What time of year is best to sell my home?
Spring season is usually when the better weather comes; plants start to bloom, trees get their leaves back, etc., so people typically talk about Spring as the best time to sell. However, every home seller's situation is unique. Sometimes selling your home in the fall or winter months is better than waiting for the Spring real estate market. There is lower competition, and serious buyers are always searching for homes. Your home could sell just as well, or even better than during the Spring and Summer months.
We can show you just what the market is doing and which months have been stronger in previous years through updated statistics. Click here to check out the trends on this website.
What is the real estate market like right now
The status of the local real estate market is a common question for home sellers. Your listing broker should share many market indicators with you to help explain how the local real estate market is doing. The average number of days a property has been on the market is one of the most critical indicators. Assuming you take the proper steps in putting your home on the market, as outlined on this website, you can use this indicator to get a rough idea of how long it may take to sell your home.
Other market indicators include market absorption rates, the number of closed transactions for a given month year-over-year, average sales prices, and average price-to-sales ratios. We provide numerous market trends for you right on this website by clicking here.
What's my home worth?
The value of your home is another frequently asked question that is difficult to answer with a general answer. Owning a home offers many benefits, including the freedom to customize it and make improvements as you wish. Some upgrades will increase the value, while others may decrease the value.
Many other factors warrant considering when coming up with a particular home's market value. These include age, condition, functional obsolescence, location, and property size, among others. An experienced real estate broker will need to spend some time evaluating your house against similar homes near yours through a CMA or Comparative Market Analysis.
For more on pricing your home, watch our Pricing video found on the Seller School page of this site.
How accurate are online home valuation sites?
Third-party websites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and others use computer-generated home values based on formulas and calculations called algorithms. These estimates are sometimes relatively close but can be way off. Understandably, a home seller will be upset if the CMA, or comparative market analysis, comes in tens of thousands less than an online estimate. There is just no way that an algorithm can account for all of the nuances affecting an individual home. The home's value needs to be determined by an experienced local broker, not an online website.
How does the assessed value affect the sales price of my home?
The assessed value does not necessarily reflect the market value or appraised value. Many homes can be sold for more than their assessed value, while others may sell for less. Your local tax authority uses the assessed value to determine your taxes. Property taxes are derived using the assessed value multiplied by your area's tax rate, often referred to as the millage rate.
Many home buyers believe that homes listed at a higher value than their assessed value are overpriced, and if the list price is lower than the assessed value, they may wonder if something is wrong with the home. Bottom line: The assessed value does not affect the home's worth. Homeowners don't always pay enough attention to their assessed values, only to discover that their municipality is slowly increasing it year after year even though the market has stagnated.
How much higher should I price my home to allow for negotiation?
This question is a widespread pricing error that sellers tend to make. Sellers sometimes believe that their home should be priced higher than what a top broker recommends. By pricing it higher than recommended, homes will typically sit on the market, ultimately selling for less than they would have if priced correctly at the beginning. A house priced correctly will sell quickly and close to its listing price. In a seller's market, a home priced correctly will often create a bidding war. Today's homebuyers are highly educated; there is no need for you to make concessions if your home is priced right.
What's the difference between list price and sales price?
The list price is the price asked for the home, and the sales price is the price a buyer paid.
What are your fees?
Commissions, otherwise known as brokerage fees, are negotiable. Do not believe any real estate broker who says otherwise. Also, real estate is not a business where the services you receive from one broker will be identical to another broker. Every company operates differently, and brokers typically do not all provide the same brokerage services, expertise, and experience. A top REALTOR with a proven track record of success and dozens of positive reviews is a bargain compared to a REALTOR who does little to nothing to sell your home but charges the same amount.
How well do you think a listing broker will negotiate for you if they offer to lower their income with a "bargain" commission rate? Imagine if someone asked you to reduce your income. Would you be willing to work harder than you would normally? It is unlikely that you would. The biggest mistake home sellers make when selecting a real estate broker to help them sell their house is choosing one that offers the lowest commission. It's like buying a car that doesn't have an engine. Have you ever heard the phrase, "You get what you pay for?"
At the WEBREALTY Team, we pride ourselves on providing exemplary service and results. However, we typically charge whatever the average rate is for listing properties in the area we are serving. We are happy to show you the rates others are charging in your area for similar properties.
For more on real estate fees, watch the video in our Seller School on how commissions can affect the sale of your home.
If I list with you, for how long am I obligated?
While this is negotiable, some multiple listing services require a minimum listing period of 30-days to enter the listing into the system. The most common listing period is 90 to 120 days. However, if the home is unusual or in an upper price range, six to 12 month listing periods are not uncommon. Real estate brokers can end up spending thousands of dollars marketing higher-end homes and would like to recoup their expenses with a sale!
Am I able to cancel the listing?
Selling a home should be a relatively quick process that brings in top dollar. At least that's what we at the WEBREALTY Team strive to achieve. However, this is not the case if all of the elements needed to accomplish this are not in order.
With the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, when you list your Property, you list it with the Firm, not the broker from the Firm. They are the representative of the Firm. If you are unhappy with the service you are receiving and unable to solve this with the assigned broker, you can always ask the Firm to provide a different broker.
The following is the clause directly from the Exclusive Sale and Listing Agreement as of November 2021. It explains your obligations are under the terms of this Agreement regarding payment of fees and canceling the listing agreement.
" If Seller shall, within six months after the expiration of the Listing Term, sell the Property to any person to whose attention it was brought through the signs, advertising or other action of the Firm, or on information secured directly or indirectly from or through Firm, during the Listing Term, Seller will pay Firm the above commission. Provided, that if Seller pays a commission to a member of MLS or a cooperating MLS in conjunction with a sale, the amount of commission payable to Firm shall be reduced by the amount paid to such other member(s). Provided further, that if Seller cancels this Agreement without legal cause, Seller may be liable for damages incurred by Firm as a result of such cancellation, regardless of whether Seller pays a commission to another MLS member. Buyer Broker Firm is an intended third party beneficiary of this Agreement."
Even though it's not cut and dried, and other companies sometimes make it difficult to cancel your listing, at the WEBREALTY Team, we take a different approach. If you are unhappy with our services and we cannot rectify what you’re unhappy about, we will release you from the listing. The only exception is if you, within six months of the cancellation, sell it on your own to someone who looked at it during the listing period, then you are still obligated to pay us our fee. However, as a good-faith effort and in appreciation of your business, we will cut the total commission in half and handle the transaction paperwork through closing for you.
What kind of closing costs will I have to pay?
In addition to brokerage fees and loan payoffs, the most common costs sellers face are escrow fees, title fees, recording fees, property tax prorations, HOA dues if applicable, utility payoffs, and excise tax. Depending on the terms of the agreement, there could also be buyer closing costs. While usually nominal, once in a while, we will see a miscellaneous fee or two, such as a document preparation fee. Unless the Seller is paying part or all of the buyer closing costs, a rough estimate of seller costs, in addition to the brokerage fee, is three percent of the sales price.
What do you do to market my home?
While marketing is just one of many factors sellers should be looking at, it is second only to proper pricing in importance. Unless marketed heavily and professionally, not all prospective buyers may become aware of how great your home is. At the WEBREALTY Team, in addition to counseling sellers on price, condition, staging, accessibility, terms, and optimum brokerage fees, our primary focus is providing our sellers with an exemplary marketing system. As it is very comprehensive, you can get more details on our marketing by clicking here.
How often will you be in touch with me?
As with many answers to these frequently asked questions, communication methods and frequency will differ from one broker to the next. Your listing broker should contact you at least once per week when you are selling your home. However, we have had owners who only wanted contact if we had something significant to convey and others who wished to have daily updates. Your broker should consult with you about your communication frequency and preferences, whether email, text, or phone.
What type of things do I need to disclose to buyers?
It is important to tell potential buyers everything you know about your home when you sell it. No one likes to "get the raw end" of a deal when buying a house, car, or anything else for that matter. It's always better, to be honest about any defects in your home. It's also best to fix defects as soon as possible if you know about them to avoid potential lawsuits or other issues once your home goes under contract.
In the State of Washington, there's a law regarding disclosures, and it requires most sellers to fill out a form, commonly known as Form 17, regarding all aspects of their home or property.
What do I need to do to get my home ready to sell?
Before you list your home for sale, there are many things that you should know! The most common question that home sellers ask before listing their house is, "What steps should I take before listing my home?" A homeowner who does not adequately prepare their home for sale could be in serious trouble.
When it comes to selling your home, the expression "You never get another chance to make an impression" is very true. You must ensure that your home is presented in its best light when selling it. At a minimum, your home should be clean, bright, tidy, and free of foul odors. We recommend you watch The Importance of Condition and Staging on our Real Estate Seller School page. In addition, we have a checklist of general things you should do before putting your home on the market. You can access that by clicking here.
How do showings work?
Being flexible and making your home easy to show is one of the critical elements in getting your home sold quickly and for top dollar. In the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, we have an app called ShowingTime. The showing broker clicks on the ShowingTime icon, which takes them to a calendar for showings on your home. They select a suitable open time block, and the app will automatically approve the showing or contact the listing broker for approval, depending on the setup. The listing broker can then either grant the showing or run it by the homeowner before approving the showing. The showing broker gets notified when the showing is approved or denied. When the showing broker gets to the home, they will obtain the key from the lockbox on the door handle, chained to a post, or whatever is secure. They access the key through the ShowingTime app, which records their code. That way, the lockbox will record the showing of who it was and when they accessed the home. The app will also notify your listing broker whenever someone accesses the box if set up in the app.
How should I prepare my home for showings?
When you know you have a showing coming up on your home, here's a quick and easy checklist for getting it ready.
Bedrooms, Living Room and Dining Areas
• Turn on lights
• Open curtains and blinds
• Make the beds
• Remove random items from tables and floors
• Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher
• Empty the trash
• Clear and wipe down counters
• Flush toilets
• Wipe down counters and fixtures
• Hang towels neatly
• Empty the trash
• Close garage door
• Pick up yard debris and trash
Should I be there during showings to answer questions?
Easy answer: NO! Sellers shouldn't be present at showings for many reasons. Potential buyers will feel uncomfortable talking openly with their broker about your house at showings, and this is the main reason you shouldn't be present. It is best to leave your home before the scheduled viewing and return once the Buyer and their broker are gone.
Why aren't there more showings?
This question is often asked and can have a complicated answer. At least seven elements can affect the sale of your home, and if any one of them is not optimized, it could result in less or no showings at all.
The main reason potential buyers are not interested in your home is usually due to its price. Buyers who feel that a home is too expensive for what it has to offer will look at other homes in the area before yours. There may be apparent issues with the home due to poor condition and staging, as seen in photographs of the house. In addition, there may be accessibility difficulties, location issues, lack of certain types of financing allowed, an unattractive brokerage fee, or poor to no marketing by your listing broker. At the WEBREALTY Team, we strive to get all elements affecting the sale of your home optimized before hitting the market.
Will I need to make any repairs?
The answer to this is multi-faceted. If the purchase is not all cash, your home will need to meet guidelines set forth by lending institutions. We discuss this under another question about appraiser-required repairs. In addition, most buyers conduct a thorough inspection. Virtually all homes have deficiencies of some sort, which is true even for many new construction homes. It is up to the buyer and seller to agree on who will handle needed repairs. You will find more information under the question about inspections.
Will the appraiser or bank require any repairs?
With rare exceptions, the bank will perform an appraisal if a home buyer wants to obtain financing. The appraiser will be looking for safety concerns or hazards when performing their examination. Banks often require repairs such as missing handrails and broken windows. Appraisals are not home inspections, and a typical home inspection will reveal many more deficiencies than an appraisal will.
Will buyers do an inspection and how does that work?
Most commonly, buyers have an inspection contingency in their offer. Buyers have the right to conduct many types of inspections or tests, usually at the Buyer's expense. There is a time limit for these inspections, usually 3 to 10 days. The Buyer needs to either remove the contingency or request modifications to the purchase and sale agreement within that period. The Seller then has the opportunity to accept the request, modify the request, or refuse the request. Changes to the transaction could include Seller repairs, monetary concessions, or a combination thereof to compensate the Buyer for the repairs.
Does my home need to be appraised?
The answer to this is not straightforward. Technically, if the offer does not involve a lender, an appraisal isn't required. While unusual, that doesn't mean the purchaser won't want it appraised. If the purchase requires financing, which most do, the answer is almost always yes. The lender wants to make sure they aren't lending too much against the house and needs to know what an appraiser says the value is. If the home and buyer both meet strict criteria calculated through an algorithm, some lenders will waive the appraisal requirement.
What happens if the appraisal comes in low?
The bank appraiser will ensure that there are no safety hazards in a home. They also make sure that the home's value equals the agreed-upon price. That is not always possible. If an appraiser determines that the property's value is less than the agreed price, there can be five possible scenarios.
1. Seller Makes the Necessary Concession
The most common outcome is that the Seller agrees to accept the price and move forward with the sale.
2. Buyer Comes Up With the Difference
The buyer will need to bridge the gap between the purchase price of the home and its appraised value. However, most buyers find it difficult to pay more for a house than their bank appraisal indicates, and they often don't have funds to make up the difference.
3. Buyer and Seller Reach a Compromise
Depending on how bad a buyer wants the house, it's not uncommon for both the Buyer and Seller to chip in to bridge the gap.
The Seller or Buyer will initiate a rescission of the sale if they can't agree on a resolution.
5. Challenge the Appraisal
It is difficult to challenge an appraisal, and this is something you must do with care and consideration. Otherwise, the chances of having an appraised value changed are slim. It is also highly unusual to find comparable sales that meet the strict age range requirements, home-style, sale date, and location.
Should I include my appliances or are they negotiable?
Many appliances will not look or fit right in another home. It is up to the Seller to decide whether or not to include them in their listing. Also, the Buyer could ask for one or more in their purchase offer. Remember that appliances do not increase the home's value as they are considered personal property.
Do I need to provide copies of permits for any work I've done?
Each municipality is different, but a certificate or permit is required to improve or alter property or land. Potential buyers have the right to request certificates of compliance when selling a house. Some buyers may not need permits, while others may. Technically, there is no need to provide receipts or certificates, but lacking a fence permit could be enough to lose a buyer.
What are Seller Concessions?
The buyer may be eligible for seller concessions depending on the type of financing they are obtaining. Many home buyers are short on available funds to purchase a home, and they have excellent credit and work hard but lack the funds for a down payment plus closing costs. A seller concession allows a homeowner to pay a percentage or dollar amount toward the closing costs and pre-paid items. A buyer eligible for an FHA mortgage, as an example, may receive up to 6 percent of the purchase price toward their closing costs. A contribution like this could make the difference between a buyer being financially able to buy a home or the Seller selling it. It is not uncommon for buyers to pay more for the property to compensate wholly or partly for the concession amount, thus netting the Seller approximately the same as they would have received from someone not needing the concession.
What does a sale contingency really mean?
Buyers may decide that they want to purchase a property before selling their current home. Under these scenarios, sellers often see a sale contingency in their purchase offers. A sale contingency means that the potential buyers of a house will need to sell their current home before closing the purchase of the "new" one.
Do you hold open houses?
Open houses are controversial in the real estate industry. A few REALTORS will tell sellers that open houses will help sell homes. However, this isn't necessarily so. Homes are open 24/7 on the Internet with photos and sometimes walk-through tours. Although it doesn't hurt anything, holding open houses is not necessary to sell a home.
Open houses are only necessary if a broker hopes to attract buyers they can work with to find a home. The number of potential buyers that may show up also depends on the kind and price range of the home and its location. We have had upwards of fifty people at some open houses and others where nobody came.