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1. How do I find out how much my house is worth?
You may wish to have your home appraised by a licensed, professional appraiser. However, your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agent can give you a “range of value” based on looking at the comparable homes which have sold recently and the current supply/demand. We will do a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) and give you the benefit of our experience in this area..
No two houses are totally alike. We look at the similarities and differences between your home and others which have sold and those which are on the market (your competition!) We review this information with you to help you make your pricing decision.
Pricing the home right is one of the major keys to getting the home sold. (The other important keys are condition, location and timing.) It doesn’t really matter what sellers paid for the house or how much they have invested into it. It doesn’t matter what homes are selling for in other areas of the country. It doesn’t matter what a seller “needs” to get out of the house in order to buy the next house or pay off debts.
The actual worth of the house (called fair market value) will be determined by what the buyers are willing to offer and what the sellers are willing to accept. It is our job to give you the advice and information you need to make the best decision.
Again, it depends on the current market – the number of similar homes for sale and the number of buyers who are looking. We will show you the “average number of days on the market” for homes like yours. Sometimes a home sells very quickly. In other cases, it takes a longer time.
It’s interesting that often the best offer is the first offer. If there are a number of buyers who have been looking for a home like yours, they will come to see it when it is first listed. If no one in that group of buyers makes an offer, then we have to wait for another buyer to begin looking.
If a buyer in that original group likes your house and has been looking for a while, he/she is probably going to make an offer and that’s why we need to take that offer seriously. Otherwise, we may have to wait weeks or even months for the second offer.
We’ve had homes that sell the first day. We’ve had homes that take over a year. We wish we could predict the exact number of days it will take, but no one can do that. If the house has been shown a number of times without an offer, then we will need to re-evaluate the keys: condition, price, timing and competition. Our goal is to get your house sold for the highest price in the shortest time.
3. How long will it take to close the sale after we agree to sell?
Your agent can help you answer this question based on the contract of sale that you are negotiating. The buyers will generally give an approximate date they would like to settle. If it is a cash sale, it could be as soon as two weeks. If it involves a complicated government loan, it could take 2 months or more.
Some costs are based on the sales price, such as transfer stamps and Realtor® fee. Some costs are the same no matter what the sales price such as pest inspection and deed preparation. Your agent will go over all of these costs with you in what we call a “Seller’s Net Proceeds Sheet”.
You will also need to know the payoff on your mortgage loan and your property tax status. We can give you a very close estimate of what you will receive (or have to pay) on the day of closing. (Yes, sometimes sellers owe more than the house will sell for and must bring money to the closing table. Hopefully these sellers can get a “good price” on their next house to off-set the loss.)
When you first offer your house on the market you will fill out a “Personal Property /Fixtures” agreement listing what you intend to leave if someone offers you full price. This would include things like stove, refrigerator and other large items plus smaller things like curtains and swing set. Anything that is attached to the house automatically stays unless you declare otherwise (like a chandelier or shelving that is screwed to a wall). Be sure you and your agent are clear about anything you are not leaving.
Some items may be listed as “negotiable” such as a hot tub or pool table. That means that the buyer might include it in their offer and you will have to negotiate a price that includes these items or you will sell them to the buyers in a separate transaction. Some types of loans do not allow personal property to be included with the sale, so be sure your sales contract qualifies for the loan program the buyer is using.
6. How long can I stay in the house after closing?
This is negotiable just as everything else in the contract. In years gone by, it was typical for a buyer to let a seller remain in the home for 30 days after the sale. This is not normally the case any longer. Many buyers ask for “possession with deed” which means you must move out prior to closing. And sometimes the buyers ask sellers to pay rent for the days they remain in the home.
Be sure your agent understands your plans and what schedule suits you best. Hopefully you and the buyers can agree on a time table that works for both. Don’t make the mistake of worrying only about the offered price and forget to “negotiate” or at least acknowledge the possession question!
7. I’ve already paid property taxes for the whole year. Do I get any refund?
One of the things that the closing attorney does is to “pro-rate” your taxes to the day you close. If you have paid the entire year, the buyers will pay you for the taxes that reflect the number of days they will own the house. If you haven’t paid for this year (or previous year) the lawyer will collect money from both the buyer and seller to pay what is due to the assessor. If you have been escrowing taxes and insurance (paying those each month as part of your mortgage payment), you may be entitled to a refund if there is extra in your account.
8. If the buyer gets a home inspection, do I have to fix everything on the list?
Like everything else in the transaction, this is negotiable. Generally, if there are major items - such as structural problems or safety issues, the buyer will ask that those be remedied (or the price reduced accordingly). Sometimes buyers ask for the “general maintenance items” to all be corrected, but we like to remind them that you are not selling a brand new house and certain things are just “normal wear and tear.”
Once the buyer’s agent lets your agent (and you) know what they expect, you can either agree, decline or negotiate the issues. This is one more place where the experience of your agent can help you. Also, there are items that the appraiser might mention if the buyers are getting a certain type of loan. These may be items like peeling paint or a missing handrail. These items will have to be corrected prior to closing and sometimes the buyer is willing to help.
9. I’m moving to another area. How can I find a Realtor there?
We will be glad to help you find a good Realtor® in your new community. Just ask your agent or call our Relocation Department (304-428-7653) and ask for Cheryl Carr or Linda McLean. They will be glad to help whether you have listed your house with us or not.