A Definitive Guide to Selling Your Home

Before you start this process, it’s good to be aware of a couple facts that you may not be aware of. For example, in some states such as Pennsylvania, legally speaking:

  • You do not need a Real Estate Seller
  • You do not need a Real Estate Lawyer
  • You do not need a Title Company, but it is highly recommended.

IN PA, at the closing you will only need a Title Insurance Agent, and no one else (although you may decide to have a lawyer present).

Also, when it comes time to price your home and you have done your homework, if you know your house is worth what you are asking, stick to your guns and you will get your price!

It may take a little while, but if you can afford the time, stick to your price.  Don’t just jump at the first offer (unless it’s what you are asking for or a little more)

Sellers Disclosure: 

A very important aspect of selling your home is disclosure.  You must disclose any and all information about your house, within your knowledge and include all these facts in the PA seller disclosure Statement .  For example, problems with liens, easement or physical problems such as a bad water heater, leaky roof, mold etc. It is very important that you disclose all of this information.

State law in Pennsylvania (68 Pennsylvania Statutes Section 7304) requires that sellers provide buyers with lots of information about the property’s physical condition (particularly any “material defects”), using a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement form established by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission).

The standard form covers such concerns as:

  • property contents, such as specific appliances, and whether or not they need repair or replacement
  • availability of working smoke detectors
  • defects in the electrical, plumbing, and other property systems
  • any homeowners’ association fees or deed restrictions
  • other specified property details, such as the type of sewage system, when the roof shingles were replaced
  • whether the seller made structural additions to the property
  • if you’re buying a house that was built before 1978, the seller must comply with federal Title X disclosures regarding lead-based paint and hazards. See the lead disclosure section of the EPA’s website for details.
  • …and much more

Steps to Selling Your Home

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1

Determine the fair market value of your home

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2

Prepare the home for sale

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3

Market the home for sale

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4

Negotiate the sale

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5

Handle the closing

You must get this step right. Price the house too low, and you’ll walk away with less cash on the sale than you should. But price it too high, and the house can sit for months without selling. Your only strategy at that point will be to cut the price down to where it should’ve been in the first place. Click Here for a home value estimator.

This step starts with slowly walking through your house, and viewing it through the eyes of a buyer. Ask yourself, If I were buying this house, what about it won’t I like?

You’re starting with a negative, but that’s the point. When the buyer looks at your home, they’re s keenly aware that every flaw in the property will become their problem after closing. They’re also looking at the general appearance. Does it have good curb appeal? Is there a good flow? Does it feel right?

This is hard to do, since you own the home. But you must be objective. If you can’t, it would be best to get an outsider’s opinion. If you do, you can’t be offended at what that person will reveal. Their observations will be absolutely critical in the successful sale of your home.

Unless you maintain your home in showroom condition under ordinary circumstances, here are some of the improvements you might want to make:

  • Make any minor repairs necessary. That includes leaky faucets, loose door handles, windows that stick, or electrical switches and lights that don’t work properly. If you have a garage door opener, make sure that it works flawlessly.
  • Touch-up or repaint any rooms in the home that are looking tired. Always favor neutral colors, because buyers do.
  • Declutter the entire home. That includes closets, the attic, the basement, and the garage. Also, minimize the number of furnishings and other appointments you have in each room. This will help to improve the perception of flow.
  • Make sure the entire home is clean and fresh smelling.

If you don’t have time to complete all those improvements, or you’re not sure how, look into a home staging agency. They can handle it all for you – for a fee.

Get started listing your home online right here! And then:

Get a good yard sign

You’ve seen these in front of virtually every home you’ve ever seen offered for sale. You’ll need to do the same. You can usually buy them in office supply stores. It’s best to spend a little bit more money, and get a better one.

Create sales flyers or brochures

You’ll need to have supply available to give to people who look at your home, as well as to anyone you meet who expresses interest. You can create these using a Word document, but some attractive graphics won’t hurt either. You should also be prepared to add several photos, of both the interior and exterior of the property.

The flyer should also indicate the property address and who to contact, with both a phone number and email address. It should also list property specifics, including the sale price, the room count, and any qualitative sales pitches, such as a description of the local neighborhood and school district.

Host an open house

This is where you literally open your house to the public. It’s best done on a Saturday or Sunday, and tends to work best on good weather days.

You should start advertising your open house at least a week before the event, then set up signs on major roads near your home or subdivision to lead people in.

Since you are not using a real estate Seller, you’ll have to negotiate directly with any buying prospects. It’s a give-and-take situation, which you have to accept from the beginning. The buyer will almost certainly come in with an offer that’s below your asking price. They may even include some tough conditions, such as having you pay the closing costs.

If the initial offer is not acceptable, you’ll have to go back and forth. Hopefully, as you come down on the price, and the buyer comes up. You’ll have to decide exactly how low you’re willing to go.

The initial negotiations will probably be verbal, but once you agree on the basics, the buyer will have to submit a written offer. For that purpose, you may want to have a small supply of real estate contracts specific to your state. Such as These Free  Residential Purchase Agreements for: DE NJ MD PA or You can find these by doing a web search.

The contract must spell out every detail of the sale, including the purchase price, closing concessions, items that will be included in the sale, the closing date, and the location of the closing.

There will also have to be contingencies written in the contract. For example, the buyer may insist on having a home inspection. And you must insist on getting a copy of the buyer’s mortgage approval within several days of accepting the offer.

The closing will usually take place in the offices of an attorney or a title company, depending on what the custom is in your state. Both you and the buyer must agree on that location.

The closing on a house is an entirely legal affair. That means there is a specific process, and it will be handled either by closing attorney or the title agent. Once you decide who this party will be, they will provide you with the required procedures.

Most of the closing work will be done by the closing agent. But you may be called upon to provide certain documentation along the way. Be sure that you do provide it as quickly as possible.

You should also be sure that you maintain contact with buyers between the time of contract acceptance and the closing. There will be points of contention, but good communication can bring you through them.

The biggest closing obstacle in most real estate transactions is the buyer’s mortgage. Even if you have a copy of their mortgage approval, do your best to stay on top of related developments. Most mortgage approvals have conditions that must be satisfied between the time of approval and closing. Some of those conditions aren’t so minor. If the buyer is unable to meet even one, the loan approval can be withdrawn.

To the degree possible, try to involve the mortgage closing agent in the back and forth details. A nervous buyer will often provide more information to a closing agent than to you as a seller.