STEPS TO SELLING A HOME IN OMAHA
1. Pick your REALTOR®.
Most homeowners will start their selling process online through local real estate websites or national sites, such as Zillow or Trulia, to help determine the value of their home. Please keep in mind the following when beginning this process:
- These 3rd party sites are not 100% accurate on what homes have sold or when they have sold, nor will they include homes that were not in the MLS, like pocket listings or for sale by owners.
- Most sites lump the homes together and do not take into account the necessary price adjustments needed for finished square feet, style of home, or other amenities that add value.
- Often times the national 3rd party websites will not have the most current, up-to-date information on homes that have recently listed or sold. There is no telling when their site has been or will be updated, so it’s not uncommon to find homes still showing “active” when in fact they sold over 6 months ago.
- When pricing a home, the lenders require appraisers to use only sold comparable homes from the last 4 to 6 months.
Ask for referrals. Your friends and family can be a great resource to finding a reliable, savvy REALTOR®. Not all REALTORS® are the same, and often times have very different ways of marketing and selling their listings. Good REALTORS® will provide you with a written marketing plan, have systems in place to help you have a positive experience, and are good communicators. If a REALTOR® doesn’t initially return your call or email within 24 hours, this is a bad sign.
Interviewing your REALTOR®. You will want to make sure that you are hiring the right REALTOR® for you, and you feel comfortable with him or her. The best place to start is a phone interview. Most REALTORS® will not take the time to get a good feel of your wants and needs towards selling your home on the first phone call. Kristen will take the time to gather information about you and help figure out the best first step for you in selling your home. She will also make sure she has the pertinent information needed to assist her in the initial pricing of your home. To help you with the interview process, please reference “Important Questions to Ask Your REALTOR®” on the previous page.
Meeting in person. A good REALTOR® will want to see your home in person first before they give you a suggested list price. Once they have visited your home, he or she will have gathered the necessary information they will need to select the best sold comparable homes to use in pricing your home. If a REALTOR® gives you a suggested list price on their initial visit, you must ask yourself, how can they give me an accurate list price without ever being in my home or having the full knowledge of amenities? Kristen believes this is a disservice to a seller and unfair for any REALTOR® to price the home sight unseen. Kristen breaks down her listing appointments into multiple meetings. At the first meeting, Kristen will want you to give her a personal tour of your home. At this meeting, you will go over her marketing plan and schedule a time for the second meeting. At the second meeting, Kristen will share with you her written Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) containing the best sold comparable homes she has chosen after seeing your home in person, and she will then help you determine the best list price. Once the price has been set and you have decided to hire Kristen as your REALTOR®, you will sign all necessary listing paperwork. For your reference, this packet includes a copy of the listing agreement you will be signing.
Social Networking Sites. Change your privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to the highest security settings possible, while allowing people to still “friend” you. DO NOT post anything about your home search as it could be used against you in negotiations. Believe it or not, the buyer will cyberstalk you to find out any or additional information about you.
2. You’ve hired a REALTOR®. Now what?
You will work with Kristen to determine the time-frame in which you would like to put your home on the market. The pre-listing process can move at whatever pace will work best for your situation, so that you can successfully get your home onto the market within 5-7 business days upon the conclusion of our second meeting. Once you have determined a potential list date, Kristen will then put all the marketing wheels in motion. This means you’ll finish up any repairs, schedule a time to meet with the home stagers, and Kristen will schedule the photographer.
To help expedite the process, please have the following information available:
- Put together a list of the Top 5 things you love most about your home.
- Fill out the Seller’s Condition Disclosure Statement to the best of your knowledge.
- Provide Kristen with a key to your front door.
3. Time to meet with the home stagers and declutter.
Home staging has become the single most important and effective way to help sell your home more quickly and for more money. During your 1-hour consultation with the home stagers, they will walk you throughout the home and give suggestions on how to highlight each room. They will help you determine what to pack, what to leave, and how to rearrange your furniture. To help eliminate the stress of staging, the home stagers will make notes for you during your consultation, and then leave you with this list of their staging suggestions.
Decluttering is also a very important principal of staging your home, and your goal is to make sure all the rooms look and feel as open as possible. You will want to pack up any unused items or knickknacks throughout the home. Also, clean out and reorganize all your closets and cabinets because you want to show that your home as ample storage space. You will want to make sure you move pieces of furniture that hinder or block walkways, and be careful not to put the “extra stuff” into the garage. Almost every home shows better with less furniture and fewer personal belongings, so you may want to consider renting a storage unit or container.
Depersonalizing your home will help the potential buyers visualize themselves living in your home, and they will not be distracted by your personal artifacts. Please take down and pack up any family photos or heirlooms. It would be a good idea to remove any wall art displaying either your family or children names. Remember, you may not know the potential buyer viewing your home, however, they may be an acquaintance or co-worker, so you want to make sure not to give any indication on who owns the home.
The home staging and decluttering process can be overwhelming, but remember, the way we live in our home is different from how we present the home to a potential buyer.
4. Repair time.
As you are getting ready to put your home on the market, you will start coming up with your “honey-to-do” repair list or may be getting close to starting those repairs you have been putting off for the last year or so. The best motto for home repairs is “if it’s broken—fix it!” As you walk around the house, take note of any minor repair items that need to be addressed and fix any nuances you have been meaning to complete. Here is a list of repairs you might want to consider, if needed:
- Patch holes or cracks in walls or ceilings.
- Fix any leaky faucets.
- Fix doors that don’t close properly.
- Fix any ripped window screens and replace cracked or broken window panes.
- Replace any defective thermal window seals where your windows have “fogged” between the panes of glass.
- Make sure all your windows open and close.
- Replace all burned out light bulbs.
- Replace any rotten boards on a deck or siding.
- Tighten all hand railings.
- Mud jack the driveway or sidewalks where a trip hazard is larger than 1 inch.
- Replace any cracked tile.
- Add backfill along the foundation of your home.
- Clean out gutters and add extensions to your downspouts.
- Repair any damaged roof shingles.
- Touch up any chipping exterior/interior paint.
- Neutralized any personalized paint colors and remove wallpaper.
- If you have collected any insurance money from a claim, make sure all work has been completed.
- Service your furnace(s) or A/C unit(s) by a licensed HVAC contractor if you haven’t done this in the last 12 months.
5. Deep clean.
After you have completed steps 3-5, it’s time to give your home a good deep clean and for all your hard work to show! Buyers will be drawn to a clean, maintained home, and making your home shine will do just that.
For the kitchen you want to avoid clutter by storing your small appliances in the pantry or closet, clearing off the counter tops, and giving the kitchen a thorough cleanse. Clean and wipe down the counter tops, backsplash, appliances, sink, and cabinets.
For the bathrooms, make sure the surfaces are cleaned and free of mineral deposits, scrub the toilet, wipe out the sinks, and re-caulk the shower/tub/sink. Replace any worn or old shower curtains, clean off any mold or mildew from the shower, shampoo the rugs, put away personal care products, and hang fresh towels.
A clean smelling home creates a positive image in the buyer’s mind! If you have ever smoked in your home, you may not be able to smell the smoke in your home, but the buyer will. You will need to have drapes, carpets, and furniture professionally cleaned or replaced. If the home still has a smoke smell you may want to think about hiring a professional company who uses the Ozone Treatment, which is a chemical treatment that removes smoke smell. Another option would be to take an oil based primer paint, like Kilz, to seal or neutralize the smell and then re-paint the walls and ceilings.
Pet odor can also be a “make-or-break” factor and influence whether a buyer will decide to make an offer on your home or not. You will want to have all your carpets professionally cleaned. Make sure all the pet bowls and pet areas are scrubbed and sanitized. Don’t forget to wash all the pet pillows and blankets too. Pets are a part of our family, but not all buyers love animals like you do. You will want to remove the family pets from the home for all showings, no matter how friendly you think they might be, and remove any evidence of them, such as pet toys, pillows, cages, towers, etc.
To really make your home shine, complete the following items:
- Clean all windows inside and out.
- Clean carpets and wax or polish the floors.
- Clean and polish any woodwork.
- Rent a pressure washer to spray down sidewalks, home exterior, patios, and decks.
- Re-caulk tubs, showers, and sinks.
- Vacuum daily.
- Open all blinds or drapes, and turn on all the lights.
- Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades, light fixtures, and knock down any cobwebs.
- Replace worn rugs.
- Put out fresh flowers or plants.
6. Professional photography.
You have done your homework, and you’re ready for the pictures. Kristen will hire a local production company to take professional photographs of your home, and the photos will highlight all the hard work you have done getting your home ready for the market. The photos will be taken during the day, and Kristen will arrange for the photographer to have access to your home. There is a 24-hour turnaround time for the photos— this means your home will go onto the market within 48 hours of your photographs being taken.
7. Your home is ready to go LIVE!
Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS system is the city-wide database where all the local real estate companies share information about their listings. Your home will be uploaded to the MLS on the day your home comes onto the market, and Kristen will upload your professional photos, virtual tour, and disclosures onto the MLS.
3rd Party Websites. NPDodge.com is a syndicated website, so your home will appear in about 48 hours after it appears on NPDodge.com to the following 3rd party websites: Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, and many more.
Once everything is LIVE, Kristen will send you an email with all the links to your marketing. Please review everything very carefully, and let Kristen know if there are any errors. If you feel something has been left out or would like something to be re-worded, just let her know and she can make the changes for you. Remember this is a team effort!
8. Time for showings.
Congratulations! All your hard work has paid off, and buyers are wanting to schedule a time to see your home. Because your home will receive its most showings in the first 3 weeks on the market, you’ll want to make sure your home is “show ready”. All the showing requests will come from Kristen’s showing service, 330-SHOW, and they will give you at least a 2-hour notice that a buyer is wanting to see your home. The showings will typically happen within a 1-hour time-frame, such as 1-2pm, and you will need to leave the home about 15-minutes prior the appointment. 330-SHOW will need to confirm all showings with you before they give the Buyer’s agent the “Okay” to show your home. You can approve, deny, or reschedule showings, however, it would be advantageous to accommodate all showing requests because the sooner you have an accepted purchase agreement, the sooner showings can stop. Once you have confirmed your showing with 330-SHOW, Kristen will receive an email notifying her of the showing.
Kristen monitors all her lockboxes, so she will receive an email notification when a buyer’s agent accesses your lockbox indicating the showing is in progress. Additionally, when the buyer’s agent opens the lockbox, he or she will immediately receive an email asking for their showing feedback. If the agent does not respond right away, Kristen will send 2 more emails asking for feedback. If the buyer’s agent still doesn’t respond, Kristen will call the agent herself. Please note Kristen will try her hardest to get showing feedback for you, but about 10% of the agents will not respond to her attempts. Once the agent responds to the request for feedback, you will receive an email with the showing feedback. Please do not be offended by the agent’s comments or feedback as it is a reflection of how the interested buyer felt about your home. The information should be viewed as constructive criticism, and Kristen will help you determine what adjustments need to be made to overcome unfavorable feedback.
As you’re getting ready for the showings please do a quick run-through of your home and check the following:
- Turn on all the lights and lamps.
- Make sure all the beds are made.
- Open all the blinds and drapes.
- Close all the toilet lids.
- Put away all toys and other personal items.
- Take out the trash.
- Fold and put away all the laundry.
- Clean and put away any kitchen dishes or pots and pans.
- Do a quick vacuum and dust the floors.
- Put out fresh towels in the bathrooms.
- Wipe down all the counter tops and sinks.
- Remove your pet(s) from the home.
Here’s a great tip to create a “homey” scent before a showing. Boil a pot of water and add the following: a couple slices of grapefruit, a pinch of whole cloves, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. As it simmers, your home will be filled with a beautiful aroma. Prior to the showing, remove from heat and turn off the stove.
9. Keeping you informed.
Communication is key! Kristen will make sure you are informed on the activity for your home, and she will provide you with a bi-weekly report. The bi-weekly report will include an updated CMA Summary report showing you the market activity for your immediate neighborhood, and it will show if there are any new listings or if other homes have gone under contract.
The bi-weekly report will include the number of “hits” or “views” your home has received from NPDodge.com and your URL. You will also know if your home has been reviewed or shared from these websites too. The final portion of the report will be the statistics from your showing feedback. With all of this information, you and Kristen will be able to gauge if the showing activity is reflective of the market and online activity. It is really easy to have expectations on how things should work, but often times real estate doesn’t have an exact formula to sell homes quickly. Please don’t become discouraged. Kristen will work closely with you, and help you understand what the bi-weekly reports are indicating in order to tailor a custom marketing plan for your home. Kristen’s manta: If you have a lot of showings and homes in your neighborhood are selling, then it’s your price. If you have no showings and other homes are selling, then it’s your price. Together, you will adjust your marketing plan to help generate interest for your home.
10. Open house.
Kristen always gives her sellers the option for her to host an open house. If you decide you would like for her to host an open house, then the open house will happen on either the 2nd or 3rd Sunday your home is on the market. Kristen will implement her trademark “Sunday Marketing Blitz,” where she will re-post and re-advertise all your marketing. The marketing for your open house will start the Monday prior to the Sunday of your open house, so you will have a full 6 days of advertising for the open house. The marketing blitz will consist of advertising the open house on all social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), uploading the open house onto NPDodge.com, KWJacobsen.com, and the MLS—additionally, the open house will be advertised in the Omaha World Herald, when available.
To prepare for your open house, please follow the steps laid out in #8 under “Time for Showings”.
11. You've received an offer!
How exciting! You’ve received your first offer! Kristen will provide you with a copy of the offer, and you’ll want to review it very carefully. Kristen then will then go over the offer, all its terms, and what this means for you. Be sure to pay close attention to some of these details:
Offer price. Does the offer price work for your situation? How will this price affect your future move financially? What is the least amount you’re willing to accept for your home?
Personal Property. Make sure you are aware of any personal property the buyer is asking to be included in the sale of the home. Sometimes a buyer will ask for an appliance or other personal property that wasn’t necessarily listed in the MLS. If the buyer is asking for personal property that was not included in the MLS, you may be able to use it as a negotiation piece.
Earnest Deposit. The buyer will submit an earnest deposit with their offer, and this is meant to show good faith the buyer is wanting to purchase the property. Typically, the earnest deposit will be 1% of the purchase price.
Type of Financing and Down Payment. In the buyer’s offer, they will be required to disclose the type of financing they will be using to purchase your home and how much money they are putting towards their down payment. As the seller, you will need to agree to the type of financing the buyer will be acquiring because it can have a direct effect on you financially. Some loan types, like FHA and VA, require the seller to pay for additional costs like title insurance, servicing fees, or possible appraisal repairs. The buyer’s down payment is a good indication as to how financially strong the buyer is. The more money down, the better.
Seller paid closing costs. Is the buyer asking for you to pay for any portion of their closing costs? It is not uncommon for buyers to ask the seller to pay anywhere from 3%-6% of the purchase price towards their closing costs, and this will come off your bottom line. The seller paid closing costs are a negotiated item with the buyer.
Closing date. In Omaha, closings can happen within 45-60 days, upon acceptance, depending on the type of loan the buyer is obtaining. Does the closing date coordinate with your move? If not, do you have a place to live should you have to close on current home first? It is important to have a plan in place in case you would need to make a double move, whether it’s renting an apartment or living with family.
To sell contingency. Does the buyer need to sell their home first before they can purchase your home? How will this affect your timing or transition?
Inspection contingencies. Most offers will have some sort of inspection contingencies written into the purchase agreement, so you can expect any of the following types of inspections: whole home inspection, radon test, mold test, termite inspection, well or septic inspections, or any other inspection deemed necessary by the buyer. In the offer, it will clearly state the timelines as to when the inspections must be completed by the buyer and when the responses are required by both buyer and seller. The inspection(s) will be complete after you have an accepted purchase agreement, so negotiating the possible repairs will happen after the acceptance. It is always best to prepare yourself to make some sort of repairs to your home.
Home Warranty. Is the buyer asking for you to pay for a 1-year home warranty, and what is the cost? Is the plan an evaluated or non-evaluated plan? If it’s an evaluated plan, are you responsible for repairing any exclusions noted in the home warranty policy?
Other contingencies. Did the buyer add any other contingencies into their offer that would need to be addressed?
12. You couldn't come to terms with the offer. Now what?
Believe it or not, there are times when a seller and buyer do not come to terms on an offer. Price is usually the culprit because the asking price from the seller can be very different from what the buyer is willing to pay. When you don’t have a meeting of the minds with the buyer, it’s best to move on quickly and not look back. Your home will continue to have showings and the marketing will continue until the right buyer is secured for your home.
13. You have an accepted purchase agreement!
Congratulations on your accepted offer! With an accepted offer, the process of the home selling will continue with completing the terms and conditions of the accepted purchase agreement.
Inspections. As mentioned, the buyer will more than likely have some sort of inspection contingency within the purchase agreement, and most of these inspections will need to be completed within a specified time-frame also set forth in the purchase agreement. The buyer will call to make arrangements with the various inspection companies of their choosing, then Kristen will notify you of the date and time of the inspection.
For a whole home inspection, the home inspector will arrive 3-4 hours prior to them meeting with the buyer to go over the inspection report. The inspection review with the buyer and buyer’s agent will take approximately 1 hour. You will need to make arrangements for you, your family, and family pets to be out of the home during the time of the buyer’s inspection and review.
You can expect to be out of your home for about 4-5 hours. The inspector will gain access to your home through the lockbox, so there is no need for you to be home to let them in.
For a radon test, the inspector will set up the test in the lower level of your home and it will remain there for at least 48 hours. Please do not disturb or unplug the machine during this time.
The buyer will have a very specified time to review their inspection reports, and then notify you, in writing, on any repairs they would like for you to make. You can anticipate the buyer asking for some sort of repairs or replacements, which will all be negotiated with the buyer.
All the repairs and replacements as agreed upon per the inspection addendum will need to be completed prior to the buyer’s final walk through. Please email Kristen a copy of all your paid invoices from the repairs you agreed to in the inspection addendum.
Appraisal. The buyer’s lender will order an appraisal, which occurs early in the mortgage process. During the appraisal, the appraiser will be valuating the property, but also making sure the condition of the home meets the loan requirements. There are times when an appraiser will require repairs to be completed and these repairs must be done in order for the buyer to obtain financing. Typically, the required appraisal repairs are completed by the seller and done prior to closing. Once the repairs are complete, the appraiser will need to come back out to the home to verify the work was completed. The appraiser will gain access to the home via the lockbox.
Written Mortgage Commitment. The buyer will receive a commitment letter from their lender with various conditions that must be cleared prior to scheduling a closing date.
Meeting with the title company. The title company will be reaching out to you to gather pertinent information they will need in order to put together the closing documents for you. This information will include loan number(s) and/or social security numbers. Once the documents are prepared, the title company will make arrangements to meet with you to sign what’s called your “deed set”. The deed set is your portion of the closing, so you will not need to physically attend the actual closing.
14. Monies for closing.
Prior to closing, the title company will let you know either how much money you will receive from the sale of your home, or how much money is needed to pay towards the net loss. If you are in a negative equity situation, your certified funds must be paid to the title company prior to closing.
15. Getting ready for closing.
You’ve made it to the home stretch! When you are about 2 weeks out from closing, you will want to make sure to schedule the following:
- Call all utility companies (gas, electric, water, sewer and phone) to let them know you are selling the home, and that the new buyer will be calling to set up service soon.
- If you live in an SID, you will want to let your trash service provider know you need to cancel the service.
- Call the cable/satellite company to cancel your service or transfer it to your new home.
- Don’t forget to update your mailing address with the Post Office.
- Prepare for the move! If you’re hiring movers, call them at least a couple weeks in advance to book an appointment.
- Moving can be time consuming, so you might consider hiring professional home cleaners to clean the home after you vacate to help save you time prior to closing.
- Kristen will send you a reminder letter on what to do prior to closing.
16. Mortgage approval and clear to close.
When the buyer’s lender is ready for closing, the underwriter will give the “clear to close” . Clear to close is one of the final stages before a loan can be funded, and occurs after the underwriter has reviewed and approved all the necessary documents. Closing typically takes place 3 business days after the underwriter gives the clear to close.
17. Final walk through.
The buyer will perform their final walk through 24 - 72 hours prior to closing, ensuring the overall condition of the property is acceptable. Should the walk through happen while you are still in the process of moving, please try to make the home look as presentable as possible by clearing walkways, taking out the trash, moving the boxes to one side of the room, etc.
The buyer will be making sure there was no damage done to the property while you were in the process of moving out of the house. They will also be checking to make sure all required repairs or replacements were completed as agreed upon in the inspection addendum.
18. Keys and garage door openers.
As you are leaving the house for the last time, please put all the door keys and garage door openers on the kitchen counter along with a written note containing the garage code. It would be helpful to leave any instruction manuals you may have for the home or any information regarding its mechanicals.
19. Closing day.
Yeah! You made it! Kristen will give you a call once she has confirmed with the title company that closing is complete. After closing, the title company will provide you with a “Seller’s Packet” containing copies of all signed closing documents, and your proceeds check, if applicable.
Congratulations on your successful sale!