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Steps to Selling Your House:

Most people use a Realtor to help them find a buyer for their home. If you want to sell your home yourself then it is important to have an attorney who handles real estate matters to look over your contracts. A lot is at stake when selling your home and a lot can go wrong. It is not just a matter of finding a buyer. Some people are knowledgeable enough to handle all the details but most people are not.

1) Signing a listing agreement. This is an agreement between your real estate agent and you. It will define the length of the agreement. Most brokers will want an exclusive listing meaning you cannot use another real estate agent during the specified time. This is important as there is a lot of work and expense to selling your home so in order for the Realtor to do a good job for you they need to know they have your commitment to work with them. A usual listing period is around 6 months but you can negotiate 3 months to allow more flexibility to fire a broker you are not satisfied with. You should also consider how long it will take to sell your home. If it takes 6 months than you should give your real estate agent 6 months as well. Even if you find your own buyer during that time, you will owe a commission to the Realtor. The other part of the listing agreement specifies the amount of commission you will pay the Realtor. A typical commission is 6-8% of the selling price of the home. The listing broker will give around half of their commission to the buyer’s broker. Commissions are paid at closing and in most cases you will not owe any commission if the property doesn’t sell.

If you do not want to use a broker, then you will need to have important information on other issues like home disclosures, lead base paint disclosures, anti-discrimination laws, title insurance and zoning regulations. Being ignorant on these issues could be a costly mistake. There is a lot more involved that just swapping a check for a deed.

2) Purchase and Sale Agreement. This is the most important document in the transaction. This document lays out all the terms of the sale. If you are using an agent, he/she will present this document to you to accept or reject. If you are not using a broker then it is even more important for you to have an attorney look over the contract or prepare the document for you. Standard parts of a sales agreement will provide for earnest money, what is included regarding appliances, window treatments, light fixtures, sheds, what inspections will be necessary, who pays for repairs, who pays for the transfer of the deed, what happens when the buyer can’t get financing or wants to back out. These are all items that need to be clearly addressed.

3) If you are trying to sell your home by yourself and you do not already have a buyer, then you will want to list your home on the MLS (multiple listing services) in your area. In order to do this you will have to pay a Realtor or someone licensed to do this. This is where all Realtors look to find homes for their buyers. Also if you do not offer a commission to the buying Realtor, then you will not have any realtors bring their buyers by to look at your home. Keep in mind you will also be the one having to show your home to every potential buyer. Buyers are often not comfortable looking at a home when the owner is present.

If you are determined to sell your house without the help of a Realtor, be aware that statistics show that those using a Realtor get more for the price of their home than those who don’t use a Realtor.  Of course you may be that rare seller.

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