Home Seller Guide
Sellers in the San Diego real estate markets have enough to worry about in readying their home for market and planning their move to a new home. I will take over a huge number of tasks and details to make sure that your real estate property is properly evaluated, priced, marketed, negotiated and carried to closing.
There are so many things to do to move to a successful sale, and I am here to advise, assist, and assure success. Our clients send us new business by referral constantly because they’ve experienced our stellar seller services package and want their friends and family to experience it as well. I realize that the value I bring to a home seller is in a package of services that takes from you from an idea to sell, through a very complex and detailed process and culminates in leaving the closing table with a check.
One service that I believe is extremely important in Encinitas real estate markets is helping my listing clients to objectively evaluate their homes for marketability. Some brokerages do a once–over to get the information to put into the various information fields in the listing . However, I go much more into the detail of the features, characteristics and condition of your home.
I will want to postpone some photos until we’ve worked with you to do a thorough inspection of your home with a whole lot of details in mind. Every buyer who sees your home will be comparing it to the competition in your area and price range. How your home compares is critical to how soon you sell it and at what price. I'm going to work with you in several areas of concern:
- Interior features & characteristics – While the number of bedrooms and baths are not something you’ll be changing to compete better with other homes, you do need to objectively compare them in order to end up with a listing price that will get your property sold. Some things I can consider for improvements, others I just need to know how your home compares to other homes buyers will be seeing. Other features/characteristics:
- Floor plan
- Built date and obsolescence
- Floors & walls condition, paint, etc.
- Kitchen features
- Room sizes
- Lighting, skylights, windows
- Exterior – That “curb appeal” thing really does mean something. When a prospective buyer first drives up in front of your home, they’re going to get a first impression that is very important. I help you to look at things like landscaping, exterior paint and condition. Here is an area in which small expenditures can yield big results. It’s a fact that some buyers will ask to leave without ever stepping across the threshold if they get a bad first curb appeal impression.
- Condition – Minor repairs can also make a major difference. Many buyers assume that a need for minor repairs indicates a general lack of fundamental maintenance over time. They’ll discount their offer, if they make one, thinking they’ll have a lot of work to do to bring the home to a good condition. So, I'm honest with you about things that I see and buyers will see and consider in their evaluation. From cracked window panes to scarred walls or doors, we’ll let you know what we believe is important and make suggestions.
I'm here to make sure that your home enters the market in the very best competitive position possible. A thorough and objective evaluation is an important step.
Setting The Right Price
Whether you’re considering buying a new home or refinancing your existing property, getting a clear picture of the home’s value is a critical factor in making the right decision. Getting an estimate of your home's Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) can be a great first step in determining how much a property is really worth.
A proper list price that reflects current and realistic market conditions is critical to getting your Encinitas real estate property sold quickly. I don’t want you to under–price, but it’s worse to over–price in any market. Buyers discount value by DOM, Days On Market. The longer a home stays on the market, the greater they’ll discount their offers. So, a realistic list price is how I make sure your property sells without languishing on the market.
Note that there are many factors that may have an effect on your home’s value. Automated home valuations on other sites can account for some variables in the market, but other factors, recently upgrades to a home or issues that might come up in an inspection are more difficult to account for with an automated valuation tool. The valuation you will receive from me is a custom, professional, in-depth market valuation, and it's still FREE.
CMA of Sold Properties
First I select comparable properties out of those sold recently and in the neighborhood or nearby. These “comparables” or “comps” are selected based on similarity in features, location and characteristics with your home. They must have been sold as recently as possible so the sold prices are of maximum value.
I then do a through “adjustment” process to adjust their sold prices for any differences with your property. If a home has one more bedroom than yours, I would adjust that property’s sold price downward for the value of one bedroom to make the comparison “apples to apples.” I make adjustments for garages, bathrooms and other major features to bring our comps to closely compare with your home. Then I use those sold prices to arrive at a preliminary listing price for your home. I say “preliminary” because I have another CMA step.
CMA of Current Listings
Now I get more comps, but instead they’re properties currently listed and your competition. I go through the same adjustment process, and I come up with another, possibly higher or lower, price suggestion for your home. This second CMA gives me more up–to–date information about the market which could cause us to lower or raise our preliminary list price to adjust to the current market. Using the two CMA results and an experienced analysis of your home’s position in the marketplace, we can set a listing price that will get the job done.
While you will still need to undergo an appraisal for most kinds of loans, my CMA is a fast, free way to get an estimate that can be used to help you decide what to offer on a new purchase or how much equity you may have for a refinance.
Do you know how many comparable properties to your home came on the market this week? How about how many were sold or taken off the market? Markets are constantly changing, and it’s my job to monitor these changes and keep my listing clients informed. Changes in the competition don’t always require a price adjustment, but they may. Sometimes they just cause us to make changes in our marketing approach, putting emphasis on features that are no longer available in currently listed comps.
Whether I'm suggesting a price adjustment up or down or not, I'm always concerned with my seller clients’ peace of mind that their real estate property is properly priced and positioned in the market. Use the form on this page to tell me about your property and I’ll do a preliminary CMA for you with recently sold comps in your area. I’ll need more data to do the best job, but you can begin to see how the process works.
All buyers want to pay as little as possible for the home they purchase. Buyers in slower markets are definitely looking to score a bargain. My job is to combine services to my sellers that include marketing to improve the competitive position of their homes, and then to assist them in countering low offers and buyer resistance to fair pricing.
Part of this process begins with the CMAs I do and the price at which I suggest that you list your home. Starting at the right price for the market with a little room for negotiation combines market specifics with buyer human nature factors. I'm really good at this negotiation thing, as I do it every day. I'm on your side, and my job is to get a combination of the best price and contingencies resolutions for your home.
Many sellers are intimidated when there are distressed properties for sale in the area or foreclosures putting downward pressure on prices. However, generally there is a 20% to 30% difference in selling prices between those homes and seller-occupied homes in good condition. You see, those distressed properties are usually in poor-to-terrible condition. In many cases, they will not even qualify for a mortgage without extensive modifications and repairs, and that’s not going to be possible for most buyers.
So, the first thing to remember is that you’re selling a “ready to move in” property, and this commands a higher price. The more “ready to move in” it appears to the buyer on that first walk-through, the better the price you’re going to get. So, I’ll make some suggestions as to landscaping, curb appeal, outdoor and indoor improvements, and possibly even “staging.” Staging is the process of moving, adding to or taking away from furnishings in the home to make it seem more spacious and to allow potential buyers to view it as “their home” in the future.
Consider the possibility of post-inspection repair requirements by the buyer(s) as well. The time to think about this is from the first offer, as you don’t want to negotiate a purchase price that leaves you little or no room for possible repairs or condition corrections. This single item is the cause for the vast majority of deal failures after a successful initial price negotiation.
Some negotiations are short and sweet, while others can involve multiple counter offers with terms and conditions related not only to price, but also related to closing costs, items included in the sale, partial owner financing and more. My job is to work with my sellers to know their needs and to tailor the negotiation to those requirements to get the best deal for them.
Negotiating Inspections And Repairs
While my sellers tend to become less stressed as soon as all of the purchase contract signatures are in place, I am with them and ready for the next negotiation phase. Property inspections can frequently result in buyer requirements for corrections by the seller. Whether you’re prepared for these or they come as a surprise, I'm here to help you to deal with them, as repair disputes are the most frequent reason for contract failures before closing.
Part of my job is to help you to avoid too many “surprises” related to condition and repair negotiations after inspections. I'll do my best to give you information about what I see that buyers may want corrected, but there are definitely things that nobody can anticipate until the inspectors have submitted their reports. So, there’s one other thing I try to do in order to prepare you and leave some negotiation room for you.
I want you to always be thinking ahead to inspections and repair demands from the first offer. Always be thinking of what may be coming in the way of inspections and repair negotiations, especially when the initial purchase contract price negotiations are in play. No matter how urgent your need to sell, if you go too far in price concessions at the beginning, you may have no room left when inspections are done and condition corrections are requested by the buyer.
As the buyer is normally paying for and ordering inspections, my job for my sellers is to make sure that they happen on time and that I receive the inspection reports by deadline due dates. I then meet with my sellers and go over the reports and any buyer objections/requirements to develop a counter strategy. If there are no objections or they’re minor in nature and cost, you may opt to agree to corrections. However, if they’re more extensive and were not anticipated, my job is to help you to reply in a way that saves you money and keeps the buyer in the transaction.
Depending on the desires of the buyer and their selection of inspectors, there could be as few as a single inspector hired to do a thorough inspection of the home and all equipment supporting the home. However, there may also be other inspectors hired with a more focused goal, possibly a heating and air conditioning contractor, a well inspector, septic inspector, etc. Each of these inspections will have deadlines for completion and submission of reports and buyer requests for corrections.
I have my own list of inspectors and contractors, and can call in experts to provide cost estimates and help my sellers to make decisions within the deadline times. Unless you have multiple offers, a buyer in the hand is worth something. My job is to get them to the closing table and your satisfaction with your net proceeds from the sale.
Contract To Closing
My seller clients really appreciate my services in listing, marketing and getting a buyer signed on the dotted line on a purchase contract. However, neither they nor we can rest just because a contract is inked. There are more than 50 tasks and deadline deliveries on my normal residential seller side real estate transaction checklist. And, I take our responsibilities seriously in the processing of all documents and meeting of all deadlines.
The process of taking a signed purchase contract through to closing involves a great many details, deliveries and document submissions. I coordinate all of this for my sellers, making sure that all phases of the closing process move along smoothly.
- Title – I work closely with the title company and attorneys to make sure that all documents and deliveries are processed in a timely manner. I work with my sellers to examine all of their title and recorded documents to uncover all material defects and items of importance. Though this is normally of more concern to the buyer, sellers must respond to their objections, so it’s important to know what’s in all recorded documents. Example: while there are normally few items in a title binder that can be corrected as they’re recorded and pass with the property, sometimes there are requirements or exceptions that weren’t expected but must be addressed. With the more careful lending environment, more “quit-claim” deeds are being required as one example. Perhaps you have a previous divorce and the lender wants better protection against claims and will require a quitclaim deed from your former spouse.
- Inspections, Survey & Appraisal – My job is to coordinate access for inspectors and the appraiser, and to accept deliveries of reports as well as any objections or correction requirements from the buyers. I take this job seriously and will be with my sellers every step of the way. Every instance of delivery of an inspection and/or buyer objections requires a response in most cases, and there are deadlines. I stay on top of these deadlines, make sure reports are delivered to you on time or extensions are put into place, and that you respond within required time lines. Failure to do so could obligate you to repairs or other corrections or kill the deal.
- Repair Negotiations – If the buyer submits requirements for corrective actions to items on reports, I work with my sellers to determine the cost of those requirements and the appropriate response necessary to keep the deal going in a way beneficial to my seller clients. Should you agree to make certain repairs, there will be deadlines associated with completion, and possibly requirements for the buyer’s inspector to return and re-inspect for completion and repair quality. I keep all of this on track for you, and can recommend contractors I know do quality work at fair prices.
- Lender Document Coordination – One of the leading causes of delayed closings is some problem with funding due to lender last minute requirements or other document demands. I am monitoring all document flows to make sure this doesn’t happen for my sellers. As the seller, you aren’t getting a mortgage, but you need to be very concerned with the buyer’s ability to do so and their lender’s process and ability to meet deadlines and fund at closing. Mortgage problems kill a lot of deals, so we’re going to be involved in the buyer’s process to protect you, our seller client.