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Even though South Florida’s housing market is currently very healthy and moving at a very fast pace, successfully selling a property requires some careful planning and preparation. When selling your home, it is best to look for professional help and advice so that you can make the best decisions and go through a smooth efficient process. The last thing you want is to have your home sitting in the market for months and having to play with its price with no results. By following the 10 steps below, you will be able to concentrate your efforts towards making a sale in the fastest way possible and at the best price.

1) DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVE: Why are you selling your home? Have you set a time frame for the sale of your property? Realistically, how much money do you want to make with this sale?

2)  CHOOSE A REALTOR: Even though there are thousands of Realtors in Florida and in the Miami area, there will only be a few agents that will really work in your best interests, make a big effort towards offering your home and strive for a smooth successful sale!  Selecting the best agent for your needs will be vital. 7 key points when looking for a Real Estate Agent are: TRUST, HONESTY, KNOWLEDGE, PROFESSIONALISM, ACTIVITY LEVEL, PASSION and AVAILABILITY.

After interviewing a Realtor ask yourself the following questions: Does this look like an honest person you can trust with the sale of your home? Does the agent possess a high level of knowledge about this property, condo, community and/or area? What is the agent’s experience and/or current activity level in working this type of property and area? Does this agent work and communicate in a professional manner? Is this Realtor passionate, dedicated, positive and energetic? What is the agent’s availability and how easy will it be for the Realtor to show the property?

3) DETERMINE YOUR PROPERTY’S FAIR MARKET VALUE: Setting an appropriate and competitive price for your home is absolutely vital for a successful sale. Over-pricing is a huge mistake as this will greatly increase the probability that your house stays listed in the market for a very long time, leading potential buyers to think that there might be something wrong with the property. Starting too high in price and sitting for too long in the market might also lead you to several price drops in a short period of time, signaling despair and/or weakness and affecting any future negotiations. Setting a very high price will also make competing properties look like better values.

Ask your Realtor about the current market trends, tell him to evaluate the condition of your home, and study the Active Listings/Closed Sales/Average Days on Market of COMPARABLE properties during the last 3-6 months. You could also pay for an Appraisal which can cost around $500.

Finally, keep in mind that you don’t always get 100% of the money you spent on renovations.

4)  MAKE ALL NECESSARY REPAIRS: Unless you are planning to sell your home “AS IS” at a very low price or below market value, you must make sure there are no major damages and everything is in good working condition both outside and inside your home. Not making necessary repairs might deter a client from making an offer or encourage a buyer to try to discount heavily from the starting bid.

5)  PUT YOUR HOME IN OPTIMAL SHOWING CONDITIONS: You want your house to look pretty at least, hopefully welcoming and amazing! Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes; first impressions are critical and make a big difference! Clean, organize, remove clutter, paint if necessary, let the light in, make sure you can breathe some fresh air inside the property and keep the A/C running at a cool temperature (especially here in Florida).

6)  DISCUSS MARKETING STRATEGY WITH REALTOR: Setting a marketing strategy with your Realtor is a must since you want your home to be exposed in the best and most efficient way possible to the highest number of potential buyers. First of all, make sure that your Realtor takes an adequate amount of time to list and describe your home with detail in the MLS website. Photographs are obviously very important and it will be crucial to have at least 20 well taken images displayed online. Ask your Realtor if he uses online portals for increased exposure such as ProxioPro in order to feature your property throughout the whole United States and the rest of the world.  Finally, decide if other marketing methods such as flyers, email blasts and/or open houses will be necessary.

7)  SET GUIDELINES FOR TYPE OF BUYER AND OFFER CONTRACT: First of all, tell your Realtor what type of buyers you are looking for. Review the differences between a Cash deal and a financing deal and their time implications. This way your real estate agent will be able to evaluate if the prospective buyer is qualified to purchase your home.

Next, decide if you will require an “AS IS” type of contract or the standard “Contract for Residential Sale and Purchase”. You and your agent must review the written contract and evaluate what is required of both parties to execute the transaction. The contract should protect everyone’s interests.

Some key points to discuss with your Realtor are:

  • Offer Price
  • Down payment  & Financing arrangements
  • Earnest Deposit amount
  • Party responsible for paying the different fees
  • Inspection period and repair allowances
  • Method of conveying the title and company to handle the closing
  • Any furniture and/or appliances staying with the home
  • Closing date
  • Contingencies, Special Clauses & Addendums

8)  NEGOTIATE CONTRACT: It is very probable that negotiating the offer contract will be necessary in order to reach an agreement between Buyer and Seller. Defining your objectives, criteria and limitations early will come in handy and help you create a smooth negotiating experience.  Remember that this process must involve both compromise and mutual respect.

9)  CLOSING PROCEDURES & PREPARATIONS: After accepting an offer to sell your property there will be a list of things you and the buyer must do before closing. Your attorney and title company will get the process moving forward to closing date; they will tell you what they need from you, and work on everything required for the closing. Also, the property may need to be professionally inspected, appraised, surveyed, and/or repaired. Depending on the contract and agreed negotiations, you may pay for all, some or none of these items. If after each step the results are acceptable as per contract, then the sale can continue. If there are problems in one of these areas, the terms stated in the contract will dictate the following steps to take. Depending on the contract, you or the buyer may choose to walk away, start a new round of negotiations or close.

A few days before the closing, you will need to contact the company that is closing the deal and make sure all the necessary documents are going to be ready to sign on the appropriate date. At closing, all funds will be collected, any existing loans or liens will be paid, the deed will be transferred and, if ordered, title insurance will be issued guarantying a clear title. Finally, the seller will receive the proceeds from their home sale.

10)  TURN PROPERTY TO THE NEW OWNERS. CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR SALE! After closing, prepare to turn in your home in the time frame agreed upon. Make sure to cancel all services under your name including electricity, gas, lawn care, cable, etc. The home and all items specified by the contract should be prepared appropriately for the new owners. Time to celebrate, you did it!

Adrian Morales Dobrzynski