Home Sellers: Frequently Asked Questions

It's known that the home buying process comes with many frequently asked questions and the home selling process is no different. Whether you have never sold a home or have sold half a dozen, there are many questions that come with the process. This certainly is due to the fact that selling a home isn't a process that is practiced regularly by home owners and also that rules, regulations, and the industry change on a daily basis.

The top frequently asked questions from home sellers begin to accumulate before even starting the home selling process. If you're going to be selling your home, it's suggested you are prepared and have a strong understanding of the process. Many times the best way to understand the process and be well-prepared is by asking questions.

The importance of knowing how to interview a Realtor when selling a home certainly cannot be overlooked. A top Realtor should be able to reduce the amount of questions a home seller will have when selling a home because they will address many of these frequently asked questions before they become a question.

So what are the most frequently asked questions from home sellers? Here are the top frequently asked questions that home seller's ask before listing a home for sale, questions relating to home value & pricing, questions relating to contracts, and questions relating to purchase offers.

Frequently Asked Questions Asked By Home Sellers

Search FAQs:
  • When is the best time to sell my home?

    This frequently asked question cannot be answered with a simple or general answer.  Every real estate market is different, therefore, the best time to sell a home will be different from real estate community to real estate community.  In most cases, the spring and summers months are the best time to be selling a home.

    Since every home seller’s situation is different, you should discuss the timing of your home sale with your Realtor.  In some cases, selling a home during the fall and winter months actually maybe better than waiting until the spring real estate market.  This is due to a combination of many factors including lower competition and that serious buyer’s are always looking for a home, just to mention a couple factors.

  • Should we sell before we buy another home? 

    Check with a lender first to learn if this is an option. Ask yourself if you are willing and able to carry two mortgages and deal with the stress that comes from physically and financially maintaining two homes. An experienced agent should be able to guide you to a good decision.

  • What’s the First Step Selling My Property? 

    The very first step in selling your home is to identify your equity through the provision of a Market Analysis. I can provide you with this through research, and preparation of information that will allow you to compare your home or property to other similar homes on the market. I do this usually with a two step process. The first step includes making an appointment for me to preview your home and identify the amenities and upgrades that you have, as well as the neighborhood and location. The second step is to make another appointment so that I can review my research, recommended price range, and share with you my plan for marketing your home.

  • Should market condition have any bearing on listing my home for sale?

    Even if you're under no pressure to sell, waiting for better market conditions is not likely to increase your profit potential and reduce the time your property will be on the market and therefore reduces the amount of time your home is shown.

  • Are there important factors to consider when selling a home? 

    The two most important factors are price and condition in selling a home. The first step is to price it properly. Then, go through the house to see if there are any cosmetic defects that can be repaired. A third factor is exposure. It is also important that the home gets the exposure it deserves through open houses, advertising, good signage and listing on the local multiple listing services, as well as the internet. Choose the real estate Realtor that you believe will get the job done, not the one that quotes you the highest price - sometimes just to buy your listing.

  • What Do I Have To Do to Prepare My Home For the Market? 

    The process of preparing your home for the market is called “staging” . I am an Accredited Staging Professional and will walk through your home inside & out and advise you on a list of items to prepare your home. Remember: Buyers Don’t Buy What Buyers Can’t See. It is my experience that over 95% of Buyers and real estate agents cannot visualize how your house could be if you have too much clutter, animal smells, not the best of housekeeping, dark rooms, and so on. Yes, I know this is a lot of work however you will reap benefits down the road in either shorter market time or more money in your pocket. Be prepared to have this discussion with me. We are both members of the same team and working together to accomplish the same goal: Selling Your Home For The Most Money With A Reasonable Market Time.

  • How much commission do you charge?

    Commission is typically 6%.  This being said, the saying “you get what you pay for,” often is true when it comes to real estate.  If a Realtor offers a lower commission, do you think they will negotiate aggressively on your behalf when it comes to the price?  Also, if you were working for a reduced hourly wage from your “normal,” would you work as hard as you normally would?  The answer is likely not.  Choosing a Realtor based solely on the fact they offer the lowest commission amount is a top mistake made by home seller’s when choosing a Realtor to sell their home.

  • How much is my home worth? 

    There are two methods many people use to determine their homes value, an appraisal and comparative market analysis. Appraisals vary in cost and are defendable in court. They average about $400-450 for a single family home and more on multi-family dwellings. Appraisers review numerous factors and base information on recent sales of similar properties, their location, square footage, construction quality, excess land, views, water frontage and amenities such as garages, number of baths, etc.

    A comparative market analysis on the other hand is an informal estimate of market value performed by a real estate Realtor or broker. It is based on sales and listings that will compete with your property that are similar in size, style and location. A range of values will be determined thus arriving at a probable market value. Many RealtorS® offer a free analysis anticipating they will have a new client. The analysis or opinion should be in writing and should involve professionally accepted appraisal practices. Some individuals do their own cost comparison. It may take several hours of research at the county recorder's office, where there will be indexes to match street addresses and parcel numbers. Once matches have been chosen a tax card can be used to find the assessed value, size, style, number of rooms, baths, etc.

  • Why is the assessed value different than what you say my home is worth?

    Assessed value is an “estimate” by the taxing authority and is not the same as market value or appraised value.  There are many homes that could be sold for significantly more than an assessed value and others that maybe sold for significantly less.  The assessed value of a home is used for the purpose of taxes in your local municipality.  The assessed value of a home is multiplied by the local tax rate to determine what your yearly taxes are.  The assessed value has no impact on how much your home is worth to a potential buyer in the marketplace.

    Unfortunately, there are many home buyer’s who believe that a home that is listed higher than the assessed value is overpriced.  This is the furthest from the truth.  Home buyer’s also question if something is wrong with a home if the list price is much less than the assessed value.  The bottom line is the assessed value has no impact on how much your home is worth.  There are home owners who don’t pay attention to their assessed value, just to find out their municipality has been slowly raising it, year after year, even though the market value hasn’t been increasing.

  • How do you determine how much my home is worth?

    There are a handful of methods that Realtors use to determine the value of a home.  The most common method to determining the value of a home is by completing a comparative market analysis.  A comparative market analysis is an in-depth evaluation of recently sold “comparable” homes in the past 6 months.  A comparative market analysis, also known as a “CMA,” isn’t a crystal ball that determines what a home will sell for, however, if performed by a top Realtor, it should greatly narrow the sale price range.

    A professionally completed “CMA” will take into account many features of not only a home, but also the local area and neighborhood.  Considerations that a professionally completed “CMA” include, but is not limited to:

    1. Square footage
    2. Number of bedrooms
    3. Number of bathrooms
    4. Upgrades to kitchen
    5. Window quality
    6. Roof agev
    7. Lot features
    8. Location; primary or neighborhood street
    9. Style of residence
    10. Flooring type

  • Can I determine how much my home is worth from an internet website?

    The answer to this frequently asked question is NO!  Anyone who has bought a home, sold a home, or just looked at homes, has heard of websites such as Zillow and Trulia.  These are also commonly referred to as third party real estate websites.  Third party real estate websites are not local to every real estate market.

    These third party real estate websites provide estimates of home values for practically any home in the United States.  How is it possible that a third party website that is headquartered in California or Florida can provide an accurate home value for a home located in Rochester, NY?  It’s not!  These third party websites, such as Zillow and Trulia, use computer generated home values based on calculations and formulas.

    These websites providing inaccurate estimates (or “Zestimates”) can create a false sense of hope and lead to frustration.  A home seller who is told their home is worth $20,000 less than the online estimate is going to be understandably upset.  It’s critical that when selling a home, the value is determined by a top Realtor in your local area, not an internet website!

  • Should I sell my home myself? 

    It will take longer, on average, to sell a home yourself. If you have the time, the money to market, and want to manage the sale, you may want to consider this option. If you decide to sell your own home, visit our For Sale By Owner FAQ section to learn more. If you want copies of legal contracts for review, visit our Forms Library.

  • Why should I hire a real estate agent? 

    An experienced agent can lead you through the listing and selling process with ease. Aside from improving your quality of life during your family’s transition, a real estate agent may help you net more money for your home. Real estate agents know the market, proper pricing and how to achieve a faster sale. Often, owners who sell their own home are asked by potential buyers to discount the commission rate that would be given to an agent. In that case, you have all the work, all the complications and none of the financial rewards.

  • Why shouldn't I price my house a little high, since I can always drop the price later?

    That's a strategy that sounds good – but, in fact, is more likely to result in a lower price. Here's why:

    • The first few weeks a house is on the market is when it will have the most activity. If a house is overpriced, it has to compete with houses at that higher price level, which are almost certainly larger or have newer/more luxurious features.
    • ·        
    • So the overpriced home is unlikely to attract an offer. Worse yet, those first weeks are when real estate agents preview the house. If it's overpriced, they may not even bother to show it to their buyers. Eventually, the seller will have to drop the price – and may end up with an even lower price because buyers will wonder why the house has been on the market so long and may factor that into their offer.

  • What's the difference between fair market value and asking price?

    You can assume that some negotiation will be necessary to reach an agreement with a buyer. We prepare for you the results of your CMA and will provide you all the data that establishes fair market value. Then, based on your own timing and marketplace variables, we can determine a competitive pricing strategy.

  • Why Shouldn’t I price my home higher so I can leave room for negotiation?

     The first few weeks a house is on the market is when it will have the most activity.  If a house is overpriced, it has to compete with correctly priced houses at that higher price level, which are almost certainly larger, newer, higher in quality, superior in location, view, etc.  Those first weeks are also when real estate agents preview the house.  If it's overpriced, they may not even bother to show it to their buyers.  Eventually, the seller will have to drop the price – and may end up with an even lower price because buyers will wonder why the house has been on the market so long and may factor that into their offer. 

  • How flexible should I be about the asking price?

    Generally, the first three weeks will be the test period of your initial asking price. If you see showings drop off and very few return visits, you may want to consider repositioning your asking price. Most buyers leave room for negotiation when they make an offer. Thus, a certain degree of flexibility is usually called for on the part of both the buyer and seller.

    While it is ultimately your decision to accept or reject an offer, or present a counter-proposal, I can help you with the negotiation process. As negotiations proceed — whether in writing, face-to-face, or by phone — I'll keep you will informed of your options in responding to each offer from the buyer, so you can make an educated decision as to how you want to proceed.

  • What is the difference between a list price and sale price?

    This frequently asked question can be answered very easily.  The list price is the price a home is currently listed for sale at.  The sale price is the price a home is sold at.  A top Realtor should be able to suggest a list price that ends up being very close to the final sale price.

  • Should I price my home higher to leave room for negotiations?

    This frequently asked question often leads to a common pricing mistake that seller’s make.  Many sellers believe they should price their home $5,000 higher than what a top Realtor suggests to leave room for negotiations and low-ball offers.  A well priced home will sell quickly and will sell for close to the listing price.  There is no need to leave room for negotiations, as today’s home buyers are very well educated.  A seller who prices their home high to leave room for negotiations can actually be costing themselves more money than if they price it to reflect the suggested market value.

  • What improvements will help me sell my home? 

    Start with the basics. Fix all minor mechanical issues (such as loose doorknobs and leaky plumbing), clean everything well, keep the yard maintained, and put fresh pine straw or mulch in the flower beds. Power wash decks and other surfaces if needed. For more information, view (and print) our How to Prepare Your Home For Sale checklist

  • Can you recommend service providers who may be needed throughout the transaction?

    No matter what industry, top professionals enjoy working with top professionals.  This is no different in real estate.  A top Realtor should be able to provide high quality mortgage professionals, attorneys, contractors, movers, or other services needed throughout the home selling process.

  • Should I make repairs? 

    Minor repairs before putting the house on the market may lead to a better sales price. Buyers often include a contingency "inspection clause" in the purchase contract which allows them to back out if numerous defects are found. Once the problems are noted, buyers can attempt to negotiate repairs or lowering the price with the seller. Any known problems that are not repaired must be revealed as a material defect. You do not have to repair the problem, only reveal it and the house should be appropriately priced for that defect.

  • Do I have to disclose information about my house?

     Property Disclosure could protect you from a lawsuit.  State law requires home sellers to provide a Sellers Disclosure which is a form disclosing material facts about their homes.  Material facts are details about the home’s condition or legal status, as well as the age of various components.  If your state does not require a written disclosure, the real estate laws probably require sellers to disclose any known problems with the home they are selling.  Information about the major components of the home including the electrical, plumbing, appliances, HVAC, and the roof are usually included in these Property Disclosure Forms to make the potential buyer aware of any structural or safety issues. 

  • Do I need to provide permits or anything for my deck, shed, fencing, or additions?

    Every municipality is different, but in general, when making an improvement or change to a piece of property or land, a certificate of compliance (and/or permit) is required.  When selling a home, potential buyers have the right to ask for certificates of compliance for any improvements, such as decks, patios, or sheds.  Some buyer’s may not ask for any permits and some may.  Technically, you do not need to provide any permits or certificates of compliance, however, you could lose a potential buyer over a simple fence permit.

  • My House Has Had Some Problems In The Past, Do The Buyers Have to Know?

    You are required by law to disclose defects in your house. If there are problems that are in the past and you have repaired them, they do not need to be disclosed except for the roof. One of the questions on the legislatively prepared form include a question asking if your roof has leaked. You need to answer truthfully. Please be thorough on every question. I’ve probably seen most possibilities, from a remodel with no permits to a drainfield expansion with no permits. The most important thing is to be truthful. We can resolve almost every issue. As we review your property, and as I see things that I have questions about, I will discuss them with you.

  • What should I do to prepare my home for showings?

    There are several things you need to know before listing your home for sale!  A frequently asked question from home seller’s before listing is what steps should be taken before listing their home.  Not properly preparing a home for sale can put a home owner at a huge disadvantage.

    The expression “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is absolutely true when it comes to selling a home.  When selling a home you must be sure that your home presents itself in the best possible light.  Making sure clutter is at a minimum, freshly painting rooms, installing new carpeting, or ensuring odors are non-existent are just a handful of things that should be done before listing your home for sale.

    The second important thing to consider is "curb appeal." People driving by a property will judge it from outside appearances and make a decision then as to whether or not they want to see the inside. Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden and clean debris from the yard. Clean the windows (both inside and out) and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking. Also make sure that the doorbell works.

  • What Do I Need To Do To Present My Home At Its Best?

    After your home is staged and on the market, most hard work is complete. However, there is still work to be done because most people do not live in their home regularly the way they must live in their home when it is on the market. Steps that I will strongly encourage you to follow are:

    • At the beginning of the day, and before you leave, make sure your dishes are done and counters clear and clean, dirty clothes picked up, beds made, toilet lids down, garbage out and so on.
    • ·        
    • When you leave, leave most lights on please! Buyers want to know that your house is light and bright and if their agent is fumbling for the lights, they will not have that important “first” impression! In addition, you will want your freshly staged and cleaned home to be shining like the trophy it is!
    • ·        
    • Leave the blinds/curtains open.

  • How do you plan on marketing my home?

    A comprehensive marketing plan is something that you should expect from your Realtor when selling a home.  The days of placing a sign in front of a property and waiting for someone to sell it are over.  With the evolution and the impact the internet has had on the real estate industry, it’s critical that not only is your home marketed through “traditional” avenues, such as newspapers and mailings, but it must also get maximum exposure online.

    A top Realtor should have a quality website, quality real estate blog, and a strong social media presence.  The importance of where a Realtors website ranks in search results is critical since over 90% of buyer’s are beginning their home search online!

  • Should I be present during showings at my home?

    Easy question to answer – no!  There are many reasons why sellers should not be present during showings.  The primary reason why you should not be present at showings of your home is potential buyers can feel uncomfortable to talk open and freely with their Realtor about your home.  They do not want to say something that could offend you, the seller.  The best idea is to leave shortly before the scheduled showing and come back once you are certain the buyer and their Realtor have left your home.

  • Okay, An Agent Just Called me To Let Me Know They’ll Be Showing the House….What Do I Do?

    Take a deep breath, take a moment to quickly clean/de-clutter, lights, etc and leave. I know this may be an inconvenience but Buyers always want to figure out how they can fit their stuff in your house or discuss what they would change and they will not do so if you are there. If we have time frames to work around due to children or day sleeper schedules, I will outline those requirements in the listing and set time parameters on the keybox.

  • What Can I Expect When I Return Home After My House Has Been Shown? 

    First of all, I do not expect dirty footprints, as I’ll leave a sign for people to remove their shoes. You should find your house the way you left it. The Agent who showed the house should leave their card. Doors should be locked. Please call me immediately if this is not the case. You can expect Buyers to open closet & cabinet doors/drawers to check out both the operation & space.

  • I Have A Pet, How Do We Show The House When I’ m Gone?

    I have a beautiful boxer named Jughead and I will be challenged when we put our house on the market but there are options:

    • Signs on the doors not to let the pets out
    • Pets assigned to crates/yards/garages with appropriate signage
    • Dogs to doggy day care for certain hours of the day which will be noted in the listing and keybox showing instructions
    • Neighbor assistance when necessary
    • Pets taken to work if that’s an option
    • Otherwise, let’s discuss and come up with an acceptable solutions.

  • Will you be holding open houses?

    Believe it or not, open houses are a fairly controversial topic in the real estate industry.  Some Realtors will convince a seller that they will get their home sold because they hold it open every weekend.  Unfortunately, these same Realtors are not being honest with the seller.  The truth is, open houses are not necessary to sell a home.

    The primary reason a Realtor will convince a seller that open houses are necessary is because they are hoping to pick up additional buyers.  The percentage of homes that sell due to an open house is less than 5%.  Ask the Realtor what their thoughts on open houses are and make sure you’re comfortable with their response.  It’s important you’re on the same page as the Realtor when it comes to open houses.

  • What do I do if my house isn't getting activity? 

    Even in a slow market, price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home. If a home is not getting the activity it needs in order to sell it is probably because it is overpriced for the market. The first step is to lower the price. Then go through the house and see if there are cosmetic defects that you missed that can be repaired. The second step is to make sure that the home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and a listing on the multiple listing service and internet. A third option is to remove the home from the market and wait for overall housing conditions to improve and catch up to the price your asking. Finally, frustrated sellers who have no equity and are forced to sell because of a long term illness, divorce or financial considerations should discuss their specific situation with their mortgage lender and their Realtor.

  • How will I be kept informed of marketing progress to sell my home? 

    This topic is often frustrating for sellers. Few real estate agents are excellent at communicating and keeping their sellers informed. If you want to have information on the status of your home’s marketing and any progress notes, you will need to establish that schedule with your individual real estate professional. If you list with us, you will have access to your own webpage from a customized login. Jerry's clients can go online any time that suits their schedule to view daily updates, online notes and progress reports. When you are selling your home, it is critical that you be kept well informed.

  • How frequently and by which methods do you communicate with your home seller’s?

    Like many of the answers to these frequently asked questions, the frequency and methods of communication will vary from agent to agent.  At a bare minimum, you should expect to hear from your Realtor at least once a week when selling your home.  The methods in which a Realtor communicates with their seller’s should be tailored to each individual seller.  If a home owner prefers communication via e-mail, the Realtor should communicate via e-mail.  The same can be said about text messaging, phone conversations, or face-to-face interaction.

  • What Happens When There Are Multiple Offers on My House? 

    We will sit down together and discuss the differences in the offers. If I have the offers in advance, I will come prepared with a spread sheet outlining key points to the offers so you can make the best decision. Key factors, aside from price, will include pre-approval status, strength of Buyers, closing date, and time frames.

    Your price can actually end up higher than listed, depending on the type of market we‘re having in your area and your price range. For example, if there is very little inventory, you will most likely be in a Seller’s market and command the listing price or higher. However, if there is quite a bit of inventory in your home’s price range, we could be at the other end of the spectrum in a Buyer’s market or somewhere in between.

  • We Have a Signed Agreement, and Then What Happens? 

    Once we have mutual acceptance, there are a variety of steps in the process that are almost always taken including:

    Almost all Buyers conduct an inspection on their new house. We want them to pick an option that will have short time frames(5 – 7 days after mutual acceptance) and that will provide you an opportunity to correct any issues identified during the inspection. In a raw land or investment purchase, this step is called a “feasibility study”. The Buyers will have a designated time period to let us know what they would like you to repair and you then will have 3 days to respond. There is often some negotiation involved in these situations although, if the request to repair the inspection issues is not agreed upon, the Buyers do not have to buy your house.

    Neighborhood Review: 
    This item is often included to allow the Buyers to review the local community to ascertain whether or not the crime rate, location of registered sex offenders, etc, is acceptable to them. This usually includes up to a 3 day time frame. I often recommend we shorten this clause as it can be an “out” clause.

    Loan Application: 
    The Purchase & Sale Agreement will have a time frame for the Buyers to complete their loan application.

    Well/Septic Review: 
    If this property has a well and/or septic system, at a minimum you should be prepared to provide the Buyers with a bacterial or coli form water test from the well and proof that the septic tank has been pumped & the system inspected. Additional information that might be asked for include a well flow test or separate well inspection, organic compound test, & so on.

    On occasion, if your Buyer’s credit scores are fabulous and/or they have a substantial down payment on your house, the lender will waive getting an appraisal. Usually, however, an appraisal is required. An appraiser’s job is solely to establish market value and not address condition. From time to time, a house might present itself in an appraiser’s eye as maybe needing an outside specialist in a particular field to assess a particular situation. An example of this would be if a roof looks like it’s on its last legs, an appraiser might order a roof inspector to certify the roof for 5 years. If the appraiser asks for specific work orders in order to close the house, I can help you locate resources to assist you.

    There is currently in existence a national data base for insurance companies called the “CLUE” system which keeps track of home claims when those claims are determined to be caused by a construction type problem. For example, if your house has had a severe water issue and had a claim for repair, this data base will have that claim in the system. This may mean that the insurance rate for the house is higher than average. The Purchase & Sale Agreement has specific time frames for the Buyer to apply for insurance and then specific time frames for the Buyer’s ability to back out of a transaction based on specific insurance pricing in excess of ½% of 1% of the sales price. Pay attention to this, because if these deadlines pass, the Buyer cannot rescind on your Purchase due to insurance costs.

    Final Walk Through: Many Buyers will include in the contract their ability to walk through your house within 5 days prior to closing to verify that the house is the same condition as when first viewed.

  • Is The Closing Date Considered To Be The Day I Sign My Closing Papers? 

    No. There might be a rare occasion when you can sign your documents on the day of closing but most lenders send their escrow instructions to the Escrow Company 2 – 3 days prior to the closing date. Escrow then prepares your note, deed of trust, and other documents, has both Buyer & Seller sign documents, and then sends them back to the lender’s funding & review department. The time period for funding & review is usually 24 -48 hours, or 1 – 2 business days. They then contact escrow, release your sale to be recorded (title transfer at the County Assessor’s Office), and then wire transfer funds to the Escrow Company. We will be notified when the funds have arrived and the deed has been transferred. Usually, we’ll get the call between 3 and 5 p.m. Escrow will then either wire your net proceeds to your next purchase or issue you a check at closing, however you’ve instructed them.

  • How do I respond to low ball offers?

    When selling a home, it’s best to think of any decision as a business decision rather than an emotional one.  Low ball offers still happen, unfortunately.  Dealing with low ball offers can sometimes lead to the sale of a home, if handled properly.  The worse decision you can make if you receive a low ball offer is not responding.  Some home owners are so upset they decide they do not want to respond to a low ball offer, which ultimately ends any potential chance for a deal.  A counter offer, even if it’s close to the list price, is better than letting a potential buyer walk!

  • What are seller concessions?

    Depending on what type of financing the potential purchaser is obtaining, the option to receive seller concessions may or may not exist.  There are many home buyers in the marketplace with impeccable credit scores and solid jobs but are short on the money required to purchase a home.  Seller concessions allow a home owner to contribute a percentage or dollar amount towards a buyer’s closing costs and/or pre-paid items.  For example, a buyer who qualifies for an FHA mortgage can receive up to 6% of the purchase price towards their closing costs.  This can be a significant amount of money and can be the difference of a buyer being able to afford a home or not or the seller being able to sell their home!

  • What are some common lender required repairs?

    If a home buyer is obtaining financing from lender, the lender will complete an appraisal.  When performing an appraisal, the appraiser is looking for potential safety hazards or concerns.  The buyer will determine in their purchase offer a dollar amount in which a seller is responsible to cover for bank required repairs.  Some common bank required repairs include missing handrails, broken windows, peeling paint, missing electrical covers, and roofs that are in very poor condition.

  • Should I provide a home warranty? 

    If your home is more than ten years old, then it may be a wise investment. Many companies offer warranties for $360 – $400. Your real estate agent can help you with the application. 

  • How does the inspection phase work?

    Inspections are another common contingency that buyer’s make their purchase offers subject to.  There are many different types of inspections and tests that a buyer has the right to perform.  In most cases, inspections are at the expense of the buyer.  They have a specified number of days to complete the inspections and also a specified number of days to either remove the inspection contingencies or request the seller address findings from the inspections.

  • What happens if the appraised value comes in too low?

    In addition to ensuring there are no safety hazards at a home, the bank appraiser is also making sure that the home value is at least what a buyer and seller agree too.  This isn’t always possible though.  If an appraiser determines the value of the subject property is lower than the agreed purchase amount, there are a couple different scenarios.

    Seller Makes Concession
    This is the most common result when an appraisal comes in too low.  The seller must agree to sell the home for what the appraiser determines as the acceptable value.

    Buyer Comes Up With Difference
    The buyer must bridge the difference between the purchase price and the appraised value.  This scenario is fairly uncommon as many buyer’s find it hard to pay more for a home than their bank appraisal indicates it’s worth.

    The Transaction is Canceled
    Unfortunately for both the seller and buyer, this is a common result from a property under appraising.  If the buyer does not want to bridge the difference and the seller does not want to make the concession and adjust the sale price, the transaction is canceled.

    Challenge Appraisal
    Challenging an appraisal is not an easy task.  It is something that must be done with much care and consideration, otherwise the chances of an appraised value being changed, is slim.

  • What is meant by the term "contingency" in a sales contract?

    Sales contracts typically contain several "contingency" clauses, or stipulations that the sale is subject to. For example, with a mortgage contingency, if the buyer is unable to obtain financing within the specified time frame, neither the buyer nor the seller is required to complete the purchase. Among other common provisions in the "subject to" section are termite, other inspection issues, and if the purchaser's needs to sell their current home first.

  • Should I be flexible in granting contingencies? 

    That often depends on if you are in a buyer's or a seller's market, the condition of your home, the price you hope to get, how motivated you are to sell, as well as the quality and quantity of the offers you are getting. Any contingencies that are negotiated are written into your contract. Both the buyer and seller can place requirements on the table during the negotiation phase. A frequently seen contingency is regarding the sale and closing of the buyers home before they can purchase yours. Whether this requirement is reasonable, or even achievable, depends on the individuals involved. Financial capabilities usually play a major role in negotiations. Few people can afford to own two homes simultaneously, except for some all-cash buyers.

  • What are the common closing expenses for home sellers?

    Another popular frequently asked question from home sellers is how much it will cost to sell a home.  There are expenses that the buyer will have that the seller will not and vice versa.  Typical closing expenses for home sellers include the abstract and title search, instrument survey, real estate commissions, and transfer taxes which also are known as revenue stamps.

  • After the closing, may we stay and rent our old home from the new owner until we are able to move into our new home? 

    (We don’t want to have to move twice!) This option can only be explored once you find a buyer. You may discuss your needs with your agent and he/she can determine if the buyer is both willing and able to postpone their own move into the house.

  • When Do I Call the Utility Companies to Transfer Utilities from My Name? 

    I would recommend that you contact the your Utility Companies 1 week prior to closing, and schedule those transfers to 9 pm on the day of possession.

  • What are the tax consequences of selling my house?

    The sale of your house generates "capital gains" as defined by the IRS which is normally taxable. However, since the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, individuals can exclude up to $250,000 in capital gains for individuals, and married couples can exclude up to $500,000 in capital gains.

    To see how this works in practice, imagine you bought your house for $100,000, and then sold it for $300,000. That sale would generate $200,000 in capital gains, all of which could be excluded since individuals can exclude up to $250,000 and married couples could exclude up to $500,000. Accordingly, you wouldn't owe any taxes on the capital gains from the sale of your home. But it is best to discuss your sale with a Tax Professional.

  • When Must I be Moved Out? 

    At 5 PM on the Possession Date specified on the Purchase & Sale Agreement.

    During this process, I am very involved in communicating with all parties. You will know what’s going on and what you can expect to happen next. I will provide you with a calendar of events and copies of our contract documents for your reference.

    Throughout this exciting process, please feel free to contact me with any questions. I’ve tried to outline what I would anticipate would be the most common questions, however am sure I haven’t covered everything!

  • When Do The Buyers Get Keys? 

    The Purchase & Sale Agreement states that the Seller must deliver the keys on the day of closing. A typical way for these keys to be delivered is for them to be left at my office for the Buyers.

  • How Clean Must I Leave My House for the New Owners? 

    Please treat the new owners the way you would want to be treated. My recommendation would be for you to leave your home very clean, leave all appliance or system manuals, garage door openers, keys, and remove all personal possessions and debris. Make sure you leave the lawn kept up, as well.

  • Should I do anything to my house before I sell it?

    Absolutely. The first thing you should do is give your home a thorough cleaning and de-clutter with any personal items such as family photos.

    Also before you sell a home, you should probably hire a professional home inspector because eventual buyers certainly will, and it pays to know what they will find first. A professional home inspection can:

    • Allow you to address problems and complete repairs before you sell a home
    • Help you set the price on your home
    • Ensure that the sale process won't be held up by unseen issues
    • Boost your credibility and trustworthiness
    • Reduce your liability by relying on professional documentation in your disclosure statement

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Final Thoughts

The above frequently asked questions from home sellers are all great questions.  There are no “dumb questions” when it comes to selling a home.  The reality is that selling a home is not something that is frequently done, therefore, questions are a great way to be prepared and well educated on the process.