Home Selling Guide
Getting You Ready To Sell Your House

Planning Your Home’s Sale

So you’ve decided to sell your home? It’s exciting stuff, and now you are will be faced with a big decision; 1) Sell it yourself or 2) Enlist the services of a trained real estate professional. If your home is in a high traffic area, you are willing to stay at home for showings and feel confident with the required paperwork and negotiations then selling it on your own may be appropriate. For the vast majority of homeowners though, hiring a knowledgeable real estate professional familiar with Hampton Roads, market trends and experience navigating all the possible obstacles will be the most efficient and profitable way to sell your home.

When planning for the sale of your home, the following items will need to be considered:

  • Select a REALTOR who is right for you… Don’t be shy – interview several real estate agents
  • Sign a Listing Agreement – Opt for The Maximum Online Marketing Exposure
  • Review the latest sales trends – focus on Sold Listings, NOT on Active Listing…. It doesn’t matter what your neighbor is asking for their home …. What matters is what buyers are prepared to pay – PRICE IS CRITICAL – Don’t be caught in a downward price improvement spiral
  • Have your REALTOR calculate a Net Sell Sheet for you – Understanding your potential profit or loss will allow you to plan accordingly
  • Review Financial Options Available to Buyers – Does it make sense to Offer a Lease Purchase Option or Owner Financing? Every additional avenue of possible financing you offer increases the buyer pool.
  • Make any necessary repairs. In fact, it may be prudent to have a professional Home Inspection completed – sharing this information with a buyer instills confidence.
  • Get the Home in Showing Condition. If necessary, hire a Staging Professional to assist you; the results can be nothing short of incredible. Your agent will have endless resources.
  • Provide any Critical Documents such as Floor Plans, Surveys, Utility Bills… Thhese can be placed in the MLS and shared with potential buyers
  • Make it as easy as possible for Buyers to see your home. Homes that are “Easy to Show” tend to be shown more frequently. If you can install a REALTOR lockbox do it… If you can take the dog out for a walk do it… Always remember to secure any valuables or items of sentimental value.
  • Review any Offers carefully with your REALTOR. Make sure you consider all contract terms including: price, closing date, required concessions, type of financing…. In this market you want to be working with an approved, motivated buyer. Why else would you agree to take your home off of the market?
  • Close the deal with peace of mind.

Understanding the Market

Properly pricing your home is the most crucial factor in making a sale. The "right" price is a balance between the maximum amount the current housing market will allow, your "competition" and your own time limits in selling. Although the greatest amount of buyer activity occurs during the first 3-4 weeks, a reasonable timeframe for selling a house in Hampton Roads may be between 60 – 90 days.

So, how do you determine the right price?

Start by asking an experienced real estate professional to prepare a written Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for you. The report provides details on recent sales of homes similar to yours, as well as the asking price of homes currently on the market.

Several factors may add or detract from the value of our home. With these factors in mind, you and your sales associate should be able to determine a fair, marketable price for your home.

  • Location – Does the house back up to a busy street or a wooded buffer. Is the home located in a quiet cul de sac or a busy thoroughfare? Does the backyard provide privacy?
  • Features – What specific features set your home apart from others in the area? Spectacular view, On golf course, Master Suite Downstairs, Screened In Porch...
  • Condition – Are there any major or minor repairs that could impact the appeal your home has to potential buyers?
  • Age – Buyers are always interested in the age of the HVAC unit, roof, plumbing, electrical system, and appliances. Are your competitive? If not you may want to consider offering allowances for these items.
  • The Current Market– Is it a Buyers or Sellers Market? A sellers market is defined as one in which there is more than 6 months of inventory available to purchase at any give point in time. Are prices declining, stable or appreciating? You want to be ahead of the curve in a declining market or you could find yourself playing the "catch up" game making numerous price reductions and possibly losing precious time.

Getting Your Home Ready to Show

To get top dollar and sell quickly, you must prepare your home and property so that it is in move-in condition. Take a look at your home as though you are seeing it for the first time... Stand in the shoes of a potential buyer…. What do you see? You may not be concerned about the doorbell that doesn’t work or the crowded closets but the potential buyers will.

  • Give your home a face lift with some fresh paint or a power washing. Even a brick exterior will be improved by a good ol' fashion pressure washing.
  • Trim trees and bushes especially those that hide windows, lighting, shutters etc.
  • Add some color by planting or hanging some flowers – the punch of color is amazing in photos
  • Add fresh pine straw, mulch or other bedding material around your plants
  • Replace or paint a weather beaten mail box
  • Repair or replace torn screens
  • Remove grease stains from driveway and clean light fixtures – Please make sure all fixtures are operable and have bulbs!
  • Paint or clean the front door….The first impression is being made as the potential buyers walk to the door.
  • Replace or repair door hardware – A loose beaten door knob or dead bolt sends a message that perhaps the home has not been well maintained.
  • Keep garden hoses neatly coiled – no loose bricks in the walk ways – fill cracks
  • Fill Bird Feeders (buyers love to see nature in action). Little things can make a big difference
  • Declutter Declutter Declutter – Did we say it emphatically enough? If you cannot part with some items then organize them in baskets or containers. Create order out of disorder. I cannot emphasize this aspect of your preparation with enough vigor… Alone it has the most impact of any home prep step.
  • De-personalize – pack up the hordes of personal photos and remove the magnets, notes etc. from your refrigerator. You want potential buyers to be able to visualize their personal items in your space. Create some white space – give them some "Visual Room"
  • You will want to hide the dog bowls – dog toys – food etc. ( You never know who is allergic so don’t make it obvious that you have a pet)
  • Create order in your closets – Buy matching hangers (not the wire ones!) – Try to store toys, games in a separate area
  • Remove unnecessary furniture to make your rooms appear spacious.
  • Brighten rooms with a fresh coat of paint… Choose a neutral color that will coordinate with most decors.
  • Clean Clean Clean – did we say that emphatically enough? Your kitchen and bathrooms must sparkle… Windows must be squeaky clean, run a lemon through the garbage disposal for a clean smell. Add some potpourri in a container to your bathroom – replace worn towels – repair dripping faucets.
  • Clean air intake grills and replace all filters – NO DUST BUNNIES PLEASE
  • Play soft music during showings – bake cookies or breads prior to Open House Events – The idea is to create a pleasant emotional experience.
  • Hire a Staging Professional if you feel additional ideas on staging are required. It is amazing the difference these trained professionals can make in overall impression … Ask to see their before and after photos.


When interviewing a home inspector, ask the inspector what type of report format he or she provides. There are many styles of reports used by property inspectors, including the checklist, computer generated using inspection programs, and the narrative style.

Some reports are delivered on site and some may take as long as 4 - 6 days for delivery. All reporting systems have pros and cons.

The most important issue with an inspection report is the descriptions given for each item or component. A report that indicates the condition as "Good", "Fair" or "Poor" without a detailed explanation, is vague and can be easily misinterpreted. An example of a vague condition would be:

Kitchen Sink: Condition - Good, Fair, or Poor.

None of these descriptions gives the homeowner an idea what is wrong. Does the sink have a cosmetic problem? Does the home have a plumbing problem? A good report should supply you with descriptive information on the condition of the site and home. An example of a descriptive condition is:

Kitchen sink: Condition - Minor wear, heavy wear, damaged, rust stains, or chips in enamel finish. Recommend sealing sink at counter top.

As you can see, this narrative description includes a recommendation for repair. Narrative reports without recommendations for repairing deficient items may be difficult to comprehend, should your knowledge of construction be limited.

Take the time and become familiar with your report. Should the report have a legend, key, symbols or icons, read and understand them thoroughly. The more information provided about the site and home, the easier to understand the overall condition.

We recommend that you accompany your inspector through the entire inspection if possible. This helps you to understand the condition of the home and the details of the report.

Read the report completely and understand the condition of the home you are about to purchase. After all, it is most likely one of the largest investments you will ever make.

Closing the Deal

When offers on your property are received your real estate professional will make an appointment to present it to you. (All offers for your property MUST be presented to you) The final decision is always yours and careful review of all aspects of the offer is critical. You will want to consider:

  • Offered price
  • Financial Worthiness of the Buyer
  • Earnest Money Deposit
  • Motivation of the Buyer
  • Time Lines

You will want to know the potential buyer has been pre-qualified or pre-approved for the purchase by a recognized lending institution. You will want to consider carefully such contract contingencies as the Sale of a Home which could require months and keep other potential buyers from submitting offers on your property.

You may accept the offer as is, reject it outright, or make changes and sign it back to the purchaser to see if they are willing to accept your changes. The process continues until a deal is agreed upon or negotiations are terminated.

Once ratified the buying side goes into action, arranging mortgage financing, scheduling a closing date / time with a real estate attorney, accumulating documents and data required for the closing. You will want to communicate with your mortgage holder and alert them to the pending sale. Your payoff information will be required by the real estate closing attorney selected by the buyer to settle the transaction.

On closing or settlement day you and the buyer will present at the attorney’s office to sign documents, pay the required settlement fees, satisfy any outstanding mortgage amounts and hopefully receive a check.