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10 EASY STEPS TO HOME OWNERSHIP

Selling a home is a big decision and time consuming. Here are 7 simple steps to guide you through the very important process of selling your home.
7 Simple Steps to Selling your Home

1. Planning and Preparation
2. Finding a Realtor
3. Establishing the price
4. Marketing It
5. Selling It
6. Closing
7. Moving

STEP 1: PLANNING AND PREPARATION

With over five million homes sold every year it all comes down to one thing - getting the most favorable deal with as little headache as possible. With more and more disclosure statements and transactions required, home selling is becoming a more complicated business than in the past. At Miamirealtyfinder.com our agents want the best for our clients. Today real estate market is very competitive and that's why we staff only experienced agents that are trained in financing, negotiations, the real estate markets and closing.
Are You Ready?

The seller should start getting prepared several months before the house is available on the market. Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer and take a step back to determine what needs to be done. For example painting, repairs, a good cleanup, and landscaping. Complete your project to be as visually stimulating as possible to your prospects. You want to show a home that looks appealing and maximizes as much space as possible.

During this phase of your preparation work also ask yourself why you want to sell. Are you looking for a different community? Do you need more space? Be sure to discuss the needs that are most important to you with your realtor.
When Should You Sell?

The summer seems to be the most favorable time because parents want to enroll their children for school prior to its start (generally August). So, for the most part, most homes are more available during the summer months.
How Do You Improve the Value of Your Home?

For the most part, buyers want to purchase the least expensive home in the most desirable neighborhood that they can afford. As far as improvements are concerned you want a home that fits in with the neighborhood without being “over improved”. For example: if most of the homes in a neighborhood have three bedrooms and two baths - a house with five bedrooms and multiple bathrooms (selling at a much higher price) more than likely would be more challenging to sell. So stick with home improvements that help to “show” your home like wallpaper, landscaping, and paint. Also, be sure that all appliances are in good working condition to ensure you get a better price on the home.
“ Setting the Stage” For Selling Your Home

A good first impression could be the difference between receiving serious offers or your house just “sitting” on the market. You need to make the best “first impression” as possible so here are some tips for savvy home sellers!

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Curb Appeal -The outside of your house is obviously the first impression a buyer will have so keep the grass green, trees trimmed and lawn mowed. A nice manicured lawn is a must, keeping the plants blooming but the gardening equipment out of sight! Keep the porch and sidewalks well swept and any exterior lighting on at night.
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Odor Free Home - Most of your potential buyers will be very sensitive to offensive odors so it's a nice touch to add flowers or air fresheners to your home to keep the air smelling clean. It's a good idea to shampoo carpets (and pets!), change kitty litter, recycling bins, trash cans and ash trays. You could even bake a pie for an added fragrant touch!
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Clean the Clutter - Get rid of anything in your home you don't use even if you have to store it in the garage. A buyer will not buy a home that they can not see! Too much clutter, crowed closets and countertops overflowing with “stuff” will not allow a potential buyer to see what they are buying.
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Make Necessary Repairs - Fix all of the minor repairs that you've put off for quite some time because a prospect will notice. Fix burned out light bulbs, windows painted shut, leaky faucets and appliances not in working condition. These repairs seem petty but to an outsider this means you haven't taken good care of your home.
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Introduce Accessories - Set the table with your fine china, hang out your “good” towels and make the spare bed. Hang up fresh curtains and put logs in the fireplace. Get creative and leave a nice stimulating visual for your potential buyers to leave with.
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Get a Buyer's Eye-View - Take a step back and pretend you are looking at your home for the first time. What do you see? Is it well-maintained? Does it seem comfortable and inviting? Would you buy this home? Your answer should definitely be yes!

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STEP 2: FINDING A REALTOR

Miamirealtyfinder.com is a good source to use when looking for a realtor. Try to find an experienced local real estate agent to assist you with the sale of your home. Even though over two million people in the United States are licensed to sell real estate, only one million belong to the National Association of Realtors (NARS). NARS is known for its strict code of ethics and have access to classes, seminars and opportunities in certifications.
How Do You Choose a Realtor?

* Search on Miamirealtyfinder.com
* Use local real estate magazines and newspapers
* Recommendations from past sellers
* Check the classifieds in your local newspaper

Here is a list of questions to ask when interviewing your realtor....

1. What type of representation do you provide (there are various types of representation like representing the buyer or seller or facilitating the transaction as a neutral party, etc.)?
2. What services do you offer?
3. How will you market my home?
4. What is your fee?
5. What happens if another realtor finds a purchaser?
6. How long do you want to list your home?

What to Expect When Working With a Realtor

Your realtor should keep you in the step by step process during the selling process. Written offers are not acceptable because they generally cannot be enforced. Your real estate agent, with assistance from a qualified attorney, is trained to provide the foundation for an actionable written offer.
The Seller Listing Agreement

A listing contract is a binding written contract that varies state to state and you may want to consult with an attorney before signing. Here are some basic terms to take into consideration:

MLS - A listing agreement allows your agent to list your home in a Multiple Listing Service unless you have serious privacy concerns. The listing helps your agent to market your home to a wide range of potential buyers; the public does not have access to this list.

Terms of Agreement - A longer term is beneficial to the agent because this gives him/her ample time to find a buyer for your home but if homes are selling quickly then you don't want to commit yourself to this agent for more than a few months.

Lockbox - A lockbox is a small box attached to your front door containing a key to the property. Any agent who has access to this box can use a key or combination to show the property to a prospective buyer.

Commission - Most areas have a percentage that agents expect to receive although commission is negotiable. This percentage is usually 6% but some will accept 5% and some will ask for 7%. Keep in mind a higher percentage will give the agent an incentive to market and sell your home quicker.
Why Use a Realtor When Selling?

The most important factors of selling your home is the best price, speed, and little or no hassle. Coming to a conclusion of a reasonable asking price is generally the first step in selling your home. Your real estate agent should keep you up to date in terms and conditions of competing properties, what's happening in the marketplace and financing.

*Marketing

Exposing your property to other agents and to the public is key to the salability of your home so marketing and advertising is very important. Your media choice depends on the property and specific market. However, The National Association of Realtors reveals that 82% of real estate sales are gained through previous clients, referrals, friends and family personal contacts, and agent contacts.

*Negotiating

The negotiation process is basically the same for both buyers and sellers. The agent can assist in writing a legally binding agreement that can result in a win-win transaction.

*Monitoring, Renegotiating, and Closing

Many questions will arise between the initial sales agreement and closing financing a glitch in the title or repairs. There is a lot of paperwork involved so this can be an overwhelming process for many sellers. Your realtor is a trained expert who can help to resolve these issues in an objective manner.

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STEP 3: ESTABLISHING THE PRICE

Market conditions and condition rates are a two of many factors determining how much money you can get for your home. During the time your property is being marketed is when you will want to get the best possible price for your home. Let's break that down. The art of selling a home is not only marketing, but part science, and part negotiation. In real estate there is no black and white every transaction is different so because of this you must do as possible to prepare your home for sale and hire the best possible agent.
What is Your Home Worth?

Somewhere between the price the sellers would like to get and the value the buyers would like to offer is a point of agreement resulting in a final sale. Here are several important points when considering home value:

- Owner needs - If the home needs to be sold “quickly” this implies to the buyer that the seller will sell for a lower price and they may be right!

- Sale price is dependent on supply and demand - Living in a community with a growing job base and limited housing supply then sale prices will rise. Quite the contrary if the community has a low job rate (or losing jobs) and people are leaving the are then that's what is called a buyer's market.

- Local sale prices determine the price of your home. The cost of one home in your area might have a completely different value in another.
Who Can Help?

Experienced realtors at Miamirealtyfinder.com are active and experienced in the local marketplace and can provide valuable assistance in adjusting a proper sale price for your home, marketing/advertising, negotiation, and closing.
How Much is Your House Really Worth?

The value of your home make an enormous difference when making final financial decisions such as estimating your annual lproperty tax bill, refinancing your mortgage and borrowing against your equity. What you paid for your house originally versus the current market is not pertinent the the current value. It is wise to accrue information from various sources and compare rather than using just one approach when determining the value of your home. Start with a search online many web sites offer free home valuation information. This way you can compare with nearby homes and market activity data with a click of a finger. Second, call more than one realtor. He or she will able to give you an estimate of the value of your home given its size and condition versus the local market condition. Another good idea is to attend neighborhood open houses. This gives you an opportunity to talk with professionals about local real estate. Hiring a professional appraiser may cost a few hundred dollars but it may be worth it when making a financial decision.
How to Price Your Home

Determining a sale price for your home is not as simple as it seems. Here are some strategies to help you to conclude how much your home is really worth:

Take market conditions into consideration. There are many factors to consider when determining market conditions. Is it a cold or hot economy? Are you selling your house during home-buying season? Are rates attractive? These are questions to ask yourself and do the research. Going to open houses is a good way to make an assessment of how other homes compare to yours.

Don't let your personal views get in the way. Remember, a potential buyer dos not care about your memorable moments or how much you paid for the home originally. They are not interested how much you invested in landscaping, painting, or the hardwood floors.

Calculate the price per foot even though this isn't the sole determinant of the asking price of the home. It can, however, be helpful when coming up with a starting point.

Sweeten the terms in the transaction. If you are willing to close escrow quickly most buyers will jump in. Can you (the seller) offer seller-financing? A lease-option can sometimes help first-time buyers. The more flexible you can be in your terms the more successful you will be when pricing your home to sell.

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STEP 4: MARKETING IT

Every home is unique in the real estate market. Interest rates are constantly changing and buyers are always looking for new homes to buy. Because of these factors (and many others) it takes skillful marketing strategies designed specifically for various market conditions. Once your home is listed it will more than likely be listed with MLS so other brokers with now have access to your information. A realtor's work is usually quiet and unseen but very important. He/she may be marketing your property through web postings, open-house, and new listing announcements. Radio, television and real estate guide are other good sources of marketing used by real estate agents. Some even use brochure boxes or “for sale” signs to advertise your property.
How to Hold an Open-House

Open houses are different in different communities, some areas don't even use the open-house technique. In areas where they are common, the broker advertises that the open-house will be held for a certain time period (1-5 on Saturday) . The broker generally hosts the function while the sellers leave the property during this time. Children and pets should not be on the premises during the open-house. Here, he/she provides information for the guests and maintains a log of attendance. Once your open-house is scheduled be sure to notify your neighbors. This warns them in advance of extra traffic and also allows them to take a look at your property themselves. Who knows, they may have a friend the want to have take a look at your house! In preparation for the open-house:

* Hang fresh towels in the bathroom
* Set the dining room table with your best dishes
* Be sure the air is fragrant
* Light lamps
* Pull back the drapes
* Light the fireplace if you have once

How to Show Your Home Online

The internet is a very modern source for advertising your home and plays important roles in this process. Not only can you view real state online but it contains information on local schools, recent home sale prices, video tours and model forms. The internet is also a good way to communicate through e-mails and instant messaging. This way agents and consumers can share information and questions with a quickness.

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STEP 5: SELLING IT

Selling one's home is an important event considering the change and transition. Also, a lot of money is involved in the process! Going from the know to the unknown is a big step which can include, new jobs, and new friends. On top of knowing all of this there is still lots of documents to sign and issues to be negotiated! The sale of your home is a very delicate process and needs to be done right. Be sure to prepare you home properly and educate yourself in the market to be able to weigh all of your options.
What is an Acceptable Offer?

Although it would be nice if there were a long line of buyers at your front door trying to out bid each other on your home - its not reality. There is a balance between the buyers and the sellers. Here is a list of factors determining whether a buyer's offer is acceptable:

* What if there are no other offers?
* What if there are multiple offers?
* Is the offer near or at asking price?
* Is there an alternative to the buyer's offer?
* How long do you have to wait for the offers?
* Has the buyer accepted asking price?

Your real estate agent will be helpful in determining what is an acceptable offer according to your needs. The agent will take into consideration the marketplace options and carefully review the offers making a determination of what is acceptable.
What is a Counter-Offer?

For the most part, once you have made your home available for sale you are making an offer to buyers. For a certain dollar amount and with some terms you can acquire the home and the buyers have several options. The buyers can be a.) not interested at all b.)we'll buy it on the seller's terms c.) interested but here is our counter-offer.
A counter-offer is merely a new offer, one that the buyer deems more fit. And the seller has three options as did the buyer a.) accept the offer b.) turn down the offer c.) make another counter-offer! This is the part where negotiation comes in.
How to Negotiate

Some believe that in the outcome of a negotiation there is a winner and there is a loser. But others believe in a “win-win” situation where each party feels like they came out happy with what they wanted but this action takes compromise. Each party should be treated with respect and owners should never lose sight of their baseline transaction requirements or their best interest. These are rules to live by when negotiating with the other party and your agent.
The Bottom Line on Contract Negotiations

* What happens if either side breaches the contract?
* What are the estimated transaction costs and who will pay for what?
* Is there a mortgage financing contingency and how specific is it?
* What appliance, furniture or fixtures are being sold with the property?
* How much money is the buyer putting into escrow and how soon?

Negotiation Terms and Conditions

There is a lot involved in a real estate purchase agreement and the terms and conditions need to be at a level that is up to par or you won't want to accept the conditions. On a whole, the contract is filled with a lot of legal terminology, its complicated and packed full of information. It is important that you take your time and read it word for word and thoroughly. Have your lawyer or agent answer any and all of your questions regarding this document. Remember to be flexible with your conditions but keep in mind these five points that need attention:

1. If repairs are needed, who is responsible for paying for them to be fixed after inspection?
2. Will a home warranty plan be purchased?
3. What are the cutoff dates for inspection approvals and reports?
4. When is escrow expected to close?
5. Is the seller making any warranties regarding the condition of the property? (roof, central heating, etc.)

Financing Pointers

What if a buyer wants you, the seller, to finance part of the purchase price by “carrying back” a loan? The answer to this lies in your own financial situation. This is a good idea for a seller who wants a streamline of money over a period of time rather than one lump sum. If this is an option for you - you should consider these factors first:

* Call your accountant or attorney
* Hire a servicer
* Think like a banker
* Set a shorter term
* Get a contingency in writing
* Consider the collateral

Picking the Best Offer

Currently we live in a strong real estate market so sellers can expect to receive many offers for the home. This is a good example of economic realities that appear when the supply of homes is limited and the demand for homes is strong. The good thing about this for sellers is that they can push up the price of the home and create a bidding war. Being prepared for this situation will enable you to make choice terms for the sale of your house. You don't even necesarily have to pick the buyer with the highest offer. That one might not have the terms you want or be as qualified as others. Being greedy can backfire!

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STEP 6: CLOSING

Some of the most complex part of the real estate transactions begin after sale agreement has been signed and the selling process is complete. The sale agreement contains a purchase price for the property but also the terms and conditions. More and more an inspection is required by a trained or independent observer. A lot of times the contract even depends on the ability of a buyer to obtain financing (which is why most sellers obtain a pre approval letter from the lender). Also, the lenders have requirements of their own before the loan is granted such as title insurance to protect against title errors, termite inspections, appraisals and surveys. Generally, the seller's agent will help prepare him/her ahead for the closing.
When Should You Close?

Technically, with automation now available, it is possible to close within a week. Just keep in mind that arranging financing, financing, locating replacement housing, contacting movers, obtaining appraisals, inspections and the actual moving itself is very time consuming. Contrary, the problem with closing past too many days is that loan rates are difficult to lock in and if mortgage rates go up the buyer may no longer be able to afford the mortgage. So with all things considered, most homes close 30 to 45 days after the sale agreement has been signed.
What Happens at Closing?

Closing is also known as escrow or settlement depending on the area. This is meeting where the agent takes money from the buyers, pays money to the owner, ensures that the purchaser's title and property liens are properly recorded. Any final “adjustments” can be made at this meeting. The agent is then responsible for reviewing the sale agreement determining what payments and credits the owner should receive from the buyer and transaction costs are paid such as taxes and title searches.
Your Home Inspection

The buyer had set an appointment for the inspector to arrive to inspect he condition of your home and how well you've maintained it over the years. Don't be afraid of what he/she may uncover, with disclosure laws and customary real estate practices, here are some steps to take to help the inspection run smoothly.

Don't block living areas in your room. If the inspector cannot enter a room for inspection it will be noted in the report and the buyer may question it.

Be courteous. The inspector is a paid professional giving a fair assessment of the property - he's not there to find everything wrong with the property. Tip: Don't be late for the appointment with the inspector and keep in mind it may be a two hour process.

Leave the premises. Don't feel like to need to be home for the inspection because you don't. Your real estate agent should be familiar with your home and can act as your representative. Most agents prefer that the seller not be present.

Don't follow the inspector around making comments. Inspectors do not want to be followed around while you try to explain every detail and aspect of the home. The time for this is once you've reviewed a copy of the report.

Make agreed upon repairs. Some buyers ask the inspector to “okay” any repairs that you agree to fix. The sooner you accomplish this the better. If you wait till the last minute the buyer will still have those items reinspected and this could delay escrow and the closing.

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STEP 7: MOVING

From the smallest of homes to the largest, every home contains a lot of furniture, kitchen items, clothes, and a lot of personal items. If you are moving a short distance you may want to do the move yourself but it may be worthwhile to hire a professional moving company if you are going a further distance. Your real estate agent at Miamirealtyfinders.com can recommend favorable moving companies to assist you in this process. Try to weed through all of your furniture and throw away any unwanted items. This will minimize the weight of your goods thus minimizing the price for your shipping! You could sell any excess goods or donate them to a local group or organization. Some will even come to your home to take it away for you. Remember to fill out the forms at the U.S. Postal Services for a forwarding address and your utility companies need to be aware so they can end your service. Ask them about any deposits that should be returned to you.
How Do You Plan To Move?

Once you have sold your home you should start planning your move. Some of these activities can actually assist you with the moving process! Like cleaning out basements, attics, closets, and weeding. If you do this now there will be less to do when the home is finally under contract. Your planning will be determined by a number of things. For example, if you are moving a long distance you will probably be using an interstate mover and will need a large van. If you are moving internationally you will have to contact the embassy in Washington D.C. for information. Keep in mind certain items may not be allowed in other countries. Inquire about customs duties and taxes and protocols. If you are moving locally (and moving yourself) don't forget tape, peanuts, blankets and extra padding . Mark all of your boxes to make the unloading easier.
Who Should You Use?

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding who to use for your move. Of course money is one of those factors. You'll want to spend as little as possible but do not let this be the determining factor of who you chose, this could be a mistake. Be sure the moving company owns the proper equipment, the movers are trained and experienced to do a good job. Always confirm their credentials. Are they licensed and bonded (each state is different)? Do their workman have workman's comp insurance? Get a moving estimate in writing. Some organizations offer discounts.
Get a Checklist

Checklists are organized and make a job easier. Moving is an enormous job so here are some items to consider:

* Keep your laptop and modem easily accessible during the move. This allows you to still be able to connect to personal and business e-mails.
* Keep address books nearby in case you need help.
* Make sure that historic or breakable/valuable items are handled and packed properly.
* If your children are also traveling be sure to include toys, games, pillows and extra blankets.
* Count the number of boxes when they arrive. Check them off of the list that you made earlier, you can even check them off according to contents or the names on the box.
* Medicines should be readily available during the move.
* If you are moving any type of distance be sure to have enough cash/credit to cover food, lodging, transportation and travel expenses.

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