There are a number of key points to consider when you sell your home, but perhaps the most important is price. Setting the list price for your home involves evaluating various market conditions and financial factors.
During this phase of the home selling process, your REALTOR will help you set your list price by determining:
Offering incentives; and
Estimating net proceeds.
In setting the list price for your home, youshould be aware of a buyer's frame of mind. Based on a list of houses for sale in your neighborhood (which can be in the form of a printed list from your REALTOR or online search results that you've found yourself), buyers will determine which houses they want to view.
Consider the following pricing factors: If you set the price too high, your house won't be picked for viewing, even though it may be much nicer than others on the street. You may have told your REALTOR to "Bring me any offer. Frankly, I'd take less." But in that list of houses, yours simply looks too expensive to be considered. If you price too low, you'll short-change yourself. Your house will sell promptly, yes, but before it has time to find the buyer who would have paid more.
To determine the proper list price, contact a REALTOR and have them provide you with the following professional services:
Furnishing comparable sales.
Analyzing market conditions.
Helping to determine offering incentives.
Estimating your net proceeds.
Using Comparable Sales
No matter how attractive and polished your house, buyers will be comparing its price with everything else on the market. Your best guide is a record of what the buying public has been willing to pay in the past few months for property in your neighborhood like yours.
Your REALTOR can furnish data on sale figures for those "comps", and analyze them for a suggested listing price. The decision about how much to ask, though, is always yours.
The list of comparable sales a REALTOR brings to you, along with data about other houses in your neighborhood presently on the market, is used for a "Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)." To help in estimating a possible sale price for your house, the analysis will also include data on nearby houses that failed to sell in the past few months, along with their list prices. This CMA differs from a formal appraisal in several ways. One major difference is that an appraisal will be based only on past sales. In addition, an appraisal is done for a fee while the CMA is provided by your REALTOR and may include properties currently listed for sale and those currently pending sale.
In the normal home sale, a CMA is probably enough to let you set a proper price. A formal written appraisal (which may cost a few
hundred dollars) can be useful if you have unique property, if there hasn't been much activity in your area recently, if co-owners disagree about price, and any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a value on your home.
Consider Market Conditions
A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) often includes Days on the Market (DOM) for each comparable house sold. When real
estate is booming and prices are rising, houses may sell in a few days. Conversely, when the market slows down, average DOM can run into many months. Your REALTOR can tell you whether your area is currently a buyer's market or a seller's market. In a seller's market, you can price a bit beyond what you really expect, just to see what the reaction will be. In a buyer's market, if you really need to sell promptly, offer an attractive bargain price.
Some sellers list at the rock-bottom price they'd really take, because they hate bargaining. Others add on thousands to the estimated market value "just to see what happens." If you want to try that, and if you have the luxury of enough time to feel out the market, sit down with your REALTOR and work out a schedule in advance. If there haven't been many prospects viewing your home after three weeks, you may need to lower your list price. If that doesn't bring any prospective buyers, you may need to lower your list price again. Plan on doing that regularly until you find a level that attracts buyers. Make a written schedule in advance, before emotion takes over and you're tempted to dig your heels in.
Sometimes cash incentives are as effective as lowering the price, especially in the lower price range where buyers may be "cash poor." You may offer to pay such items as some or all of a buyer's closing costs.
Estimating Net Proceeds
Once you've been given an estimate of market value by your REALTOR, you can get a rough idea of how much cash you might walk away with when the sale is completed. This can be particularly useful as you start looking for another home to buy.
From the estimated sales price, subtract:
Payoff figure on your present loan(s);
Any prepayment penalty on your mortgage;
Attorney's fees, if any; and
Unpaid property taxes.
In addition, your REALTOR can tell you
whether local customs or rules expects the
buyer or seller to pay for the following items:
Title insurance premium;
Inspections and repairs for termites and the like;
Homeowner Association transfer fees and document preparation;
Home protection plan; and
Natural hazard disclosure report.
As far as closing costs are concerned, you and your eventual buyer may agree on any arrangement that suits you, no matter what local practice dictates. Your REALTOR will assist you in estimating what your final closing costs will be. It is difficult to predict what the exact closing costs will be when you negotiate with a particular buyer.