For most people, selling a home represents a significant change, where the proceeds from the sale will be used to support a new chapter in their life.
Typically the objective in selling your home is to sell the property for the best possible price within a timeframe that meets your personal needs, and to manage the process in the most efficient manner possible. The professional REALTORS® at Prudential California Realty have the experience, knowledge and skill to help you successfully achieve your objectives.
Tough Times for Home Owners
There is no doubt that housing prices have decreased significantly over the past 4 years. Some Northern California communities have seen average sales prices drop as much as 60% during this time period. These significant price decreases have resulted in large numbers of homeowners who find themselves in a position where they owe more on their home loans than the current value of their homes.
Additionally, economic factors have resulted in large numbers of homeowners who have fallen behind in their mortgage payments and are now facing potential foreclosure. When a home owner is delinquent on their mortgage payments and the sale of the property will not cover the debts, the property is often referred to as a distressed property. In order to minimize the damage to their credit record, many individuals in a distressed property situations will want to consider potential options to foreclosure, which may include Loan Modifications or Short Sales. Many Prudential California Realty Sales Professionals are highly trained and experienced in supporting homeowners in the short sale process. To explore potential options, please visit our Short Sale Guide for Home Sellers.
Selling Your Home
As you consider selling your home, here are a few things to bear in mind:
Find a REALTOR®
Use the services of a Professional REALTOR® to provide you with the guidance, support and expertise to meet your home selling objectives. Besides helping you to find qualified buyers, a REALTOR® assists you with every aspect of your home selling process. From marketing to open houses, contracts to disclosures, appraisals to inspections, questions and concerns, our sales professionals are experts in the industry and are eager to help you every step of the way.
Decide How the Local Market Will Affect Your Sale
Do some research. Simply chatting with your neighbors can teach you a fair amount about the current condition of the local real estate market. Use the internet to track market trends, and to search for other “for Sale” Properties that you may be competing with. We recommend that you register for the Prudential California Realty’s Home Detective service to track real estate sales activity in your neighborhood.
Use Comparable Houses to Identify Market Value and set Your Asking Price.
The best source of pricing information comes from houses directly comparable to your own. In the real estate industry, a "comparable," or "comp," is a house with similar features, preferably located near yours. A Prudential California Realty sales professional can provide you with a competitive Comparable Market Analysis of your home.
Make Your House Look Its Best.
Before putting your house on the market, make it look as attractive as possible -- buyers will pay thousands of dollars more for a house that appears clean and clutter free. Usually you don't need to do a major remodel, although a fresh coat of paint can brighten your home's prospects considerably.
Complete Disclosure and other State-Required Forms
Your Prudential California Realty sales professional can assist you with this. The buyer will probably shoulder the main paperwork burden in this transaction -- preparing the purchase contract. However, the seller is responsible for filling out a disclosure form, telling buyers what they know about the property's physical condition.
Put the entire real estate industry to work for you.
Promoting your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the single most important marketing resource. The MLS provides detailed information on properties that are for sale. This data is shared with real estate agents that are members of the MLS. Agents that are working with prospective buyers will have access to this information and are likely to tell their clients about you home. Additionally, the MLS will distribute photos and basic property information to scores of public websites, where your home can be viewed by prospective buyers.
Promote your Property to prospective buyers
The best place to promote your property to potential buyers is on the internet (Look where you are right now!) National Association of REALTORS® reports that 87% of all home buyers use the internet to search for homes. Sales Professionals from Prudential California Realty specialize in showcasing properties on the internet.
Holding an open house is a good way for prospective buyers to view your home in a low-pressure environment. Many home sellers find open houses a useful tool because they often attract a large number of visitors. Some of the visitors will merely be curious neighbors. Welcome them, too -- they may mention your house to their house hunting friends. Others will be genuinely interested buyers, including some who were reticent about making an individual appointment.
With any luck, one or more prospective buyers will present a written offer to buy your house.
Evaluate the offers. Here's where your real estate agent can play an important role, meeting with the agents who present offers and helping you decide which offer is the strongest. It won't necessarily be the one for the most money! A high bid with shaky financing, or one made contingent on the buyer selling his or her house first, may actually drop to the bottom of your pile.
Consider a counteroffer. If none of the offers you receive are acceptable, you can counteroffer, suggesting changes in terms or even a higher price.
Closing the Deal.
After counteroffers have gone back and forth between you and the buyer, and you've both signed off to indicate your acceptance, you're technically "in contract" to sell your house. At that point, you're legally bound to sell your house, and can't change your mind without potentially facing a lawsuit. (The exception is if you included conditions or "contingencies" in the contract, such as the buyer furnishing you with proof of his or her financing, and these conditions aren't met.)
The signed purchase contract will include a closing date, usually several weeks in the future. During this time, the buyer will line up financing, inspections, insurance, and more. As the seller, your duties will include:
• Making your house available for inspection
• Negotiating with the buyer over repair issues that come up, and
• Moving out your possessions.
• You probably won't meet with the buyer on the closing date. Usually the two of you sign various documents separately, in the office of your escrow sales professional.
Once the closing occurs, the buyer has the right to full possession of the house. If you can't be out by that date, you may be able to negotiate a short-term rental agreement with the buyer.
After the Sale: Tax Considerations
The closing of a real estate transaction often has tax implications. If you make a profit on your sale, you might have to pay capital gains tax. In a short sale situation, the amount of debt forgiveness may be treated as personal income. The IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/ can tell you more.