Home Sales Tips for the Modern Market

By US Legal Forms Team
7 min read
Table of contents

The process of selling a house can challenge even the most hardened person’s nerves. From preparation to contract closure, there are a number of things that you can do to make the process easier for yourself. US Legal Forms offers Multistate Guide and Handbook for Selling or Buying Real Estate to help you from start to finish in your quest to sell your home. 

In this blog, we’ll cover the essential home sales tips. Let’s get started!

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Documents Required Before Listing

Before you even begin anything related to the process of selling your home, there are some documents that you should track down first:

  • The original appraisal and sales contract: this will help you to understand how to adjust your listing price based on your local market’s changes, improvements you’ve made, and to adjust for inflation.
  • A home sales checklist, guide, or handbook: this will help you ensure that you are following the right path and not missing any steps (feel free to return to this article as a reference).
  • Appliance and equipment warranties and manuals: if you’ve installed equipment and are leaving some appliances behind, for example, a washer and drier, the buyer will need to know how to operate and maintain these, they do add value.
  • Homeowners Association documentation: allowing potential buyers to read the HOA rules and regulations prior to making an offer gives them the opportunity to remain HOA compliant and to understand if the area is right for them.
  • Maintenance records: showing the work that has been performed grants the potential buyer the opportunity to understand the history surrounding the home’s overall health, what to keep an eye on in the future, and helps build trust between the buyer and seller.

Know Your Market

There are a plethora of homes listed online and in other publications that have been on the list for years. One of the major reasons for this is a failure in adequate listing prices. Without an understanding of your local market’s value, your home might sit vacant, and under your care, for far longer than is reasonable for you and your family. Imagine moving to another state and receiving forwarded HOA compliance violations in the mail, this can be avoided entirely by ensuring that the process goes smoothly.

Typically, new home sales listings perform much better than homes for sale for years. Potential buyers see this as a red flag, assuming that there must be something wrong with the home, property, documentation, or neighborhood.

When evaluating the price of your home, you’ll need to take several factors into consideration. First and foremost is your original appraisal and sales contract, followed by understanding the shift in property value of the homes directly adjacent to yours. Public record home sales are a good place to seek additional information.

You should be interested in the value shift of adjacent homes because each street, block, corner, and district is valued differently. For example, a house for sell on your street may be listed for $300,000, yet if that same home was relocated just two streets away, the value may change to $180,000 or $360,000. Simply put, location matters.

In real estate, there is a term known as “comps”, otherwise known as “comparable homes”. These can be searched for utilizing the Multiple Listing Service from the National Association of Realtors (MLS). When comparing similar homes to your own using the MLS, it’s important to note that the prices listed are only listing prices, not what the homes actually sold for. As a result, you should adjust your listing price according to the other data you’ve accumulated.

Houses for sale are also affected by interest rates. In economics, it’s understood that low-interest rates encourage big purchases such as homes and motor vehicles, while high-interest rates discourage many potential buyers. If you understand that the current interest rates are unfavorable for borrowers, reducing the overall price of your home may help expedite the process.

The Consequences of Selling Prices

When conducting a house property sale, there are a few more things to be aware of regarding the sales price. First, the tax consequences that will affect you and your spouse need to be considered. If you’re unmarried, the capital gains tax, as per the taxpayer relief act of 1997, allows you to exclude up to $250,000 from your taxes; and for married couples, this amount is up to $500,000. What this means is that if you bought your home for $100,000 in 1985 and sold it for $450,000, you would be liable for the capital gains from the profit made, minus the amount of capital gains relief you qualify for. In our example, a single individual would still be liable for $100,000 in capital gains taxes, and a married couple would be able to exclude the totality of capital gains.

In addition to tax considerations, you should also understand the costs generally associated with real estate agents. Real estate agents usually take a percentage of the sale, ranging from 5% to 6%, on average. However, this rate can fluctuate wildly based on location and competition. It’s important to understand what the local rates are if you are seeking the help of an agent. Higher commissions and prices don’t always translate to a better quality of service. Selling a house by owner means avoiding these cost considerations but will have a lot of work and research to undertake to properly comply with all laws and regulations in regards to a real estate sale

Listing Your Home

By far, the most effective way to list your home is online. Of course, there are other publications that can be useful to you and we recommend listing your home on as many of them as possible. However, if you’re going to hold an open house, be sure to include the dates, times, and contact information within the property’s description.

Open House

One critical step some homeowners often forget about after listing their home is holding an open house for potential buyers to come to see the property, and to prepare it in a way that piques their interest.

When preparing your home, it is incredibly easy to overlook important details that might be pain points to potential buyers. In this guide on how to sell house, the following items might be the most important that can make or break meeting your desired timeline: 

  • Check for safety hazards
    • Are there any exposed wires?
    • Is the driveway or walkway slick or slippery?
    • Are there any broken or loose steps?
    • Are there any holes or fire ant hills in the yard?
    • etc.
  • Give the exterior a makeover
    • Mow the lawn
    • Trim any bushes, trees, or plants that are unkempt
    • Add colorful flowers and plants
    • Repaint any areas that have chipped paint
    • Sand and polish rusted metals
  • Clean house
    • Remove knick-knacks, personalized decorations, books, and
      refrigerator magnets and cards from view
    • Pack unnecessary items like books, family photos, clothes in
    • Organize any visible cabinets
    • Lock up expensive and financial items such as:
      • Cards
      • Cash
      • Jewerly
      • Checkbooks
      • Expensive art
      • Remove anything expensive from accessible drawers
    • Remove dirt, dust, cobwebs, and grime from all corners of the home,
      especially the kitchen(s) and bathroom(s)
    • Clean carpets and remove stains
    • Paint any walls with faded paints or dirt
    • Tuck away any litter boxes
    • Make it smell fresh:
      • Baking soda in a bowl in closets and around the house helps pull
        smells from the air
      • Air purifiers reduce odors significantly
      • Distribute air fresheners, candles, and high-end incense
        throughout the house
    • Wash both the interior and exterior:
      • Pressure washing services are commonly found in the yellow pages
        and online
    • Recaulk bathtubs, showers, sinks, and anything that looks a little
  • Security
    • Implement a guest book that records a guest’s:
      • Legal name
      • Phone number
      • Email (this may also help you reach out later if the home
        doesn’t sell within your desired timeline)
      • City of residence
    • Allow for only one entry and exit

Other Documents

After showing your home, there will be questions regarding the home sales agreement. By utilizing a warranty deed, you are assuring the potential buyers that there are no outstanding liens, unpaid taxes, or debts in regards to the property. Additionally, if the buyer isn’t using traditional financing to buy, the purchase agreement should also be accompanied by a contract for deed. The contract for deed allows the seller to retain the title of the property until the agreed-upon amount is paid in full by the buyer.

There are a variety of home sale forms, such as the home sales contract of sale, seller’s disclosure, lead-based paint disclosure for older homes, and more. You can find a real estate home sale forms package here.

Evaluate Offers

Not all offers are created equally, and some are high-risk. Carefully comb through all of the offers on the table and choose the buyer that is the best fit, not the best price. Even if an offer is the highest, it may be risky as the buyer may not be able to acquire financing in time or is facing other issues.

Documents Needed After Accepting an Offer

After counter-offering the buyer’s initial offer and you and the buyer come to an agreement, you are considered in contract, which is a legally protected status that locks in the price so long as the terms of the real estate sales contract remain met. However, before we get to the counter-offer, there are a series of documents you need to assess.

The first of these is the home inspection records. While buyers will typically have an inspection performed after they agree to purchase, you can amend the purchase agreement with the information gleaned. Next is the appraisal report. The appraisal report is important for the buyer to understand the final price, and it is required for nearly all mortgages to be approved. Any amendments to the purchase and sale agreement, as per changes that may have been made after appraisals and inspections were analyzed, should be documented with care.

Close the Deal

After you’ve both agreed on a price, so long as the buyer has acquired the funds to purchase and has met all of their contractual obligations, you’re almost done. Make sure that the closing date is at least a few weeks in the future after signing the contract. This allows for the acquisition of homeowner insurance, for you to make any agreed-upon repairs prior to their occupancy of the property, and to ensure that they have secured their financing. If they fail to meet their financial obligations in time, the contract can be void or the closing date renegotiated if necessary.

While the process of preparing up to the point of a home purchase agreement being signed may be tedious, it is a worthwhile investment of your time to ensure a timely and worthwhile transaction. Home sale by owner forms may seem complicated, but that is mostly due to the overwhelming amount of information present at first glance. If you’re able to break it into chunks to simplify each step, it becomes a lot easier to manage and deal with.

We hope these tips help you close your land purchase agreement, happy sales!

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as any financial, legal, accounting, or tax advice on any subject matter and should not be relied upon for those purposes. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this article without seeking legal or other professional advice. The contents of this article contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address your situation. We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content on this article. The operation of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and airSlate Legal Forms, Inc. or airSlate, Inc

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