Seller Information

Here are the steps you’ll go through, and what to expect, when you decide to put your home on the market.

Listing Your Home

You first want to let others know that your home is for sale. “Listing” is the process of marketing your home to potential buyers in the hopes of selling it to one of them. This can be done either through an agent or by owner (also known as For Sale By Owner or FSBO). When you list with an agent, you will pay them a fee or commission to handle the marketing and the other tasks I’m about to describe for you. When you sell by owner, you handle all of these items yourself. I discourage homeowners from selling as a FSBO, and that goes double for divorcing couples. I’ll go over that reasoning later.

Marketing your home

This is the stage of the process that most people are familiar with from shows like House Hunters on HGTV. Photos, advertisements, yard signs, and other marketing will entice buyers into the home to see it. You will allow potential buyers to come through your home, or “show” it, to see if they like it enough to make an offer.

You’ll want to keep your home tidy for these showings to make the best impressions. You may want to “stage” your home, which is a term we use to describe the process of decorating your home with furniture and accents in a way that maximizes its appeal to buyers. Staging can be done yourself or with the help of a professional. Your realtor will have suggestions about whether or not to stage your home and contacts for a stager if necessary.

Showings can occur most any time of day or night, and you may even have a longer showing called an “open house” where your home is held open continuously for showings for a block of time; usually a weekend afternoon. You have control over when these showings occur.

Negotiation of Offers

At some point, hopefully one of the buyers who showed your home will be interested enough to write an offer. Offers on your home will always be in writing and come in the form of a “purchase agreement”, which is the legal contract for the sale of your home. Though most people are primarily concerned with the price offered, there are several other important terms of a sale. These include earnest money, price, financing terms, closing date, inspection and other contingencies, and other more minor terms. When deciding whether or not to accept, counter, or reject an offer, you’ll want to consider all of these items in determining whether or not this is the right buyer for your home.

Removal of Contingencies

As mentioned above, a purchase agreement is most likely to come with several “contingencies”. Contingencies are conditions that must be satisfied before the buyer is fully obligated to purchase the home. In a vast majority of home sales, those contingencies will include a home inspection as well as a contingency to obtain mortgage financing. After these contingencies are removed to the satisfaction of both parties, the sale becomes “pending” and can be scheduled for closing.

Appraisal

If your buyer will be obtaining a mortgage, then in order to remove the financing contingency I just mentioned, the lender will send out an appraiser to evaluate the home. The reason the lender requires a mortgage is that they will be giving the buyer a large sum of money for this house without requiring much money up front (as little as 3% in some instances). The lender is therefore is ensuring that, if the buyer fails to perform on the mortgage and they foreclose on the loan, that they will foreclose on a home that is worth the money they lent to that buyer.

This is also where the appraiser will determine whether the home is subject to any “work orders” before closing. Work orders are repairs that the seller will have to make before the lender will underwrite a loan. Usually those items are things that would affect the lender’s ability to sell the home if they foreclose.

Closing

Closing isn’t just the moment where you sit across the table from your buyer and hand them the keys. Quite a lot happens at a closing in Minnesota. Here we do what is called a “wet closing”, which means that everything required to change the ownership from the seller of a property to the buyer is done simultaneously. Prior to closing, a lawyer or title representative works to make sure that the title of your property can smoothly pass from you to your buyer. They are looking to clear out any “encumberances”, meaning anything that can affect your ability to pass clear title. Those include clearing up any other claims to the title of your home, any liens or mortgages on the property, etc. They are also coordinating with all the lenders and service providers to put together an accurate statement (called a “settlement statement”) of all the money owed or owed to each side in the transaction.

During closing you and the buyer will sign all necessary documents needed to pass title. You will talk about any last-minute issues such as the condition of the property during the final walk through and any questions the buyer may have about the property. The title person will take and/or cut checks as needed and will ensure that all mortgages are funded or paid off. And then you’ll exchange keys and garage door openers and the sale of your home will be final.

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