To successfully sell your Sonoma County home, it is just as important for your listing agent to understand your goals as it is for them to be knowledgeable with the current real estate market. Money isn’t always the driving factor. Some sellers need to sell within a certain time frame to avoid an adverse situation, others need to sell for a job transfer or desire to move closer to family. Once the goal is understood, that goal becomes a factor in negotiating price and timing.
Your listing agent should provide recent comparable sales to help you determine the value of your property. You will also find it beneficial to physically view comparable properties, whenever possible. You have a better chance at assessing the true value of your own home after you have had the opportunity to visit your competition.
One of the most important real estate documents you will sign is referred to as Agency. In California, it is legal for one broker to represent both the seller and buyer. This is known as “dual agency” and must be disclosed before a purchase offer is presented. Agency outlines each agent’s fiduciary duty of diligence, confidentiality and honesty to you and/or the buyer. YOU have a say whether you feel comfortable or not with dual agency, should the situation arise.
You are not required to have inspections done prior to selling a home, but in certain situations it can be a good idea. One good reason for the seller to have inspections is to potentially ward off surprises after an offer has been agreed upon. Any written inspection reports must be provided to potential buyers as part of your duty of disclosure.
California requires that you, the seller, disclose everything you know about your property and areas surrounding your property. This would include noisy neighbors, current or pending litigation, any type of current or future construction etc. These are referred to as material facts. The forms you will be required to fill out are tedious, redundant and confusing. A good listing agent will work with you to make sure these forms are filled out completely and correctly to avoid confusion or problems down the road.
First impressions are so important, you will want to make your home as presentable as possible, inside and out. When a buyer visits your property and finds it clean and tidy, they will instantly have the impression that you have taken very good care of your home.
Many home buyers are from out of the area, so they rely upon photos to tell them the story about your home and the local community. Our local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) allows 50 photos per listing, you should expect your listing agent to provide as many relevant, high quality photos as possible. Photos that include nearby parks and shopping centers help a buyer understand what it would be like to live in your neighborhood and community.
In a hot sellers’ market, which is one we are currently experiencing, it is extremely important for you to allow time for buyers to see your property. Many potential buyers, especially during the winter, will only have the weekend available to view your property during daylight hours. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least 7 days on market before reviewing offers. You should make it as easy as possible for a buyer to view your property. The best way to do this is to give your listing agent permission to install a lockbox. A lockbox can only be opened by a licensed real estate agent in good standing with the local or reciprocal MLS. Your agent can program your lockbox to only allow access during certain days and hours to fit your schedule. In addition, your agent will be informed by e-mail every time your lockbox is opened.
Every term on an offer is negotiable ... the offer price, the number of days you will allow the buyer to perform their inspections, whether or not the goats will stay or go. Sometimes the perfect offer comes in and you don’t want to change a thing, especially those “all cash, 14 day close” kind of offers. This brings us back to what your actual goal is. An offer for a lesser offer price might be more attractive if the buyer can close much sooner than anyone else.
Quite often the buyer and/or the buyer’s agent are from out of the area. It is so important in this day and age that your listing agent provide the ability for you to digitally sign documents throughout the selling process. In addition, buyers are equipped with their smart phones and tablets. Safe Haven Realty is a mobile-friendly web site, so when a buyer or seller is on their phone, your Sonoma County home for sale will be available for them to view online.
After you accept (sign) an offer, it becomes a binding contract. Embedded in the paragraphs are a series of contractual timelines, of which both the buyer and seller are responsible for. A good listing agent will provide an escrow schedule so that you will know exactly when each party needs to satisfy their contractual requirements. This includes removing contingencies, depositing money into escrow and most importantly, closing on time.
In California, the close of escrow occurs when the buyer has deposited the monies needed to satisfy the terms of the contract, the seller has signed the grant deed and the grant deed has been recorded by the county clerk in the county of which the subject property resides. Too often, a buyer thinks that once a loan has funded and they have deposited their closing costs, that they own the house. They don't. The recording of the grand deed is the last step. The key to your house should not be given to the buyer until confirmation of the recording has been received.
There shouldn’t be any confusion during your home selling process. Choosing the right agent to help you with one of the most important monetary decisions in your life is key to a stress free transaction.