Whether you own a home in Norfolk or Norton, it looks like a great time to sell that property in Virginia. Median sales prices here jumped to more than $397,000 in June 2022 — about 7 percent up from the same time one year ago, according to data from Virginia Realtors. Plus, you probably won’t have to wait too long for someone to snap up your property: Homes are typically spending just 22 days on the market across the state.
However, selling your house in Virginia isn’t necessarily an automatic slam dunk. You’ll need to get familiar with legal requirements in the commonwealth, understand what it costs to sell a house and put together a pricing strategy to attract buyers who are dealing with rising mortgage rates. Read on for everything you need to know to sell your house in Virginia.
Are you ready to sell?
Before you list your home in Virginia, have a plan in place for where you’re moving next. If you’re downsizing or moving to a more affordable location, it’s a great time to sell; you’ll be able to put your profits to work for your new lifestyle. However, if you’re looking to buy a similar-sized property in a place where the cost of living is even higher, you might be wondering if it’s smarter to sell now or wait. The answer will ultimately come down to your personal circumstances and budget.
If you’re waiting it out with the expectation that your home value will continue surging, you might not want to delay any longer. In July, Denise Ramey, president of Virginia Realtors, noted that conditions are signaling some potential headwinds for sellers. “The slowdown we’re seeing in sales is due to more buyers pressing ‘pause’ on their home search,” Ramey said in a statement. “The lack of inventory paired with the rise in interest rates have created a more challenging environment for home buyers.”
Translation: If you’re ready to sell, it’s time to make your move.
Preparing to sell
Once you’re ready to get your home on the market, make sure it’s ready to impress prospective buyers. Consider these three questions:
1. Is it worth upgrading your home before you sell?
Major projects, like kitchen remodels and basement build-outs, mean two things: money and time. So, instead of investing a major chunk of cash in the hopes that it will help you sell for a higher price, ask a real estate agent for perspective on whether it’s worth it. The answer is likely no, simply because most big home improvement projects do not recoup their full costs when it’s time to sell. If you do want to make some changes that can increase your sale price, try these quick ways to boost your property value instead.
2. What should you repair before selling your home?
Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer who is touring your home. Are there any glaring issues you would notice? If a shelf is broken, a floorboard is cracked or a coat of paint is chipping, those are items that should probably be addressed. However, there are some issues that aren’t worth fixing — installing new windows or paying an electrician to upgrade wiring likely aren’t worth the money.
3. Should you stage your home?
Buyers like to see a house that feels like a home, and the best way to do that is to help them envision actually living there. While staging your house requires spending a few bucks, rearranging your living room or renting a proper dining room table can deliver some serious ROI. According to data from the Real Estate Staging Association, staged homes sold for around $40,000 more than their list price in 2021.
When is the best time to sell a house in Virginia?
When the weather is good, the buying activity is even better: The best time to sell a house in Virginia is the summer. That’s when homes tend to spend the shortest amount of time on the market — an indication that more buyers are hunting and competition is fierce. Reports from Virginia Realtors show that homes spent an average of 32 days on the market in January. By July, that number had dropped to 20. So, when the sun is hot, it’s your time to strike.
Find a local Virginia real estate agent
Real estate is a local game. Sure, statewide stats are helpful when you’re researching how to sell a house in Virginia, but the data that really matters is what’s happening in your town and even your specific neighborhood. With the right real estate agent at your side, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to secure the best deal.
You might be a bit skeptical of having to pay commission fees on your sale, but that 3 percent agent fee can actually be a bargain. A recent study from the National Association of Realtors shows that FSBO (For Sale By Owner) listings typically sell for $58,000 less than agent-assisted listings. Also, keep in mind that selling a house is hard work that involves crafting a listing, coordinating tours and open houses, negotiating with potential buyers and much more. An agent takes care of all that, so you don’t have to.
Price your home competitively
An agent will also help you find an answer to the most important question: How much is your house worth? By looking at comps of similar properties in your area, you can get a good idea of what other buyers have been willing to pay.
In addition to looking at the past, though, you’ll want to keep present market conditions in mind. Rising mortgage rates mean many house hunters no longer have the buying power they once did. With that in mind, the goal is not to set a steep asking price that just one buyer might be able to afford. Instead, it’s to set a number that attracts multiple buyers — some of whom hopefully fall in love and are willing to compete for it.
Documents and disclosures in Virginia
Home sellers don’t have to disclose much about their properties in Virginia. While many other states have lengthy disclosure forms with specific questions about potential defects, sellers in Virginia instead sign a statement that indicates they “make no representations” about anything in the home. You will need to be honest if a buyer asks you a specific question about the property, but otherwise, it’s up to them to pay for a home inspection to identify any problems.
There are some conditions that do require upfront disclosure, but they tend to be for fairly unusual circumstances. For example, if there are pending zoning violations or if the home is located in a noise zone due to being in military airspace, you might need to complete an additional disclosure form.
Finally, if your home is part of a homeowners association, you should be ready to hand over documents about the bylaws, past meeting minutes and the association’s financial health to any buyer.
Need to sell your home fast?
If you’re in a rush to sell your house in Virginia, there are a few options to get a deal done quickly. However, keep in mind that time is money — you probably won’t make as much with any of these approaches as you would in a traditional sale. And whatever method you choose, it never hurts to add some quick curb appeal.
- Sell to an iBuyer: iBuyers like Opendoor or Offerpad will make you a nearly instant offer for your property. Just enter your address online, and an algorithm will spit out a price, usually within 24 hours. The speed of these services can be tempting, especially as they also eliminate paying hefty real estate commissions. However, they don’t usually save you that much money, because they often make up for it in service charges and lower offers.
- Sell for cash: Companies that buy houses for cash speed up the process too, as there is no lender involved. MarketPro Homebuyers, for example, specializes in buying homes in the Washington, D.C. area., so if you live in Northern Virginia, this might be an option. Cash buyers can be especially great if your property is in need of serious repairs that you can’t afford to make before you list.
- Sell as-is: You can also opt to create an as-is listing for your home, which still allows you to put it on the market without making repairs. The as-is distinction functions as a disclaimer that a buyer isn’t going to be able to haggle with you for a better deal: What you see is what you get, no lengthy negotiations.
Once you’ve secured the right buyer and completed the home inspection, appraisal and contract negotiations, it’s time to formally close your deal. You likely don’t have to be physically present at the closing, but in some parts of Virginia, sellers do attend the closing. Regardless, be prepared to pay your portion of the bill.
Cost of selling a home in Virginia
As the seller, you’ll need to pay commission fees to the real estate agents in the deal, which typically add up to 3 percent of the sale price for your agent and 3 percent for the buyer’s. So, on a $400,000 sale, you’ll pay $24,000 in Realtor fees. While that’s the biggest item on your list of expenses, there are some other fees to consider, too:
- Grantor tax: The buyer is responsible for most of the real estate transfer taxes in Virginia. However, sellers do pay a grantor tax, which is $0.50 for every $500 of value. Sellers in Northern Virginia pay an additional grantor tax of $0.10 for every $100 of value. Depending on when you sell your home, you may need to pay a portion of your property tax bill for the year, too.
- Title insurance: When it comes to title insurance, sellers are usually off the hook. The buyer typically covers this cost in Virginia.
- Seller concessions: The buyer may ask you to cover a portion of their closing costs if the home inspection identifies any issues. Like most requests in real estate, this is negotiable. You can decline, but depending on the buyer, doing so could derail the deal.
- Attorney fees: Hiring a real estate attorney will cost you some cash — the total varies based on their rate and the number of hours they work — but it’s a smart investment for this kind of complex, high-priced transaction.
Take the first step
So, are you ready to put your Virginia house up for sale? Ask some friends or colleagues if they can recommend any real estate agents they have enjoyed working with on their own transactions. Then, set up some time to interview at least three of them to get an understanding of their track records, selling strategies and how they will approach your unique needs. Start by asking these 10 key questions. When you find someone you click with, you’ll be on your way to selling, moving and starting a new chapter of your life.