December 6, 2015

37 Steps to Selling your Home in this Market!

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37 Steps To Selling Your Home in this Market

If you are putting your home for sale in Pleasanton on the market for the first time, it is easy to get overwhelmed and a bit confused about the entire home selling process.

Here is a step-by-step guide of important things you should do to sell your home in this market:

1. Hire the Right Real Estate Agent

The difference between homes for sale in Pleasanton that sell quickly and those that do not usually boils down to hiring the right real estate agent. Interview several candidates before deciding on one. Ask them questions on how they plan to market your Pleasanton home for sale, their years of experience and number of homes successfully sold. You are hiring someone who will either make or break the sale of your home, so make sure you hire a professional who is an expert in their area. After interviewing at least 3 agents, use your good judgment and select the one you are most comfortable working with and you can trust.

2. Prepare Your Home for Sale

Ask your Pleasanton real estate agent what you can do to improve your home and get it ready for showing. Keep in mind that your goal is to make each room as big as possible. Moving furniture around or even out of the house is one tip to achieve this task. Staging is a great way to attract buyers to your home. Getting a professional’s opinion on what looks good from an outsider’s point of view can be very helpful. Make sure to deep clean your home from the inside to the outside and keep your yard well-maintained at least once a week. Once your home is clean, try your best to keep it that way if you are still occupying the home while it is on the market.

3. Set the Right Price for Your Pleasanton Home for Sale

This is one of the most critical steps in the home selling process. Of course you want more money for your property, but don’t fall into the trap of overpricing your Pleasanton home for sale because it will cost you more in the long run when your home sits on the market for longer than you expected.

When a home has been sitting on the market for too long, buyers will rarely revisit the property and the listing goes stale, eventually forcing you to lower your price. In most cases, buyers will offer you even lower than your lowered asking price since they will know by then how long your home has been on the market. Avoid this by working with an agent who can help you determine the right price for your home based on the comparable home sales in Pleasanton CA. It is best to price your home correctly right from the start with the help of an experienced real estate agent.

4. Market Your Home

Almost all home buyers found the homes they eventually bought online. The days of newspapers and print ads has become obsolete and these methods rarely sell homes anymore. Work with an agent who has a strong online marketing campaign for your home for sale in Pleasanton. The most important thing your agent can do is put your home on the Multiple Listing Service, which is the backbone of all real estate sales. The Multiple Listing Service reaches not only just a target audience of buyers, but a large number of agents as well, who in turn have their own pool of buyers.

Once buyer’s agents see your listings online, they will schedule viewings to your home.  Once your listing is online, make sure to view it to ensure that the details and photos are accurate.

5. Show Your Pleasanton Home for Sale

Now that you have hired an experienced and trusted real estate agent and made sure your home is clean, well-maintained, and clutter-free, it’s time to show your home for sale in Pleasanton CA.

Home showings are a great way to sell your home. Your Pleasanton real estate agent will schedule an appointment with you to show your home to prospective buyers. Before buyers come for showing, make sure your house is clean, beds are made, the dishes are washed and put away, and your home is free of clutter and pets.

Turn on all the lights and open all your curtains or blinds to bring in as much light as possible. You can even turn on some relaxing music. The most important thing for sellers to remember is you should not be present during your home showing. You  can go out and take your pet for a walk or relax and see a movie, or take your family out to dinner. Being home during showings is unadvisable.  Some buyers will not feel comfortable giving comments about the house when the seller is around for fear of offending them.

Make sure to be flexible with your schedule once your agent calls you with a scheduled showing.

If you need agents to help you with selling your Pleasanton home, we service all of Pleasanton including (but not exclusive to) Birdland, Shadow Cliff and Del Prado.

6. Receive Offers and Negotiate with Qualified Buyers

If you get an offer that is below your asking price, avoid getting emotional and holding it against the buyer. Try your best to look at it from a business perspective so you can handle it professionally.

Get advice from your real estate agent. Your agent will discuss the offer with the buyer’s agent and go over the offer details.

Another important thing to take note is your agent should have spoken with the buyer’s lender to make sure they are qualified for the loan amount stated in the contract. Once all these steps are completed, you are in a better position to make an informed decision.

7. Prepare your finances

After receiving offers and narrowing them down to the best one, make sure you have your finances in order and it is enough to cover the costs involved in selling a home. Know the costs and taxes involved in selling a home. This is an important question to ask your Pleasanton real estate agent.  Your agent should provide you with an Estimated Net Sheet to understand your costs involved in the sale.

Will the buyer “assume” your monthly mortgage or are you “discharging” the mortgage on your Pleasanton home for sale? Are you getting a mortgage for the purpose of  buying a new home?  Call your mortgage lender to ask more about these details.

8. Property Taxes

The seller’s portion of prorated taxes will be collected at closing. This will be handled through the escrow office handling the sale of your home. If there is any refund due to you, your escrow company will refund you after close of escrow. The refund time varies with each escrow company, but they are generally very quick!

9. Hire other specialists

Aside from your Pleasanton real estate agent, you will be needing other professionals you can work with in selling your home.

As you go through the inspection process, you might find the need for additional inspectors such as foundation specialists. Other specialists involved could be home inspectors and escrow services to handle closing settlement. Your trusted Pleasanton Real Estate Agent will be sure to guide you in the right direction.

10. Prepare the binding agreement

This is such a crucial part of the transaction…making sure everyone is clear and understands their duties as agreed per the legally binding purchase agreement. Your agent should be a top professional in understanding every aspect of the contract and able to clearly answer all of your questions.

Be diligent in meeting the timeframes set forth and agreed upon with your buyer. Get your disclosures prepared well in advance so you have a head start. Waiting until the last minute is never a good idea. Start satisfying any conditions on the agreement that require anything from the seller.

If you need agents to help you with selling your Pleasanton home, we service all of Pleasanton including (but not exclusive to) Birdland, Shadow Cliff and Del Prado.

11. Contingencies in the contract

Once you have signed the contract with the buyer of your Pleasanton home for sale, you are not yet out of the woods. While it is true that you can relax from the pressures of having to make your home look its best and show your home at any given moment, you still need to cooperate with the buyer and buyer’s agent in fulfilling any commitments required from the seller as stated in the contract. You can only completely relax once you get to the closing table.

12. Home inspections

You’ll need to make your Pleasanton home available for a home inspection, since this is included in most contract contingencies. This agreement includes having all utilities turned on at the time of inspection.

If the home inspection report turns up problems or repairs needed, you may negotiate this with the buyer according to the terms of the contract. This is where your agent’s negotiating skills will come into play, so be sure to get the best Pleasanton real estate agent.

13. Termite inspection and radon gas inspection

Besides the home inspection, some lenders might also require a termite inspection. In each case, you and your Pleasanton agent or the buyer’s agent will need to make the home available for all inspections.

14. Homeowner’s insurance

As the seller, you should notify your insurance company of your expected close date. Your insurance should be in place until closing. The escrow company will refund you any due amount after close of escrow for fees prepaid by you. The refund time varies with each escrow company.

15. Home appraisal

Another important step before closing is the home appraisal. If the appraisal comes in higher than the home’s selling price, then the buyers can  be happy that they have purchased your Pleasanton home for sale for less than its market value, however most appraisers’ goal is to match the offer price as they receive a copy of the purchase agreement.

Once the contract has been signed, you, the seller, cannot renegotiate for a higher price. On the other hand, if the appraisal comes in lower that the selling price, then the buyer’s  lender will only be able to loan based on the appraised value. This means that the buyer will have to compensate the difference between the offer price and appraisal price with cash, if they are able to do so. The buyer or buyer’s agent can also renegotiate the contract with you to meet the appraised value.

Your Pleasanton real estate agent can advise you on the best possible way to handle this situation. In any case, remember that the seller and buyer are both bound by the contract terms.

If you need agents to help you with selling your Pleasanton home, we service all of Pleasanton including (but not exclusive to) Birdland, Shadow Cliff and Del Prado.

16. Open escrow
An escrow is a neutral third party account held on behalf of two parties. The reason why Pleasanton CA real estate agents advise sellers to open escrow is to prevent the seller or buyer from mishandling of funds. The best way to ensure this is to have a neutral third party. Here in the bay area both title and escrow are handled by one company unlike southern California where they are separate. This neutral party holds all the money and documents related to the selling process until closing or settlement.

17. Secure title services

Before closing, a title search on your home for sale in Pleasanton CA will be required by the buyer’s mortgage lender. A title search is required to ensure the borrower receives a clean title, to prove that you, the seller, are indeed the owner of the property, and to confirm that there are no liens filed against your Pleasanton home for sale. Your escrow officer can also help you understand the different ways to hold title to the property. The way you hold title to property involves estate planning and tax implications, so make sure to consult with an attorney or accountant specializing in real estate before making your final decision.

18. Obtain title insurance
To further ensure the buyer that you are handing over a clean title, the lender will require title insurance aside from title search. There are 2 kinds of title insurance policies that the buyer can purchase: an owner’s policy and a lender’s policy. The owner’s policy protects the buyer. The lender’s policy protects the lender in the event that a problem in the title is detected after the home for sale in Pleasanton CA has been purchased. Both are extremely important policies!

19. Hire an attorney (optional)

This is just an optional step if  you want legal advice. Your trusted REALTOR® is prohibited from giving legal advice for obvious reasons, however we are highly skilled at understanding the contracts we are trained to use.

20. Utilities
Your buyer will call the utilities providers to have the utilities transferred to their name. You should also call you providers and schedule a disconnection date. The best time to schedule disconnection of utilities is the day after the closing date, however this can be scheduled in advance.

If you need agents to help you with selling your Pleasanton home, we service all of Pleasanton including (but not exclusive to) Birdland, Shadow Cliff and Del Prado.

21. Understanding Closing costs
As with any professional service, there is no free escrow company. Your trusted real estate agent will guide you as to where you might hold escrow, however if the buyer pays for the services of title and escrow, they get to choose the title company.

Your agent can provide you with an estimate of charges for closing the transaction. Fees vary from county to county as to which party pays what fee. For instance in one county it might be customary for the buyer to pay title and escrow, yet is a nearby county, the seller is responsible for the buyer’s title and escrow charges. Understanding ahead of time is very helpful.

22. Complete the Home Inspection
Although not required for closing a home for sale in Pleasanton CA, this is a safety measure for the buyer. If the buyer finds a serious problem with your home during inspection, they can back out of the deal as long as their purchase offer included a home inspection contingency. The buyer can also ask the seller to fix items or ask for credits so they can have it repaired.

23. Be ready for renegotiations
Even if you have already accepted the buyer’s purchase offer, if the home inspection revealed any problems, the buyer can renegotiate the purchase price of your Pleasanton home for sale to compensate for repair costs.

You, the seller, can also negotiate to keep the purchase price but pay for the repairs. Even if the purchase contract stated that the buyer is purchasing the property “as is condition,” the buyer does have the option to ask for repairs or renegotiate for a price reduction. The buyer can still back out without penalty if a problem is found that cannot be negotiated or fixed by the seller.

24. Negotiate closing costs with the escrow service
Escrow services, like any other service costs money. Ask your real estate agent or lender to review the fees with you to ensure there are no junk fees. It’s okay to ask the escrow officer to explain what each fee covers. Look out for administrative fees, appraisal review fees, application review fees, email fees, ancillary fees, processing and settlement fees. Most companies for title and escrow service are reputable, but it’s a good practice to keep a look out.  Your experienced Pleasanton real estate agent can help you with this task.

25. Buyer places funds into the escrow company
The buyer will deposit earnest money upon signing the purchase agreement. The purpose of the earnest money is to let you know of the buyer’s serious and earnest intentions of purchasing your Pleasanton home for sale.

The buyer will also put the rest of the down payment into escrow at the appropriate time. The buyer’s closing costs should also be put into escrow, depending on your arrangement with the seller as to who is going to pay for the closing costs as outlined in the contract.

Many misconceptions loom about the earnest money deposit. During the contingency period the buyer has stipulated in the agreement, the buyer can  back out and get a full refund of their deposit.

If you, the seller, back out from the deal, the earnest money is returned by the escrow service company to the buyer.

If you need agents to help you with selling your Pleasanton home, we service all of Pleasanton including (but not exclusive to) Birdland, Shadow Cliff and Del Prado.

26. Closing Table

As the transaction is nearly closed, you will be contacted by our escrow officer in charge of the file. They will set up a time to meet with you in person or they can arrange for a Notary to travel to your location for signatures. You’ll need your driver’s license at that appointment.

Once you receive the request for this appointment, please do your best to work out a time for signing.

27. Review the HUD Settlement Statement

Before closing, an estimated HUD Settlement Statement will be provided to you.  This document includes an itemized list of the incoming and outgoing funds and payoffs of both the buyer and the seller.  It usually contains several sections, some of which have subsections.  Make sure to review and double check the figures indicated in this document.  If something is not clear, do not hesitate to ask your agent and clarify your concerns.  Amendments can be made to this estimate prior to the close of escrow.

28. Prepare for the Final Walk-Thru

The buyer’s agent will set an appointment for the final walk-thru before the closing date.  The contract defaults to 5-days prior to closing. The buyer is informed that you as the seller are in the midst of moving and the house will likely be in disory.

This is a time for the buyer to make sure that the requirements of the contract are met and the house is move-in ready.  

Your job is to leave extra keys or remote controls or mailbox keys in an area such as in the kitchen drawer or according to what has been agreed upon.  It is also your responsibility as the seller to leave the house clean and in good condition and ensure that everything is as it should be as stated in the contract.  Being prepared and organized is the key to a smooth transaction.  You can always call your agent for any concerns that may arise in any stage of the selling process.

29.  Make Repairs and Renovations

Whether you have made repairs on your home anticipating a quicker sale, once listed on the market, it is still likely the buyer will ask for some type of repair.  

The issue as to who will shoulder the repairs and renovations will be discussed, settled, and itemized in writing as you and the buyer are guided accordingly by your trusted Pleasanton real estate agents.  

Use your contract as a project guide to ensure that you have completed all the required work on your part before closing for a fast and smooth transaction.  Everything should be clearly spelled out in writing as to alleviate any confusion.

 30. Meet the  Settlement – Close Date

The buyer and seller will mutually agree on a settlement – close date.  If the seller needs more time before moving out of the home, this is called a “rent-back”. Your agent  can discuss with the buyer during the negotiation period.  This will allow you to stay in the property even after the agreed-upon settlement date but as a renter to the buyer.  This agreement also applies in cases where the buyer needs to move in earlier than your agreed upon settlement date, however this is highly unusual and not recommended.  Once again, a written agreement is necessary for this arrangement. This contract will also indicate who the responsible party would be if something happens to the house or its contents.  Some lenders will allow a rent back and some will have restrictions on the length of time a rent back is allowed.

If you need agents to help you with selling your Pleasanton home, we service all of Pleasanton including (but not exclusive to) Birdland, Shadow Cliff and Del Prado.

31. Conclude the Closing

The closing, or otherwise known as “settlement” or “escrow”, is a short meeting conducted by a third party called the “closing agent”.  This is the part of the home buying process wherein the seller gets the proceeds of the sale, while the buyer gets the transferred title of the property together with the house keys.

As part of this closing process, the closing agent goes over the sale agreement to resolve any dues that the parties should settle.  This is also the time to verify the amount that the seller would acquire.  During the process, the said agent explains and deducts transaction costs, taxes, and existing mortgage to the amount credited to the seller.  If the seller has paid the taxes early, this is also the opportunity to make “adjustments” in which payment will be reimbursed by the closing agent.

Aside from signing the paperwork such as loan papers, deeds, and other documents, the buyer and seller has minimal role during this step since all the necessary papers have been prepared in advance by essential and concerned parties such as closing agents, lenders, and title companies.  As a conclusion to this step, all parties involved make sure that their interests are clear, pursued, and validated.  Lenders ensure that loans are recorded and reflected in the public records. Taxes have been transmitted to the government.  The title and keys are handed over to the buyer.  Proceeds of the sale are wired to the seller’s account.

 32. Sign the Papers

One of the most crucial steps in a real estate transaction is the signing of documents.  At times, there are 100 pages that you need to sign all in all.  While signing hundreds of pages may sound terrifying, take your time in reading each page especially the fine print since the latter can and will affect your future finances.

Additionally, verify and double-check if the interest rate is accurate.  Take notice of any prepayment penalty because there should be none.   Evaluate the closing cost based on the estimate that was given to you in good faith.  Anything that is marked up more than 10% of the original agreement is objectionable.

33. Decide on Your Attendance at Closing

Buyers are required to be present during closing because there are original documents, like a loan document for example, that the buyer needs to sign.  You as a seller have the option to sign all the paperwork prior the closing date, thus your presence is optional.

34. Closing

Closing is the final step in purchasing a property. A real estate transaction is considered closed when a property’s title is officially transferred from you to the buyer. This means the property and the rights attached to it will no longer be yours. A closing date is predetermined by you and the buyer as you negotiate and set the price and terms for the completion of the transaction. The close date must be a non-holiday weekday as most offices that handle the paperwork are closed on weekends & holidays. On the closing day itself, the buyer and the seller along with their agents settle the sale at a title company where the new deed is registered.

The escrow ensures the protection of both the buyer and the seller by safekeeping documents and money until all the conditions of the transaction are met. Once the transaction is finalized, and exchange of money and title take place. The keys and other devices used for running the home’s systems and appliances are turned over on the closing date as well, unless stated otherwise in the contract. There may also be some closing costs (usually 2% to 5% of the price of the home) that are basically charges for necessary tasks for processing of the transaction such as the title search, title insurance, and appraisal fee, to name a few.  The fees will vary depending on your location and the cost of the home itself, which is why it is necessary for a real estate agent to analyse the home you are selling if you’d like to get the best possible price.

35. Moving Out

Most contracts between the homebuyer and the seller state that the home should be in broom-clean condition. However, the standards of cleanliness vary from person to person. Buyers may even specify their own terms for cleanliness in the contract. A walk-through of the home is usually scheduled 24 hours before closing just to make sure everything is in working order and in the condition that was agreed upon in the contract. The buyers may even hire professional assistance who would carry out the inspection for them.

There have been cases where closing was postponed or did not push through because buyers were disappointed by the condition of the house at closing. For your protection, make sure that the condition of your house meets all the requirements stated in the contract, and that all agreements–including verbal agreements–are in writing. Aside from your personal belongings, specifics like items that buyers may or may not want in the home when they move in should also be indicated in the contract. Check if the items to be turned over are in good condition and that unwanted items are removed. It is also important to note that you are expected to have moved out completely once closing is complete. The buyer has all the rights over the house – including the right to evict or sue you for damages if you fail to comply with the agreements stated in the contract.

If you need agents to help you with selling your Pleasanton home, we service all of Pleasanton including (but not exclusive to) Birdland, Shadow Cliff and Del Prado.

36. Failure to Move Out

If you cannot move out of your home after closing because your new one is still undergoing repairs and renovations, instead of finding a temporary place to stay until your new home is move-in ready, you can opt to negotiate a “rent-back”. A rent-back is basically an agreement that you can make with the new homeowners to rent the house for a short time – usually 60 to 90 days after the closing date.  The agreement will include the fees that you need to pay for rent and utilities during your stay in the house.

Mortgage payment, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and local market rents may be taken into consideration in determining the rental fee. Though your agent and the buyer’s agent will settle the amount you will be required to pay, note that the buyers have the privilege of setting the rent-back terms because the house will be rightfully theirs on closing date. Also, remember that you will be responsible for the house during your stay, so if there is any damage, there will be costs incurred. When you are ready to move out, you may want to have another walk-through with the new owners to ensure that the house is in the same condition as it was during closing date.

If you foresee any concerns with moving out on the closing date, it would be best to negotiate a rent-back as you discuss the sales contract.  Consider your timeline and allow ample time for the buyer to prepare for this arrangement.

37. Release of Mortgage

The ownership over your property is not completely yours until  you have paid off your outstanding mortgage. Your home will serve as collateral until your loan is fully paid. This secures certain rights to the lender over your property such as selling or foreclosing it in the event that you fail to pay your loan or fulfill other responsibilities in the mortgage agreement.

After your loan has been settled, your lender should provide you with a release of mortgage, which is sometimes called a deed of release.  It is a document declaring that you have fully paid your loan. A release of mortgage is not to be confused with the canceled note and mortgage. The canceled note releases you from your obligation to pay the lender, while the release of mortgage removes any interest and rights your lender has over the property. The release should then be filed in the county or land records office. It is the lender who usually attends to the filing, but in some cases, the escrow officer can take over. Once the release has been recorded, it must be given back to you.

You may also need to pay a mortgage discharge fee to formally release you from your mortgage commitments. You should also call your insurance company and send a request to remove the lender from your homeowners insurance policy since your lender no longer has any ownership over your house. You will be holding a lot of important legal documents, so be sure to make copies and have them secured in a safety deposit box for safekeeping.

If you are looking for a Pleasanton luxury REALTOR® who can help you sell or buy your dream luxury home, call me, Rhonda Fee, at 925-200-0827. You can also text 925-660-7110 with any of these codes: seller411, buyer411 or homesearch. With my extensive experience and knowledge of the Pleasanton luxury real estate market, including (but not exclusive to) Birdland, Shadow Cliff, and Del Prado,  combined with a track record of satisfied clients, your next transaction will be the best move you’ve ever made!

Rhonda Fee

I am a REALTOR @ Aspire Realty Services 4713 First St. #285, Pleasanton, CA 94566 925-200-0827 My clients are my business; without them my business can't exist. I work very hard for the money I earn and pride myself on never pushing a client to make a decision when they are not ready. The process is about them, not me.

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