You've decided you're ready to sell your home. Now it's time to find a listing agent to guide you through the process. Finding the right listing agent to sell your house is a critical decision that can greatly impact the outcome of your home sale. Here are some steps you can take to find a good listing agent.
The first step in finding the right listing agent for a property is to do your research. It's not sexy, but it's so vital in order to make the right decision. Not all real estate agents are created equal, so knowing where to look can help weed out the inferior selling agents right away.
There are several places you can go to find a listing agent to sell your house:
Your initial instinct will be to ask family and friends for recommendations. While referrals can be useful (so you know the agent is at least trustworthy), there are some limitations. First, your pool of potential agents is very limited; there are thousands of agents out there and you can only source so many referrals from your network. Second, it can quickly become uncomfortable when you choose NOT to utilize the services of a personal recommendation. That is why asking family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues who have recently sold a home for referrals on listing agents they have worked with and had a good experience with is becoming somewhat antiquated.
You may (and should) also search online for agents in your area. You can certainly see many more real estate agents than you would relying purely upon personal recommendations, but it is extremely difficult to know who to believe and trust. The level of due diligence required to sort through all these agents' online reviews, websites, and social media is incredibly tedious.
Regardless, look up listing agents in your area on real estate websites or search engines; you should at least find ONE real estate transaction for each. Read reviews from former clients and check their website and social media profiles to see if they have a professional online presence.
Visit a local real estate office and ask for recommendations of listing agents who specialize in your area.
Attend open houses and talk to the listing agent. This will give you a chance to meet them in person, see how they interact with potential buyers, buyer's agents, and get a sense of their marketing strategy.
Look for advertising by local agents in newspapers, magazines, or online real estate portals. This can give you an idea of the type of listing agent who is active in your area.
We recommend combining the best of all these worlds. Blending your hunt between targeted, internet searches and recommendations from trustworthy sources is a sound approach.
Once you've narrowed down your list of potential agents, it's time to start setting up meetings. This is your chance to get to know the listing agent and see if they're a good fit for you.
In the old days, this was merely a charade. You might judge an agent by the firmness of their handshake, the consistency of their eye contact, or the confidence of their tone. However, none of those would actually determine their efficacy as a real estate fiduciary. Luckily, nowadays we have much better data to evaluate potential listing agents.
Come prepared for every interview with a list of questions for the agent. Ask them about their past experiences and to cite specific deals they have closed. Have them outline, in detail, their marketing plan to get your home sold to meet your satisfaction. Just as importantly, ask them about the fee structure and if there is any room for negotiation on that front.
Better yet, ask them to present a tangible strategy for your home sale. A top tier listing broker will prepare a comparative market analysis specifically for you, using comparable sales and their insight. If they are not willing to do so, it is probably a sign they aren't as good as they claim, or they aren't as motivated to deliver for you as you'd want. Pay attention to how well they listen to your needs and answer your questions; you want an agent who is attentive and willing to work with you to get the best results possible.
To get the most out of your real estate agent interviews, follow this important checklist:
Let each listing agent know your expectations, concerns, and preferences. Be upfront about your timeline, budget, and what you're looking for in a home. Discuss your priorities and concerns with an agent representing you. Be open and honest about what you want and listen to their advice and recommendations.
A true real estate professional has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the buying or selling process. Open your ears to their advice and recommendations.
Be respectful of the agent and their work. Remember, they will be working hard to help you sell your home and negotiate the best deal for you. Negotiating commission should be a collaborative effort, not a confrontational one. Treat any listing agent with respect and professionalism.
Of course, make sure any listing or selling agent you consider is licensed in your state and has a good track record of sales in your area. You can check with your state's real estate regulatory agency for this information. Most real estate agents belong to the national association of realtors.
Consider a listing agent who you feel comfortable with and who you trust to represent your best interests.
The right listing agent should have a strong track record of success, be knowledgeable about your local market, have excellent communication skills, and be someone you feel good about working with. Remember, the selling agent represents YOU; so the best listing agent not only caters to potential buyers but also the home seller. That is their fiduciary responsibility.
Remember to do your due diligence and research any potential listing agents thoroughly before making a decision. By following these tips, you can build the foundation of a strong working relationship with your real estate agent and get the most out of your home selling experience.
After meeting with several potential agents, it's time to choose the right one for you. If you have done a thorough job in the vetting process, you should have an adequate amount of data to compare your options. Plug the numbers they give you into your decision-making formula to calculate the optimal outcome for things you care about most, like asking price, timeline, and commission structure.
Choose an agent who you feel comfortable with and who you trust to represent your best interests. Look for an agent who understands your needs, communicates well, and has experience in your target market.
Read any agreement carefully and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions. This includes the length of the agreement, the commission rate, the marketing plan, and any other selling agent's fee or expenses.
Understand the standard commission rate before negotiating, it's important to know what the standard commission rate is in your area. This can vary depending on your location, the type of property, and local market conditions. Research the standard commission rate in your area before starting the negotiation.
The standard commission rate in the United States typically ranges from 5% to 6% of the sale price of the home, with half of the commission going to the listing agent and half going to the buyer's agent. Alternatively, you could sell your house with a flat rate commission structure.
Commission rates are negotiable and can vary depending on the services provided by the agent and the specific circumstances of the sale. Some agents may be willing to negotiate a lower commission rate for certain properties or clients.
It's important to remember that the commission rate is not the only factor to consider when choosing a listing agent. Remember to consider their experience, marketing playbook, and past record of success in your area. Identify your priorities by determining what is most important to you in the agreement, such as a specific sale price or a shorter listing period. Use this information to guide your negotiations.
Ultimately, a fair commission rate is one that reflects the value of the services provided by the agent and is agreed upon by both parties. It's important to discuss commission rates and all other aspects of the listing agreement with your agent before signing the agreement to ensure that you are both on the same page.
The length of an agreement can vary, but most are between three and six months. However, some may be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances of the sale and the agreement between the seller and the listing agent.
A shorter agreement may be appropriate for a seller who wants to test the market or has a unique property that may require more time and effort to sell. A longer agreement may be more appropriate for a seller who wants to give their agent more time to market the property or has a property that may take longer to sell due to its location or condition.
It's important to discuss the length of the agreement with your agent before signing to ensure that you both have a clear understanding of the expectations and timeline for the sale of your property. Additionally, some agreements may include provisions for extending or terminating the agreement if necessary. Be sure to carefully review the terms and conditions before signing.
Research the local real estate market and the prices of comparable homes in your area. This will give you an idea of what your home is worth and what you can expect in terms of offers.
Once you've identified your priorities and done your research, it's time to negotiate the terms of the agreement. Most homeowners don't know they can negotiate the terms of their listing agreement or are too afraid to ask.
Negotiating the terms of your agreement is an important step in the home selling process. Start by making a counteroffer that reflects your priorities and be prepared to compromise if necessary.
The negotiation process should be a collaborative effort between you and your agent. By being open, honest, and willing to compromise, you can create an agreement that works for both you and your listing agent.
Negotiating commission with a real estate agent can be a sensitive topic, but there are some strategies you can use to approach the conversation:
Consider the level of service you expect from your agent and what services they are offering. If you expect more services than what the agent is currently offering, it may be appropriate to negotiate a higher commission rate.
Be open to negotiating a commission rate that works for both you and your agent. If the agent is willing to offer additional services or work with you to sell your home, it may be worth negotiating a higher commission rate.
Once you've agreed on a commission rate, make sure it is included in your listing agreement. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and there are no misunderstandings.
Remember, negotiating commission with your agent is a normal part of the home selling process. By being respectful, open to compromise, and getting everything in writing, you can negotiate a commission rate that works for both you and your agent.
Generally speaking, it is wise to try to remove the emotional factors of a decision so you can make an objective choice. However, ultimately you are selecting a human to entrust with selling your home, so it is perfectly fine to trust your intuition too. Your instinct is just another datapoint to consider. So take your time and when you're ready, make your choice.
Selling your home is a big undertaking, so it's important to take the time to find the right listing agent for you and your home. First, decide where to look for an agent. Next, make them propose specifics for your sale. Finally, use the data they provide to make the best decision. With these tips in mind, you should have no problem finding an agent who meets all of your needs and who will help you get the best results possible when selling your home.
Choosing the right real estate agent is an important decision that can greatly impact the outcome of your home buying or selling experience. If you want to use the latest technology that does all of this for you, check out TrueParity's platform that puts the top local real estate agents in competition for your listing.
Like this article? Share it with someone in need of a good real estate agent. Curious what top listing agents would do for your home sale? Check out TrueParity today.
Every homeowner dreams of selling their property quickly, at the highest price, saving the most money, and with minimal stress. The recent tale of an owner in Spring Valley, CA, highlights how the clearest path to such success now begins somewhere that might surprise you.
The best news is it isn't just California home sellers that stand to gain -- homeowners everywhere need to be on high alert for this new home-selling hack. Here's what you need to learn about the selling process from this one real estate transaction.
Summer 2023 has proved to be a challenging period for selling a house. While home prices have remained high, interest rates are even higher, so not many folks have found themselves motivated to sell. (Even for a house in California the pool of potential buyers can be limited, due to those aforementioned mortgage rates). That said, life circumstances often necessitate a home sale.
This was the exact scenario facing the homeowner at 2257 Casa Alta. Needing to relocate out of the Golden State, Matthew Jope had no choice but to sell his house in the Sweetwater Village suburb of San Diego.
Despite potentially difficult circumstances, this owner was able to achieve an extremely impressive home sale. In fewer than three weeks on the market, it sold above asking price -- turning a nice profit for the owner on his original investment purchased during the pandemic. Plus, one additional trick helped him save over $12,000. Let's take a look at how he was able to do that, and break down the sale details.
Like many tasks these days, the first step is usually online. But instead of shotgunning hopeful queries into Google's search bar, you now only need one website to kick off the home sale process.
TrueParity, the platform where real estate agents compete for the right to list and sell your home, is the smartest way to begin your real estate journey. It streamlines the entire process to ensure home sellers always get the best terms and outcomes.
It instantly helped the owner of this Spring Valley house -- as it does with all sellers -- by performing all the due diligence on real estate agents in advance. TrueParity uses the latest data to highlight the top-performing local real estate agents, so owners can be certain the actual performance of a listing agent matches their reputation. Matthew merely posted his home, and shortly received listing proposals from multiple agents who he was positive would be great choices.
IMPORTANT: This homeowner did NOT just give away his listing to the first real estate agent he contacted.
Last year, most home sellers (80%, to be exact) only spoke with ONE agent before signing a listing agreement. This is a mistake. Not only should owners get multiple quotes to establish some general benchmarks, but it's totally fair to have agents compete for your listing. Your listing is a valuable commodity, why shouldn't a real estate agent put their best foot forward to earn it?
That's exactly what this owner did -- and he could not have been happier with what happened next. Directly on TrueParity, he could decide between two fantastic proposals. Thanks to a remarkably transparent platform, he could easily see what he would be getting from the two real estate professionals. It was stiff competition, but ultimately the listing terms and personality fit helped him choose his perfect match.
TrueParity totally delivered, and then some. In Matthew's words:
“I was moving out of state and needed to sell my home quickly; however, I didn’t just want to give it away at a total discount. Thanks to TrueParity, I found an agent that sold my house above the asking price and saved me thousands in commission fees.”
Of course, it wasn't just the owner who won big. His agent, Willem De Ridder, shared a similar sentiment.
“TrueParity is incredible for an agent. When a local homeowner posted their house on the platform, I was able to connect with them, send a proposal, and I’m happy to share that we’ve recently just closed escrow.”
Because TrueParity brought a home seller right to his fingertips he did not need to spend thousands of dollars on marketing, and Willem was able to offer the homeowner a more competitive commission structure. All of this added up nicely when it came to the owner's final take home.
That's an impressive $245,000 profit in 3 short years for this California house -- and $5,000 over asking. But there's more.
Because TrueParity positioned the owner to receive optimal terms, the real estate agent fees combined to equal only 4.5% of the final sale price, much less than the 6% rate which has become commonplace in the California real estate market. The result is $12,300 in additional savings.
Of course, one of the first and most important considerations for this sale was to find prospective buyers and get through the closing process as quickly as possible. Thanks to a forward-thinking homeowner, a phenomenal listing agent, and TrueParity, this home sale exceeded all expectations.
Southern California, Northern California, anywhere in the country -- selling a house is hard! There are so many things to stress about: how to find home buyers, whether you need a real estate attorney review the purchase agreement, communicating with the escrow agent. Even worse, there are so many boobytraps hidden in the closing costs that are shrinking your net proceeds: title insurance, escrow fees, transfer tax, and more.
What you shouldn't need to worry about is having the best guide to navigate you through all of these challenges as quickly and economically as possible. California sellers have started to catch on; now homeowners across the country have access to the same game-changing platform.
TrueParity brings you the top real estate agents in your neighborhood, makes them compete against each other to offer you the best terms, and helps you capture the most value in your real estate transaction. Post your home for free, sit back, and sell with success.
Disclaimer: This blog post is based on real figures and events.
It's 2024 and you're thinking about selling your home. Perhaps you missed your chance during the frenzied seller's market of 2021, and forced yourself to patiently sit through the real estate lull of 2023 (we're looking at you, crazy interest rates!). But now you're ready to get the most money possible for your house.
Whether you're a first-time seller or a veteran who's just been out of the game for a couple years, you want to brush up on what you can do to guarantee you have the best home-selling experience. Great idea! Every year there are some unique updates and more tools available in real estate -- you need to make sure you've got all the knowledge you need to sell like a pro. We've got you covered.
In this guide we'll take you from start to finish of selling a house in a few minutes. Read on and bookmark this page for later. Trust us, your wallet will thank you.
Nowadays, there are a few different paths to achieve a home sale. While an outlying method may exist, we can generally group sales into three different routes: a traditional (agent-assisted) sale, FSBO, and iBuyer/cash buyer programs.
This is the tried, trusted, and true method for selling your home. In a conventional sale, the home seller signs an exclusive listing agreement with a real estate agent, who in turn essentially handles the rest of the selling process. The compensation for the listing agent is usually (but not always) anchored to the successful sale of the property. Meaning, they receive a percentage commission of the final sale price. (Usually the seller's agent gets around 2-3%, and the buyer's agent gets an additional 2-3% as well... but this may likely be changing following federal verdicts on industry collusion against the National Association of Realtors and others at the end of 2023).
For Sale By Owner is another route that many home sellers choose, although it's far less common than a traditional sale. In this method, the homeowner forgoes the services of a listing agent to negotiate directly with a buyer themselves. The motivation for an FSBO sale is to avoid paying agent fees, and keep a little more of the final sale price in their pocket. While this sounds wise, it usually has the opposite effect for sellers. Because a homeowner has little expertise in their local real estate market (or how to do basic things like take professional photos of their home), they fail to attract a substantial pool of buyers (understandably, what buyer's agent would want to bring their client to an FSBO listing where they stand to make no commission themselves?). Homeowners also don't know how to price and negotiate their sales, due to a lack of experience. The end result is that an FSBO seller usually "takes home" less money than sellers who use a top agent.
IBuyers or cash buyer programs are companies that guarantee a cash offer for your property, directly from themselves. If this sounds too good to be true, it may be. The way these companies work, whether they're fully digital or offline, is to buy property for cheap then immediately turn it around to sell for a profit. So their offer to you will always be significantly below fair market value for your home. These companies' operations can feel quite predatory; taking advantage of desperate homeowners who need quick cash for their personal finance needs. Let's face it, nobody should have to get ripped off in order to achieve a rapid home sale.
Luckily, homeowners don't have to slash the asking price of their home just to sell it in a timely fashion. There are a handful of other factors that can expedite the selling process.
If you don't want your home to sit stagnant on the market, then it needs to be in solid condition when it first hits the market. Nothing waves a bigger red flag to potential buyers than a property in dire need of repairs or renovations. Most buyers avoid fixer uppers -- who wants to spend all their time and money on home improvements? -- or they'll lowball you on the price. Better to get in front of this time suck by making all the upgrades, fixes, and remodeling in advance.
For most people, buying a house is the largest purchase they'll ever make. It makes sense then that transactions of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars can take some logistical legwork. Unfortunately, securing financing requires the buyer to undergo an approval process from a mortgage lender. This can take time. Even if the terms of a sale are agreed, this "financing contingency" could still lead to the sale falling through. If you restrict your consideration to all cash offers (no financing), then you can help avoid another potential time waster.
Financing isn't the only contingency that can slow or halt home sales. A pending home sale can also be contingent on a successful home inspection or appraisal; the sale can also be contingent on the buyer closing the sale of their current house. The buyer's lender may even require them to obtain an insurance policy for the sale to proceed. If you can agree terms without any contingencies, then you're putting yourself on track for a fast sale.
Data shows that experienced real estate agents increase the probability of a home selling. This certainly passes the smell test. Real estate professionals who've spent years mastering their craft and learning their local market should be able to assemble a great plan to sell your house -- and fast. Later in this post we'll take a look at how to choose the right real estate agent.
If you set a list price that is well beyond the fair market value for your property, you're asking for your home to sit on the market for months. Unsurprisingly, given the sentimental value of a primary residence where you've lived and made family memories, most homeowners overestimate what their home is actually worth. But a potential buyer won't hold the same opinion; they deal in facts and what they'd pay for comparable homes. By setting a realistic price, you're giving yourself a great chance at a quick and easy sale.
On the topic of list price, many homeowners aren't sure where to start. They know what they paid for their property years ago, and they know that property values in their area have (hopefully) increased. But other than hearing how much a few of their friends sold their homes for, they have little certainty about the market value of their own. There are usually three methods they might use to extrapolate that figure, and one of them is certainly superior!
Many owners will run a quick Google query to try to quickly find out how much their house is worth. They will certainly receive quick answers -- quick and wrong! Online calculators from sites like Redfin or Zillow will provide approximate valuations, which may be useful as a rough ballpark, but they're never truly accurate. These calculators use rudimentary formulas based on geography, property type, square footage, and recently sold properties nearby. This sounds reasonable except the data they use isn't 100% accurate. Real estate is hyper local; home values on one side of the street can drastically differ from those on the other -- for reasons a Zestimate cannot appreciate (for example, a view of the ocean is worth a heck of a lot more than a view of the back of another building!). These sites often just have incorrect property data too; try it out for a few properties you know well and see how often it simply gives erroneous information about the number of bathrooms or square footage. While online estimators seem like a great idea, they just aren't that helpful for calculating an asking price.
Another method a homeowner might use is to hire a home appraiser. This is a professional inspector who will come and tour the house and quote what they believe the building is worth. The downside of this method is that the appraised value is mostly based on the physical structure; an appraiser doesn't thoroughly weight their value on the numerous factors of the local real estate market. Also, you'll have to spend money for this service -- you ought to save money and get a better estimate.
By far, the best method to generate an asking price for your house is by an expert market analysis. This method uses numerous comparable sales to triangulate what value your home could command on the market. This sounds like what an online estimator does, but there's one crucial difference. A true market analysis requires the skill of an expert agent. Only a human being, with years of experience in their local market, is capable of performing this. A good real estate agent has physically toured the recently sold comps; they know all the little features of a property that makes it more valuable than its neighbors; they know what justifies a home's sale price... What homeowners don't know is that any professional agent is happy to give them a home valuation for free. Top agents understand how taxing the entire process can be for sellers and are happy to perform some preliminary research to demonstrate the value of their services. Also, to put it frankly, the true value of a home is what someone else is willing to pay for it. And there's no one better to project what a house sells for than an actual expert in that practice. If you want to quickly connect with a great local agent to get a valuation, TrueParity is happy to connect you.
One of -- if not THE -- most important things sellers care about is how they can net the most money from their home sales. There are three factors to consider if you want to get as much money into your pockets as you can.
The biggest driver of receiving more money from a home sale is the size of purchase price. This sounds like a no-brainer, but bear with us. Too often sellers try to save money and cut costs; but these savings are completely offset by the detrimental impact they have on the home's sale price. For example, saving 2.5% of price by foregoing the services of a listing agent seems smart, until you realize that an agent could have sold your home for hundreds of thousands of dollars more. Don't "trip over dollars to pick up pennies;" make sure that you're doing everything you can to get prospective buyers to pay the highest price possible.
That said, you certainly don't want to overpay an agent for their services. If the final sale price remains the same, then you'd be a fool not to try to save a half a percent on your agent's compensation. The thing is, oftentimes you get what you pay for. Discount agents provide discount service. The best approach is to negotiate with a handful of agents -- something most sellers have no idea they can do! Talk to agents about their rates and what price they can sell YOUR home for. Then you can do a little napkin math to figure out which option would provide the highest value. Some motivated agents may even offer you a cash bonus just for signing a listing agreement with them!
A third important way a seller can boost their final take home is by minimizing their closing costs. Talk to an escrow company (or two or three) to find the best rate. A fee of $2 - $3 per every thousand dollars of the sale price is standard. Try asking for a $1 rate or a flat rate, if that works to your advantage. Title insurance is another part of the closing process where you can try to negotiate savings, as long as you make sure you have decent coverage. Unfortunately, you still must pay taxes when you transfer property, so you'll never truly be able to delete all the costs of closing a real estate transaction.
By now, it's hopefully become clear how valuable a top notch real estate agent is to achieving the optimal outcome when you sell your house. The only question mark remaining is where can you find one. Here's how to do it.
The most traditional method of finding an agent is by word of mouth. You likely won't need to scour your personal network too long before you can find someone with a real estate license happy to handle your listing. But therein lies the problem. Once you put a feeler out that you're seeking an agent, it's hard to turn down friends or family members. And while you may like that individual on a personal level, it's unlikely they're truly the most qualified person to handle your exact property. So be extremely careful with whom you speak when you're thinking about selling a home.
Another way of finding real estate agents is the same way you'd find just about anything else -- looking randomly online. Most agents are great at self promotion; they'll gladly showcase their accolades and success. The problem here is that it's hard to know what is accurate and what is just online posturing. An agent's social media presence is highly curated to make them seem awesome; you definitely can't take that as gospel. Yelp or online reviews are slightly more trustworthy; however, nowadays agents have figured out how to game them and throw a few dollars to bump up their ratings. Of course, you could also call the agent whose face you see plastered on flyers and bus stops, but there's no way to know if they're any good whatsoever.
We're obviously biased, but we literally built a platform just for home sellers to find the perfect real estate agent to sell their home. We use the latest, objective performance data to identify the top agents in each neighborhood; then we give them (and only these top performers) exclusive access to our platform. So homeowners just need to post a few details about their property and our system instantly signals the top real estate agents to submit proposals for the listing. It's all the best agents in one single place; why would you go anywhere else?
Once you've begun to talk to potential agents, it's critical that you choose the best one to sell your house. There are a few things you can do to make sure you're making the right choice.
As part of your due diligence, you should do a little detective work on each agent. Most of them will have online listings so you can get a sense of what type of properties they sell and if they're close in proximity to you. Remember, you're looking for someone with relevant experience. If you have access to your state's MLS (multiple listing service), then check that as well. When in doubt, you can always ask them how many sales they've closed in recent years, and similar questions. Generally, you want to verify their transaction volume, years of experience, and general price points. Industry awards and memberships in trade organizations (like NAR, the National Association of Realtors) used to be a solid endorsement, but in 2024 data is king. Here's a quick reference on what to look for when you're comparing agents.
The highest caliber real estate agent embraces the chance to showcase what they'll do for your sale. You just need to ask! An underwhelming agent, whose sole tactic to sell a house is just posting a property online, won't come prepared to a listing appointment. You can spot an amateur a mile away. However, a quality agent will have already done their homework on you and your property. They'll have a portfolio of comparable homes and walk you through what they mean in relation to your home and its unique features. They'll have a target sale price, specific terms, and a clear closing date. They'll outline a winning listing strategy that will entice many home buyers and bring multiple offers. They'll provide references from satisfied clients. Top agents will do all of this in advance, and for free, because they're supremely confident in their ability to execute.
Finally, you should always negotiate with agents before signing a listing agreement. This is important for two reasons. First, you want your real estate agent to put their best foot forward and give you the best service and terms. They understand they're competing against other agents for your listing; you should always remind them you have a hot commodity! Make them compete for the right to sell your house. Second, whoever you choose will inevitably be negotiating against buyer agents. There's no better way to get a feel for their negotiation skills and style than by first testing it yourself.
It's rare for an agent to stay with a single brokerage their entire career. Real estate agents are constantly changing brokerages and offices. As they do, so does the type of resources they have at their disposal. The big, national brokerages have the advantages of scale and the use of online tools. What boutique brokerages lack in volume they may make up for with proficiency in a particular niche or brand identity.
Our (mildly?) controversial opinion is that NO, for a seller the brokerage does not matter. The only thing that matters is how effectively an agent leverages their brokerage's resources. The agent is the conduit of everything else supporting them; many homeowners overweight the company name on their business card. Focus on the agent's capability and you'll soon find yourself in the midst of many buyers.
If your agent is trying to attract potential buyers, there's a good chance they will host open houses. While the prospect of strangers walking through your home and passing judgment may frighten you, there's nothing to fear. Here's what you can do to make open houses productive for your sale.
The first step to make your open house a success is by attending someone else's. Better yet, attend multiple others. The idea is that you get a free preview of what other people do well -- or not so well -- when they're hosting an O.H. Put on your best spy hat and feign interest as if you're a one of the potential buyers; you can ask all sorts of questions that potential new owners would inquire about. You'll be amazed at what you learn from this point of view. Then you'll be well positioned to apply this knowledge to your own open house.
The second thing you'll want to do is make your house absolutely sparkle for every potential buyer or buyer's agent that walks through your front door. While you have (hopefully) already fixed any major, underlying issues that would get flagged during the eventual pre-sale home inspection, that's only part of it. You need to remove all clutter and stage your home appropriately so that it looks its best. Let in as much natural light as possible; this helps create an organic and healthy aesthetic that all buyers love. You want to remove all personal effects so new owners can visualize themselves actually living there. Your property needs to look clean and inviting in every way; curb appeal is just as important as how your house looks in high quality photos. You may even consider hiring a professional stager -- your real estate agent will advise you on how to do that.
The final piece of advice for open houses is to pull yourself away. As much as you want it to go well, the best way you can help is by temporarily removing yourself from the property. Your emotional attachment and financial investment makes you a liability. (No one feels comfortable touring a house with the current owner breathing down their neck). Let your agent and their team handle the event. You only need to be gone for a couple hours on just a few days, usually weekends in spring or summer. If you're ever needed, your agent will certainly let you know.
If you've followed this framework, and your agent has done their job, then you should receive multiple offers to buy your home. While the finish line is now in sight, it's important that you enter negotiations with some clear ideas. Your real estate agent will lead the way, but it's helpful for you to have some background knowledge on the core components of a winning negotiation strategy.
You should already have a few numbers in mind for a final sale price. First is your ideal price; the number that would make you say YES immediately. Rarely does this actually happen, but it's good to recognize that if that "godfather offer" does arrive it's likely the best you'll see. The second number is the absolute lowest amount you'd accept; any lower and you simply would walk away from the offer. The goal is obviously to achieve a sale price much higher, but you also want to make sure you aren't being lulled into a lowball offer. The third number is the fair market value that your agent has previously projected. If they're correct, then this is usually the median price of the majority of offers. Again, you'd obviously love to exceed this amount, but having it in your mind already will only help you evaluate offers. (Keep in mind, if you don't own full home equity, you will not be pocketing the entirety of the sale price).
Life doesn't always stop so you can sell a house. Your schedule and needs often don't align with the offers you receive for your property. If you cannot get a buyer to budge on the price, then you can often use the timeline as another point of negotiation. You should always attempt to agree to a closing date that's in your best interest; keep in mind, you need to allow time for things like a home inspection or appraisal to occur. Of course, if the buyer counter-negotiates on timeline, it shouldn't spell an instant dealbreaker to your sale. You can always get temporary housing and a storage unit -- sometimes you can get the buyer to pay for that!
Whenever possible, you should prioritize offers without any contingencies. As we've detailed earlier in this guide, those can delay the completion of a deal or even cause it to collapse entirely! When you can't negotiate on price or timeline, contingencies are a third point you can attempt to leverage.
There's no hard rule that you can only negotiate with a single buyer at once. In fact, until the deal is closed then it's totally fair game to continue to negotiate with other buyers, as long as you're transparent with all parties. By negotiating with multiple buyers, you are forcing them to compete to offer you the best terms. In business terminology, this practice is called "improving your BATNA" (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). Meaning you can play hardball with a buyer if you know your backup offer is solid. Anything that improves your position at the negotiating table is a smart practice.
If you're a first time seller, then you may be a little hazy on what "escrow" actually means, and why it matters in a property sale. You don't need to be a real estate attorney to understand it.
Escrow is the process in a property transaction whereby a third party holds the funds from the buyer and ultimately releases them to the seller once all the paperwork has been formally completed. Its purpose is to protect both parties from fraudulent behavior, and act as an intermediary between additional parties related to the transaction. That's the gist of it, but there are a couple more points to consider.
There's an important part to remember about escrow that definitely impacts your personal finance -- as the seller, you aren't the sole recipient of the funds held in escrow. Funds in escrow will be used to pay taxes, insurance, and other fees as applicable. (You may already be familiar with escrow companies if you don't have 100% home equity; some mortgages are structured with escrow considerations). Of course, escrow services aren't free. Most companies will charge $2-$3 per every thousand dollars of the sale price; you can shop around to try to find a $1 rate or even a flat fee.
When the money is in escrow and you're getting ready to close the books on the deal, there are a few more things to keep in mind. The last thing you want is to get reverse sticker shock when you see receive the final disbursement payment from escrow.
As a property owner, you hold the cards in a real estate sale. You have the asset that makes everything possible: selling, buying, brokering, insurance, taxes, EVERYTHING. Never forget that. That means, there are always options for you to choose from when awarding your business for each part of the deal. From the real estate agent that will represent you, to the escrow company that will pay you -- always make everyone know they're competing against alternatives for the right to work on your sale. You want the best rates and service, so you're always within your rights to foster a little healthy, transparent competition.
Perhaps this is a bit redundant of the previous point, but you should always shop around to find good rates. Make sure you get at least 3 quotes for any person or company you might hire. It may seem like a pain to do this at the end of a long real estate journey, but this is when it's critical. Not every company is created equal, and a better price can always be found if you do a little work.
A smart seller always leverages the latest tools, technology, and data to their advantage. It's hard to stay abreast of every development, that's why we generally recommend finding one source of truth and using it as a hub for everything else. That's exactly why we built TrueParity. We want to empower home sellers to get the best help and information they need. Whether it be digital tools or seasoned human experts, we're on top of everything a seller needs.
Selling property in 2024 doesn't need to be a headache. By arming yourself with the knowledge of this guide, you're actually head-and-shoulders above every other person planning on selling a home this year. If there's anything you feel this guide missed, or that you'd like to learn more about, someone on the TrueParity team will gladly assist you -- 100% free and with zero obligations.
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