Originally posted on The Balance

Learn important steps to selling your home

The home selling process is the same whether you are selling for sale by owner or hiring a listing agent. Certain details may vary slightly among the states, but I will use California as the example since the state usually sets the standard for much of the country. Some jurisdictional differences include the seller hiring a real estate lawyer rather than an agent and the buyer submitting an “intent offer” prior to executing a purchase contract.

To sell your home:

1) Choose a Listing Agent

  • listing agent will represent you and have a fiduciary responsible for looking out for your best interests.
  • Interview agents and meet with at least three real estate agents. Try to hire experience.
  • Ask questions about your listing agreement, including the length of time the home will be listed.

2) Find Out How Much Your Home Is Worth

3) Get Home Ready for Sale

4) Market Your Home

  • Hire a virtual tour company to take quality photographs and put a virtual tour online.
  • Tweak marketing to increase traffic and showings.
  • Confirm that your listing is posted online. Your agent or you should saturate the Internet with photographs and descriptions of your home.

5) Show Your Home

6) Receive Purchase Offers and Negotiate

7) Open Escrow and Order Title

  • Your agent or transaction coordinator will open escrow and order a title policy.
  • Write down the contact information for the closing agent.
  • Select a date to close based on when the buyer’s loan will fund.
  • Ask for a receipt for the buyer’s earnest money deposit.

8) Schedule Appraiser Appointment

  • Clean the house the day before the appraiser arrives.
  • If you receive a low appraisal, ask your agent about alternatives.
  • You are not entitled to receive a copy of the appraisal because you did not pay for it.
  • If the buyer decides to cancel the contract based on an appraisal, ask your agent or lawyer about your rights.

9) Cooperate with Home Inspection

  • Ask your agent to provide you with a home inspection checklist so you will know which items an inspector will want to see.
  • Prepare the attic and basement for inspection, too. Move stuff away from the walls in the garage.
  • Also, prepare for the final walk-through inspection which takes place a few days before, or the morning of, closing.

10) Obtain Seller-Required Inspections

  • If your contract calls for a roof certification, hire a reputable company to conduct the inspection.
  • States that allow for termite or pest inspections make these reports public records.
  • The fees for all inspection reports, even if seller-mandated, are negotiable.
  • If your home was built before 1950, a sewer inspection might call for a new sewer line, but trenchless sewers are less expensive to install.

11) Delivery Seller Disclosures

  • All homes in the United States are subject to lead-based paint disclosures, not just those built before 1978.
  • If you are aware of material facts, disclose them.
  • Your title company should provide CC&Rs, but if you belong to a homeowner association, additional documentation will be required.

12) Negotiate Request for Repair

  • Ordinarily, sellers do not need to accept a buyer’s request for repair; however, buyers can also cancel the contract.
  • You are entitled to a copy of the home inspection report if the buyers request repairs.
  • If you do not choose to make repairs, a buyer might instead accept a closing cost credit.

13) Ask Buyer to Release Contingencies

  • In California, for example, contracts default to 17 days, at which time, the buyer must release contingencies.
  • If you do not demand a release, buyers are not obligated to provide it.
  • If buyers do not provide a release, in California, sellers have the right to cancel the contract.

14) Sign Title and Escrow Documents

  • In southern California, you will sign escrow documents shortly after opening escrow.
  • In northern California, you will sign escrow documents near closing.
  • In other states, it is common for everybody to sit around the table, all buyers and sellers, so ask your agent for the norm in your state.
  • Bring a valid picture identification.

15) Close Escrow

  • Your property deedreconveyance and deed of trust will record in the public records.
  • The title company will notify you and your agent when it records the deeds.
  • Depending on buyer’s possession rights specified in the contract, you may be required to move on the day the home closes or prior.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.