Steps to Selling a House: Understanding the Home-Selling Process

Home Selling - March 21, 2022
Realtor showing home to potential home buyers

Updated May 22, 2024

Selling a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll make. From contracts and mortgages to loans and realtors, each detail matters. Overlooking a small aspect can lead to costly mistakes. To help you through the home-selling process, we’ve outlined fundamental steps.

What is the procedure for selling a house?

Selling your house takes a lot of work, so consider these tips before you get started:

  1. Consider purchasing an affordable LegalShield Membership to gain access to provider law firms who can help you understand legal requirements. Legal advice could be just the thing you need to correctly and confidently navigate the legal steps of selling your home, as well as deal professionally with real estate agents, fees, and contracts.
  2. Set a rough timeline to abide by. For example, if you would like to be moved into your new home by a certain date, set a timeline that gets your house on the market and sold well before that date. This timeline should also allow you the chance to make any upgrades you want made to your current home before it’s sold.
  3. Get all the paperwork ready well in advance.
  4. Consider hiring an agent. An experienced real estate agent can make this process a lot easier for you! They can also help you determine an asking price for your home.
  5. Put your house on the market. List it on popular real estate apps with good-quality photos for potential buyers to look at. You can also list your home in the local paper and on signs throughout your area.
  6. If you receive multiple offers on the house, don’t immediately jump at the highest amount. Consider your closing costs, as well as other fees that potential buyers are offering to pay.

How to sell your house? Set the right price!

House with a Sold Home for Sale sign in the front yard.Of course, one of the best ways to get your house sold is to set a price that buyers can afford. To do this, make sure you are familiar with the housing market in your area. How much do other homes on the market cost that are a similar size, age, and location as yours? Speak with a real estate agent to get their knowledge on this.

When you are deciding on an asking price for your home, remember to ask your LegalShield law firm for advice as well. It’s important that your pricing decisions comply with your local real estate laws. Your law firm can give consultation when you have questions about this and other legal issues surrounding the listing of your home.

Know the legal requirements for home sellers: Disclosures

When selling your home, you will most likely be required to provide disclosures about the house. Disclosures inform potential buyers about certain problems with the house. These could include known pest problems, water damage, roof issues, problems with the foundation, environmental hazards in the area, and any big issues with the surrounding neighborhood. You also may need to disclose whether there has been a murder, serious crime, suicide, and even reported supernatural events in the house in question.

Fortunately, you are usually only required to disclose problems that you know of personally. You most likely will not need to dig up history on the house before you lived in it. However, the laws in your specific state may require certain types of information that other states do not require. You could even end up in court if you do not disclose issues that you knew about! It’s best to ask a lawyer for advice about what you need to disclose, how, and when it’s necessary.

Optimize your home showings: Privacy and security considerations

When showing your home to potential buyers, make sure you have personal information and private documents tucked away where strangers can’t see them. You also want to keep track of any property damage visitors may cause as they tour your home, even if it is just a scuff on the wallpaper. Your LegalShield law firm may be able to help protect your rights if you run into a dispute with another party.

Navigate home sale negotiations

Potential buyers will submit an offer, which you will either accept or counteroffer. They may counter that, and negotiations will continue until an agreement is reached. Please keep these things in mind:

  • The sale contract is not legally binding until both you and the buyer sign it.
  • The contract should contain all details, from price to closing date to various sale contingencies, such as the buyer obtaining a mortgage in order to close.
  • The contract will usually allow the buyer to conduct an inspection of the property prior to closing.

With legal support, you can better understand and manage offers, counteroffers, and other details of the closing process while ensuring that you protect your rights.

Prepare for home inspection

The buyer may choose a licensed inspector to conduct a thorough examination of your home. If the inspection uncovers too many problems, like a bad foundation or severe termite damage, the buyer can back out of the sale, or they may ask you to do your part toward fixing these issues. Your responsibilities could include making the necessary repairs, putting aside money in escrow for those repairs, or lowering the home’s final price to cover repair costs. Legal advice can make your decision easier in these situations, as a lawyer can inform you what your rights and responsibilities are.

Understand escrow within the home-selling process

Once you have both signed the purchase agreement, you and the buyer will enter escrow. This is a period wherein an escrow or title agency will be chosen, and the escrow or title agent will prepare all the necessary paperwork while the buyer’s lender begins processing the loan.

If issues arise during escrow, you will need to respond quickly. Otherwise, the house could fall out of escrow and the sale could be voided! This is why it’s essential that you provide complete, legally compliant disclosures so that these issues can be avoided. Legal advice can greatly benefit you in this area, so that you don’t overlook any legal details.

Take these final steps before you move out

Before closing, you and your possessions need to be out of the house. You will most likely leave fixtures and appliances behind, unless your contract stipulated otherwise. Make sure the house is clean, swept and scrubbed. The buyer is allowed one final walkthrough to ensure that everything is as it should be. You could run into legal issues if you overlook any of these specificsfor example, if you take the refrigerator with you even though this was not stated in the contract, the buyer may be able to take legal action against you. Have your LegalShield law firm assist with contract review to ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities.

What should you expect at closing?

Both you and the buyer review and sign all paperwork at closing, including title and funds transfer. The new owners receive the house keys, alarm codes, garage openers, and everything else they will need to move in. Come prepared to pay all closing costs, such as agent commission, transfer taxes, title insurance fees, pro-rated property taxes (unless the buyer moved in on the first of the month), plus any outstanding home equity loans you may still have on your former home.

Close up of app on phoneTake the next step

Selling your home is a complex process, and you may need legal support from an experienced law firm. If you have questions about selling your home, sign up to become a LegalShield member. You can get a direct consultation with a law firm in your state, who can help you from listing to closing.

 

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