This is an important step that shouldn’t be saved for later.
You’re ready to sell your home. You’ve chosen your listing agent (hopefully you chose wisely!), and you’re ready to put your home on the market as soon as possible, right? Not so fast!
Before you actually list your home, you need to research your home’s recent comparable sales, understand your home’s current market competition, know your home’s market value, discuss potential outcomes, determine optimal and alternate timelines, decide on a pricing strategy, and complete your listing paperwork.
Knowledge is power!
In terms of home selling strategies, knowing is over half the battle. That knowledge comes from research, data, property comparisons, and studying the market’s current trends, which is all part of the services an outstanding listing agent should provide. We provide this information to sellers and explain everything to them so they can make informed decisions about the strategies we use for everything from pricing to marketing to negotiating and more.
Here’s a brief example of how a little research can go a long way…
Let’s say you were wanting to list your home for $550,000, which is on the high side of your home’s market value, but still justifiably within reason of recent comparable sales data. However, another home in your neighborhood was just listed for $525,000 and it has most, if not all, of the same features and amenities as your home. An uninformed agent, or one who didn’t do any research, would go ahead and list your home at the $550,000 price, blissfully unaware of the listing you’re directly competing with. They wouldn’t do any specific marketing to justify the higher listing price or showcase what features/amenities your home has that the lower-priced home lacks. Obviously, two listings in the same neighborhood with nearly identical features will attract the same audience of potential buyers, but buyers will automatically see the $525,000 listing as a better deal, and/or will see your listing as overpriced. Your listing will likely get MUCH less attention and showings because of the competing listing, and you’re also likely to get “low-ball” offers closer to the other home’s asking price. Without seeing a justification of your listing’s higher price, a buyer is unlikely to be willing to pay your full asking price, or anywhere near it. This will cause your home to sit on the market longer than it should, which means that even after the lower-priced listing is sold, new-to-the-market buyers looking at your listing will see how long it’s been on the market, wonder why it hasn’t sold yet, and assume there’s something wrong with it.
Alternatively, an agent who did their research would know about this other listing, and would make adjustments to the marketing strategy or to the timeline of the listing to allow for this curveball. Whether the strategy encompasses marketing materials that showcase the premium features that make your home distinctive and worthy of the higher price, or simply waiting for the competing listing to be sold and closed so that buyers see your home in a more fair light, the end result is a much more desirable situation for any seller!
To finalize your listing, you’ll have some paperwork and documentation to complete, and standard listing documents require more than just your signature. You’ll have to apply your signature to several agreements of course, but you’ll also have disclosure documents to fill out.
Disclosure documents are legal documents that are provided to potential buyers as a way for you to tell them anything and everything you know about the home’s major systems, including previous damage incurred, any repairs made and/or renovations that have been done, and even the care and maintenance of the home’s major appliances. With disclosure documents, honesty is the best policy; you can legally be held liable for knowingly failing to disclose an issue or problem to a buyer, but these kinds of issues are rare and shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
This is also a great time to dig out any documents you have that you think should convey to the new owner of your home. Some things, such as appliance instruction manuals and exterior/interior paint color codes can be given to the new owner upon closing, but you may have some items in your possession that may actually be helpful to include in the marketing, such as a roof/shingle warranties, to-scale floorplans, blueprints, and so on.
If your home is in a deed-restricted community or a neighborhood/subdivision with an HOA (homeowner’s association), documentation on that will be needed as well. It’s important that the listing and marketing portrays an an accurate representation of your home, and things like deed restrictions, recurring fees, and community features are a big piece of that puzzle as well.