Selling your home is quite complicated. The first thing you should do is consult with a real estate broker.
If you do not already know a broker, start by asking friends and family if they have used somebody that they liked and would recommend. I’d also see if there were any agents who had successful sales in the neighborhood recently. Once you identify 2 or 3 brokers, I’d interview them and pick one. You can also check licensed real estate professionals license status through the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) website and see if an agent has been disciplined.
Are agents and brokers the same?
NO! If you are not a Broker, then you are a Sales Associate. Most real estate agents are Sales Associates. You should always hire a broker vs. a sales associate. Brokers have proven to the State of California that they have an exceptional knowledge of real estate and have a higher level of licensing. It does not cost you any more to have a broker vs. a sales associate. Ask to see your Realtor’s license. It will either say “Sales Associate” or “Broker”. You can also check the Dept of Real Estate website to see what license he/she has. It is more difficult to obtain a Broker’s license. The state requires years of real estate sales experience, and makes applicants take a much more difficult exam to be licensed as a broker.
Ask to see a prospective broker’s advertising, and have him/her take you to a current listing. Ask if you can contact any current references. Find out if your broker is creative and thinks “outside the box”. Does he/she have their own website? Do they have their own business card, or do they use the card their brokerage gives them for free? Do they create nice brochures that highlight your property or just a 1-page flyer with a few bullet points right off the copy machine? Picking the right broker is the most important decision you’ll make when selling your home.
Get your home ready for sale.
I recommend my clients start by getting a pest and home inspection report. The pest report identifies if any wood eating organisms are in or on your home. Things such as termites, carpenter ants, and dry rot are the big offenders here. I would not wait till a buyer comes forward to start your inspections. The last thing you want is to be surprised by deficiencies in your home during escrow.
Decorate and declutter your home.
Remove valuables and personal items in your home. Let the buyer try to imagine their belongings in your home. You are better off with less furniture than too much. You may have to rent a storage unit or use a family members garage for a month. Think minimalistic.
Establish showing instructions with your broker that works for your family/life
It’s important for potential buyers and agents to see your home. The easier it is to show, the more like you’ll get an offer sooner than later. The best showing instructions are: “Go and Show” which means an agent can show your house without any notice such as when you are at work M- F 9 am – 4 pm. The most difficult showings are “Tenant requests 24 hr notice”. Try to make your home easy to show.
Do open houses really work?
Yes! I’ve sold numerous homes to buyers who came into the home during an open house. Some agents use open houses as a way to meet new buyers for homes other than yours, but you never know! I try to have 2 Sunday open houses that are back to back with a broker’s open in between them.
What is the point of a broker’s open house midweek?
A broker’s open house allows many brokers and agents to tour your home without having to make an appointment. The home is usually hosted by the listing agent, and 20 – 40 agents can see the home in a 3-4 hour period. They might not have a client at the time but in the future should a buyer materialize, the agent can say “I saw this home at the broker’s tour and it sounds like just the house you are looking for”.
How do I know if an offer to buy my home is “good”?
Hopefully, you trust your broker. Look at recent comps in your neighborhood. I’d be careful about just taking the first offer that comes your way. I encourage my sellers to not accept any offers for the first 10 – 14 days. That’s the only way to get multiple offers. You want buyers to fight for your house.
The purchase contract is full of dates, 10 days for this, 21 days for that, 3 days to do… How do I keep track of all this, and what if the buyers do not adhere to it?
Following the contract is your broker’s job. Trust your broker to keep the buyers on track and hold the buyer’s agent accountable for keeping their obligations. It’s your broker’s job to lay awake at night worrying about the contract, not yours. That is why you want a seasoned broker, not some new sales associate.
The contract indicates all these disclosures and reports I’m supposed to provide. Can I get sued over these?.
Disclosures are a major source of lawsuits in real estate. A seasoned, ethical broker can help you fill out your disclosures so that you won’t be sued later. Your broker will most likely be the one ordering the statutory reports such as Natural Hazard Disclosures. Your broker is there to help and guide you.
At what point can I keep a buyer’s deposit?
Once the buyer releases all their contingencies, you can keep the deposit if they default (in theory). In all my years as a licensed broker I have never had a buyer lose their deposit, and I have never had a seller need to keep a deposit. Your broker’s job is to sell your home, not get you a deposit.
I love living in Rincon Valley! I’ve lived here since 1995 and can’t imagine living in a better north bay community. Call me today if you’re interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you’d like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.
- Jim Cheney, Broker
- Saint Francis Property
- (707) 494-1055
- Rincon Valley – Santa Rosa
- Cert Tourism Ambassador