1. Choose a competent REALTOR® who will represent only you. This one choice can make a huge difference in the ease of your transaction. Your agent legally owes you loyalty, obedience, confidentiality, reasonable care, and accounting. Some criteria for choosing a REALTOR® includes:
Representation: Do you know how an agent can represent you? If you understand the duties an agent owes his/her client, what level of service do you want: exclusive representation, single agency, dual agency, or facilitator services?
Experience: An experienced agent has learned in "the school of hard knocks" in addition to the formal classroom. S/he has learned how to creatively market your home and negotiate on your behalf. S/he can also explain common practices in the bargaining process. An agent's experience helps in reading the market to know if buyers or sellers currently have the advantage and how that will impact your sale.
Education: Just like experience benefits the client, additional training keeps the agent abreast of new developments in the field.
References: What do past clients have to say about the agent's services?
Service plan: What services does this agent provide in marketing your house?
Personality: Is the agent's personality intimidating or one you feel comfortable with?
The agent's network. Because many people are involved in the process of selling your house, it's good to know what people your Realtor® recommends, and why.
Your REALTOR® will provide disclosure forms, home warranty information, a comparable market value (what your house might sell for), your neighborhood's statistics including average sale prices and average length of market time, information on “point of sale” inspections required in some cities, pointers for preparing your house for sale, etc.
2. Review and sign the “Agency Relationships in Real Estate Transactions” disclosure with your agent.
3. If your city requires a "point of sale" inspection, schedule the inspection and be prepared to make the required repairs.
4. Fill out the seller disclosures to the best of your knowledge. These forms will include the seller’s property disclosure or election not to provide a disclosure, a lead paint disclosure if the property was built before 1978, a methamphetamine disclosure, a well disclosure, and a septic disclosure.
5. Locate your abstract or Torrens Certificate.
6. Locate duplicate keys for the lockbox.
7. Find your mortgage company's contact information, the loan number, and loan balance for factoring your net proceeds.
8. Meet with your REALTOR® to review your net proceeds, determine a list price, sign a listing contract, measure rooms, take pictures, approve the MLS input forms, have a lock-box installed, give him/her the disclosures for making copies, discuss showing procedures, schedule open houses, and exchange contact numbers.
9. The installation of your yard sign will be ordered when the listing contract is signed.
10. Once your house "hits the market" (goes on the MLS), other agents will call your REALTOR'S® office to schedule times to bring buyers through your home. Your agent's company will call you to confirm the showing request time is acceptable. Remember that a house can't be sold unless the buyer can see it! Approve showing requests as promptly and often as you can.
11. Make sure your house is picked up and brochures and disclosures are in a conspicuous place during showing times. Kennel pets. It is recommended that you leave during showing times. Buyers are very uncomfortable when the owner is present and often owners divulge information that compromises their negotiation of the offer.
12. Monitor the brochure box supply and notify your REALTOR® when brochures need replacement.
13. A buyer will write a purchase agreement with their REALTOR®. You will meet with your REALTOR® to review offers. Your agent will figure net proceeds based on the actual offer, and if you choose to make some changes on the offer, a counter-offer can be written. All parties must agree in writing to all terms of the purchase agreement in order to have a legally binding contract.
14. The buyer's home inspection will be scheduled within days of final acceptance of the purchase agreement. Some sellers are anxious about this inspection. The buyer's inspection actually is a protection to the seller as well as the buyer as it minimizes the possibility of unknown problems being discovered after the closing. Once again, it is recommended you not be present during this inspection.
15. The buyer can make requests in writing for repairs to be made as a result of their inspection. Your REALTOR® will review these requests with you and you will respond in writing.
16. Start shopping for your new home if you haven’t already found one.
17. Release your abstract or Torrens Certificate to the title company for updating. Make sure you receive a written receipt for the abstract or Torrens Certificate.
18. Start packing and making arrangements for your move.
19. Attend the closing and collect your money.
20. Attend the closing for your new home! Move and celebrate!
21. TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND RELATIVES ABOUT THE GREAT REPRESENTATION YOU GOT FROM YOUR REALTOR®!