The Five Steps to a Sale

Once you have decided to sell your house (or any piece of REAL property), you can easily get overwhelmed by all of the information available (do NOT believe everything you find online!).  Everyone has an opinion and many have “gimmicks” and cute stories to tell you.  The bottom line is that there are only five steps needed to sell any property.  However, they are fundamental and ALL are absolutely critical to having a successful (“settled”) transaction.  Real Estate is NOT "rocket science"!

Selling Real Estate can be a challenging and possibly very frustrating process.  By working with me you will minimize many of the potential problems while maximizing your chances for success.  I work very hard for my clients and OUR success is dependent upon BOTH of us:  this is truly a "team effort".

Depending on the “type” of "market" you are selling in (this can vary from area to area as well as from one property type to another), there are certain factors to recognize.  If it is a “Buyer’s market”, the “supply” of available properties exceeds the “demand” (number of Buyers) so every property will not sell in a reasonable amount of time (3 months is a general guide) and prices may be soft while Buyer "demands" increase (examples:  closing cost assistance and repairs).  Essentially, Buyers really only care about getting the best value for their hard earned dollars and they can be choosy and demanding.  In a “Seller’s market” demand exceeds supply.  Most properties will sell quickly, prices may be driven up by competition and Sellers can be very choosy and demanding.  You MUST know your local market:  do NOT rely on the national news to tell you what you need to know.

I firmly believe that well-priced properties can sell any time of year and that every property has a price at which it will sell.  Relative to the “type” of market you are in, if a property is overpriced it will take a longer time to sell, if it sells at all.  If a property is priced very low, you can sell it yourself and won’t need me.  My job, when “hired”, is to get you the highest possible selling price in the shortest period of time.  A Seller has to determine which is more important:  price or how long it takes to sell.  And now, the five steps ….

Step One:  you need to make a commitment to having me as your Realtor.  However you identify agents to consider "hiring", please keep the content of this letter in mind and be realistic about what you are looking for.  Real Estate agents don’t create sales:  we aren’t magicians.  In fact, your level of urgency and how aggressively you price your property (based on the “type” of market) will largely determine how long it will take to sell.  I earn my fee by facilitating the early part of the process (I will usually have some helpful ideas to get us started) and by keeping deals together:  getting a sale is only good if you get to the settlement table.  I suggest that you pick a Realtor you are comfortable with and can trust as well as one who truly understands the entire process.  This is a very big decision and many Sellers feel that they made a mistake soon after listing.  I am a Realtor (not sales agent or sales counselor), I do this full time, I am associated with a very successful office/ company, I have earned several professional designations and I have been very successful working with variety of clients, many of whom could not sell their properties with other agents.  I will gladly provide my resume, personal brochure and marketing plan for you to review as well as share some of my success stories.  Please review the information on this site to learn more about me as well as to search within your local market.  I will gladly provide anything additional you may need and answer all of your questions.

Step Two:  your property listing is placed “on the market”.  Once I am hired to represent you, the following will occur:

•    we will sign a listing contract and addenda that I will FULLY explain to you.  This includes my providing an estimate of your costs to sell and what you can expect to have after expenses;
•    I will write a description of your property so that I can generate a property highlight sheet for prospective Buyers and their agents to pick up when they visit your property (this will help them to remember things which we think are important);
•    I will personally enter your listing information into the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to let the Real Estate community at-large know that you have a property to sell.  This information will be available to over 30,000 agents in over 2500 offices located in 13+ counties.  This is how most Buyers learn about available properties to see/ buy and your listing information is essentially your home's resume.  In addition, the MLS will "syndicate"/ provide your property information to numerous web sites (including, making it available 24 hours a day, everyday.  This MUST be accurate:  if people cannot find your information they may never know that your property is available for sale (think "Google search");
•    I will have a “For Sale” sign placed on your property so that neighbors and passersby will know that your property is available;
•    I will install a lockbox (if requested) and review our “showing instructions”;
•    I will order a Home Warranty (if requested);
•    I will provide you with copies of the MLS printout and property highlight sheet to ensure that you are satisfied with how I am portraying your property to the market.  I need to make sure that the information is accurate so that people can find your property in their Real Estate searches;
•    I will solicit feedback from every agent who shows your property and forward exactly what they tell me.  Our Appointment Center sends me an email every time an appointment is scheduled; they will also send every showing agent a form requesting feedback.  I will personally call agents who do not respond to the request and I will report any feedback received to you in a timely manner;
•    I will send you a formal written report every month describing what has occurred during the past month, what I think about our status and what I recommend for the future.  This will include an updated comparative market analysis (CMA) so that you will know what is occurring in the market so that we can stay competitive.

This usually tends to be the longest and most frustrating step because it is “passive”.  The goal is to get your property exposed/ shown to as many serious and interested Buyers as possible.  That being said, this is the age of the Internet and your "first showing" happens ONLINE.  Based on what Buyers see, they will evaluate your property according to location, price, features and condition and compare it to others on the market.  Many will go a step further and drive by to see the exterior as well as your neighborhood before asking to see the inside.  My primary function is to act as your “pipeline” to the Real Estate community:  there are hundreds of agents working or soon to be working with Buyers in your area and I have to let them know about your property!  I don’t focus on trying to find your Buyer myself because that is a very time consuming, inefficient and expensive process.  Overwhelmingly, properties are sold by Buyers going to a Real Estate agent to help them find what they think they are looking for and most actually avoid the listing agent so that they can have “exclusive representation”.  The critical issues are:  price, location, features and condition.  It is essential that I accurately portray what we have to sell.  If your price, location, features or conditions are not compatible you may not get a second chance with a particular Buyer.

There are three “aspects” to getting an acceptable agreement.  Think of them as a “triangle” with each side equally important:  if any side is “weak” the triangle will collapse.  These aspects are:  price (the #1 factor in determining how long it takes a property to sell and the only factor controllable by a Seller.  You can’t change location and you are not likely to substantially change what your property has to offer.  Essentially, the sole purpose of a listing price is to attract showings), the MLS (far and away the #1 method by which the real estate community and their Buyers learn about available houses.  All the lesser “tools” combined pale in comparison), and ME!  I bring it all together and help you get to the settlement table.  

Step Three:  when I get an agreement of sale, I will first make certain that I understand what it really means (I often have to call the other agent to discuss what they wrote).  I will then call you and present the offer to you.  I will show you an updated CMA and an estimate of your closing costs to help us choose a strategy to negotiate the best deal we can.  You may choose to accept the offer as written, offer a counter-proposal or simply reject the offer without a specific response.  My job is to protect your interests throughout the process and, if we can get an agreement acceptable to both parties, get you to the settlement table.  Simply put:  my goal is to sell your house AND to keep it sold.  I have been very successful at this.  Once fully accepted, we progress to the next step.  Keep in mind that the property is sold but NOT settled.  This stage is similar to an “engagement”:  both parties agree to continue to work to a settlement IF they both continue to be happy with the process.

Step Four:  this is the period prior to settlement and consists of carrying out all of the terms of the agreement (contingencies).  This may be a rollercoaster of emotions!  The aspects may include:
•    the mortgage application   
•    obtaining homeowner’s insurance
•    the property inspection
•    a test for radon
•    a test for lead based paint
•    a wood infestation inspection
•    a test for mold
•    the mortgage appraisal
•    a re-sale certification (the municipal inspection)
•    receipt of additional deposits
•    obtaining the buyer’s mortgage commitment
•    satisfaction of any special clauses agreed to
•    ordering the “title” report
•    ordering tax certifications
•    ordering payoff information
•    the pre-settlement inspection/ walk-through
•    miscellaneous tasks 

Depending upon how the purchase offer was written, the Buyer may have several opportunities to ask you (the Seller) to address any issues that this process uncovers AND may even have the opportunity to terminate your agreement without offering you the opportunity to address their concerns.  Remember what Yogi Berra said:  "it ain't over 'til it's over!". 

Step Five:  settlement day arrives!  If we have done our work, we will enjoy the day for what it is meant to be:  a celebration!

As you can see, there are many details to manage and many potential problems.  It truly is not over until you have their money and they have your keys.

Which REALTOR do you want on your side?