Start by Talking to an Agent
Did you expect us to say go For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO)? We put our money and our home where our mouth is and tried this approach when we recently sold our West Ashley home. Ask us to share the story with you. Every area is different and it takes an agent who understands your area to best sell your home. Not to knock your relative or friends-friend who happens to be an agent, but there’s 7,000 agents in Charleston and only a small percentage of us actually work real estate as our full-time job.
Ask the following questions:
Shameless plug, we've sold from IOP to Huger to Summeville to West Ashley to Johns Island. We use professional HDR photography. We do Open Houses. We have a team to back each other up. We handle our own HD drone aerials and videography.
- Can you tell me which homes you’ve recently sold in the area? Look up the homes in Zillow.
Do the pictures pop with color and impressively show off the home? Or does it look like cell phone pics?
- Do you do Open Houses? Don't let anyone tell you Open Houses are passé.
- Do you have back-up if you’re sick or out-of-town?
- Do you do aerial and interior videography?
Review the Paperwork
If you think hidden fees are only a thing of the car industry, you would be mistaken. We’ve seen friends spend thousands more in selling their home, simply by signing all the docs put in front of them. South Carolina only has four forms required:
- SC Disclosure of Real Estate Brokerage Relationships
- Right to Sell Listing Agreement
- Property Condition Disclosure
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure (only if your home was built before 1978)
If your asked to sign any other forms, please review them carefully and understand why you’re signing them. Once you’ve had a couple good meetings with an agent, don’t just blindly eSign everything you're emailed. Review paperwork with diligence.
COMPS & NET Sheet
Our team is run by a Commercial & Investment Appraiser.
Most residential appraisers and broker CMAs will compare your home to 3 nearby properties to come up with a value. Let me ask you something. When you bought your home did you look at 3 homes? Or more? Did you look at just homes on that street, or everything in the neighborhood?
Our process includes valuing properties with the same view as a buyer, looking at all comparable properties whether that’s 5 or 25. Our 1-minute intro video includes an example of our valuation process: http://bit.ly/chsagent
Commission is a negotiable thing. However, there are times where you get what you pay for. The top two sections matter most as far as (1) does an agent have the experience to sell my home and (2) am I paying hidden fees. After answering those two questions on your own, test them on their negotiating. If they readily fold under pressure to negotiate down on their pay, how strongly will they negotiate up on the value of your home? And why did they not offer you the best deal they were willing to offer you to begin with?
Paperwork & Planning
In completing the paperwork, have a thorough discussion with your agent regarding timelines. Be sure to cover the following bases:
- REPAIRS - Are there any necessary fixes or repairs? We very rarely recommend upgrades prior to selling. Add something to your home if YOU want it, not because a future buyer MIGHT want it. It’s best not to start showing a home if there are visible issues that you plan to handle prior to selling.
- PHOTOGRAPHY – Focus more on clutter-free than cleaning for photography day. Pictures don’t pick up dust and finger-prints. Worry more about getting everything shoved into cabinets and closets for completely clutter-free photography. Trim trees limbs as high as possible and bushes as low as possible. Visibility of the home from the front yard makes a huge difference in that first picture, which is your first and often-times only chance to get someone to click on your home and schedule a viewing.
Pictures usually take 2 to 3 business days to schedule, weather pending. Picture clean-up and video editing usually takes another 2 business days. Definitely have kids and pets out of the house for photography. Often it goes quicker for the homeowner to be out of the house as well for photography. We don’t charge our clients for professional HDR photography, drone aerials or interior videography.
- GO LIVE – We generally suggest going live on a Tues, Wed or Thurs. The best days for a property to pop-up in someone’s search.
After go-live on MLS, your home will populate to Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and dozens of other sites like ours. We use a system called Showingtime for other agents to schedule showings for your home. You will receive a txt and/or a phone call, which you can choose to approve or deny. Just know that every denial is one less chance to sell your home. Everyone is busy, so a denial usually means that a buyer will never see your house and not reschedule for later. Showingtime can be preset to require a 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 24 hours notice prior to a showing. Anything more than an hour will reduce a selling agent’s ability to show your home. Often times buyers are driving their clients around and just happen across yours that day, so the shorter notice required the better. Buyers understand you live in your home daily. Dishes in the sink and clothes sitting on the bed because you’re at work is not a problem for buyers, especially when they know they gave short notice.
Be Ready to Be Out
Though most homes sit on the market for a while before the right buyer finds it, know that there’s a chance your homes quickly. Most closings take 30 to 45 days, meaning the day you sign a deal with a buyer you must plan to be out by the closing date written in the contract. It is a legal and binding contract. Let me repeat, YOU MUST BE OUT OF YOUR HOME PRIOR TO CLOSING. Yes, there are very rare circumstances where a seller can rent-back their home after selling, we can never recommend this approach. It brings a ton of risk to the deal. You don’t have until the end of the day of closing, you don’t have until the end of the week. Your keys are handed over at closing and nothing of yours should be there. You wouldn’t be the first person to live out of a moving van, trust us. We have. WITH KIDS.
Know that the real estate market is always influx. A hot market can end in a day, and values can skyrocket the week after you sell. Real estate is not the most efficient market, it is a fickle and volatile market. That being said, keep one thing in mind. Once you sign an agreement to sell, if someone makes you a full price offer, if could be harder than you think to change your mind and back-out (at least without costly consequences).
There are many variables to a deal. A preliminary NET sheet (mentioned in the COMPS & NET Sheet section above) estimates the costs associated with selling. All that really matters in your final NET number, your takeaway cash from closing. Don’t get hung on, “I’m not paying anyone’s closing costs for them” or “Why should I be paying for a warranty, my home is in perfect shape?” If an offer comes in and the NET number is within range of your expectations, your agent has done their job. Your agent is negotiating multiple aspects of the contract to make it work for both the buyer and you. Buyers have a much more complicated financial picture and many more out-of-pocket costs than a seller. If they need X and Y covered in order for you to NET you’re expected amount, then it doesn’t matter what X and Y are.
Once you’re in contract, there will be numerous times you must be out of your house for an extended period time. The home inspection is usually the first and can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. The buyer’s agent should be present with the inspector for the safety and protection of your home. An inspector has a ton of ground to cover, so don’t be surprised if when you return home that your thermostat is very high or low, things were moved around under your sink, locked windows or doors are unlocked, and doors usually closed are open or vice-versa. A buyer can request multiple inspections during their agreed upon window of time, so they may come back with an HVAC person, a plumber, or contractor even after the initial inspection has been done. If repairs are required, they also have a right to re-inspect the repairs prior to closing.
With all that behind you, all that is left is to sign-away your home! Sounds simple, but it does tug on the heartstrings a bit. It’s very common for buyers and sellers to use different attorney’s for closing, so you may never meet your home buyers. It’s also very common for sellers to pre-sign closing documents a couple days prior to closing if it fits your schedule better. If you’re moving out of town or traveling during closing, via power-of-attorney your closing attorney can sign for you. This service usually costs a couple hundred dollars extra. Your agent will coordinate getting your keys, garage door openers, pool keys, etc. to the closing for the buyer.
Now it’s on to your next home! Thankfully our “Process for Buying” is much shorter!
Please note this is a high-level summary and should not be considered an exhaustive ‘how to’ on the process, paperwork, forms, approvals, worrisome waiting and exciting highs associated with selling a home. Your real estate agent is there to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Peterson Limited Co, III LLC © 2019