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The Selling Process

The Selling Process

The Selling Process

There are many different steps in theselling process of a successful real estate transaction. You will wantto know what is the right price, which means getting a Free MarketAnalysis done on your home. To get the price you want you will need tomake your home look good. For instance just for starters, clean up theyard, plant some flowers, maybe a new coat of paint inside and out! Andabove all use a real estate professional! Sellers have to stay on top ofthe selling process.

Setting A Price

When setting a price, the important thing is to be realistic. If theprice is too high, you may not find a buyer. Too low, and you cheatyourself out of money. 


Regardless of what you originally paid for your home and the cost ofimprovements you have made, the only price that matters is what themarket will bear at the time you decide to sell. You may consider hiringan independent real estate appraiser with specialized training andexperience. Don’t rely on assessed valuations made for tax purposes.Such valuations may not be reliable indicators of value, as they areusually made using mass appraisal techniques. 

Comparative Market Analysis

Whether or not you get an appraisal, your REALTOR® can develop acomparative market analysis. This analysis will describe homes in yourarea that have recently withdrawn from the market and may comparespecific features of your home to others–the value of a corner lot, acity view, or an extra bedroom, for example. The analysis may also pointout market fluctuations caused by the opening of a new school orbusiness, as well as long-term trends. 

Net Proceeds

Once you’ve decided on a price range, the REALTOR® can help youcalculate an estimated amount you might net from the sale. If you haveowned your home for several years, you may have built up sizable equity.Equity is the difference between the value of your home and the balanceon your mortgage. After subtracting what you owe on your mortgage, askyour REALTOR® what costs you will incur in closing. These may includetitle fees, taxes, a penalty for prepaying your mortgage, brokeragecommission, attorney fees, and charges for preparing and recordingdocuments. Finally, ask your tax adviser or attorney about the taximplications of your proposed sale. 

Signing a Listing Agreement

After you choose a REALTOR®, you will most likely sign a listingagreement–a contract in which you agree to allow a REALTOR® to sell yourhome during a given period and pay the REALTOR® a fee when your homesells. Most REALTORS® are independent contractors who work for a companyoperated by a licensed real estate broker.

The amount of compensation you pay a broker is negotiable, but theREALTOR® will generally follow the company’s policy regardingcompensation. The amount of the fee will be spelled out in the listingagreement. Make sure you understand how the fee will be paid beforesigning.

Exclusive Listings

Most REALTORS® will ask for an exclusive right-to-sell listing. Thismeans that you will owe the broker a commission regardless of who finds abuyer during the listing period. In other words, if you decide to sellthe house to your cousin, your broker still gets a commission. In anexclusive listing, the broker is usually motivated to work harder tosell your home.

It’s possible that a REALTOR® from another company will find a buyerfor your home. In that case, your broker is the listing broker, and thesecond agent is the cooperating broker. Many times the listing brokerwill agree to pay the cooperating broker a fee from the amount you paythe listing broker. Your listing broker cooperates with other brokerswho procure buyers interested in your property and offers to compensatethe other brokers for procuring a buyer. Cooperating and compensatingother brokers is discussed in the listing agreement you sign with thelisting broker.

Length Of Listing

The listing agreement will specify how long you agree to list yourhouse with a company. You want a period that’s long enough to motivateyour REALTOR® to advertise your home and respond to buyers, yet shortenough to allow you to change to a different company if you becomeunhappy with the REALTOR®‘s service.

Remember that the listing agreement is a contract. You should get acopy for your records. Your REALTOR® is bound to the terms just as youare. You can expect the REALTOR® to keep appropriate informationconfidential and effectively market your property.

Marketing Your Property

Preparing your home

In preparing your home for viewing by prospective buyers, rememberthat people buy on emotions. Your home has to feel right, or buyers willlook elsewhere. Ask your REALTOR® and some honest friends to look atyour home objectively and suggest ways to make your home more invitingand sellable. Consider both the exterior and interior. Since you will beappealing to buyers’ feelings, you need to pay attention to detail. Anextra $50 you spend on red geraniums or new bath towels might mean asignificant increase in a buyer’s offer.

Clean your home thoroughly and make minor repairs such as tighteningtowel racks and gluing wallpaper edges. For larger repairs, consult yourREALTOR® as to whether repairing the item will generate a good returnon the sale. Repainting the woodwork may be worth it, but replacing thecarpet may not. Hire a professional inspector to examine your house forstructural and mechanical defects. Get an inspection early, and you canavoid surprises.

Honesty and candor

If your home has a major problem you don’t intend to correct, becandid about it. Don’t paint over the water marks on the ceiling to hidea leaky roof. Buyers will find out about the problems anyway,especially if they are smart shoppers and hire a professional to inspectyour home. In an age when lawsuits are as common as family sit-downdinners, it pays to be open about everything.

You should consider including a one-year residential service contractwith the sale of your home. This buyer perk is a common practice andhelps ease concerns. Typically, after the first year, the buyer has theoption of renewing the coverage at his or her expense. A residentialservice contract is simply an agreement with a company to repair certainitems on the property if such items fail to function or are in need ofrepair (for example, air conditioning unit, heating equipment, plumbingsystem, etc.).

Attracting and screening buyers

As part of the overall marketing strategy, your REALTOR® may arrange atour of your home for local REALTORS® and perhaps schedule an openhouse for the public. Your REALTOR® may also run ads in localnewspapers, Web sites, and other publications tailored specifically forthe type of home you are selling. As responses come in, your REALTOR®will screen out sightseers and half-hearted inquirers and makeappointments with the serious prospects.

When the showings begin, keep your home clean and ready. YourREALTOR® will try to give you advance warning before showing your homebut be prepared anyway. If people drop by and are not with a REALTOR®,it’s best not to show them your home. Ask for their names and phonenumbers and refer them to your REALTOR®.

Purposeful absence

When a REALTOR® comes to show your home, it’s best if you are notthere. Many buyers feel like intruders when the owner is present; theytend to hurry away. Letting the buyers walk through your property attheir own pace will help put them at ease. They will feel free to lookaround and ask questions. If you must be there, let the REALTOR® handlethe showing. Sit quietly and be courteous, but avoid engaging the buyerin conversation. The REALTOR® needs the buyer’s complete attention toshow your home properly.

Fair housing

REALTORS® are required by law to make your property available to allpersons without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex,disability, or familial status. Your REALTOR® will not discuss anymatter that may potentially discriminate against any person.

The Offer

When a buyer makes an offer on your home, your REALTOR® will contactyou promptly. The REALTOR® will scrutinize the document, review it withyou carefully, and answer your questions. The written offer lays out allthe terms of the proposed transaction–the price the buyer is willing topay and the financing terms–and becomes a binding contract if you signit.The offer may be contingent on the buyer selling a home first orobtaining an inspection. Ask your REALTOR®how these terms affect you andwhether the offer is in line with the market. The offer describes theproperty, states who pays for which closing costs, and specifies datesof closing and possession. Along with making the offer, the buyer mayplace some earnest money with the escrow agent as a sign of good faith.The earnest money will be kept in an escrow account and applied to thebuyer’s down payment or closing costs when the sale closes. 

Seller' Disclosure

In most residential sales, law requires that the seller deliver aseller’s disclosure notice to the buyer on or before the effective dateof purchase. This document provides important information about theseller’s knowledge of the condition of the property. Complete the noticeto the best of your knowledge and belief. Your REALTOR® will mostlikely ask that you complete the notice at the time the listing is firsttaken. Copies of the completed notice will be made available to thoselooking at your property.

Lead-based paint disclosure

If your property was built before 1978, federal law requires thatbefore a buyer is obligated under a contract to buy the property, theseller shall: 1) provide the buyer with a lead hazard informationpamphlet (as prescribed by EPA); 2) disclose the presence of any knownlead-based paint or hazard; 3) provide the buyer with a lead hazardevaluation report or records available to the seller; and 4) permit thebuyer to conduct a risk assessment or inspection for the presence oflead-based paint or hazards. A contract for the sale of property builtbefore 1978 must contain a statutorily prescribed Lead Warning Statementto the buyer. Your REALTOR®will provide you with the forms necessary tocomply with the law and will suggest procedures to follow in order tocomply.

Accepting The Offer

Once you and the buyer agree on terms and sign the contract, the buyerwill generally have to find a lender and apply for a loan. Your REALTOR®may monitor the loan process, which could last several weeks. Duringthis time, your REALTOR® will also be busy coordinating otherarrangements to prepare for the final sale. 

Title Search

As part of the process, the title company may order a survey of yourproperty and research the title to your home, making sure the chain oftitle is clear. Clearing the title may require paying off liens–that is,any monetary claims against your property. Examples are: mechanic’sliens, unpaid state and federal tax liens, court judgments, and probateconsiderations (if a co-owner has died). The product of the title searchcan be in the form of title insurance, abstract of title, orcertificate of title, depending on what is commonly used in your area. 

Inspection and Repairs

If the buyer requires it, your REALTOR® can coordinate an inspection ofyour home. A buyer may hire an inspector to review many items in theproperty such as the structural components, mechanical items, electricalsystems, and plumbing systems. The inspector will report to the buyerthe items that the inspector finds to be in need of repair. Most likely,the buyer will provide a copy of the inspection report to you and mayask you to complete certain repairs. Don’t be surprised if theinspection notes some items in need of repair. An inspector is trainedto see items and defects that are not obvious to you and your REALTOR®.No matter how new or well-maintained a home is, an inspector may findsome items in need of repair. 

Closing The Deal

The sale formally ends at the closing table. In most transactions, theclosing lasts less than an hour and often occurs at the title companyoffice. Your REALTOR® and the buyer’s agent may be present. A titlecompany officer or escrow agent will preside. Be sure to bring yourdriver’s license to the closing (DPS identification cards and passportsare also acceptable). 

Basic Documents

The sale actually consists of two transactions: 1) transferring theproperty to the buyer, and 2) paying off the existing mortgage on yourhome (or allowing the buyer to assume your mortgage). To transfer theproperty, the title company will present documents proving that you havethe title. Proceeds of the sale may be disbursed at closing or shortlythereafter, once all the paperwork and verifications have beenprocessed. When you give your house key to the new owners, the sale iscomplete. 

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