Real Estate Transaction Checklist for Sellers

Escrow…disclosures…appraisals, oh my! Real estate transactions often seem like overwhelmingly complicated (sometimes downright scary) business because, well, they can be without an experienced agent. Arm yourself with these facts on real estate transactions before listing your home for sale with this comprehensive real estate transaction checklist.

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When it comes time to upsize or downsize your home, where do you start? What are the steps in a real estate transaction? Listing and selling real estate is a daunting task for most, but with the help of an expert agent can be a seamless, stress-free process. 

Here’s a quick breakdown for sellers on exactly what to expect in a real estate transaction.

Step-By-Step Real Estate Transaction Checklist for Sellers

  1. Sign a real estate listing agreement. Once you’ve found and vetted an agent you trust with your home sale, this will be the first step. A real estate listing agreement guarantees the duration, commission, exclusive rights and other protections for the sale of your home, which benefits both parties.
  2. List your home. After an agreement has been signed, you and your agent will discuss the come-to-market strategy to list your home, which will depend on the current real estate market, price point, location but definitely include staging and make-ready details, professional photography for marketing, and remodeling suggestions. Once a listing price and strategy have been determined and your agent has listed your home in MLS, you’re officially in the game. 
  3. Prepare your home (and yourself) for showings. Start by removing and storing your personal effects—but not too many, because you still want your house to feel lived-in, just de-cluttered. Remember to turn on all the lights in your home prior to showing, and remove any valuables you don’t want visitors going through. While most showings last anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, if your home is well received in the given market, you can expect a rush of showings the first several days after listing. Because of this, it might be a good idea to take a leave of absence during the first few days after listing your home, especially if you have pets. 
  4. Choose an offer. In the ultra-hot seller’s market we have now, you’re likely going to receive a few offers (and quickly) if your home is priced right and marketed successfully. There are many strategies for choosing the “right” offer for your home, but it really depends on your priorities. Your real estate agent can help guide you through this process and make recommendations based on your unique needs. Hint: the highest offer isn’t always the best offer.
  5. Sign a contract. This step is crucial to successfully taking your home “off-market,” but doesn’t mean the transaction is over. A contract between the buyer and seller at this stage means an agreement has been reached on the terms of the contract, sale price, closing date, contingencies and other important details
  6. Prepare for the buyer’s home inspectionUnless purchasing a lot, your potential buyer will inspect your home during the option period. Repairs and subsequent amendments are always negotiable depending on what’s found during the inspection, and given the current market conditions. This can be stressful, but a good agent will help you navigate these negotiations. We always recommend to our sellers that, where possible, you should offer a monetary credit for repair requests. This allows for a clean transaction and no re-inspection of repairs is required. It also eliminates any risk of a repair costing way more than you expected.
  7. Get your home appraised. Different from a home inspection, the buyer’s lender orders an appraisal to determine the fair market value of a property. Typically the contract is contingent upon the property appraising at (or above) the agreed sales price. If the appraisal does not make value, the buyer may be able to terminate the contract. Good listing agents will give the appraiser supporting sold comparables to make sure this doesn’t happen, but if it does, a strong agent can help you renegotiate with the buyer to possibly find some middle ground..
  8. Close on your home…but don’t move out! When negotiating a closing, we recommend the following to most of our sellers: negotiate for a lease back of at least 3 days after closing. This provides flexibility and allows you to collect your proceeds prior to moving out. This is very important because every once in a while the buyer may not be able to close (and you typically don’t find this out until a day or two before closing).  The last thing you want to have to do is sell a vacant house. We estimate a 5-10% reduction in value when selling a vacant home.

For most, selling a property is one of life’s largest financial transactions. Although the decision to sell may come easy, difficult decisions will follow which will determine whether your property is sold for top dollar, within your desired timing, and with minimal headaches. The most critical decision you make is who you hire to sell your property. All agents are not created equal – even those from the same company – so take careful consideration when making this choice.

Ready to get a jump on selling? Call The Rhodes Group.

Block by block, home by home, we know these neighborhoods — how values change, the importance of pre-listing advice and how the right marketing can drive a successful sale. We grew up here. We live here. We’ve been buying and selling real estate in the area for two generations, immersed in the ebbs and flows of the local neighborhood markets. It’s not just a slogan… WE KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.