Selling a house
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.
Your home might sell in a week, or it may take months. You
might be in a hot market or find that homes just aren't moving. 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. If you decide to save the commission, here's
with tips for selling your home yourself.
- Interview real estate agents -- decide whom you want to represent
you. If you decide to use an agent, check their 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. They'll do this for free because they want you to
list your house with them.
- Have title, deed and survey in hand when you're ready to list
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.
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 infestation
- 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
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 so.
- 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
- 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. Here are tips for getting an accurate estimate
and ways you can help trim the costs.
- Make a list of everyone who needs to be notified of the move
-- friends, relatives, creditors, schools, doctors and dentists.
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 they offer.
- Have an appraisal of expensive items you want shipped by the
- 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 you have sold your
house, check your insurance company for any insurance requirements. Insurance
companies don't like to insure vacant houses.
4 weeks out
- Start packing anything you don't want the movers packing.
- 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
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 cut 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 safe-deposit box. Important papers, jewelry, etc.
should be kept with you for the move.
- You may want to close savings accounts but keep your checking
account active until you open a new account in your new town.
- 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, Ga.
-- Posted: July 1, 2003