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The past two years have featured plenty of good news for anyone selling a home in Ohio. With not enough homes to meet buyer demand, prices have been on an upward trajectory. But the market started showing signs of a cooldown during the summer, which is typically the hottest time for real estate. In fact, the number of homes sold in Ohio in July 2022 decreased by more than 10 percent versus the same time one year ago.
The Buckeye State is reflecting a nationwide trend, as rising mortgage rates and high home prices have some buyers rethinking their plans. Despite those headwinds, now is still a good time to sell your house in Ohio — as long as you enter the market with the right pricing strategy to attract interest from buyers. Read on for a step-by-step guide to a successful Ohio home sale.
Are you ready to sell?
Should you sell your house now, or does the shifting market mean you should hold off for a while? If you’re thinking about waiting with the expectation that your house will continue to soar in value, think again: The housing market is actually beginning to slow down. That means the pace of appreciation is leveling off. So, if you’re ready to cash in, there’s not much of a reason to delay.
Keep in mind, though, that selling a home can be stressful — especially if you’re trying to buy another one at the same time. You need to have a contingency plan in place if you can’t sell your home as quickly as you’d like, or if you can’t find another one in time. Additionally, you should have a firm budget in mind for your next home. If you’re planning to relocate from Ohio to a new state, make sure you use Bankrate’s cost of living calculator to determine what your income will buy you in your new home state. For example, if you’re thinking about moving from Columbus to Dallas, Texas, you should be prepared for a 15 percent increase in your cost of living.
Preparing to sell
Once you have your personal finances in order, it’s time to get your home in order. Before you list your Ohio house, ask yourself these three key questions:
1. Is it worth upgrading your home before you sell?
Probably not. It’s tempting to assume that a major project, like remodeling your kitchen, will have major payoff — but it doesn’t exactly work that way. Most renovations, even the best ones for adding value, fail to recoup their full costs at resale. So, instead of hiring a contractor and waiting for the inevitable project delays that accompany most home construction, consider these cheap fixes to boost your property’s price tag.
2. What should you repair before you sell?
Since buyers already have to come up with a hefty amount of cash to buy your home, most of them won’t want to immediately pay even more to deal with repairs. If the paint is chipping, the floorboards are coming up or the bathroom sink is leaking, you should probably deal with those glaring problems to avoid turning off prospective buyers. However, there are some areas that you can leave alone, too. Make sure you consider what not to fix when you’re selling your place.
3. Should you stage your home?
Your home may have worked for you for decades, but piles of books and crowded kitchen countertops can make a space look smaller to buyers. That’s why you might want to think about paying to stage your home. Think of it like dressing up the property for a first date: If you can turn buyers’ heads, they’ll want to commit. And more importantly, they might be willing to pay even more. Staged homes sold for around $40,000 more than their asking price in 2021, according to figures from the Real Estate Staging Association.
When is the best time to sell a house in Ohio?
Late spring and early summer, specifically the month of May, looks like the best time to sell a house in Ohio, based on Redfin data. That’s when homes spend the fewest days on the market — a signal that buyer activity is at its highest level. In May 2021, the median number of days on market in Ohio was 31; by May 2022, that number had shrunk to 26. Sellers can have some trouble at other times of year. In January 2022, for example, homes spent 43 days on the market.
Find a local Ohio real estate agent
While statewide price trends can be helpful in figuring out when to sell, those statistics can only do so much. To maximize your profit potential, it’s smart to find a local real estate agent who has a finger on the pulse of your specific market. Finding the right real estate agent can help connect you with buyers, and agents play a crucial role in taking care of all the hard work of selling a home — marketing it, showing it and negotiating for the best deal.
Keep in mind that Ohio law permits dual agency, so you could wind up in a situation where your agent, or an agent from the same brokerage, also represents your buyer. Because of the potential conflict of interest, you would need to agree to this arrangement in writing.
An important note if you’re thinking about trying to sell your house without an agent: Listings with real estate agents tend to get a lot more money than FSBO, or For Sale By Owner, properties — $318,000 for agent-assisted sales versus $260,000 for FSBO properties. So, while you might want to avoid paying real estate commission fees, the reality is that it will likely be money well spent.
Price your home competitively
Determining an appropriate asking price is a balancing act: You don’t want to get too greedy and turn off buyers, but you also don’t want to leave money on the table. Start by using free online tools (automated valuation models, like Zillow’s “Zestimate”) to get a sense of how much your home is worth. But take the amount with a grain of salt: These algorithms don’t know if you upgraded your bathroom or added a pool out back, and they may not know about the big new shopping center in the neighborhood that will increase property values. Your real estate agent will be your best resource, walking you through comps in the area to understand how much buyers have been willing to spend recently on homes similar to yours. “Recently” is a key word there, too: You want to know what people paid within the last month, not the last year.
Documents and disclosures in Ohio
Most Ohio sellers will need to complete the state’s residential property disclosure form, which includes all knowledge of defects that could impact the value or safety of the home. These could include past roof damage, leaks, proximity to a Lake Erie Coastal Erosion Area and more. Basically, if there is something that might make a buyer think twice about paying to own the home, you’ll need to share it.
Additionally, if your home is part of a homeowners association, you should gather all documents about the association, including bylaws, meeting minutes from the past year, supporting information about the association’s financial reserves and any details about the potential for upcoming special assessments. A buyer’s lawyer will request all of this information.
Need to sell your home fast?
Some sellers have no time to waste. If you’re one of them, here are three ways to sell your house fast.
- Find an iBuyer: The good news with iBuying is that you’ll save a lot of time, usually with an offer in less than 24 hours. The bad news? You’ll probably get a much lower offer than you would from an individual buyer. Still, it can make sense for certain sellers. However, iBuying may not be available in every town in Ohio.
- Sell for cash: iBuyers aren’t the only companies that buy houses for cash. There are loads of others — HomeVestors, HomeGo and Sundae, to name a few — that will save you the time of waiting for a buyer’s financing to clear. Most of these companies are looking for investment opportunities that can either be long-term rental properties or fix-and-flip projects. So, if your home is in great shape, you’re better off looking for an all-cash offer from a traditional buyer.
- Sell as-is: If your home needs a number of repairs but you don’t want to pay to make them, consider an as-is listing. This label acts as a disclaimer that any buyer is getting the property in its current condition, with no lengthy bargaining or negotiations. You’ll still need to complete a property disclosure form and be honest about any issues, but dealing with those problems will fall on the buyer’s shoulders.
You’re in the home stretch now! As you get ready for closing, don’t forget that you’ll need to deal with moving too. Make sure you budget for the costs of relocating, and hire a reputable company that won’t damage the property on the way out. Once you’re packed up and moved out, you just have one more step before you have officially sold your home: Paying all the expenses involved in the deal.
Cost of selling a home in Ohio
As a seller, you’re responsible for paying all the real estate commission fees. Unless you’ve managed to negotiate a lower fee, you’re typically looking at 3 percent to your own agent and 3 percent to the buyer’s agent. So on a $300,000 deal, you would likely pay $18,000 in Realtor fees at closing. Additionally, be sure to consider these closing costs for sellers:
- Title insurance: In most counties in Ohio, you will split the cost of an owner’s title insurance policy with the buyer. For example, title coverage on a home that costs $250,000 would be just over $1,300, and your portion would add up to just over $650.
- Transfer taxes: In Ohio, real estate transactions are subject to a transfer tax of $0.50 per parcel of land and conveyance fees, which vary by county. In Franklin County, for example, the conveyance fee is $3 for every $1,000 of value, while Greene County charges $2 for every $1,000 of value. While sellers often cover these charges, this is negotiable — ask your agent and attorney to request that the buyer pay a portion of these charges.
- Attorney fees: You aren’t required to hire a lawyer to sell a house in Ohio, but it can make a huge difference. You won’t have to review every line of a complex contract, and you can proceed with the peace of mind that a legal expert has signed off on everything. The fee varies based on your lawyer’s hourly rate and how much time it takes to complete your deal.
- Concessions: Your lawyer and agent will be valuable resources if a buyer requests concessions after a home inspection. Seller concessions involve you paying a portion of the buyer’s closing costs, so let them handle the negotiations to make sure you aren’t giving away too much cash.
Take the first step
Are you ready to get moving on moving out of your house in Ohio? Then it’s time to find the right real estate agent to help you with the process. Set up interviews with a few different agents to find out how they will approach your business — how they would price your property, when they think you should list it, and more. Choose someone who you click with and who you trust will work hard, with your best interests in mind.
The state of Ohio does not mandate that sellers hire real estate attorneys. It’s up to you whether you want to pay for professional legal assistance. However, it’s always smart to have a lawyer on your side when you’re dealing with confusing contract language and large dollar amounts.
If you want to sell your house without a Realtor in Ohio, you certainly can. But you should be ready to do a lot of work. This can include taking professional photos of the property, determining the right price, creating a compelling listing, promoting it everywhere possible, hosting open houses, bargaining with buyers’ agents and more. It can be exhausting, and it can also be challenging to get as much money as you would with the assistance of a real estate agent. Additionally, it’s not entirely free: You’ll likely have to pay to list the property on the MLS if you want to attract the most buyers, and you will still be on the hook for paying the buyer’s agent’s commission.
Ohio sellers must complete the state’s five-page residential property disclosure form. In it, you’re required to share any knowledge about potential defects that could impact the property’s value, or the safety of anyone living at the property. This can include past leaks, the presence of mold, roof damage and more.