How to Start the Home-Selling Process

august 03, 2020 | home selling
Couple speaking with realtor about selling their home

Selling Your Home can be Complicated

Nothing in life remains static, and so we may find ourselves looking to move on from a home that we may have thought would be ours for life. Perhaps we need more space or a different neighborhood to fit our family’s needs, or maybe a job is taking us to a new city. Whatever the reason, selling a home can seem as daunting as it once did to buy one; fortunately, there is a path to follow to get your home on the market and sold, plus some pitfalls to watch out for as well.

As with buying a home, the first step in the selling process is to prepare before you actually get started. If you’ve lived in your current place for some time, it’s going to have seen some wear and tear; deep cleaning and repairs will get it ready for potential buyers to give a better first impression of the property. You have to determine the right time to sell, and how much you’re selling for, including listing price and lowest amount that you will accept. Like buying, selling can be an expensive and lengthy process, so you should be similarly prepared for the costs plus the time spent in marketing and showing your house.

Working with a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home vs. DIY

Once you’re certain of your decision to sell, you’ll need to decide if you want to work with a real estate agents to sell the home or try to sell it yourself. Each approach has its benefits as well as drawbacks, so every homeowner has to evaluate for themselves.

The obvious appeal of ‘for sale by owner’ (FSBO) is the control offered: you can set the price; organize any showings or open houses; decide whether to list on an online platform; and manage every aspect of the process to your comfort and preference. You’ll also save the commission by not having to pay an agent, and have more latitude to sell for the best price. The drawback, of course, is that you don’t have the expertise or experience that a real estate agent can bring to the sometimes complicated sale process.

That expertise and local market knowledge is the central draw of real estate agents, and why a vast majority of homeowners choose to work with one when selling. Real estate agents know the selling process and neighborhood, including tips to make your home appeal to buyers, and can walk you through every step and offer needed advice along that way. Their access to research, marketing, and their professional know-how is why so many decide that the commission they’re paying to their agent is well worth the cost.

Leveraging the Internet to Assist in the Sale of Your Home

A lesser-known online method is companies that buy from you to then resell the property. Several of these platforms advertise that they buy your home without any showings. If you are thinking of pursuing this option, it’s important to research all the terms and conditions and consider discussing with a lawyer or real estate agent.

Selling Your Home Under Financial Distress

It might not be the case that you’re choosing to start the home sale process because you’re simply looking to find a new place. Homeowners may find themselves in financial distress and end up behind on payments, and selling their home becomes the only way to get out from under the obligation. If you’re behind on mortgage payments, you risk foreclosure and may consider making a short sale of your home.

With a short sale, you’re offering your home for sale for less than what you owe on your mortgage. To proceed, you’ll have to display to your lender that you are in fact in financial hardship and that the sale is necessary to alleviate the issue. If the lender approves, you’ll have to go through the regular selling process to find a buyer for the property, and then have the lender again sign off before the sale goes through and the difference is forgiven (though not without tax and credit implications).

You can also try to get the property out of foreclosure by selling your home and paying back the lender the amount owed on the mortgage during the period known as “pre-foreclosure” before the lender has taken the property back or put it up for auction. If the lender has started foreclosure proceedings, you can negotiate with them for time to sell the home and pay back the loan, or propose a short sale. Given that most lenders would prefer to avoid the hassle of a foreclosure, they may give you the opportunity to sell the home and recoup the money owed, or might even offer forbearance on the loan if you reach out before things reach the point of foreclosure.

Required Information to Disclose to Potential Buyers

However you’re going about selling your home, you’re obligated to notify potential buyers of certain facts about the home itself. Disclosure laws vary from state to state, but broadly, you’re required to inform buyers about:

  • Water damage
  • Mold
  • Termite damage
  • Possible natural disasters
  • Lead paint

There are also requirements for more salacious disclosures, like whether the home was ever a crime scene or whether anyone has died at the home. Whatever the requirements of your area, it’s best to be forthcoming, and as early as possible; if information comes to light later, it could destroy any trust built between seller and buyer and, depending on the contingencies, scuttle any offer or deal.

LegalShield Lawyers are at the Ready to Help You Sell Your Home

Selling your home is a big decision, and there’s a lot to consider before you get started. Making the right decisions early can make a complicated process that much easier, and can help you move on to your next home sooner.

If you have any questions about the legal implications of selling your home or wish to have an attorney review your plans, sign up to become a LegalShield member to talk to an attorney in your area.

LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.

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