According to HomeLight.com (as of September 2016):
Whether you are selling for sale by owner as a FSBO or hiring a listing agent, the home selling process is identical. It may vary slightly from state to state, this format will address how homes are sold in Southern California.
The main differences for you may be whether you hire a real estate lawyer and whether buyers submit intent offers prior to executing a purchase contract, but the basic procedures remain the same.
Here are the steps for selling a home:
1) Choose a Listing Agent
- A listing agent will represent you and have a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests.
- Interview agents and ask them about their marketing plans.
- Negotiate your listing agreement, including term. At Realty Marketing Solutions, we aren’t a discount brokerage, but we run our business so that we have the flexibility to negotiate our commission. Let’s discuss it.
2) Get Home Ready for Sale
- Prepare your home for sale by cleaning, decluttering and improving curb appeal.
- Hire a professional stager to stage your home, or ask your real estate agent for help in staging.
- Don’t put your house in the MLS before you are ready to have showings or pictures. The day it goes in the MLS the days on the market start racking up.
- Make repairs before selling.
- Protect your privacy while your home is on the market.
- If you’re selling a home where pets live, make alternate plans for your pets.
3) Figure Out How Much Your Home is Worth
- A seller’s biggest mistake is to overprice.
- Price your home in line with sold homes identified in a comparative market analysis report.
- Consider whether your market is hot, cold or neutral, and price according to the market temperature.
- You will know if your home is overpriced within the first week – if you do not have any showings then your home is most likely overpriced compared to other available properties. Online it is easy to limit buyers’ searches based on the price, so if your home is too expensive comparably they won’t even know it exists.
4) Show Your Home
- If you’re wondering about lockbox vs. appointments, you’ll get more showings if you let agents use a lockbox.
- Your home will show better if you are selling in spring than selling in winter. The market always heats up in January, February and March; but it starts to slow down in late August through the holidays.
- Selling during the holidays will likely result in a lower sales price, regardless of what agents tell you.
- You’ve got only one chance — and sometimes only 3 seconds — to make a good first impression.
- Prepare for an open house and use the approach sparingly.
- Ask for buyer feedback so you can adjust your price, condition or marketing campaigns accordingly.
5) Receive Purchase Offers and Negotiate
- At Realty Marketing Solutions we’ve found that the first offer is generally the best. The Multiple Listing Service allows buyers to see how long your home has been on the market, and buyers have a tendency to offer less the longer the home has been available.
- Even if you receive a lowball offer, negotiate by issuing a counter offer. Don’t ignore offers.
- Ask for a kickout clause or first right of refusal if the buyer’s offer is contingent on selling a home.
- Consider making a counter offer contingent on buying a home, if market conditions warrant.
- If you are priced right, prepare yourself for multiple offers (fingers crossed!).
6) Open Escrow / Order Title
- Your agent or transaction coordinator will open escrow and order a title policy.
- Write down the contact information for the closing agent.
- Ask for a receipt for the buyer’s earnest money deposit.
7) Schedule Appraiser Appointment
- Clean the house the day before the appraiser arrives.
- If you receive a low appraisal, ask your agent about alternatives.
- You are not entitled to receive a copy of the appraisal because you did not pay for it.
- If the buyer decides to cancel the contract based on an appraisal, ask your agent or lawyer about your rights.
8) Cooperate with Home Inspection
- Get ready for the home inspector.
- Ask your agent to provide you with a home inspection checklist so you will know which items an inspector will want to see.
- Expect that the inspector will want access for an attic inspection and will look for a wet basement.
- Prepare as well for the final walk-through inspection.
9) Obtain Seller-Required Inspections
- San Diego has termites, everywhere. Prepare yourself for some repairs and plan for them in your budget.
- The fees for all inspection reports, even if seller-mandated, are negotiable.
10) Delivery Seller Disclosures
- All homes in the US are subject to lead-based paint disclosures.
- If you are aware of material facts, disclose them.
- Your title company should provide CC&Rs, but if you belong to a homeowner association, additional documentation will be required and it is customary for the seller to pay for the HOA transfer documents.
11) Negotiate Request for Repair
- Ordinarily, sellers do not need to accept a buyer’s request for repair; however, buyers can generally then cancel.
- You are entitled to a copy of the home inspection report, if the buyers request repairs.
- If you do not choose to make repairs, a buyer might instead accept a closing cost credit.
12) Ask Buyer to Release Contingencies
- In California, for example, contracts default to 17 days, at which time, the buyer must release contingencies.
- If you do not demand a release, buyers are not obligated to provide it.
- If buyers do not provide a release, in CA, sellers have the right to cancel.
13) Sign Title / Escrow Documents
- In southern California, you will sign escrow documents shortly after opening escrow.
- Bring a valid picture ID when you get notarized.
14) Close Escrow
- Your property deed, reconveyance and deed of trust will record in the public records.
- Title will notify you and your agent when it records.
- Depending on buyer’s possession rights specified in the contract, you may be required to move on the day it closes.