You may have heard that you need to think like a salesperson when selling your home. However, that’s not the only thing you need to think about before listing your home, considering what a big decision this is.
Selling your home, whether it’s an investment property or your family home, is always an emotional time. It’s easy to miss some critical things, so here are the top questions you need to ask your real estate agent and yourself before selling your home.
#1. Is this the best time to sell your house?
You may be able to sell your house faster, easier, or for more money during specific months or days. Spring and summer are often the hottest real estate seasons, while winter tends to slow down.
It’s also important to consider the current market conditions. Is your local real estate market on the upturn, stable, or on the decline? Check local trends here in Spokane County, or better still, ask a trusted real estate agent whether the time is ripe for you to sell.
#2. How long will it take to sell?
The time it takes to sell your house will depend on many factors:
- Local housing demand
- The property’s location and the desirability of the neighborhood
- The condition of the house
- The listing price
- Availability of amenities
You don’t want your house to stay too long on the market. It takes 68 days on average to sell a property in Washington, against a national average of 78 days. Anything above 90 days will raise red flags and could attract low offers.
#3. How much should you list the property for?
If you want your house to sell quickly, talk with your real estate agent and do your own research to find a good listing price. There’s a difference between how much your house is actually worth, the minimum you’re willing to accept, and its listing price.
There are many factors that drive home value, but the two main ones are housing demand and the property’s condition. Your best bet is to look at the listing price of similar homes in your area, calculate the price per square foot, and figure out a reasonable price for your house.
Remember that setting a fair price could help you get an offer more quickly, but the buyer is also likely to negotiate. It’s wise to set the listing price a little higher than what you actually want to account for this or, better still, have your seller’s agent use their expert skills to appraise your home properly.
#4. What will it cost to sell your house?
Even if you stand to make a profit after selling your home, there are closing costs that will come out of the selling price. That includes application fees, title insurance, transfer taxes, mortgage payoff, and underwriting costs, amounting to about 3% of the selling price.
Other important selling costs include:
- Agent and attorney’s fees, which can be as much as 7% of the selling price
- Landscaping charges
- Paying for professional photographs and videos for the listing ($500–$1000)
- Staging fees, which can be as much as 1% of the selling price
These and other fees can eat away a chunk of your profits, up to 15% of the selling price. On a home valued at $330k (the median home value in Spokane, 2022), this amounts to $49,500.
Most of these fees and costs don’t come out of pocket, so you can still sell even if you’re broke. However, make sure to account for them so that selling your home doesn’t leave you in the red.
#5. Does the house need critical repairs or renovations?
One of the ways to make more money when selling your home is by making essential repairs and strategic upgrades. Property condition and curb appeal are critical when calculating home value.
Most buyers prefer a house that is ready to move in without requiring a lot of work. Invest in repairing or replacing damaged roofs, broken AC, structural issues, heating, water leakage, and any other issues that might show up on an inspection report.
In fact, it’s a good idea to get a seller’s inspection to preempt any problems. It also makes it that much easier to negotiate a good price for your home.
If possible, consider a few strategic upgrades. A few cosmetic touches such as interior and exterior painting are worth the cost, but most remodels end up costing more than they’re worth and won’t give you a good return on your investment.
#6. Do you need to disclose anything?
As a seller, you’re required to disclose any defects that affect the value of the property. That includes physical conditions and problems with the title. Other issues and conditions you need to disclose include:
- Environmental – flooding, drainage problems, fires, earthquakes, and landslides
- Systems and fixtures – what is included as part of the sale, including plumbing, electrical appliances, and hot water tanks
- Structural – the age of the property and any defects such as leaking roof, pest infestation, or compromised foundation
- Sewage system – what type of sewage disposal do you have? Are there charges?
- Water – the source of the household’s water, including any irrigation water and outdoor sprinkler system
- Alterations made to the house, and whether there are any mobile homes
These and other relevant disclosures are mandatory (full disclosure), failure to which the sale could be nullified. You will disclose all these on the Residential Real Property Disclosure Statement, usually called Form 17.
#7. Why are you selling?
One of the first questions buyers are going to ask is why you’re selling your house. Normally, this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re downsizing after retirement, moving to a different city, or upgrading for your family. Any suspicious sales are likely to bring up red flags.
It’s also important to get used to the fact that you’re selling your home to strangers, one you’ve likely lived in for a large part of your life. You will be opening up the sanctity of your home to strangers and have them poke around, ask questions, and criticize.
This is important because selling your home is an emotional process, but emotions make it easy to make mistakes. This is the part where you have to deal with it and think of yourself as a salesperson, looking at the transaction from a purely financial point of view.
#8. What do you need to leave behind after selling?
Anything fixed to the house (such as bolted to the walls or ceiling) goes to the buyer, unless you specifically exclude it in the contract. If you want to take your favorite flatscreen TV or chandelier, bring it up during sales negotiations and mention it in the sales contract.
#9. Where are you going after selling the house?
It’s also important to think about where you’re going even before you get the house listed. Things can move quickly once your home is on the market, so you’ll need to be ready. For starters, scope out a potential new home and consider how much you’ll have to pay for it.
This is important because, with rising housing costs, your new home may have higher mortgage repayments. You’ll need to work out the financials, including how much you have in equity in your current home. Once you have a buyer, they’ll expect to know when you will be moving out.
#10. Who’s your seller’s agent?
It’s your choice whether or not you choose to hire a real estate agent to help sell your house. Although it might seem expensive to pay a realtor a commission to sell your home, they bring a lot to the table.
That includes listing and marketing services, referrals for trusted home inspectors and contractors, expert negotiation, and legal knowledge.
The important thing is to make sure you work with a real estate agent you can trust. Here at 4Degrees, we’re one of the most innovative and service-oriented real estate firms in Spokane, Washington.
The dedication of all 4Degrees real estate agents helps ensure that we help you sell your home quickly, smoothly, and with minimal hassle. If you’re ready to take the leap, talk to us now.