Times are changing and you’re thinking about moving the family into a new home. But before you start searching for your next dream home, you’ll need to figure out when you’re going to sell your existing home. The decision is a complex one, especially considering the unpredictable economic environment you’re living in. And while there’s no magic formula for determining the best time to sell a home, there are several factors you should consider.

The wrong time to sell

This likely won’t come as a big surprise: you should avoid selling your home during the winter holiday season. Tensions run high during the holidays and budgets run low. The result? No one’s really itching to buy, and offers that do come in are often low. So as a general rule of thumb, avoid the months of December and January when selling a home.

The best season for selling

Conventional wisdom dictates that spring is the best time to sell a home. In spring, the holidays have past, the new school year is still a while away, and gardens and other outdoor spaces tend to look their best. And while spring is the season that sees the largest amount of buyers, it’s also the season when inventories are highest. This means lots of competition, so if you’re going to sell in spring, you really need to get your property to stand out with effective marketing and staging.

The best day for selling

According to research, Thursday is the best day of the week to list your home for sale. By listing your home for sale on a Thursday, you can make it available immediately for weekend showings. Come Saturday – the busiest day for real estate – your home will have only been on sale for two days, which is great for attracting full-price offers. In general, the shorter amount of time your home remains on the market, the higher the offer you’ll receive.

Understanding the Selling process

Step 1 – Preparing to sell

Preparing to sell your “home” is an emotional process, but at this point, you must disconnect from the word home and think of it as an house or an asset that you are selling. A lot of sellers get very attached to their home and that hinders their ability to sell. Try to disconnect from the home and start thinking about your next location as “home”. We will discuss how to get your house valued properly to price it right, discuss what you need to do to sell the home, and also how to prepare your home for showing so that it looks it’s best. Perhaps there are some repairs that need to be made before selling. This is when you would hire a handyman to come and make those repairs. You want to remove a lot of the personalizing elements to make it a neutral house that a potential buyer could see as their home, not yours. You also want to make sure it’s clean and smells good to give a great first impression when they walk through the door.

Step 2 – Listing

At this point, we will publish the sale of the home as a “listing” in MLS and other search engines to help market your property to buyers. You will need to be flexible with the times that you are willing to leave the house to allow for buyers to come and visit. These visits are usually scheduled in 1 hour blocks of time and are scheduled with some advance warning so that you can make plans to be out of the house for a bit. It’s ideal for you can take your pets with you as well to allow the buyers to walk through the house uninhibited. If that’s not possible, then find a way to constrain them to a kennel. You also want to make sure the house stays clean and smells clean before they arrive.

Step 3 – Offer and Contract Negotiation

One or several buyers will put in an offer on your property to buy the house. This will set off the process for either accepting their offer or negotiation. I will present all the offers that I receive to you so you can make your decision.

Step 4 – Under contract “Option Period”

Once you make a decision, we will finalize it and it will become a contract to buy the house from you. Usually, the contract will come with a fixed time period where the buyer can change their mind for any reason. It’s called an “option period” and they will pay you a negotiated amount upfront to compensate you for the option to break the contract. This is usually the time when buyers will bring in inspection companies to look at the house and find potential issues that may affect the property they are buying. Sometimes, they will come back to you and ask you to make certain repairs. These must be completed by a licensed professional at this stage. Occasionally, the deal falls apart during this time period and the buyer walks away. This is not a breach of the contract, but simply they exercise their option. However, during this period, the house stays on the market and you can continue to have it shown to other potential buyers.

Step 5 – Pending Sale

Once the option period expires, the sales contract is fully enforceable. At this point, we are waiting for the buyers to work with their mortgage lender to get the financing completed. An appraiser on behalf of the lender will come to estimate the value of the property that is being used to secure the loan. The title company is doing research to ensure that when the buyer owns the property that there are no “clouds” to hold the title. That means that they would own the home cleanly without any pre-existing issues left from when you owned it like questions of heirs and liens against the property.

Step 6 – Closing

Closing (or settlement) can be a complicated process. The buyer has met all of the requirements of the lender and now it’s time to finalize the whole transaction and sell the home. A few days before closing, the title company will prepare a statement of your closing costs called the Closing Disclosure or CD for short. We will review it together ensure that all of the closing costs are being properly allocated between you and the buyer.

At this point, you need to be moved out of the house and either clean it or have it cleaned for the new buyers. Keep in mind that as soon as the closing is completed by the you and buyer, the lender will send the money to the title company and then hand the keys to the buyer. You want them to be able to walk into their new “home” that is ready to move-in on CLOSING DAY. Once you go to closing, you will no longer have access to the house unless we have negotiated a short term lease from the buyer for you to stay a few days once they take ownership.

In Texas, the title company handles the actual closing process and signing all the documents. I also used to do closings for title companies many years ago, so I have the experience and background to know what you are signing. I will help ensure that everything goes smoothly and I try to attend ALL of my closings. I will not leave you alone in the process!