Selling a house
This timeline is simply a memory
aid for the things you'll need to do when selling your home. Your
sequence may differ greatly, although you'll probably need to do
most of the same things.
With today's market, many homes are taking longer than usual to
sell. Still, houses in some locations will sell faster than others.
It's smart to be prepared for any scenario.
12 weeks out
- Decide whether you'll hire a real estate agent
to sell your home or sell it on your own.
- Interview real estate agents -- decide whom you
want to represent you. If you decide to use an agent, check his
or her credentials and make sure you see eye-to-eye on all the
issues that matter to you.
- Decide an asking price. Find
out what other homes in your town cost.
- For more specific prices in your neighborhood,
ask a real estate agent for a free market analysis. The agent
should price your house in line with your neighborhood. Agents
do this for free because they want you to list your house with
- Have title, deed and survey in hand when you're
ready to list the house.
what improvements need to be made -- cleaning, painting, landscaping
or repairing. Consider hiring professionals to clean carpets,
refinish wood floors or to do any major painting, tile or grout
work. The real estate agent can help you decide what needs to
be done. If there's something you're not going to do, such as
repainting interior or exterior, get an estimate for the buyer.
- Look into the potential tax
breaks available to you as a home seller.
8 weeks out
- Make sure heating, air conditioning and any appliances
you're leaving behind are in good working condition.
- Clean the garage.
- Take care of any landscaping needs.
- Inspection -- If you really don't know what's wrong
with the house, get an inspection. Otherwise, don't. The buyer
will rely on their inspection.
- The buyer's lender will probably order a termite
- Appraisal -- Get one only if it's needed as part
of a corporate relocation package. In that case, your company
will hire someone to appraise your home.
6 weeks out
- Contingency plans -- What will you do if your house
sells faster than you expected? Do you have a house or apartment
lined up? If your buyer doesn't plan to move into your home right
away, maybe you can rent it back from the buyer for a month or
- Relocation -- If there's a corporate relocation
involved, ask about any specific requirements. Know exactly how
much the company will pay for moving expenses. Will they pay for
one or two house-hunting trips? Temporary housing while you find
a new home? Does your company offer assistance in the purchase
of a new home?
- If you haven't decided on a town, contact real
estate agents in the area you're considering or check out Web
sites that let you compare city demographics.
- Get rid of anything you don't want to move. Have
a garage sale.
- Call three movers and get estimates. A low-ball
estimate may look appealing, but it can cost you more money in
the long run.
- Make a list of everyone who needs to be notified
of the move -- friends, relatives, creditors, schools, doctors
5 weeks out
- Contact your insurance company to make sure
your belongings are covered during the move. If not, find out
what the mover covers. Their basic insurance probably insures
items by the pound, which is not enough. See what other insurance
- Have an appraisal of expensive items you want shipped
by the mover.
- If you've refinanced recently, make sure everything
has been recorded with regard to that mortgage.
- If you're selling one property and purchasing another
and you need money from the sale for the purchase, talk to your
mortgage company about the time frame. They have programs where
you can borrow against the sale but you have to take out the new
mortgage with them.
- If you're flying to your new location, book your
flight and arrange for the mover or someone else to ship your
car. Arrange for a rental car if necessary.
- Vacant house -- If you have to move before your house is sold, check your insurance company for any insurance
requirements. Insurance companies don't like to insure vacant
4 weeks out
- Start packing anything you don't want the movers
- Give away plants -- most movers won't take them.
Movers also won't take flammables, paint, ammunition, chemicals
and similar items.
- Be prepared for closing. Talk with your attorney
or representative. Make sure you understand any fees, commissions,
taxes or points you may have to pay.
2 weeks out
- Arrange to have utilities and phone service shut
off, or transferred if it's a local move. Remember, movers need
light, so have power turned off after you're sure the movers will
be gone. Don't cancel cell phone service -- you may need it while
en route to your new home.
- Make sure you have arrangements for a place
to stay assuming closing day is after you have vacated the house.
1 week out
- Close your safe-deposit box. Important papers,
jewelry, etc. should be kept with you for the move.
- Get a cashier's check for the movers.
- Review the bill of lading very carefully.
- If the house isn't sold yet, make sure a relative
and the real estate agent have keys.
- You'll have plenty of papers to sign before getting
the check for your property, and you may be invited to take a
final walk through the house with the new owners.
With assistance from Lori Dahl,
Burgdorff Realtors, Parsippany, N.J.,
and Jim Bradley, president of American Residential Lending, Atlanta.
-- Updated: July 22, 2008