For most property owners, buying that first piece of real estate turned out to be a major financial decision. It may still be your most valuable financial asset. Yet, the value of a home can’t be measured in market worth alone. Your home is your castle, your fortress and your place of peace. It holds memories, ambitions and years of hard work. So, it’s important to recognize the emotional impact of later going on to sell a first property.
If you’re preparing to sell your house in St. Louis, make sure you’re ready for both the emotional and practical requirements. Finding a buyer is just the beginning. After securing a new owner for your property, there’s lots of administrative work to do. You may need to renovate or redecorate depending on your home’s current condition. This article will help you decide if you’re ready to sell and, if you are, what steps to take next.
7 Steps to a Successful Property Sale
There is certainly no shortage of real estate agents. It’s important to establish what type of advice you need at an early stage because it will help you separate the superb agents from the unsuitable ones. Finding the right property agent can be the difference between an enriching experience and a stressful one. So, try not to rush this part of the process.
Our advice, in this situation, is to avoid word of mouth recommendations. You may have a buddy who knows a guy who knows a guy, but it’s safer to search for your agent through traditional channels. Look for individuals with a lot of verifiable experience (customer testimonials, industry awards, years served, etc.) Search for an agent who delivers honest advice based on your specific goals.
Some property owners go it alone and sell their homes without the help of an estate agent. This can be successful but, in most cases, the property ends up being sold for less than it would with an experienced professional at the helm. It’s very difficult to match the skills of a qualified agent when it comes to marketing, listing and valuation. If you’re determined to go the route of For Sale By Owner (FSBO), don’t forget you still have to pay commission to the agent working on a buyer’s behalf.
This is something else your estate agent can help you with. In fact, the best way to get a reliable valuation of a property is to stand back and let an objective third party make the calculations. Yes, you can do it yourself but it’s easy to be clouded by the weight of experiences and memories spent inside a family home.
The truth is most homeowners aren’t in the best position to value a lived in property. Find a trustworthy agent and let them complete a Comparative Market Analysis. This is a free reporting process which determines the probable value of your home by comparing it to properties of a similar size, design and circumstance.
With the help of an estate agent, it’s a relatively straightforward task. You’ll need to supply blueprints or property maps, high quality photographs and several pages of detailed information about the home. The goal is to end up with a property valuation that’s entirely based on fact and not colored by emotions.
Not every property owner knows exactly how or when they want to sell their home. Often, circumstances change, and deadlines have to be altered. Nevertheless, it’s still important to have a rough idea of when each part of the sales process needs to be completed. For instance, when are you going to list the property? How long, ideally, do you want to be waiting between first listing and showing the property.
Don’t forget, the quickest timeframe is not always the best timeframe. If you start getting interest right away, is your home ready to show? Do you need extra time to prepare it for showings and, if so, should you prepare it or list it first? Use the following timeline tips to establish a schedule for your listing and sale:
Do It Now – (1) appoint a real estate agent, (2) ask your agent to help you draw up a professional listing and sales timeline, (3) start decluttering your home and putting non-essential items into storage.
2 -3 Months – (1) schedule a professional property inspection; check for any structural issues and arrange repairs if required, (2) consult with your property agent on how to spend to maximize the home’s value.
1 – 2 Months – (1) prepare the property for showings by deep cleaning, cleaning carpets, retouching painted surfaces, adding decorative elements (2) start scheduling showings with prospective buyers.
Sellers are strongly encouraged to schedule a professional property inspection (with a qualified expert) shortly before or after listing. It’s an important part of the sales process because it gives you the chance to identify any necessary repairs before the property gets listed and scrutinized by others.
You can carry out an inspection after the property has been valued and listed. However, if faults or problems are identified at this stage, it’s may be difficult to make repairs without informing prospective buyers and, potentially, affecting the chance to sell your house in St. Louis quickly. We recommend a presale (prelisting) inspection because it puts official values on property imperfections and prevents buyers from demanding unfair discounts because of them.
If you are confident there are no pressing structural issues and no urgent renovations to complete, it’s time to start staging your home. This is a fairly simple process, but it can take a long time, particularly if your property is large and filled with lots of furniture and personal belongings. Check the following tasks off your list when staging:
Apply Fresh Paint – after a few years of intense living, most properties need a fresh coat of paint. You don’t have to redecorate every room, but we recommend retouching high traffic areas (to remove handprints, stains, blemishes, etc) and replacing bright, bold colors with softer, more neutral tones like white and cream.
Deep Clean – yes, it’s a time consuming and potentially frustrating task. However, presenting prospective buyers with a sparkling clean house should be a priority. Don’t forget to deep clean well worn rugs and carpets.
Get Rid of Clutter – the goal is to present house viewers with a reasonably neutral and appropriately informal version of your property. They should be able to picture themselves living in the home and this won’t be possible if it’s full of personal items. Some personal effects (photos, toys, trinkets, etc) are fine but, ideally, there should be a minimum amount of non-essential items in the home during viewings.
Add Appealing Extras – ‘staging’ includes cleaning, decluttering and adding additional items to the property to increase its visual appeal. This might mean indoor plants, stylish home furnishings, garden furniture, artwork, storage products and more. You don’t need to spend a fortune on this; just add small details to bring out your home’s personality.
Replace Broken Fixtures – it might not seem like a big deal but even something as small as a cracked drawer handle or blown light bulb can negatively affect viewers’ first impressions. The little details count; make sure cracked and chipped fixtures are replaced and blemishes on furniture and surfaces covered up.
Wash the Windows – this is something lots of sellers forget to do until the last minute when it’s already too late. During viewings, try to flood rooms with as much natural daylight as possible. This will make them appear bigger, friendlier and more appealing. First, however, make sure all the windows are free of streaks and stains.
If you have family pets, they’ll need to be removed from the property for the duration of viewings. It’s something every good estate agent or advisor recommends. Even if your dog is quiet and well behaved, it’s a distraction. The last thing you want is to be worrying about whether a viewer is going to react positively to their presence. It’s not worth the risk; where possible, arrange to have pets taken to another location.
Sometimes, a showing will pop up last minute and it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the unexpected intrusion. The reality is all viewing opportunities are valuable. If you’re serious about selling your property, be ready for any showing by getting into the habit of storing toys and other belongings out of sight.
Selling a family home is an undoubtedly emotional process and may involve some emotional strain for you. Nevertheless, you’ve got to behave objectively to get the best sale. Wherever possible, try to accommodate viewer’s needs. Yes, it’s inconvenient but the faster you find a buyer, the sooner you can start your next adventure. If you repeatedly refuse viewings or demand compromises from prospective buyers, they’ll simply lose interest.
Your estate agent should guide you through this entire process so don’t worry if you’re not sure how to get started. Negotiations only begin after a prospective buyer has formally submitted an offer (with a buying price). You are free to accept this offer, but you should not do so until after you have discussed the purchase proposal in detail with your agent.
Do not sign any purchasing documents until you are sure about what is included, what is not included and how either might affect your end of the deal. Carefully consider the following details and consult your agent for their advice: (1) purchase price, (2) closing date, (3) any special allowances for personal property, home improvements or closing costs, (4) contingency requirements for the property inspection, appraisal and buyer financing, (5) any extra contingencies relating to sale of a prospective buyer’s property.
Preparing to sell your home in St. Louis is about being ready for every possible outcome. So, while it’s important to focus on the future and a potential sale, take a few tentative steps to protect yourself just in case the opposite occurs. For instance, don’t cancel your home insurance policy until it’s certain the deal is going through.
What Is a Realistic Timeframe for Selling a Property?
This is a tricky question because it depends entirely on circumstance. The timeframe is different for everybody. The average time from listing to sale (final closing) is around sixty days. This is just an average, remember, but it might help to keep it in mind when starting out on your selling journey. The following variables can have an impact on how quickly you are able to sell a property:
Popularity of the Area – unsurprisingly, if your neighborhood is very popular with buyers, you’ll probably get offers quickly. Less in demand areas may have longer selling timeframes because they attract less interest. If this is the case for your home, you may need to work extra hard to make your property stand out from all the rest.
Seasonal Interest – according to nationwide studies, the best time to list a property for sale is in the spring. This is true for lots of different areas but it’s still a good idea to check in case your neighborhood sees more interest at different times. Statistics like this can give you some guidance but, ultimately, that’s all they are: suggestions.
Local Amenities – the more amenities your home is close to, the more it will appeal to prospective buyers. Schools, doctor’s surgeries, supermarkets, parks and leisure centers are all in high demand because most families need them. On the other hand, features like congested roads, crime statistics and poor infrastructure can all bring value down.
Price Point – it makes sense to assume, if you’re selling an atypically large property, fewer buyers will be able to afford it. So, you may need to wait longer to see interest. Large estates and mansion type properties are extremely valuable but often require a slightly different approach to listings and negotiations.
Repairs and Renovations – if you decide to carry out renovations after listing the property, be aware this may lengthen the sale time. It depends when you complete the work and whether it affects viewings and the potential close date.
Your Buyers – commonly, a buyer must wait for their current property to be sold or for a mortgage approval to be made before they can close on a deal. This is something you may need to consider and discuss. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if waiting on a buyer is worthwhile.