Realistic Expectations: The (General) Timeline of Selling a Home

Everyone wants to sell their home fast, but a lot of people don’t know what it takes to sell their home in a timely manner.

It’s important to note that a lot of things could happen that could change the overall timeline when you’re working on selling a home.

You may find that someone is interested in buying your home as-is. It’s possible that you could be selling in a buyers market, and it may take longer to get your home sold than you had hoped.

Regardless of what outliers occur, there’s a general timeline most home sellers follow. When you’re planning to sell your home, remember to use this handy guide for planning your next steps.

Two Months Before Listing: Research

Before you even can even think of listing your home, a lot of research needs to be done. You’re going to want to learn everything you can about finances and the market.

When you’re about two months out before you plan on listing your home, be sure you remember to do these important tasks.

Learn the Local Market

You don’t need to go too deep into market data just yet. When you’re this early in the home buying process, you should just pay attention to general home costs in your area.

The easiest way to do this is to look at home listings and see what homes have sold for in your neighborhood.

Don’t just focus on the price, also take note of the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and extras. You may find that having an extra bathroom or new appliances can add more than a couple thousand dollars to the selling price.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

Selling a house requires a lot of paperwork. While some documents are easy to find, other documents may take some time to hunt down.

This is why now is the perfect time to start looking for all of the important paperwork you’ll need to share your house. Make sure you have your title, mortgage, and homeowners’ insurance.

If you’re having trouble finding the needed paperwork, contact your bank or insurance agency. Remember, photocopies aren’t enough for an official sale. You’re going to need originals or an official copy from the bank or insurance company.

Figure Out Transaction Costs and Remaining Equity

When you’re focused on selling your house, you’re probably more focused on getting paid rather than what you have to pay. But it’s important to remember that you’ll have bills to pay when you sell.

It most cases, sellers don’t have to cover all of the Closing Costs involved in selling their home. Regardless, you should still get a general idea of the overall costs before you head into selling territory.

Look into property taxes, transfer taxes, title insurance fees, and escrow fees to get started.

Those costs tend to add up. If closing costs are going to be very high, you may want to consider setting aside extra money to cover some of them if it’ll help sell the house.

Two Months Before Listing: Repairs

When you’re doing your research on the legal and financial needs that come along with owning a home, you’re also going to need to start making home improvements before you sell.

We know that you may not want to put a lot of money into a house you’re not going to live in, but some relatively simple adjustments could end up getting you more money when you sell.

When you’re two months away from selling, make sure you remember these tips when you’re going through repairs and improvements.

Focus on Cosmetic Issues

Appearance can make or break a home sale, that’s why it’s important to focus on making your home cosmetically appealing to home buyers.

The best thing about cosmetic fixes is that they’re usually simple and inexpensive to take care of. Some problems can easily be fixed with a deep clean or a fresh coat of paint.

Once your home is clean, consider small fixes you can make to your home. Take care of frays on the carpet by cutting them off with a razor. Patch holes in your screen door and fix crooked light fixtures.

Address What You Can’t Fix (Or What’s Too Expensive)

When you’re busy making improvements to your house, you should take some time to seriously consider certain things you won’t be able to change before you sell your house.

It’s possible that after investing a lot of time and money into your home that you may find issues that can’t be quickly or cheaply prepared. Basement seepage or roof problems are serious problems that could affect the sale of your home.

If you discover serious problems, don’t hide them. You legally need to disclose any major problems before you sell your home. If you choose not to, you could find yourself in legal trouble later.

Think about things that are important in the minds of buyers, and what someone interested in buying could see as a deal-breaker.

Think About Upgrades

Don’t think that you need to add an entirely new edition to your home to increase its value. There are plenty of relatively smaller updates you can make that will have a big impact on people.

Take some time to evaluate the conditions of the main appliances in your home. Replacing an old refrigerator or oven could add a lot of value to your home, especially if you use environmentally friendly “green” appliances.

After you’ve taken the time to focus on appliances, move on to important systems like heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical.

Any issues with structural systems, like the home’s walls or roof, should be promptly addressed before you move. Fixing these problems before a sale can make it easier to sell your home

Keep in mind that it’s possible to sell your home as-is, but it’ll be a lot more difficult to do. If the problems you face are major enough, it may be worth swallowing the costs yourself to make your home more appealing to buyers.

One Month Before Listing: Financial Matters

Now that you’re a month out from selling your home, it’s time to dive into the financial side of buying. You touched on financial matters two months out, but now that you’re a month away you’re going to get more in-depth.

Hopefully, you’ve done a good job of keeping up with home prices in your area. Now is the time to take another in-depth look at them because they’ll help you set the price of your home.

If you haven’t brought in an appraiser yet, the time to get their help is now.

They’ll be able to give you a realistic idea of what your home is worth. They’ll also have in-depth knowledge of what other homes are selling for, and can offer suggestions on improvements to make to add value to your home.

Now that you’ve gotten a full range of estimates on sale prices and plenty of data from the housing market, you can set a price for your home. Don’t be afraid to bring in the help of an experienced realtor to help determine the best price.

One Month Before List: Getting Your Home Sell-Ready

You’re going to have potential homebuyers in your home very soon, so it’s time to get it ready for company!

Take a minimalist approach to decor when you’re selling your house. If you have a lot of things, it may be worth renting a temporary storage space for things you don’t immediately need to make your home seem tidier.

You may not normally invest in cleaning services, but now would be the best time to hiring a professional cleaning crew. Have them do heavy-duty tasks like clean the grime off your walls and steam clean your carpets.

If you want to add some neutral color to your walls, now is the time to do it. Don’t underestimate how a fresh coat of paint can help your house.

Read up on staging techniques and think about how you can make your home look inviting. Adding a rug, some throw pillows, or artwork can accentuate some of your home’s best features.

Think of ways to make your home seem brighter and more spacious. Some quick changes in lighting and the addition of a mirror or two can do wonders for any room.

If you have a yard, consider bringing in a professional landscaping company to make it look its best. Applying fresh mulch to garden beds and pruning bushes can add some serious curb appeal to your house.

Once your home is truly ready to sell, it’s time to start advertising your listing.

Put your listing everywhere possible, including both online platforms and paper advertisements. Don’t be afraid to get aggressive about setting up open houses, or looking into professional real estate help to sell your home.

Negotiation and Closing (6 to 8 Weeks )

There’s no telling how long it’ll take for you and the new owner to negotiate a price. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to find someone that thinks the listed price is fair, or the process could take weeks.

The best advice we can give you during the negotiation time is to be honest with yourself and fair to the buyer.

You may want to get a little more money, but if you need to move in a hurry, it may not be worth dragging out the negotiation process. Even if you can’t walk away with exactly what you want, make sure you can be at least content with the deal.

Once the deal is signed, it’s time to focus on everything you’ll need to do to officially pass ownership off to the buyer.

Constant and clear communication with the buyer can be very helpful during this phase.

Cooperate with the buyer’s home inspector and appraiser so you can find time for them to come to the home. Also, get in touch with the buyer’s agent, lawyer, and anyone else you need to give legal documents to.

Also, don’t wait too long to contact your lender to start the mortgage payoff process. Setting everything up could take time, and the sooner you get started the better.

When closing day arrives, make sure you bring the necessary paperwork. If you forget something important, it could take longer to officially sell the house. This is our handy list on what you should be sure to bring:

  • Property records
  • Building permits and receipts
  • Property records
  • Insurance documents
  • Mortage, loan, and lien documents
  • Any legal documents required for financial and estate planning

Speeding Up the Process: 2 Key Tips

When you look at the selling process timeline and all of the work that needs to be done, it can take at least 2-3 months to sell your home.

Two or three months isn’t too long of a time, but some people don’t have a lot of time to spare. If you want to try to speed along the process, follow these tips.

Pour Money Into Repairs

Selling a home as-is may be cheaper in the short term, but it takes much more time to find an interested buyer. If you don’t have spare time on your hands, put money into repairs.

Finding professional contractors can speed up the repair process and make sure that your home is in excellent condition. The better condition your home is in, the easier it’ll be to find eager buyers.

Use an Agent

You may consider yourself a real estate expert, but nobody can do better work than the pros. If time is of the essence, you’re going to want a professional to handle selling your home.

Real estate agents have access to a much larger buyer network than you. They also understand professional selling techniques that can help move your home.

Your Partners in Selling a Home

Selling a home isn’t a fast or simple process. But when you have the right knowledge and help on your side, you can sell your home for a price you can be happy with.

Do you have questions about the best way to advertise your home? Are you looking for a trusted partner that can help the process?

We’re always here to help interested buyers and sellers. Be sure to contact us today so we can start talking about the next steps in your selling journey.

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