April 14th, 2021 at 11:00 am

backyard of southern california house

Buying a new home of your own is one of the most amazing feelings in life, but selling a house comes with its own thrills. You can see the monetary value that your home has accrued over the years, and you are setting the stage for a new family to make memories in it.

However, selling a home in California can be a confusing process. There are many rules and regulations that you have to follow, and the wrong move could lead to problems. Along with potentially paying excess fees, you may not get the right price for your home or end up selling under your home’s property value.

In addition to working with the right real estate agent, there are some steps to take that will ensure your home selling process goes more smoothly. If you are thinking about selling a house in California, read our guide below to help you through the process.

Do some research

The housing market is about as fickle as it gets. Understanding the trends in your market can help you identify the best time to sell to maximize your profits. Much of this depends on your own flexibility, as you may not have the timeline to choose when to sell. As a homeowner, you essentially want to put your home up for sale during a seller’s market, which means that there are more buyers looking for homes but fewer homes actually on the market (high demand, low supply). The opposite of this is more beneficial for a homebuyer, when the supply is high but demand is low, known as a buyer’s market.

The exact best time to sell will vary based on several factors and your location. Things can even differ from neighborhood to neighborhood. In general, the best time of year to sell has been around the first half of May. Homes listed in this time maximized profits and that can obviously change, especially with the ongoing effects of COVID-19.

Determine your representation strategy

As a home seller, you have a big decision to make right off the bat: sell your house on your own or work with a REALTOR®. While there’s something to be said for independence and self-sufficiency, selling your home may not be the best opportunity for either, especially because the experience can be different every time. Real estate agents and listing agents have the hands-on experience and expertise to guide you through the process. They also have the resources and knowledge of local markets that can save you time and money. Plus, they can get the best price on your home. The process of researching when to sell gets so much easier when you have a real estate agent on your side.

Of course, finding a real estate agent that you can trust comes with its own difficulties.

Some general tips:

You ultimately want to find a real estate agent who you can trust fully. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties has extensive experience selling homes in California. Our California real estate agents can provide you with the information, guidance, and knowledge necessary to close on a deal.

Prepare your home

This is one of the more active steps of the selling process, where you’ll have to pull up your sleeves and apply some elbow grease. You want buyers to fall in love with your home on sight. You want them to be able to imagine the best version of the home.

This is also a good time to make any necessary home improvements that you may have been putting off. This can include smaller projects, like repainting the walls, or larger investments, like redoing the landscaping or replacing all of your windows. The exact upgrades and repairs will depend on your house and what specific buyers in the area are looking for, but your real estate agent can help to identify popular trends and things you can do to maximize profit on your property. Plus, if you’re not ready to pay for all these upgrades up front, you can use our PINNACLE home services program.

Some tips to keep in mind:

Granted, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with selling a home as-is, especially if you want to speed up the overall sales process, but if you want to get the most out of your sale, it’s worth putting a little work into making your home look sellable. 

Set a competitive price

Determining the right list price for your home can be challenging. List it too low, and you might lose a lot of money on your investment. List it too high, and you risk having your home spend an eternity on the market.

Your real estate agent can be a huge help in this area. Agents are typically experts in home values in their local markets, which makes them an incredible resource for determining the right list price. They may also be able to figure out pricing strategies that can lead to bidding wars.

You can also lookup comparable homes in your neighborhood that have recently sold. This can be difficult, but try to find homes that are of a similar size and condition as yours. The closer they are to you, the more accurate the price. Ask your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties agent to give you a complimentary home valuation.

Another way to get an accurate price is to hire an appraiser. This can run you about $300 to $700, but that may be worth it if it helps you get the most accurate price and sell your home quickly.

Stage your home

Staging will look different from home to home, but it involves making your home look as appealing as possible to a wide range of buyers. This usually involves some amount of furniture rearranging, organization, and decoration.

Part of that means general decluttering and cleaning up. Remove any family memorabilia and other personal items and consider replacing furniture that looks noticeably worn and disheveled. Too many personal items can make it difficult for homebuyers to imagine themselves living in your home. You may also want to remove or hide items belonging to pets and kids for the same reason.

Consider hiring a professional stager, whose job is to make your home look presentable. Most pros will remove half the furniture in your home, making the spaces look larger and more open. Staging services can reportedly reduce the amount of time a home stays on the market, and staged homes may sell for up to 20 percent more than non-staged homes.

Market your home

With your home ready and properly appraised, it’s time to create a listing. This involves some good marketing strategies, which a real estate agent can help you with. To spread your listing as far as possible, advertise across as many channels as possible. Online listings have become popular over the ages, but don’t underestimate “for sale” signs in the front yard or even newspaper classifieds. Homebuyers look for homes in a wide range of ways.

You want a listing that is informative while providing a little extra something to get the attention of any prospective buyers. One of the best ways to do that is with photos. This can be your home’s first impression before any buyer actually sees it in person. It’s worth investing in good marketing photos, maybe even hiring a real estate photographer. Good lighting, a high-quality camera, and good angles are the key to making each room in your home look amazing.

For the listing description, be informative and straightforward while emphasizing the home’s amenities and best features that a potential buyer might find enticing. It’s always worth mentioning a swimming pool, proximity to public transit or major freeways, or a rooftop deck. Avoid any real estate jargon. Homebuyers are always smarter than you think and can easily look through language that sounds too sales-y.

If marketing your home sounds overwhelming, rest assured that all our agents have access to a full suite of marketing tools, resources, and team members.

Show your home

Work with your agent to schedule showings for your home. Make as many accommodations as you feel comfortable with, including remote viewings, open houses, and private tours. Keep your home clean and give any buyers a way to leave feedback on your home. Your agent can help you keep track of everyone who views your home, but you should generally not be present when potential buyers are viewing.

Negotiating and closing

Negotiating with an interested buyer is often slow and time-consuming, and you definitely need an agent’s expertise for negotiations on home price. You will also need to make your home available for an appraisal and an inspection, which can open up other issues in the negotiation, primarily contingencies. Contingencies can be tedious for sellers and are essentially terms that you need to agree to in order for the buyer to close on a deal. These are usually market-driven, though keep in mind that every buyer is different. In hotter markets, the buyer may do without a home inspection altogether.

Be prepared to pay closing costs as well. Your responsibilities will vary based on your agreement with your buyer and can be upwards of 8 to 10 percent of the final home sale price, which includes commissions, California home sales tax, other taxes, and other fees.

Once you do agree on a price and close on a deal, you are responsible for other processes, including:

Selling a house is by no means easy, which is why we recommend working with our agents at California Properties. Our agents can walk you through the process and guide you through every step to ensure a smooth transaction.

Ready to list your home for sale?

Connect with a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties real estate agent today!

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