on your pre-sale inspection report – problems like mold, termites, or roof rot – you may want to invest in repairs. If you don’t, you’ll have to disclose the issues to any potential buyers, which may drive them off, or you may end up having to make the repairs in the end anyway per the terms of the sale contract. It’s often best to get a jump on any problems before it comes time to show the home.
On the other hand, small projects – like painting walls and trim, changing light fixtures, or rearranging furniture – require little monetary investment and can have an enormous impact on buyer perception. When deciding which projects to pursue, remember that loud colors and harsh lighting are distracting to buyers. Additionally, light colors open up a space while dark colors compress it, and “less is more” when it comes to color, texture, and décor. Ask your Realtor or professional home stager for more suggestions.
Back to Top
Step 6: Market Your Home
A comprehensive marketing plan is essential to achieving a fast, successful home sale. Various media outlets including newspapers, magazines, internet venues, and even television can all be invaluable in exposing your home to potential buyers. Your Realtor should have a complete marketing plan in place; this plan should be one of the primary considerations when choosing which Realtor you want to work with.
Generally, the costs of advertising your property are included in your Realtor’s commission. The funds allocated to advertising costs should cover not only standard listing venues but periodic newspaper or magazine advertisements – full color is best – as well as signage on your property and, if your home is located off the beaten path, signage on the nearest main road as well.
Your Realtor should list your home on the local Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. They should also have an MLS search option on their web page, to enable potential buyers to peruse properties at their leisure. Sellers who choose not to work with a real estate agent will not have the option to list their home on the MLS, as this service is available exclusively through licensed real estate professionals.
Internet marketing is becoming commonplace for Realtors and independent home sellers alike. Your Realtor should list your home with at least one major internet real estate source. Here at HummerHomes, we list your property on a broad range of sites including Google, Homes.com, and Realtor.com.
Open houses and showings are what really sell your home. Open houses are generally held on weekends (Sunday being the preferred day) and enable buyers to simply “drop by” without an appointment. Showings are generally scheduled by a single buyer and can take place at any time you agree to. If you’re often away from the property, or if you’ve already moved out, you may wish to use a lock-box or provide your agent with a key to your home.
In case of a last-minute showing, make every effort to ensure that your home is clean and inviting at all times. Your Realtor may have an opinion as to whether or not it’s best for you to absent yourself during the showings: many buyers feel more comfortable exploring a home when the home’s owner isn’t present. If you’re planning to be at home for showings, please make every effort to control pets and children. Pets should always be out of the house during showings, as many people have severe pet allergies, and there may be liability issues, especially with dogs. The best option is for kids to stay with friends or relatives during showing times, but if that’s not possible you can designate a room for them to play in during the showing time, and explain to them why they should remain quiet and well-behaved until buyers leave.
Back to Top
Step 7: Find A Buyer
Wooing buyers is one of the most important steps in selling your home. Your Realtor will act as a liaison between you, the seller, and all potential buyers, however there are occasions when you will come into contact with potential buyers, and it’s important that you present a professional facade.
Stay calm: Emotions can often well up when you’re selling your home. Money issues especially can generate strong feelings, and spark heated arguments between buyers and sellers. It’s very important that you remain calm and unruffled when dealing with potential buyers. You should answer all requests – even inconvenient ones – promptly and professionally, and be as accommodating as possible in all situations.
Be Patient: Remember that buyers are making an enormous decision when they decide to put in an offer on your home. This is not a process than can be rushed. Also, if you appear too eager it may compromise your bargaining power.
It’s nothing personal: Sometimes, buyers can make observations or remarks about your home, yard, or neighborhood that can only be considered rude. Don’t take it as a personal insult. If you find buyers’ offhand comments distressing, it may be best for you to make yourself scarce during showings. Your Realtor has heard it all before, and can remain objective and calm where you may not.
Don’t speculate: When a buyer asks you for information about your neighborhood, homeowner’s association, or even your property itself, don’t answer unless you’re sure of the information you’re giving. Misinformation given to buyers could result in a liability issue down the line, especially when it comes to structural issues with your home. If you can’t answer a question with absolute certainty, say “I’m not sure about that, but I will be happy to check into the matter and get back to you.” Not only are you being helpful, you’re being honest.
Back to Top
Step 8: Accept an Offer
There are many factors that determine whether or not you will accept an offer made on your home. Give each factor due consideration, but don’t get over-analytical. More than anything else, you need to feel comfortable with your decision.
Price: Depending on the market, you may feel that a better offer will come forth if you wait. However, in a slow market you may feel compelled to be more flexible.
Buyer Qualifications: Buyers who have received letters of pre-qualification from their lender have a much better chance of coming through for the final closing. If a buyer has not been pre-qualified, you may consider asking them to obtain a pre-qualification before accepting their offer.
Home Sale Contingencies: Many times, buyers will make an offer contingent upon the sale of their own existing home. While this often works out for both parties, you may also have to contend with delays, financing difficulties, and other hassles. Ask your Realtor for their opinion; if the buyer’s home is in a hot neighborhood, and their asking price is reasonable, they may be worth taking a chance. Otherwise, you many want to consider passing on these offers.
Contract Contingencies: Often, you will have to make concessions or promise to fulfill certain obligations to sell your home. Evaluate whether you are comfortable with these contingencies, and whether you will reasonably be able to meet them. Buyers who make excessive demands will likely prove difficult to work with in all aspects of the sale.
Seller Financing: Unless you have no other choice, taking on the role of financier is not advisable. If a buyer can’t obtain financing from a bank or mortgage lending company, they’re probably a financial risk.
Multiple Offers: If you’ve received multiple offers on your home, evaluate each offer in terms of the criteria listed above. If one offer emerges as significantly stronger than the others, you may want to give that buyer pride of place. Working with your agent, you can decline any offers that are unacceptable, and return counter-offers to the others.
Back to Top
Step 9: Close the Sale
First, remember to get everything in writing. Offers, contingencies, and any other agreement or disclosure that is pertinent to the sale of your home should be catalogued in a fashion that meets legal requirements. Also, any contract should be reviewed by a reputable real estate attorney before you sign it. Be sure that any agreements you enter into leave you at least three to five business days to review a contact before signing it. In many states there is a mandatory review period for any real estate contract.
Next, you’ll have to decide whether to have an attorney or escrow company handle the closing proceedings. If you can reasonably do so, it’s always a good idea to hire an attorney who specializes in real estate closings. That way, if there are any issues with the contract, an attorney can correct them quickly and efficiently. Also, you should educate yourself about deeds and titles. If you have questions, ask your attorney or escrow company. Lastly, make sure that all deposit monies are posted as required in the contract.
Prior to the closing date, make sure that you have all necessary paperwork and items at hand. The best way to do this is to create a file for all sale-related documents. Confirm that the deposit funds specified in the contract have been received: if this is done through an escrow agency, make sure that funds have been deposited in a timely manner. Problems with the deposit may mean problems and delays at closing.
Make sure that all inspections and contingencies specified in the contract are met in a timely manner. You can expedite this process by providing all pertinent inspection reports, septic designs, service receipts, building permits, and other paperwork to the buyer before inspections commence. If, after the inspections, additional issues arise, you may need to reenter negotiations. You will also need to make sure that all prior contingencies are met in a timely fashion. Keep in mind that inspections, while a necessary protective measure for the buyer, should not be used as a stalling tactic.
Just before closing, you should obtain (or your attorney should obtain) a payoff letter from the lender who holds your current mortgage. This letter should specify the exact amount required to pay off the loan as of the date of the letter, as well as a per diem clause specifying the additional interest which accrues during each day the loan is not paid off. Review all closing costs to determine what your exact net proceeds will be at the close of the sale.
Schedule a walk-through a day or two before closing so that the buyer can be assure that you’ve complied with all specified contingencies. If you’re moving out right after closing, be sure to start packing in advance. Also, arrange for utilities to be shut off or transferred, book your moving company, and provide the post office with your forwarding address.
On the day of the closing, be sure to have all necessary paperwork available and organized, including copies of all correspondence relating to the contract and sale. Review the HUD-1 Closing Statement to be sure that it is free of errors and misspellings. Understand the paperwork involved in the closing: you should have your HUD-1 Closing Statement, your mortgage cancellation forms, and the deed to your home. If any issues arise during the closing, remain calm; most issues can be resolved quickly and painlessly if both parties cooperate. Once the forms are signed over the deed, the sale is complete. Provide the buyer with keys and any warrantees, repair records, or other records pertinent to your home, appliances, or other items included in the sale.
Then, smile and shake your buyer’s hand. Congratulations, you’ve just sold your home!
Back to Top