Selling your home: putting together your team
The process of selling your home will be far easier if you put together a good team of professionals to help you with the details. The following is a list of typical and some not-so-typical real estate service vendors. If you would like recommendations for specific services, let us know:
- Accountant or other tax professional: The sale of your home could be a taxable event so it is important that you understand the tax implications of the sale. For example, we had a client moving out of country decide NOT to sell their home because of the negative tax consequences. We always recommend you check with a tax professional. On occasion, if your situation is particularly complex, we might insist on it.
- Appraiser: An appraiser is typically part of the buyer’s team. But, there are times when you may want to have your home appraised on your own. This is especially true if you are selling your home on your own and don’t want to depend on a real estate agent’s estimate of market value, typically called a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).
- Escrow officer: Your escrow officer will handle the closing. They use the purchase and sale contract, local market customs along with instructions from your lender and the buyers’ lender to manage the details of the closing process. The choice of escrow officer can ‘make or break’ a transaction, because they handle the final details and they make sure everyone gets paid and the final paperwork is correct.
- Handyman or other construction professional: To get the best price for your home, it needs to be in good condition with up-to-date features. A handyman can make minor repairs or even handle a small remodel. You may need to hire a general contractor for larger jobs. The important thing is to balance the costs of repairs and improvements against their expected affect on sale price or sale time (depending on your goals).
- Home inspector: A home inspector is typically thought of as part of the buyers’ team. However, getting your home inspected by a professional before you begin the sales process can give you a chance to make repairs ahead of time, or give you a chance to adjust your price so the inspection does not become an issue during the buyers’ due diligence process. There is a possible disadvantage, though. In Washington State, the seller is required to notify the buyer of any issues of which they are aware that materially affect the value of the home such as needed repairs. However, the seller is not required to search for and identify problems. So, if you have an inspection performed that reveals issues, you are legally required to inform prospective buyers. If you are not aware of an issue, then it is up to the buyer to find it during their due diligence.
- Home stager: Correctly staging your home by rearranging furniture, removing clutter and personal items can help present it in the best light. Staging is especially important for vacant homes or when the buyer might have an issue in understanding how spaces can be utilized.
- Insurance agent: If you are selling your home, its wise to discuss this ahead of time with your insurance agent. Until the sale closes, you will need to maintain your insurance. Also, it might be good to review any previous claims, because this information will likely be available to the buyers and their agent via a national insurance database that tracks claims by property.
- Interior designer: The role of an interior designer is similar to a home stager. An interior designer is typically brought in for new construction homes and higher-end homes to provide a more complete service than simply staging. For example, the interior designer may recommend paint colors, art and even kitchen hardware.
- Landscaper: The importance of curb appeal can’t be overstated. Many buyers will simply drive by your home before even thinking of going inside. Hiring a landscaper to clean up and improve the exterior appeal of your home is often more than worth the cost. They can also help keep the property maintained throughout the home selling process so that it continues to show at its best.
- Photographer: A photographer can help make sure your home is presented at its best when buyers are viewing it on the internet or in a sales flyer. A good photographer can help accentuate positives and minimize negatives. There are also online services that can clean up your photos and improve them, though there is debate about the effectiveness and even the ethics of doing so.
- Real estate agent: A real estate agent can serve many roles. A good real estate agent serves as a stand-in for many of the other vendors. They can provide market value information (though they can’t provide an appraisal, unless appropriately licensed). They can provide advice on repairs, staging and landscaping. They can take appealing photographs. Most importantly, a real estate agent can guide you through the process or manage the process for you when you feel it is appropriate. A bad real estate agent can be an impediment to a successful transaction, so its important to know the role you wish your agent to play. Naturally, we believe, and so do our existing clients, that Tellus Real Estate Solutions would be a good choice as your partner in the sales process. See our seller services page for more information as to the services we provide our clients.
- Real estate attorney: Your real estate sale is made up of a series of contracts: listing contracts if you use an agent, purchase and sale contracts when you receive an offer, loan documents, title insurance policies and escrow contracts. We always recommend that you review the terms of contracts and agreements with a knowledgeable attorney. Again, if your transaction is particularly complex, we may insist on an attorney review.
- Septic inspector/pumper: Having your septic system (if you have one) inspected before sale is similar to having the rest of your home inspected. It gives you a chance to find and fix problems before a buyer does, which will often mean the bottom line result is better for you than having it come up during the sale. But, like the home inspection, it has the same possible negative consequences. If you find a problem you will be legally required to report it.
- Title agent: The title agent is another team member typically associated with buyers. However, as the seller you will be providing the buyer with, and paying for, a title policy. The title agent will do a title search, making sure that any liens against the property are documented so they can be removed before closing. The title agent will also provide the official legal description of the property so it can be reviewed. Tellus Real Estate Solutions, and most other real estate agents, will ‘open title’ when you list your property so that we can review the results of the title search with you at the beginning of the process.
Each transaction is different. The important thing to recognize is when to bring in professional help. You want your sales transaction to be as stress free as possible. So, check with a professional like Tellus Real Estate Solutions whenever you feel unsure about how to handle a situation or need advice on appropriate actions to take.