Frequently Asked Questions for Sellers
What Should I Expect When Selling My Home?
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What exactly is a listing agent and what do they do?
A listing agent represents you while listing your home and will market your home for you. We will upload your property into the MLS for all area agents to see. It will be populated onto all major home search websites (Zillow, Trulia, Homes, etc.). We also provide professional photography, flyers, and frequent communication regarding showings and market activity. We market each property specific to its features, which we will talk with you more about during the listing appointment.
When do I pay you?
As your listing agent, we will discuss terms of payment when completing the listing agreement. We are not paid until we are at a closing table, and funds are disbursed.
What happens when my house goes on the market?
You will start seeing cars drive really slow by your house. We will be calling/emailing/texting you every time we have a request for a showing. Make sure your home is showcase ready…see our Preparing for Showings suggestions.
What if I don’t want my home marketed online?
You do have that choice, but according the 2016 National Association of REALTORS® Recent Home Buyer and Seller Profiles, 83% of home buyers used the internet to search for a home. You will be significantly limiting your ability to have your house seen by potential buyers by not utilizing this resource.
How long can I expect my home to be on the market?
This can vary greatly based on market conditions, your price point, your potential buyer pool, and the overall condition of your home. We will discuss expectations at the listing appointment.
Can I talk to the buyer directly?
No. No. And No. Sometimes innocent comments in conversation can end up hurting you in the negotiation process. If they ask you any questions, just say you prefer to communicate through your listing agent.
Can I contact the buyer agent directly?
If you have a listing agent, no. We are representing you as the seller. Innocent conversation can end up hurting you in the negotiation process. Any questions you have for the other side will go through us.
What happens when a buyer comes in to view my home?
Anything and everything. They will open your closets and kitchen and bathroom cabinets. They will check your showers and tubs. If it’s raining, you may notice fresh, muddy footprints inside. Lights may be left on or pets may get out (which is why we strongly suggest keeping them out of the house or crated). They may show up early or they may cancel without ever telling us. Just keep in mind, things can happen, but agents on both sides work to ensure your home showings go as smoothly as possibly with minimal disruptions.
Also, please leave the home – whether it’s for a walk or to go hang out with your neighbor, it’s best you are not there. And be aware that some showings last two minutes, others will last two hours.
How much notice will I have for a showing?
That depends…sometimes three days, other times three minutes. Sometimes agents are with their buyers in your neighborhood and decide at the last minute to come see your home too. If you have to decline a showing, that is understandable, just try and be as flexible as possible.
Will they take their own pictures/video while in my home?
They are supposed to ask for permission ahead of time. However, just assume they may do that and be sure to hide/lock up items you do not want seen.
Will you do an open house?
This will depend on each property individually. Some aren’t in ideal locations to get traffic, weather can impact people wanting to go out, and depending on the market, they may not be helpful. With showings, an agent is taking in a buyer and escorting them throughout the home. In an open house, anyone is welcomed in and they may not be supervised as they walk throughout your home. If you do an open house, be sure to have valuables, electronics, weapons, or prescription drugs locked up or out of the home.
What happens if I receive multiple offers on a property?
When we have multiple offers, we have a few choices. We can choose one to work out a contract with, or we can go back to the buyer’s agents, let them know the situation, and ask for them to submit their client’s highest and best offers (recommended). This means we are receiving the maximum that the client is willing to offer to buy your home. We can still negotiate, but we will only negotiate with one contract at a time.
The buyer’s agent said the buyer accepted the terms. Why are we not under contract?
During the negotiation process, there are multiple parties communicating terms back and forth. Until everything is in writing and signed/initialed by buyer and seller, it is not under contract. Even if the buyer verbally gives the ok, they can still decide against signing and then we have no contract. Verbal agreements are not enforceable in Virginia.
If I get a great offer, can I still try and negotiate just in case I can get more out of it?
You can. But keep in mind, once you send a counter to a buyer, they can accept, negotiate back, or walk away completely.
Why did I get a lowball offer?
It happens. Just decide whether you want to try and negotiate it or simply decline it. Some buyers are just testing the waters to see how low they can get you to go. Others may just have completely unrealistic expectations.
No. It is best to wait on sharing the news about selling your home, contract status, etc. with the world until after closing. Things you post may be shared and could eventually be seen by the buyer or their agent. Just keep mum until everyone has signed papers at the closing table.
You can, however, share the listing link we provide on your social media sites to help spread the word of your home for sale to your friends and family.
What can I expect if the buyer does a home inspection?
If your contract has a home inspection contingency, this will be scheduled soon (often within two weeks) after the ratified contract date. The exact time frame is specified in your contract. You do not need to be there and we recommend that you are not. Depending on the size of the home, this can typically last around three hours (maybe more, maybe less). The home inspector's job is to check out the property from top to bottom, but they can’t always see everything. They will point out the major systems, where they're located, and how they work. The inspector can identify issues that are glaring or are long-term maintenance concerns to the buyer. The buyer will choose the licensed inspector. If they feel there are issues with the home they do not want to deal with, they may ask for a release from the contract or they will ask you to address those issues before closing. This second option will bring us back to the negotiating table to work these terms out. Of course, we have a list of vendors to do different work in case there are repairs you will need to complete.
Why do I need to get a pest/well/septic inspection?
These are standard in the contract and often required by lenders. The contract will determine which part is responsible for obtaining and paying for the inspections, though it is often the seller. If you are the obligated party, you must complete these in order for closing to happen. We can recommend professionals to you for these inspections. If there are issues that need to be addressed from the results of these, you may be responsible for that as well. Individual contracts will determine exactly how to address any issues.
What is an appraisal?
All lenders require a bank appraisal, typically completed after the home inspection. You do not need to be present. If the property appraises at or above the sales price, we will continue to move forward towards settlement. If the property appraises below the sales price, we may need to go back to the negotiation table with the buyer or you will need to cover the difference in order to keep the contract alive. The appraiser may also request repairs be done to the home. These will need to be completed before closing and the appraiser will need to verify completion.
How long does the home selling process take?
This can vary based on buyer financing, contingencies, and other unexpected things that may come into play while under contract. A closing date is written in to the contract, but delays can happen. Cash closings can generally be quicker (30 days or less). If your buyer needs a mortgage, you may need more time. In this market, depending on the loan, it could be up to 45 days. Issues with repairs, appraisals, etc. can cause delays and we may need to push back closing. Always have a plan B in mind if you are not able to close on time.
Can a buyer (or I ) cancel a contract?
Yes. They can walk away from the contract if issues cannot be resolved from any contingencies. For example, they can walk if they are unsatisfied with the home inspection, the appraisal is low, they couldn't get financing, or other reasons that are contract specific. Each contract is unique, so we cannot tell you up front every possibility that may come up. If they walk on a contingency, they can retain their earnest money deposit. If they violate the terms of the contract, you are eligible to retain their earnest money deposit. Keep in mind, if you violate the terms of the contract, you could face repercussions.
But my friend, who sold a home last year, said she didn't have to go through all this when she sold?
The rules for buying and selling a home change regularly. If you know someone who sold a home 30 years ago or 30 days ago, chances are, your transaction will be different from theirs. Let the experts guide you 😊
When do I have to move everything out by?
In most contracts, keys are exchanged at closing. This means you need everything (including yourself!) out the house by closing. The buyer will be doing a walk through the day of or possibly the day before closing to check that everything is satisfactory. If you are not ready to leave, you could delay closing. Be sure to check the contract to leave any and all items that are listed to convey to the buyer. Be sure to pay attention to whether or not the washer and dryer are listed to convey in the contract. Do not leave anything behind because you think the buyer may want it – check first or take it with you.
How come this home buying process isn’t as easy as it is on TV?
Because reality shows are mostly scripted.