The Residential Real Estate Selling Process in Austin Texas

By: Joe Cline - Austin Real Estate Broker

Decide to Sell
Deciding to sell your home is a big decision. The first step in this process should be to understand your motivations, expectations, financial considerations, goals and what you plan to do upon the sale of your home. Many people begin the sale process with unrealistic expectations or unclear goals. It then becomes difficult to meet their goals because these goals have never been clearly defined. You must begin to view your house, no longer as your home, but as an investment property that you want to market.
Setting the Price
Of course one of your most difficult questions is the listing price of your house. What price should you ask? This is an important part of the sales process. If you set the asking price too high, you may scare away buyers. Agents who feel that your house would not be a good investment may not even show the house. After the house sits on the market for a while, people begin to feel that there is something wrong with it because it hasn't sold. Even if you could sell your house for an inflated price, many times a lender won't approve a loan on a house that doesn't appraise for that amount and the sale might fall through at the last minute. If you under price the home, you won't realize the maximum potential of your investment.
Marketing Plan
Decide on incentives that to be offered to buyers, determine the best places to advertise, and determine how to show the home. Remember that that goal is to sell the home for the highest price, in the least time, with the fewest hassles.
Prepare the Home for Showing
There are two important ways that you can have an impact in making your house attractive to buyers: property condition and listing price. After deciding on a listing price, setup an appointment with a decorating company. They will give you some suggestions for making your house look its best. This process is called "staging." The suggestions might be simple such as clearing cluttered counter tops. Or they might be more involved such as painting front doors or repairing obvious defects.
The staging company will look at your house from room to room and will offer advice on how to make each room show great. They will also look at the exterior street appeal, backyard and garage. They have a lot of tips that can make your house shine.

After this meeting, you will have a list of what you should do to prepare your house for sale. Following these suggestions in a timely manner will ensure your home shows at its best.
Remember that "staging" addresses the appearance of the house and not necessarily other problems, which might become evident during an inspection. An inspection will uncover most defects that eventually may have to be repaired. In this way you can have the repairs done before a potential buyer's inspection uncovers a defect that might cause a buyer to either change his mind or to want a substantial repair allowance deducted from the price. It is a signal to buyers that you are a responsible, reputable seller. It also allows you to have plenty of time to schedule any work that might need to be done.
Offer a residential service contract to buyers. This guarantees the major appliances in your home as well as other systems and structures. You can also include coverage for your house while it is on the market so you don't have to pay for any unexpected repairs.
Marketing the Home
Now the fun begins. Here are some ideas that can be used to promote your home.

It is important for you to keep your house in perfect condition everyday because buyers or agents might come by at any time. Keep the kitchen clean, make your bed every morning and keep clutter out of sight. It is especially important to keep pets and pet odors under control. Some wonderful added touches are fresh flowers and potpourri or freshly baked cookies.
As agents and potential buyers begin visiting your home either virtually on the Internet or in person, try to obtain feedback from the buyers. Make changes to the showing state, condition, and price as feedback deems necessary.
The Offer and Negotiation
You have an offer, now what? Sometimes the buyer will offer you the asking price and have no special requests. In this case, you sign that you accept the offer. Sometimes, the buyer's offer is a lower price and might have other requests. You should consider what is best for you and make a counter offer. Consider carefully your response because if you counter offer, there is no guarantee that the buyer will respond again. Also remember that, once agreed upon and signed by all parties, an offer becomes a legally binding contract. Never get involved in oral offers and negotiation. If you verbally accept an offer, a buyer has no legal obligation to buy the house and may want to continue to bargain with you to see how low a price you will accept.
No matter how well you have prepared your house and how fairly you have priced it, there is always the possibility of receiving a low offer. It could be a limit to the buyer's ability to purchase. Don't take it personally and react angrily. This is business, it's not personal. You can either reject the offer or make a counter-offer. Try to find out as much as you can as to why the offer was low. Certainly if other offers come in very low or if your home is not being shown or not receiving any offers consider adjusting the pricing.
Once the buyer and seller agree on the terms, the buyer will have the home inspected. If there are any problems that are found during this time period then the buyer can withdraw from the contract. The buyer might request that you complete certain repairs before closing or that you contribute a certain sum of money at closing to cover these repairs. If this happens, try not to let contract fall through. After the limited time period is up, the buyer is legally bound to buy your house unless they are denied financing. In the event of cancellation, the buyer would lose any earnest money. One exception to this is in the case of the buyer not receiving funding from the lenders. In that case then the buyer is not held responsible. For this reason, always ask the buyer's agent for a letter showing that the potential buyer has been prequalified for a loan and, once a contract is signed, ask the buyer's agent to keep you informed of the buyer's loan application progress.
Closing
The exciting day is finally here! Verify in advance that all of the paperwork is in order. Request a copy of the HUD1 statement sheet so that you can read over it before closing. Feel free to ask any questions either before the closing or during the closing itself. Typically this is when you relinquish possession of the house so take the keys to give to the new owner.

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