Deciding To Sell

You are considering selling? First step is to clarify your why; what is motivating you to sell. Next step is to hire a Realtor® to help you define the process and price. 

Why do you want to sell?

Having a clear understanding of your why will make the entire process much easier.

  • Do you have substantial equity in your home?
  • Has your financial situation changed?
  • Are you planning to purchase another home upon selling your existing home? If so, clarify what your wants and needs are for the next purchase.
  • Are you having to relocate to another area?
  • Have you outgrown your current home? Perhaps you need more square feet, a larger yard, an RV bay, a home office?
  • Maybe you are ready for an update and would rather purchase than remodel?
  • Are you looking to downsize?
  • Has your current yard become more work than you desire?
  • Are you looking to be a snowbird and a smaller home will be a better fit?
  • You simply want a change? Do you want a change of scenery, a new neighborhood, a change of floorplan? Are interest rates attractive?
  • Are you comfortable selling in the current market?

When should I sell?

It is imperative you know your timeframe; needing to sell immediately versus having time to sell will impact the approach to selling your home. Either way your Realtor® can assist you with a game plan that will best fit your needs.

What are market conditions?

One of the critical elements is making sure your Realtor® is skilled at providing a comprehensive market analysis so you are clear about your home’s value in today’s market. This will provide you with the information you need to confidently price your home within the current market conditions. You want an agent who has the knowledge, expertise and negotiating skills so you can sell your home at a price and terms you are satisfied with.

How do I optimize my finances?

Selling property can have various tax and estate planning implications. It is important you consult your estate planner, accountant or tax adviser prior to selling.

Select an Agent and Price

First step is to choose a professional, ethical Realtor®.

Being prepared is one of the best ways to seize an opportunity. Real estate transactions can be complex. There is a lot of paperwork involved, important contractual deadlines, and expert advice needed throughout the transaction.

Selecting a Realtor® is an important step. You’ll want someone who is ethical, available and professional. Keep in mind the transaction begins the moment your Realtor® makes the first contact with a buyer’s agent. This initial contact will leave a lasting impression on that agent and can impact a buyer’s decision as to whether they want to submit an offer.

Things to consider when selecting a Realtor®/listing agent:

  • What are their credentials and education? A professional will pursue continuing education classes and designations.
  • You want a full-time agent who is familiar with your area and with the type of property you intend to sell. What marketing and advertising strategies do they use? Do they use professional photography? Do they use drone technology?
  • Ask if they are full-time or if they have another job and pursue real estate part-time. If they are part-time, know what their limitations on availability are and their experience and commitment level. A full-time agent typically has more experience and greater availability. Your listing agent needs to be capable of prompt and decisive action during the process. They should be available weekends and evenings when buyers are most active. Can your agent be easily reached in case of emergencies or for questions?
  • How promptly do they return calls? In a fast-paced market this can impact buyer’s desiring a quick response to their offers.
  • You will need an agent who listens attentively to your needs and your concerns.
  • Are they skilled communicators and negotiators?
  • Select the professional you feel most comfortable with.


What is your Property Worth?

Without a professional Realtor® most independent property sellers tend to overestimate the value of their property. This can dramatically impact the final selling price. You can avoid this by consulting with an experienced listing agent. The seller sets the price, the market sets the range and ultimately the buyer sets the value of your home.

Prepare to Sell

Preparing your property for optimum curb appeal not only impacts how quickly you may find a buyer but can also impact offering price.

What you can do to prepare.

Keep the following factors in mind:

  1.  Curb Appeal 

Immaculate landscaping, colorful pots of flowers, neat & tidy exterior appearance, condition of fencing, railings, exterior paint, front door condition, garage door condition all impact curb appeal. Buyers will often drive by a home prior to requesting a showing so their first impression can make the difference as to whether they choose to view the interior of the home.

  1. Repairs

Some simple property repairs can leave a lasting impression. Making sure there are no leaks at any of the faucets, shower heads or underneath sinks. Repairing damaged windows. Fresh coats of paint in frequently used rooms. Replacing/updating faucets can make a difference. Updating cabinet & drawer pulls (or adding some if appropriate). Repair broken light fixtures. Repairing/replacing damaged window blinds. Repairing/replacing carpet. Removing outdated wall paper. I know every seller’s situation is unique. Some sellers are in a position to perform or hire out needed repairs; while others are not. I can work with you to address YOUR needs.

  1. Cleanliness

A sparkling clean, well-lit, bright, uncluttered, nice smelling property can make a powerfully positive impact on a buyer’s showing experience. Have your carpets cleaned. You can hire a professional cleaning company to come in and clean the entire interior including appliances. Having your windows cleaned can also make a difference. Consider having a garage sale to help with decluttering.

  1. Staging

Staging is the process of preparing a home for sale. The goal is to make it appealing to the largest number of buyers, thereby selling more swiftly and for more money. There are professional stagers who charge for the initial staging and then a monthly fee. There are also professional stagers who will come in and do a private consultation; some will assist with staging your home using your own items. They will provide guidance on how best to prepare your home to sell.

  1. Disclosures

It is important to provide proper information on the required property disclosure forms. Your agent can assist you with this.

  1. Telling the story

A skilled listing agent will understand how important telling the story of your home is when marketing. Telling a story and focusing on the lifestyle the home provides is just as important as the facts about the property. You can assist your agent with this by sharing what you have loved about living in your home.

  1. Photography, Drones & Video

Every listing, regardless of price, deserves professional photography. Drone photography is also a powerful visual marketing aid. An expert listing agent will provide guidance as to whether drone photography would be beneficial. Some photographers offer website marketing for individual listings. Another powerful marketing tool, when appropriate, can be hiring a professional to create a video of the home. There are companies who can also create a footprint of your property for a fee; these can be part of the listing.

  1. Pre-listing Inspection

You can hire an inspector to do a pre-listing inspection. Some folks feel it unnecessary as most buyers are going to hire their own. Keep in mind should you decide to have a pre-list inspection you must disclose any issues you have been informed of on the property disclosure. Some sellers would rather have the inspection so there are no surprises. However, every inspector may have a different opinion so a pre-list inspection is no guarantee you won’t be surprised by something. See the document “Pre-listing Inspection Items” to get an idea of what an inspector will look for; this list can also be of assistance as you prepare to list your home.  

  1. Showings

Your Realtor® will handle showings. If you are living in your home during the listing your agent can review options with you for scheduling the showings. It is best if you are not present during the showings; buyers are more comfortable if the seller is not there. You can discuss with your Realtor® any requests you have for how showings are handled and when they are scheduled.

  1. Other Preparations

Make sure your HVAC has been serviced within past 6-months and filters have been changed; keep the receipt. When preparing for winter or spring have your sprinkler system blown-out or turned on; appropriate for the season. During the fall months keep leaves raked. Make sure gutters are cleaned. Have trees trimmed away from home and roof.  If you have a septic system a buyer will most likely ask for it to be pumped and inspected. Well pumps and water testing is typically a request of buyers. Make sure there are no exposed wires in attic or crawl. All smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors need to be in working order.

You will also need to decide what, if any, personal property will be included with the sale.

If you have pets discuss this with your agent. You want to consider any liability issues should a typically friendly pet not be quite so friendly during a showing. You may also have buyers who are afraid of some pets.  

It is important to keep all medications, monies, weapons, jewelry and other valuables locked away during showings.

Other considerations.

You may have special circumstances and needs; this is where I can be of valuable assistance to you. Do you have a place to move too or do you need a rent-back option? Do you need a simultaneous close? Do you need special showing considerations? Do you need to sell “as-is?” Do you need to sell quickly?  Selling your property is about YOUR needs not your listing agent’s needs. I am here to serve YOU!

Marketing Your Home

This is the job of your Realtor®. Different types of property may need different types of advertising and marketing. It all starts with professional photography, drone shots (where appropriate), and video (where appropriate) to make sure your listing gets the most professional looking online presence. There are many other tools available including print media, social media, mailing campaigns, and open houses.

Typically, a sign will also be installed in your yard. A lockbox will be secured on the property with a key so agents showing your home will have access. These lockboxes will immediately notify your listing agent via email that someone has entered the home. It will provide the agents name and contact information as well. This gives the listing agent an opportunity to ask for feedback on the showing.

Your Realtor® will discuss the various marketing options and what may be the best exposure for your specific listing.

How to Improve the odds of an offer?

There are things you can do to improve your odds.

  • Price it right: set a price at the lower end of your property’s realistic price range. Your Realtor® can help you determine values.
  • Competition: how many other houses are for sale in your area right now? Are you competing against new homes for sale in the area?
  • Contingencies: Do you have special needs that may turn away buyers?
  • Accuracy: Studies show homes priced more than 3 percent over the correct price take longer to sell.
  • Prepare for visitors: get your house market-ready at least two weeks before you begin showing it. Make all repairs then do a deep clean or hire a cleaning service to do it.
  • Consider an appraisal: A qualified appraiser can give you an estimate of your home’s value. This is useful for sellers going through a divorce or needing to divide proceeds. Be sure to ask for a market-value appraisal.
  • Be flexible about showings: Spur of the moment showings are disruptive and making sure your home is constantly ready to show can be exhausting. But the more amenable you can be, the sooner you’ll find a buyer.
  • Anticipate offers: Decide in advance the price range and terms that are acceptable. Be clear with yourself and your agent about what kind of offers you’re comfortable with. It’s critical to know what price you’ll accept before entering negotiations with a potential buyer.
  • Don’t refuse to drop the price: If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, be prepared to consider lowering your asking price.

The Process

Reviewing & Accepting An Offer.

Your Realtor® will assist you in reviewing offers. There are many factors to consider so it is important your agent helps you weigh the various options so you can make an educated decision. If you receive several offers at once your agent will help you compare them so you can decide which offer you find most desirable. Once you review the offer/offers with your agent you have four choices: Accept, Reject, Counter or no response at all (I always recommend the courtesy of a response). If you counter the offer the buyer will have the option to accept your counter, reject it and walk-away, or counter back.

Select a Realtor® who is skilled at negotiating. Buyers and sellers can be very emotional during a real estate negotiation so it is imperative you have an agent who can remain objective as they assist you with this process.

I recommend you accept buyers who have a pre-approval letter or written loan commitment, which is a better guarantee than a pre-qualification or no documentation. If they are a cash buyer, they should submit proof of funds.

You will receive signed copies of all transaction documents during the transaction process.

Once both parties have agreed to terms and signed the purchase contract there will be a series of contractual deadlines. Your Realtor® will advise you along the way and make sure those deadlines are met. The buyer will deposit their earnest money and begin their inspections.

The closing agent is typically the title company but can also be an attorney. The closing agent will hold the earnest money in escrow and research the recorded history of the property to make sure the title is free and clear of any encumbrances by the date of closing. The closing agent will also make sure any new encumbrances are properly recorded at closing. The closing agent will check for any recorded easements, encroachments, or rights-of-way that will impact use of the property.

In Idaho title is typically conveyed by a Warranty Deed. You can consult an attorney or a tax adviser on other options. You may be someone who needs advice on the various legal, estate and tax issues when purchasing property.


Most buyers will include an inspection contingency clause in their offer. This is a specific time period where they can hire inspectors to look at the home. You must make the home available for these inspections including having water and power on (special circumstances where this may not be applicable).

A buyer has a contractual right to terminate an offer during the inspection phase without risk of losing their earnest money.

It is important for all parties to understand the purpose of a professional home inspection. So please read the “The Purpose of the Home Inspection” document.

Once the buyer receives their inspection report they will review with their Realtor®. They have several response options:

  • Termination of the contract with no risk of losing their earnest money
  • Removal of the contingency; they will move forward with the transaction not requesting any action from the seller
  • Request for a credit at closing in lieu of repairs
  • Request a price change
  • Request for specific repairs

If the buyer requests a credit, price change or repairs they are to submit, at the very least, the section of the home inspectors report that addresses the findings behind their request. Once they submit their requests you can accept, modify, reject, or terminate during this phase. Your Realtor® can assist you with your inspection response and any needed negotiations.

If you agree to make repairs the buyer will have a contractual right to perform an inspection of requested repairs to confirm they meet with their satisfaction. Be sure to keep all receipts for proof of repairs made. Your agent will submit them to the buyer’s agent.

Other Contingencies

The buyer will also have a right to review any CCR’s (Covenants, conditions, Restrictions) during the first few days of the contract. If they find anything that does not meet with their satisfaction, they have the right to terminate without risk of losing their earnest money.

The title company will open title once they receive the contract. Then they will perform a preliminary title search and release a preliminary title commitment for all parties to review. If there are any issues on this commitment there are provisions in the contract to deal with these.  


Appraisal & Final Underwriting

Once the inspection phase negotiations are complete and all parties have agreed to move forward the buyer’s lender will request the appraisal. A home appraisal is an estimate of the property’s value based on location, condition and recent sales of similar homes in the surrounding area. It sets the amount that lenders will allow borrowed against a property.

The assignment of an appraiser is not controlled by the lender. The lender requests an appraiser through an appraisal management company (AMC). The AMC assigns an appraiser. Once the appraiser’s report is finished it will be sent to the lender. A report will also be provided to the buyer. The appraisal process can take as long as two weeks. A seller typically does not receive a copy of the appraisal unless it does NOT meet value. If the appraisal comes in high enough to meet the contract price the lender will simply communicate that the appraisal has “met value.”

Appraisals provide a professional opinion of value; it is not an exact science. They can vary depending on who is performing the appraisal and when they are done. Changes in market conditions can also impact appraised values.

Appraisers will look at past sold comparables of similar properties to assist them with calculating value. A skilled Realtor® who is an expert in researching comparables can be instrumental during the appraisal process. They are allowed to provide information to the appraiser that may be useful during their appraisal of the listing. This could include market comparables the agent used, updates to the home and any other valuable amenities to the property that could impact value.  

If the appraisal “meets value” the seller’s agent is notified, and the buyer enters the final underwriting stage of their loan. If the loan does not meet value, the buyer and seller will enter into a new negotiation phase. If these negotiations fail the buyer is not contractually bound to purchase the home if the appraisal does not support the purchase price on the contract (unless other terms were agreed upon). A lender won’t loan above appraised value.

Clear To Close

You are almost there! The appraisal contingency has been removed and the buyer is ready to finalize their purchase.

Once the appraisal contingency is removed the buyer enters the final underwriting phase of their loan.

Once the lender’s underwriting department has completed this final stage the lender will draw up a Closing Disclosure or CD. A closing disclosure is a document that provides final details about the buyer’s loan. The buyer must have 3 full days to review the CD before the lender can close on the loan.

Keep in mind if something happens with the buyer’s finances and they can no longer qualify for their loan they have a contractual right to have their earnest money returned upon termination. If they terminate without a contractual right, the seller would have cause to keep the earnest money.

In the meantime, the seller should have finished all repair requests (if any were agreed upon), receipts for repairs should have been submitted to the buyer’s agent. If you are planning to purchase another home, you have probably been looking and may have already had an offer accepted.

It is important to be PREPARED for any glitches. Sometimes there can be last-minute hiccups that are simply unforeseen. I have helped clients work through many of these situations and I assure you I will walk you through it efficiently and with as little stress as possible.

Closing and Funding

Once the CD has been created the lender will send final figures to the title company. The title company will create the settlement statement (sometimes called a closing statement). This document is a summary of all debits and credits that are included in the sale of your property. The title company and lender will work together to make sure their figures match. It is basically a final reconciliation of the figures and will show the amount you will be receiving from the sale. Once they have verified all figures the title company will send the settlement statement to your agent for review. Your agent will review to make sure no errors have been made based on the purchase contract terms. Once the agent reviews the document, he/she will send it to you for final review.

Final Walk-Thru

The buyer has a contractual right to a second and final walk-thru (first walk-thru is for confirming completed repairs are satisfactory) approximately 3 days prior to closing (sometimes they perform this walk-thru the day of closing). This is the buyer’s opportunity to confirm the home is in the same condition it was at the time they made their offer. They will set this up through your Realtor®. You will not want to be home while they conduct this final walk (unless all parties including the agents have agreed to a seller assisted walk of the property).


Your Realtor® will schedule your signing at the title company. You want to sign by noon the day of closing in order to have enough time for the funding to take place. Funding is when the new warranty deed is recorded and ownership changes hands. You can typically sign a day or so in advance if same day signing doesn’t work in your schedule.

At signing all signers must bring current (cannot be expired) picture ID; typically, a driver’s license.

If you owe any funds it will have to be in the form of a cashier’s check (cannot be a personal check). The check should be made out to the title company handling the closing. Title companies can take checks for small amounts but not large sums.

Typically, a seller will be receiving funds. You will have options as to how you would like to receive those funds. You can either receive them in the form of a check or have the funds wired to an account of your choosing (title company will handle wires). Every banking institution has different rules about how soon large deposits will be available to the account owner. You will want to check with them.

I attend my client’s signings as I believe your Realtor® should be there to answer any questions that may arise, to support and to celebrate with you.

You will also want to be sure to give your Realtor® at least one key. He/She will leave with the title company and title will not release the key to the buyer’s until ownership has changed hands (funding/recording). You can leave extra keys, remotes, codes, any appliance manuals or instructions for the buyers in the home.

It is important you let your Realtor® know in advance if you must sign out-of-state so they can set this up in time to meet the closing date.

Be Aware Of Wire Fraud.

There is a great deal of wire fraud happening. DO NOT wire any funds unless you have confirmed with your Realtor®. Companies are very good at hacking emails and sending very authentic looking wire instructions. Wiring of funds should be handled by the title company and they will connect with your bank to set this up.


It is important you do not cancel any utilities until after ownership has changed hands. Since final recording tends to happen late in the day, it is best to wait until the following day. Some sellers choose to give the buyers a day or two, so they don’t end up without heat/AC or water. There are some utility companies who may require notification from the title company of the ownership change. They will let you know when you call.

HOA (Home owner associations) will be notified as will most irrigation companies.

The title company will notify your Realtor® when funding & recording have taken place. This is when actual ownership changes hands. Your Realtor® will then call you and congratulate you on your sale.

It is expected, unless other arrangements were made contractually, that you will have vacated the home by the time funding/recording has taken place. At this point, you no longer own the home. Once you are notified of the ownership change you can call and cancel your homeowner’s insurance policy on the home.

After the Close


My services do not end once you have closed. If, after closing, you have questions about anything related to the transaction please don't hesitate to reach out. If I can’t answer your question, I will do my best to find someone who can.