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For Sellers


Selling your home is one of the most important financial transactions you will probably ever make in your life. We hope that we can help and guide you to ease some, if not all of the stress that is often associated with this process. We have outlined below how we plan to assist you and what you can expect by working with a William Raveis Legends Realty Group agent.

After choosing your agent (hopefully me), the first issue you must clarify is what your relationship will be. New York State has very specific agency disclosure laws that govern the way real estate agents work with their clients or customers. Upon your first contact, all real estate agents, by law, must walk you through the "443 Form" put forth by the state that explains agency. You will be asked to acknowledge this document and provided with a copy of it.

If you are selling your home, you will be asked to sign a contract known as the "Exclusive Right to Sell Agreement". This contract will lay down the more specific actions that the real estate agent will take to accomplish the task, as well as fundamentals of the partnership.


The Home Selling Process - In The State Of New York


A Sellable Home

  • Curb-appeal is often underrated and dismissd by sellers, but it is actually the image most buyers remember the most and it can make a significant difference in the price offered for your home. For that reason alone, the exterior condition, and espcially that of your front entrance, play a crital role in the sale of your home.  Another critical piece of the puzzle is your landscaping. Therefore you really should address any shortcomings and replace anything broken or worn out. Consider a coat of paint, some new hardware, mulching your flower beds, keeping the lawn mowed, maybe invest in some new plantings. These are some improvements that make a big impact with buyers and deliver the highest returns.
     
  • The overal feel of the interior of your home should enable buyers to envision themselves living there. For that reason, we often ask sellers to pack away most of their personal items, so that the house has a more "neutral" feel. Remove any clutter and check to see that all closets are cleaned out and organized. Clean windows are another factor that has a tremendous effect on how the buyers see your house and what they are willing to pay for it. Clean, unobstructed windows give the illusion of space and let in more light - something all buyers are loking for.
     
  • If your walls and ceilings look drab, a fresh coat of paint can do wonders. If you have carpet that is worn, it might help to have it professionally cleaned and/or replaced. Scratched up or worn hardwood floors can be refinished to look like new. And broken or loose tile should be replaced. Any of these investments will help with the sale of your home and in most cases will result in a much higher sale price.

Pricing Your Home

  • It is the list price that will play the most critical role in determining when and for how much you will sell your home. Real estate agents would love to have an easy pricing tool, or formula, to value any type of home. But coming up with an asking price is not exactly a science... it is an art. While you and your agent have to pay close attention to recent and past sales, current listings, as well as market conditions and trends, it is vital to postion your home price-wise so that it stands out positively from the rest of the for sale listings nearby.
     
  • If you price it to high it will simply sit on the market for a long, long time because almost every buyer will be informed by their agent that it is over-priced, and eventually you'll have to lower the price, sometimes repeatedly, until it ends up where it should have been price-wise to begin with. Many times over-pricing also discourages potential buyers to even make an offer since they'll presume you are not realistic and are most likely hard to negotiate with. And the longer your house sits on the market the more buyers will think something is wrong with it.
     
  • If you price it to low, three things can happen: it either receives multiple offers (highly likely), or just one offer at your asking price, or an even lower one (happens frequently). When you do receive multiple offers there is a good chance that you can get them to outbid each other by asking all of them to provide their "highest & best offer" by a set day and time. In such a scenario you can at times reach a lofty price for your home. And that is a great thing if the winning offer is all cash and there is no appraisal contingency connected to it. However, most of the time your home for sale will have to appraise because with most offers there is a mortgage involved. And the lender will send an appraiser out to make sure the buyer is not paying to much. And then there is the even lower offer where you are in danger of leaving a lot of money on the table by just accepting it or by not negotiating it correctly.
     
  • A smart asking price on the other hand is the one set just a little bit under what your home should bring based on current comps. Your local Realtor can help you greatly with supplying comparables to find out what your neigborhood market is really like. Such an asking price will still attract multiple offers in most cases and prevent you from selling for to little. It also creates urgency on the part of potential buyers that really like and want your home and encourages them to make strong offers right of the bat. Such a strategy almost always shortens the time your home is on the market and usually results in a much better price above market value. 

Marketing Your Home For Sale

  • The first week on the market will be your most active one. Your agent will arrange for a photographer to take professional photos of your home and a Broker Open House will be conducted. You will have worked out with your agent showing instructions and you will begin to get traffic.
     
  • One of the most valuable marketing tools an agent can provide is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This is a professional and secure data exchange where your agent posts your property for sale and shares them with all of the participating real estate brokers and their agents. This can only be done by an agent that is a member of your local MLS. Most of your showing traffic will result from this marketing venue.
     
  • The next best marketing tool is the Internet, commonly known as the Web. According to some statistics, as many as 80% of home buyers begin their search on real estate related Web sites. There are many ways your agent will leverage and utilize the Internet to market your home: IDX participation, company Web sites, his/her own agent Web site, and/or social media venues, all decked out with detailed descriptions, photo slide shows, videos, virtual tours, floor plans, and more of your home for sale.
     
  • Although my company and I place great emphasis on the Internet, by no means do we intend to eliminate print advertising. We provide comprehensive multi-media solutions which take into account the portions of society who enjoy reading newspapers, magazines and direct mailings, so we continue to use these vehicles to promote properties. Ask me to elaborate on all of the tools available and used by me to market your home for sale.

The Offer

  • If you have prepared your home for sale, comprehensive multi-media marketing has been done in a timely manner, and most importantly if you have priced your home correctly, you should get an offer(s) soon after you place your home on the market. All such offers should be in writing, along with a pre-approval letter from the buyer's lender, or a proof of funds statement from the buyer's bank in case of an all cash offer. Your agent will make sure to qualify the buyer so that no time is wasted. Any viable offer will be comprised of both the price and terms (closing date, financing details, inspections, other contingencies, etc.). Your agent will explain the details and advise you on negotiations.

Acceptable Offer, Inspections & Purchase Contract

  • Once you and the buyer reach an agreed upon price and terms of sale, you can accept their offer. This simply means that you made a verbal agreement, but by no means does this mean you cannot entertain other offers. 
     
  • After you accepted the offer inspections will most likely be scheduled and your agent will help facilitate access to your property and listen in. If there are any issues brought up by the buyer and/or his attorney you will be notified by your agent and/or attorney so you can negotiate and/or remedy them with their help. If there are no issues or the issues have been worked out to everyone's satisfaction your attorney will create the purchase contract.
  • Only after the purchase contract has been approved and fully executed (signed by buyer & seller) and the agreed upon down payment has been deposited with your attorney are you in contract. Both parties are now bound by the purchase contract and you can no longer solicit and entertain other offers. Please consult with your attorney for more details on this subject.
     
  • A copy of the fully executed contract will be given to the buyer's lender and an independent appraiser will visit to ascertain the market value of your home. Once the lender and their underwriter are fully satisfied the lender will provide the buyer with a final commitment letter and a closing date, time and location will be arranged. This lender approval process can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days from the day the purchase contract was fully executed.

What Else

  • Soon you will be busy arranging for movers and getting prepared for the next chapter in your life. As you get closer to the closing, you should call the utility company and arrange to close your accounts on the date of the closing, and the buyer should be calling the utilities to take over as of the day of the closing. 
     
  • In addition, put together the keys and any documents that pertain to the house as well as important contact info such as the gardener, landscaper, pool man, etc. to provide to the buyers at closing. If you still have any manuals/warranties for your appliances, heating & A/C equipment and/or other systems provide them as well.

Walk-Through

  • There is no reason for you to be at the final walk-through. It will be conducted as close to the closing date as possible. If you agreed to be responsible for any repairs to the house during negotiations, this is the time when the buyer has the opportunity to check to be sure that everything was done. Make sure the house is empty, "broom swept" and clean. Leave only items that you agreed on leaving during negotiations.

Closing

  • At the closing, you will be receiving funds and more than likely paying off a mortgage. Your other costs will be limited to attorney's fees, transfer tax, the real estate commission, and any moneys you may have agreed to paying during negotiations. A typical closing takes a few hours and will be attended by the buyers and their attorney, you and your attorney, the lender's attorney, the title person, and the real estate agents involved. Please consult with your attorney for more details on this subject.

Common Sellers Mistakes


Sellers face numerous challenges when placing their home on the market. However, given careful study of local market trends and the right guidance from a local Realtor, sellers can achieve an fair price on their home and find the right buyer.

  • Setting The Asking Price Based on Need. This is a common mistake that even good Realtors let their clients make. In today’s age of technology and the internet, buyers quite often have done their homework. These buyers have an educated guess as to the value of a home. So if you price your home based on where you need to sell it, perhaps for economic reasons, and that figure is above the market, you are doing yourself a disservice. You will lose valuable foot traffic in showings as today’s buyer will deem the home over priced.  Remember, a sale happens where a willing buyer meets a willing seller.  And today’s willing buyer is after a fair market price, this buyer does not care what you need to sell the home. Need and market value can often be eons apart.
     
  • Excessive Upgrades Prior to Selling. Many sellers do some significant work to their homes prior to selling, thinking that they will recoup 100% of the costs of the upgrades in the sale. And study after study shows that this is simply not the case. There are some upgrades that make sense, and a good portion of the funds expended will get recouped, but often not all of the expense. Remember, many upgrades are personal choices, so what a seller may like (and have paid good money for), a buyer may see as an item to be addressed since it is not in sync with their personal taste. Keep in mind upgrades are not the same as repairs which always should be made to achieve a better sales price!
     
  • Listing with the Wrong Agent. Many sellers pick an improper agent for many of the wrong reasons. Sometimes the listing agent is a friend. Or the listing agent is the “big name” in the market, the one with all the listings in town, or at least the one whose signs appear all over town. Or even worse, the listing agent that is chosen to market the home is the one that said they could sell the house for the highest price. This is a common mistake.  Seller’s should look for an agent with a well thought out marketing plan that they understand how that plan will sell their home. The proper listing agent will also understand the local market, the unique selling features of your home, and how to generate buyer traffic through your home.  The agent should also have a good handle on value.
     
  • Aggressive Agents. Sellers often list with an agent who is too aggressive, and this agent drives buyers away from the home. Over selling the home at a showing, or putting on the “Hard Sell” can turn off a buyer.  Remember, buying a home is an emotional decision, and today’s buyer will want to discover how the home fits their needs and lifestyle. A good Realtor will highlight many of the selling features of a home, but only those that are important to their buyer. Otherwise the aggressive agent will highlight features the buyer many not deem necessary, and thus make a buyer feel like they could be paying for features that they don’t desire.
     
  • Poor Home Presentation. A common seller mistake is a failure to not properly showcase the home.  Sellers need to address all maintenance issues so that the home looks well maintained. If not, the home lends itself to appearing as if there are other hidden “issues” with the home. In the same line of thinking, the home needs to be showing ready 24/7. This means that the home needs to be neat and tidy with all the daily chores properly addressed. This makes the home appear well loved. Buyers who fear that a home suffers from a lack of love, or deferred maintenance, will cross the property off their list faster than any good REALTOR can generate interest in your home.
     
  • Failure to Give Proper Consideration to The First Offer. Anybody who has ever bought or sold a home knows the feeling of disappointment upon the receipt of the initial offer. Sellers often have done a lot of work reading their home for sale, putting in both physical and emotional effort into the sale. Then the first offer comes in way below expectations. The common seller mistake here is that the offer gets rejected  for being a “low ball” offer. Never, ever reject an offer without trying to negotiate it! There is an old adage that says, “Your first offer is often your best and only offer.” I will revert back to another old adage, “Your home is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.” If a seller receives several offers all within a similar price range, then the price of the home has been determined despite the best efforts of the listing agent to garner a higher price. Your first offer can be a good indication of market value, regardless of the prior market research.

Home Selling Q & A


While we have addressed the selling process and the most common mistakes made by sellers in the paragraphs to the left we like to offer up an additional resoure, our complete home sellers Q & A library. Please access this valuable and infromative resource by clicking on the photo below.


Home Improvements Q & A


Please feel free to explore our comprehensive library of questions and answers regarding home improvements and repairs. This resource will come in especially handy if you are considering to update and upgrade your home before you put it up for sale. There are things you should do and others you shouldn't. Find out by clicking on the photo below.


Home Sellers 101



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