Thinking about making a move? Ready to sell your home? Whether you're selling your home in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, St. Johns or The Beaches, there are many things to consider. Here are some important home selling steps to guide you through the process:
1) Choose the perfect real estate agent for you!
It is vital to have a real estate agent you can trust to help you navigate your way through the home selling process. Look for an agent who guides you every step of the way using open, clear communication and is experienced in selling North Florida homes.
A true professional will:
- Equip you with the best pricing strategies
- Provide an estimate of expenses and costs to show net proceeds when your home sale is complete
- Help you optimize the condition and viewing of your home
- Create maximum exposure for your property
- Negotiate, structure and manage all details of the sale to make it as stress-free as possible
Once you have found the agent for you, enter into a Listing Agreement that clearly outlines what each party's obligations are to the other.
2) Price your home to sell!
The market value of your house isn’t just determined by its city, like Jacksonville or St. Augustine, but also the market of the individual neighborhood it’s in. Your real estate agent has the resources and tools available to provide you with an in-depth Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which helps to determine your home’s worth after a thorough inspection and assessment of your property. This report will provide data comparing your home to similar homes that have recently sold, and gives you a barometer of current market conditions. With the guidance and direction of your agent, determine your sale price based on what is right for the market.
Avoid the pitfall of overpricing your home. This can be a seller’s most frustrating and costly mistake.
3) Prepare your home for BUYERS!
Improving your home's condition will maximize your chances of getting the highest price possible in the quickest amount of time. Your agent may recommend minor repairs, improvements or home staging methods to help achieve this goal.
The key is looking at your home from a buyer’s perspective. Most buyers want a move-in-ready home. Neutral paint colors and clean, uncluttered spaces appeal to more buyers.
4) Market your home.
Once your home is ready for the market, your agent will begin the pre-marketing phase and discuss marketing strategies to maximize exposure for your home in North Florida and nationwide. This may include hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of your show-ready home or have a virtual tour created for an online marketing presence. Since most potential buyers start their search online, having a great digital identity isn’t an option…it is a necessity.
These visual aids as well as specific details about your home (number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, etc.) will be used to create your home’s listing in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS gives your home online exposure to thousands of real estate agents nationwide and the buyers they represent. Your home will appear on several popular real estate websites linked directly to the MLS, such as Zillow.com, Realtor.com, Google maps, Trulia.com, TourFactory.com, as well as others.
In addition to having an online marketing presence, your agent will recommend putting up a “For Sale” sign and installing a trackable lockbox on your front door to make showings easy and accessible to other real estate professionals with interested buyers.
Your agent will also recommend you complete a Seller’s Real Property Disclosure. This disclosure requires you to list any known issues with the property while you owned it and is provided to potential buyers.
It is best to monitor market conditions on a regular basis to see if adjustments should be made to pricing or marketing strategies.
5) Prepare for all those showings!
Now that your property is on the market, prepare yourself for all those showings! Your agent will prepare showing instructions that are suitable to you and update you on any property showings.
When selling your home, it is best to be as flexible as possible and have your house ready to show at a moment’s notice, which is not always easy or convenient. The more showings you are open to, the more opportunities there are for a potential buyer to fall in love with your home.
It is recommended that you leave the property during showings, allowing the real estate experts to show your home and letting potential buyers feel at ease to envision themselves in the space.
6) Negotiate and structure your sale.
The preparation and marketing have paid off and you have an offer—or even multiple offers. Your agent will carefully review and present you with all offers, and negotiate the strongest terms possible to put you in the best position to close successfully. They will make sure the correct contracts, addendums and disclosures are used to protect your interests.
7) Manage all details of your sale from contract to close.
Once you are under contract, there are quite a few tasks (and possibly some contingencies) requiring completion before you close. Your agent will help manage these for you. A few of those tasks include:
- They will ensure escrow has been received.
- They will contact the title company, send them the executed contract to begin a title search and prepare for closing.
- They will stay in close communication with the buyer’s agent, and if applicable, the buyer’s lender for loan approval updates (since most buyers need financing to purchase a home).
One of the first contingencies they will help you overcome is the home inspection process.
8) Navigate through the home inspection process.
A buyer will have a predetermined number of days based on the contract to have a home inspection done on your home. Your agent will help you navigate this process and, if necessary, negotiate and facilitate any repair agreements. They will advise and remind you of inspection deadlines and, if applicable, help you ensure everything is completed within the contract timeframes and specifications.
9) Prepare for the appraisal process.
Another common contract contingency your agent may help you through is the appraisal process. Buyers have the right to obtain an appraisal from a professional appraiser to assess the value of your home, which ensures their investment is sound.
In fact, to obtain a mortgage, a buyer is required to do so from their lender. When a buyer is financing a home, the lender will hire the appraiser directly and pass the cost on to the buyer.
The appraisal includes:
- An inspection of the property
- A comparison to similar real estate in the area and recent sales
- A final appraisal report using the data gathered
The best case scenario is: the appraisal comes back supporting the sale price and you move one step closer to closing.
There are times when an appraisal comes in lower than the agreed upon sale price. This is not optimal for a seller, but it's not necessarily a deal breaker if both seller and buyer are willing and able to come to new terms and move forward.
10) Order the survey.
You have made it through inspections and appraisals, and the finish line is in sight. The next step in the process is to make sure a survey is ordered on your property. A survey is the drawing of a parcel of land that defines the boundaries of your property, locates any structures on it and identifies any easement, building restriction lines or right of way.
If you have a relatively recent survey in your records, your agent can check with the Title/Closing Agency to see if this copy will suffice. If not, a new one must be ordered. Your agent can facilitate this for you. Note that surveys are not required for condominiums.
11) Hire the movers and plan your move!
It is time to hire the movers and start packing. There are many details when preparing to move, like cleaning, packing, coordinating with movers, disconnecting utilities, changing addresses and so on. Your agent can provide you with a helpful moving checklist to assist you with these tasks so you don’t forget anything.
12) Coordinate closing date and time.
Your agent will coordinate with you and all necessary parties (e.g. title company, buyer’s agent, lender) on the closing details like time, date and location of your closing.
13) Prepare home for final buyer walk-through.
A buyer will have the opportunity for a final walk-through of your home (usually the day before or day of closing). The purpose of the walk-through is to make sure the home is in the condition in which the buyer agreed to purchase. They will make sure all repairs, if any, have been completed, and no problems emerged in the home since the last time they saw it. It is important to have your home in clean condition (broom swept, etc.) and everything is as it should be.
14) Review closing documents prior to closing.
Prior to closing you will receive the preliminary closing documents from the Title Company/Closing Agent, which you will need to review. These closing documents outline the details of your home’s sale. Your agent also should review them to ensure everything is correct so any changes can made before closing.
15) Finalize and close the sale of your home.
Closing Day is here and you are just signatures away from selling your home! Make sure to have your photo ID with you and bring any keys, garage door openers, etc. to turn over to the buyers. Once you arrive at the closing, you will sit down with buyers and sign all the necessary paperwork to finalize your sale.