Selling a Home

Selling your home can often mean new beginnings with lots of excitement and memorable expectations.  At the same time, it can also be a process of great anxiety caused by a sometimes overwhelming amount of details.

Here are a few ideas that will help guide you through the process of selling your home and keeping that anxiety in check.

Motivation for Selling

Be able to define your motivation for selling your home.  Sometimes the reason for selling is clear.  For example, you may be getting a new job and being transferred to a new state.  Other times the reason isn’t as direct.  For example, you may need a bigger house for your growing family and your needs are not as clear.  Or you may need to downsize when the kids have ‘left the nest’.  You may want a different neighborhood with a different school for your kids, or a neighborhood that offers you a better commuter route.

Whatever the reason for selling your home, having a clearly defined motivation will help you through the selling process.  It will help keep you (and your realtor) stay focused on your goals especially if you are buying a new home. For example, if you are downsizing, you will want to get rid of most everything in your current house that is not going to your new house.  This will need to be done before you list your home.  If you are moving for a shorter commute to work, you’ll want to stay focused on only those neighborhoods that you think truly offer a better commute.  Staying focused on your goals will greatly reduce the anxiety of selling your home.

Assessing the Condition of Your Property

In preparing your home to list on the market, make a thorough assessment of your entire property.  That is, make a list of all the things at the property, inside the home and out, that need to be repaired or replaced (leaky faucet, broken appliance, paint touch ups, new carpet, etc.).

Be prepared to discuss this list with your realtor.  He or she will help you find the right vendor to make the repairs.  Your realtor can also help you decide on which updates/improvements to concentrate so you can maximize your advantage in selling your home.  Some updates will help you sell your home faster and for more money than others.  Your realtor can help you with market trends so you will know which updates will benefit you most.

Interviewing Agents

Unless you already have a Realtor you want to use, it is important to interview several.  Make sure your agent is knowledgeable about the current market in your area and is willing to work hard for you.  Your personalities need to mesh so you will feel comfortable communicating with your realtor throughout the entire selling process.  When you have a concern during the selling process, you don’t want personality differences to prevent you from discussing it with you Realtor.

Make sure your Realtor provides you with the following:

  • Comps: A list of houses that have sold in and around your neighborhood over the past 6 months that are comparable to yours. This will help you determine a realistic sales price for your home.
  • A list of houses in and around your neighborhood that are currently on the market for sale: This is your competition.  This list will help you determine a realistic listing price as well as sales price.
  • A copy of the Listing Agreement: This will describe the terms and commission rates of selling your home.  Your agent should go over this document with you so you understand all aspects of listing your home for sale with a Realtor.

Other Forms You Will be Asked to Sign Before Your Home is Listed

  • Residential Property Disclosure: (The following description applies to Tennessee and Mississippi.) This should be completed by you, the homeowner, not your Realtor.  This form is a thorough list of details describing the current condition of your home.  You are required to disclose on the form any faults of your home.   It will also ask for any known information about your home such as the age of the roof, HVAC system and hot water heater.  It is very self explanatory and you should have no trouble filling it out.  Just make sure that all answers are accurate.  A copy of this disclosure will be given to  prospective buyers.
  • An Agency Disclosure: This form will be signed by you, the homeowner, and your Realtor. It signifies to all concerned that your Realtor is representing you in the sales transaction of your home.

Once these forms are signed, your Realtor is ready to go to work for you.  He or she will begin to enter the information about your home into the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  At the same time, your realtor will continue to guide you on preparing your home to list.  An experienced agent will have helpful ideas about staging your home and making it suitable as possible for the current market trends.  You may also decide to hire a professional stager to help you with this process.  If needed, your realtor can help you find a stager in your local area.

Your Home is Under Contract   

After you and a buyer agree on the terms of selling your house, the sales contract is signed and ratified.  In most cases you will have around 45 days to make preparations to move to your next home.  That time period is decided and agreed upon by you and the buyers.  A buyer’s lender usually needs about 45 days to process the paper work for the buyer’s mortgage loan.

While you are preparing to move, several other things are happening during the contract period, including the appraisal, the home inspection (and possibly other inspections), loan processing and approval (for the buyer), and the Walk-thru.

The Appraisal

After you have a ratified contract on your home, the buyer’s lender will order an appraisal.  The buyer pays for the appraisal.  A lending institution will not lend the buyer any more than the appraised value of the home, so it is important when listing your property that you keep that in mind.   You should not try to overprice your home, but base your listing price on comparable sales in your area, because an appraiser will use those comparable sales when determining the value of your home before approving the buyer’s loan.

The Home Inspection

Per the agreed terms of the contract, the buyer will order a Home Inspection and a Termite Inspection at his or her expense.  After the Home Inspection, the inspector will furnish you with a summary report.  Along with the report, the buyer will indicate which items on the report he or she wants you to address.  Your Realtor will go over the report with you and you will decide which items you will be willing to remedy for the buyer.

If the termite inspection indicates that your house does not show evidence of termites, the termite inspector will write a Clearance Letter.  If the report does show evidence of termites, it is your responsibility and cost to have the house treated and repaired for any damage caused by termites.


One or two days prior to settlement, the buyer and his or her agent will conduct a walk-thru of the house to make sure that all repairs are completed and that everything is in the same order as it was on the binding date of the contract.

The Closing

Your realtor will give you a time to come to closing on the settlement date agreed upon in the sales contract.  On the day of closing, you and your Realtor will meet at the closing attorney’s office.  It is common for both buyer and seller to use the same closing attorney, but you will close at different times.

After the Closing

If the possession date is the same day as the closing, the new owner will be given the keys to the house as soon as all money from the transaction has been disbursed. If your possession date is later than the closing date, then your realtor will work out the swap of keys with the buyer’s agent according to the possession date stated in the contract.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that all real estate transactions include different details to the process.   These guidelines explain the basic process and should give you an idea of what to expect when selling your home.  Keep in mind that your realtor will be helping you each step of the way.  Also, if you have any questions about selling your home, always feel from to call us at Banyan Tree Realtors.  We are happy to help you understand the selling process more.