Thinking about selling your house in Florida? You’ve come to the right place! It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a larger home, downsizing, or possibly just relocating either for work or a change of lifestyle. Whatever the reason, being fully prepared to sell your house will help you maximize the price you get for your home, as well as helping you maintain your sanity along the way.
The truth is, selling your house can be surprisingly time-consuming and emotionally draining. This is especially true if you’ve never done it before. You’ll have to deal with lowball offers, handle crazy demands from potential buyers, and most importantly, receive criticism about a place that has been more than just a home to you and your family. We all know that a home usually carries massive sentimental value and is likely one of your biggest investments. Therefore, money aside, it’s no surprise why it can be difficult to let go.
To help you during this process, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to selling your home in Florida to help you attract the top-dollar price for your house quickly. Not only that, you’ll have gained knowledge in making it smooth-sailing as possible, making it as pleasant for both parties as possible.
1. Deciding to Sell Your House
Most people find themselves on the fence when deciding whether or not to sell their homes. You might be thinking, “should I sell my house?” or “is now the right time to sell my house?” Even when you’re 100% sure that you want to sell, then you have to contend with the complexities of the whole process and the steps to take. This can be nerve-racking!
When determining if you should sell your home, it is important to consider your financial situation, the cost of selling, and your ability to afford a new home. This will help you navigate the process seamlessly, from setting the price to closing the deal.
Next, explore your reasons for selling. What’s your long-term plan? Are you moving out of the area? Have you identified where you want to move once you sell? Do you have enough equity to make the sale and move? All these factors will help you figure out if selling is your best move. Still unsure if it’s the right time for you to make a move? Tick off the checklist below to determine if now is the best time!
Signs that You Are Ready to Sell Your House:
- You are emotionally prepared to leave your home and all the sentimental value it holds.
- You have a second home you can move into before the sale is made.
- If you don’t have a place to relocate to yet, you have enough equity, so you’ll not owe more than the home is worth. At the very least, you want to have sufficient equity, so you can pay off your mortgage and still have some 20% down payment for your next home. A good financial position is essential in buying a new house that suits your needs and lifestyle. This is super important since you don’t want to sell and remain without shelter.
- You have enough cash flow to cater to all the selling costs and still have some cash to cover packing and hauling costs.
- Finally, you’ve consulted with a qualified real estate agent and understand how the market is shaping up. A real estate agent can help you get a clear picture of the selling process so you can decide if a sale makes financial sense for your family.
If your finances are in order and your gut says yes to the current market conditions, selling could be the best decision for you and your family.
**Looking for a great real estate agent here in the Sarasota and Venice areas of Southwest Florida? Contact our team!**
2. Find out What Your Home is Worth
Once you’ve decided to sell, you now need to find out how much money you are likely to go away with at the end of the day. Knowing what your house is worth prepares you to buy, sell, refinance, tap into your home’s equity or even negotiate lower property taxes. You’ll also have a better understanding of your overall financial health – since your home is so closely tied to that.
When selling, it’s important to remember that your house is only worth what buyers are willing to pay.
One of the challenges of determining your home’s value is that “value” is subjective; an interested party may be willing to pay more than another. As a homeowner, it is often difficult to see your home from the buyer’s perspective. What matters to you might not matter to your buyers, so you must set your mind to it.
For instance, if you have lived in your home for several years, you may hold sentimental value and crucial memories that you’d like to place a price on. But the problem is, no buyer is willing to carry such costs, which is why emotional attachments may cloud your judgment.
Therefore, it’s important to price your home objectively and stick to facts as much as possible when estimating your house’s worth. This way, you can find a listing price that appeals to the buyers without compromising your long-term goals. When looking for that sweet spot, it is crucial that you understand some of the factors that may affect your home’s value.
What Can Affect the Value of Your House?
- Location and local market conditions: How close is your house to social amenities and highways?
- Curb appeal: Does your house stand out in the neighborhood? Is it pretty to look at? How old is it?
- Safety: How is the crime rate in your neighborhood? Does it have well-lit sidewalks?
- Square footage: Is your house big enough for your intended buyers?
- The number of rooms: Does the size of the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms make sense?
- Updated appliances: What updates have you made? Are the appliances functioning and energy-efficient?
- Mortgage interest rates: If the mortgage rates are high, you may get fewer bids for your house.
- Supply and demand: Like any other market, the real estate market shifts depending on the demand and supply. Considering there are many houses are on the market, you’ll be forced to up your game to beat the competition. But if there are fewer houses on sale, you might even sell your house a few thousand dollars above your asking price.
- Similarity with houses sold before: What is the average selling price in your neighborhood? This points at how much buyers are willing to pay for properties like you and should offer you some insights on what to expect.
With this in mind, how do you determine your house’s worth?
Use Online Evaluation Tools
You can use various tools to get a tentative valuation for your home. These tools provide estimates quickly and for free. However, these automated valuation models (AVM) offered by sites like Zillow and Redfin can be inaccurate and are only meant to offer an estimated market value. This is why it’s important to talk to a local real estate expert to get more insight into what your house is actually worth given the local market, neighborhood, and current market conditions.
** What’s your home worth? Get a FREE estimate with our online calculator – CLICK HERE!
Use FHFA House Price Index Calculator
Some sellers may be wary of Automated Valuation Models but still want some estimate that follows a more predefined scientific approach. The Federal Housing Financing Agency has a house index calculator that uses the repeat sales method to determine how your home’s value may have changed over time. However, this tool did not consider factors such as seasonality and current economic conditions. Instead, it would only show what a home purchased at a specific point in the time would be worth today if the average appreciation value of all homes in the same area was applied.
Work With a Real Estate Agent
To get a more realistic home value, you can ask a local real estate agent for a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA provides an estimated value for your property by analyzing the price of similar properties from multiple listing services (MLS).
A good real estate agent may visit your home and take note of your house’s upgrades, landscape, and condition before coming up with an estimated price. They also look at the house’s square footage and proximity to local attractions and amenities. These nitty-gritty details can make all the difference when coming up with a full pricing picture. Especially when working with a locally-focused real estate agent, their expertise stands out when it comes to how to sell a house as they’ve made it work for several other homes.
Getting the right price for your house ensures that you don’t overprice or underprice your property. This spot-on pricing strategy ensures that you get quality leads for buyers easily and fast enough so you can move on to the step in how to sell your house.
3. Prepare to List Your House
A few minor touch-ups can go a long way to making your house sale-ready. In fact, these inexpensive prepping tips can help you fetch top dollar for your house and get it off the listings faster.
- De-clutter: Get rid of all the old furniture, heirloom, family photos, and other objects that may distract your buyers and possibly undermine a sale. If you haven’t used an item for over a year, you probably don’t need it.
- Deep clean: Clean all surfaces, polish your faucets and appliances and give the windows and walls a thorough deep wash. If you don’t have the time, consider hiring a cleaning service to do the deep cleaning.
- Make Minor Repairs: While selling a house in a lived-in condition is every seller’s dream, a cracked tile or a leaky faucet can break the whole deal. Be sure to fix all the cracks, holes, leaks, and chipped walls that you’ve ignored over the years. And don’t forget to replace all the burned-out light bulbs.
- Avoid unnecessary upgrades: While upgrades such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel may increase your home value, it’s important only to make those inexpensive upgrades that will add to your ROI (return on investment). This is usually not the time to start knocking down walls or making entire roof renovations. The last thing you want is to dump a bunch of money into your home, making expensive renovations that won’t actually increase the value. When making changes, ensure that it will positively impact the price– making it more attractive to sell faster.
- Gather as much information: Buyers will ask many questions, including your utility bills, taxes, renovation details, mortgage details, and survey and rental contracts. Prepare all the paperwork to provide detailed answers that attracts buyer confidence.
- Get a home inspection: This is optional, but it’s really a great way to be prepared because most buyers will get their own inspection anyway. Getting a pre-listing home inspection can help you identify any issues that may sabotage your sale. By having a prior inspection, you’ll have more time to fix the problems or factor them into your asking price. It also prevents any surprises from popping up when you already have a deal in progress.
- Consider staging it: When selling your house, you want to give the buyer a mental picture of how it will be living in that place. Staging can help you move, rearrange, add furniture and accessories to make your home look its best. You can sell your house faster and for more money through staging for just a few dollars. When staging, be sure to make the outside homier and welcoming. You can ask your real estate agent to refer you to a professional stager they’ve worked with before. Your real estate agent will also know what the “trends” are in the local market and which types of decor and furniture will appeal most to your ideal buyers.
- Get professional photos: After you’ve de-cluttered, cleaned, remodeled, and repainted your home, it’s time for the photographer to work his magic. Professional photography can help you take photos to use on your listing and create virtual tours to make the sale effortlessly seamless. One of the biggest mistakes we see when a home is listed is terrible photos!
You can start to do many of these things on your own before you are ready to list your house. Take the next step by removing yourself from the “how to sell a house” stage. Consider chatting with a realtor by this point as they know exactly what buyers are looking for. It’s also an added bonus that they’re very knowledgeable when it comes to staging a home and might even help you with things such as getting professional photos taken
** READ MORE: Avoid These Mistakes When Selling Your Home
4. Get a Friendly, Knowledgeable & Trustworthy Real Estate Agent
When selling your home, it can be tempting to sell it yourself in what is known as “For sale by owner” or FSBO. It may feel like this DIY method could save you a few bucks but you’ll be forced to do all the heavy lifting and risk making mistakes that can cost you more down the line.
Plus, the best real estate agents know the market and are there to protect you during the process!
A real estate agent saves you all this trouble and does the legwork for you. They should be the market expert and be able to expose your house to a wider audience than you can on your own, giving you more leverage to make a sweet profit in your sale. Working with a real estate agent also provides guidance throughout the process, ensuring you understand every step of this selling journey. These specialists have a wealth of information about the local market and know what sells and what doesn’t.
But with so many people claiming to be real estate agents, you don’t need just any agent. You must look for the RIGHT agent who’ll have your best interest at heart. Don’t make a common mistake of going for your cousin’s friend or that relative just because they call themselves a real estate agent. Even if they have some experience in how to sell a house, it will not magically help you land that sale. It’s important that you do your research in working with a real estate agent.
The Best Real Estate Agents:
- Aren’t just trying to “sell” you all the time! You need to feel like they actually want to help you!
- Are tech-savvy and know how to operate in today’s digital world
- Have expertise in 21st-century marketing! Things like social media, blogs, videos, Facebook Groups, digital advertising, etc., are key in marketing your home. If your agent isn’t on the cutting edge, then you will be losing out!
- Have an established client base and contacts that they can share your home with via email lists, social media followers, website views, etc. This can help your home sell faster by tapping into its existing network.
- Possess a deep understanding of the town and different neighborhoods in the area and how to position your home for the right buyer
- Have a firm grasp of the current local market and what homes are being listed and sold for — and the environment (are there currently bidding wars?)
- Can (and is willing to) work with your schedule. A full-time agent will have more time for you and be willing to work around the hours that best suit your lifestyle. They should also be flexible and be able to make time for you!
- Have a friendly demeanor and good customer service and communication skills. You want an agent who is prompt to return your phone call or respond to a text. They should also have multiple communication channels where you can reach them in a snap.
- Do NOT charge additional “surprise” transaction fees! Typically rates should be around 6% of the house sale (3% for the buyers agent and 3% for the selling agent). If they are extremely cheap or overly expensive, this should be a red flag.
- The best real estate agent for you should also be someone you actually like! The entire selling process can have multiple unseen challenges. By going for someone you easily connect with, you’ll save yourself massive agony and stress down the line.
Selling your home is a huge investment. So you’ll need someone you get along with and trust who will make the process as painless as possible; one that has the experience and expertise in how to sell a house.
**Looking for a great real estate agent here in the Sarasota and Venice areas of Southwest Florida? Contact our team!**
5. Price Your Home to Sell & Be Realistic
When setting a price for your house, you want to recoup its real value without sending potential buyers away. Start by researching the local housing market and looking at comparable local sales (Comps) to get a hunch of how much buyers are willing to pay in those neighborhoods. Pay attention to the various comps’ features, location, and square footage to determine an ideal asking price.
Your real estate agent can help set a realistic listing price that isn’t overstretched. Local real estate agents have in-depth knowledge of the local market that they can use to give you a free Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Fortunately, you can get a higher selling price for your property when working with a real estate agent, unlike with an FSBO.
6. Put House on the Market & Advertise
Now, at this point, your house is ready for the market. If you already have a real estate agent, this is the point when they take over and do most of the work for you! Real estate agents are experts in marketing and will list your house on various listing sites. Typically, most real estate agents use several strategies:
- Creating a listing and making it live in the MLS
- Pushing it out to other real estate agents in the area to let them know
- Creating social media ads and also posting in social media groups, such as Facebook groups.
- Professional photographs, videos, and possibly even 3-d tours of your home!
- Creating a detailed and exciting description of your house that targets the right buyers
- Posting “for sale” signage
- Promoting your home in newsletters to their email list of ready buyers
If the marketing and advertising are properly done, you’ll likely start seeing some interest for your home almost immediately!
7. Hold an Open House
Whether you choose to sell the house yourself or use a real estate agent, you may consider holding an open house to showcase your house to potential buyers. Although not wildly popular with some sellers because they can be a bit of an inconvenience, an open house can help you get potential buyers through the door.
A successful open house often requires a spotless house that’s priced correctly and located in a high-traffic area. A great real estate agent will advertise the open house well to attract buyers and build up interest.
8. Review Offers and Negotiate
After you’ve listed your property and help an open house, you’ll start getting offers based on your asking price. In most cases, buyers know that the listing price is just a suggestion that’s negotiable. Therefore, they’ll want to score a deal by making an offer that best suits their financial situation.
You should be ready to deal with all kinds of offers, some lowball while others are considerate. It’s important to keep your emotions in check and only focus on the end goal – getting the best out of the deal.
When working with a real estate agent, inform them about your priorities – this could be closing as soon as possible, or closing within a specific period, or even walking away with enough money for a down payment. Whatever your priority, be sure to have a baseline amount you are willing to accept.
Negotiations are also a key moment when it’s great to have a realtor working on your side. As a seller, it’s nice to have a “buffer” of another person dealing with not just the inquiries but the actual negotiation. They are the experts and can take a lot of the stress and pressure off you — as well as operating in your best interests to make sure you get a good deal.
9. Accept Offer, Earnest Money Received, & Enter Inspection Period
Once an offer has been made and accepted, you’ll be bound by a legal contract for the real estate transaction. At this point, there are legal obligations according to the contract that both parties need to adhere to. One of the first is that the buyer needs to put down some earnest money – this takes the property off the market so they can proceed with their inspections.
While homebuyers can skip them, they will be advised to do a home inspection before proceeding with the purchase and you should urge them, too! Typically inspection periods could last anywhere from 7 to 10 or 15 days after the contract is accepted. This is usually specified in the contract and can also be negotiated on as well.
During the inspection period, the buyers may have multiple inspectors check out the home and provide reports to make sure they are fully aware of any issues and comfortable with going through with the purchase. In the state of Florida, buyers can back out of a deal during the inspection period without any questions asked. If they back out during this inspection period, they can get their earnest money back.
10. Complete Inspection Period & Address Issues
If the buyer does a home inspection, it’s possible that they could find some issues that they want to be addressed. These could be small things such as fixing a door or something large like a broken microwave!
Depending on the extent of the issue, it’s possible that the buyer could come back to you and ask for some resolution. If it’s something small, they might ask for you to fix it before closing the deal. If it’s something big, they could ask you to repair it or they could request a credit on the deal so they can fix it themselves.
Be sure to talk with a professional before the repairs so you don’t end up forking money unnecessarily. A professional real estate agent understands the sale process and can help deflect requests based on what is necessary and what isn’t. While you don’t want to spend needless money, sometimes being agreeable and helpful can go a long way in making the deal work. Surely, your soon-to-be home buyer will also appreciate you making an effort and it will establish a good buyer-seller relationship between the two of you.
11. Closing the Deal & Handing Over the Keys!
Typically, once the inspection period is over, it’s really all about preparing for the closing. You’re one step closer to making that deal! Closing happens when the seller and buyer finally sign the papers that transfer the house ownership to the buyer. Often, there is a good bit of time between the initial contract date and the closing date. Typically it’s around 30 days, but it could be less if it’s a cash deal or more if there are other financial contingencies, etc.
Between the initial contract date and the closing date, all parties are given time to prepare what needs to be adjusted for closing and eventually begin preparations for moving in. Several agreements are finalized during this time: from the buyer securing their financing and getting their homeowners insurance to the seller gathering important documents.
What Documents Should You Prepare When Closing a Deal?
- The deed
- Transfer tax declaration
- The affidavit of title
- The deed of trust or mortgage
- The bill of sale for all appliances and furniture included in the sale
- The certificate of occupancy
- HOA information, etc. to pass to the buyer
- Any other documents/information the buyer may need
By the closing date/time, you should have moved out & prepared the home for use unless the contract states otherwise. During this phase, you are supposed to hand over the keys to relinquish possession of the home, giving the new owners access to their new investment. Before you do, make sure you’re leaving the house squeaky-clean so all they have to do is move in!
Again, your real estate agent can assist you during this time of closing. This means you’re nearing the final stages! Title companies will be involved to which you’ll eventually pass along the keys and other important details to finish the deal. Once all of those are over and done, you’ve finally sold your home! Who would have thought that you were once looking up how to sell a house?
Ready to Sell Your Home in Florida?
Selling your home is an important life decision and can be an overwhelming undertaking. The process can take time, and there are many steps along the way that can be confusing and a bit stressful. Set your worries aside when you work with an experienced real estate agent who will help you successfully sell your home faster and for more money–best of both worlds!
It certainly makes a difference when you have a professional to depend on. Someone who can make the process seamless and more enjoyable by helping you understand the selling process making it easier for you to have realistic expectations. Schedule a call with Josh today!