Home Seller 101: The Listing Process

Diving into another general overview, but this time for the listing process. The listing process of real estate has more steps than the buyer side, and as such I’ve decided to split this up into two different posts: first, the listing process, followed by a separate post on steps to take once you have accepted an offer on your home.

Below, you will find a high-level overview of what to expect when getting your home ready to hit the market. Keep in mind, with many of these topics I will do more in-depth posts in the future, but for now this will give readers foundation knowledge to get started.

Step 1: Listing appointment. As with buying, the start of your selling process should always be reaching out to a good trusted Realtor. Talk to friends and family about who the’ve worked with in the past, and then do your own due diligence to see how experienced they are, what specific areas they focus on, if they are on a team, how much they charge for commission, etc. Once you’ve identified the right agent or even a few agents that seem like a good fit, you will want to have them visit your property for a listing appointment. When I personally visit someone’s home for a listing appointment, I will usually dedicate part of the time to tour the home and identify project recommendations, and the other part of the appointment to cover marketing strategy. This would also be the opportunity for you to interview agents if you are trying to decide whom to work with as well.

Step 2: Determine home value and sign listing paperwork. A good agent will come to the listing appointment with comparable recent sales in hand. This gives them the opportunity to explain their value assessment and share with you how they came to that conclusion. This also gives the seller the opportunity to share their point of view, and for both parties come to an agreement on realistic pricing. Once the listing appointments have concluded and the seller has selected an agent, the Realtor will put together the proper listing paperwork to get the ball rolling.

Step 3: List the house as coming soon. Once the listing paperwork has been signed, it is a good idea to have your agent list the home as coming soon within the MLS. This will put the property on buyers’ radar and drum up interest in advance. I’ll do a deeper dive into this in a later post, but there are very specific rules agents have to follow during this stage. Once it is listed as coming soon, buyers have to wait for the property to transition to an active status before going to tour. During the coming soon phase, a seller generally prepares their house for the market.

Step 4: Prep the house to impress buyers. This part of the process is two-fold. A good agent will have toured the home during the listing appointment and identified which projects should be done to make the home showing-ready. My own personal strategy is to tailor my recommendations room-by-room to really give the seller a straight-forward resource moving forward. Tasks like decluttering, taking down personal photos, freshening paint, and steam cleaning and stretching carpet are common, and projects as intricate as updating a bathroom or kitchen can even be part of the plan. If larger projects are being done to improve the home, I always help coordinate and recommend contractors. The final item, which I usually recommend, is staging your home. A lot of sellers will shy away from this concept, but ultimately the numbers prove that a staged home will receive much more buyer interest than a home that is not staged. Believe it or not, buyers have a hard time envisioning how furniture and decorations will fit in the space, so staging does the work for them and generates more interest.

Step 5: Professional photos and For Sale sign. Once the work is completed and staging has been executed, the next step is for your agent to bring in a professional photographer to capture the beauty of the home. Remember, photos are the first thing a buyer is going to see online and will make the difference between them visiting in person or not, so this step is very important. You agent should also put up a For Sale sign (if allowed) so that people passing by can see that the property is for sale and to drum up interest.

Step 6: Transition house to active on the market. Once the photos are back, your agent will upload them to the coming soon listing and transition the home to an active status. This will usually happen on a Tuesday or Wednesday so that there is time to increase interest before the open house over the weekend.

Step 7: Accommodate showings and open house. Once the house is active on the market, the seller will need to accommodate showings. Most often in this market, the home is vacant and as such it is not difficult to do so. There are occasions where the home is seller or tenant-occupied. In these cases the occupant needs to ensure the house stays clean and ready for buyers to tour. A good agent will also host an open house over the weekend to bring additional buyers through to see the property.

Step 8: Receive offers and possibly set offer deadline. Depending on the level of interest, your agent may recommend that you review offers as they come in or that you set an offer deadline. An offer deadline will usually occur either the Monday or Tuesday following the week that the home transitioned to active and is utilized when there is a lot of interest and the agent anticipates multiple offers will be received. Regardless of which method you use, once the offers come in your agent should take the time to review the pros and cons of each with you to help you make an educated decision.

Step 9: Contract ratification. Once you’ve reviewed offers, you have the opportunity to either counter or accept an offer. My own personal strategy is to go back to the top offer (or two) to see if we can’t negotiate a little better on the seller’s behalf. Once an agreement has been made between the buyer and seller and all parties have signed the contract, this is called ratification.

Following this post, I will do another section on what the process looks like between accepting an offer and settlement. Stay tuned!

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