Truckee and North Lake Tahoe
Home Seller’s Guide
Although selling a home
is generally less complicated than buying a home, you still need
to do your homework and planning to ensure you net top dollar on
the sale. Selling a home can be both an emotional and intimidating
experience – it can also be an exciting and rewarding time
as you look to new experiences.
When it comes to selling your home, the importance
of working with a top-caliber real estate company with a strong
track record and an experienced, knowledgeable professional REALTOR®
who will listen to your needs and walk with you every step of the
way must not be overlooked. Things like market share, name brand
recognition and strong Internet presence really do count.
FSBO – Real Estate acronym meaning “For
Sale By Owner.” Many owners think they can save the expense
of paying a listing commission by listing their property "For
Sale By Owner." IF you are exploring this option, here are
a few questions you need to ask yourself:
- Are you prepared to buy advertising space in the local newspapers,
in trade magazines that are distributed in the area where the
majority of buyers for that area reside?
- Can you afford the time it will take to sell your house only
with a sign in the yard?
- Are you willing to stay close to home for days, weeks, maybe
months to show your house?
- Do you possess the necessary legal and financial knowledge to
answer buyers’ questions, negotiate a contract or close
If you answered “No” to any of the above-referenced
questions, enlisting a real estate professional to help you would
be the most efficient and profitable way to sell your home.
The 4 Major Steps In Selling A
1. Planning the Sale:
Pricing The House Properly - Comparative Market
I will assist you in setting the “List Price” or “Asking
Price” of your home. Together, we will review the most recent
market trends paying close attention to homes of like age, size,
location, condition, etc. to that of yours. While past sales are
not an exact indicator of what your home will sell for, it certainly
is a good starting point to help establish the list price.
Properly pricing your home is perhaps the most crucial
factor in making a sale. If you set your price too low, you could
lose thousands of dollars. If it’s too high, you may discourage
potentially qualified buyers and risk having your home sit on the
market – studies show, the longer it sits, the lower the price
at which it is finally sold.
The “right” price is a balance between
the maximum amount the current housing market will allow, your “competition”
and your own time limits in selling. The greatest amount of buyer
activity typically occurs during the first three to four weeks but
a reasonable time frame for selling a house, especially a 2nd or
vacation home may be between 90 to 180 days. If a house is on the
market too long, potential buyers may avoid the house, wondering
if something is wrong with it.
Determining Your Net Proceeds
We will also look at what your outstanding loan balance (if any)
amounts to and provide you with your estimated “Net Profit”
at various sales price intervals factoring in escrow, title and
commission fees, transfer tax and home warranty policy etc. Before
you sell your home, it’s important to estimate the various
expenses for which you’ll be responsible – these will
effect your bottom line profit. In our area, it is customary that
the seller and buyer share equally in title and escrow insurance
fees. The seller is responsible for the county transfer tax ($1.10
per 1,000 of sales price) and for providing the NHD (Natural Hazards
Disclosure) – a good NHD report runs $100. Looking for “sleep
insurance” – a shrewd seller will purchase a one-year
Home Warranty policy on behalf of the buyer; this creates good will
and affords the seller “peace of mind” coverage. When
you walk away from the sale, you really want to walk away from the
sale, for good. In all likelihood, you are probably subject to CA
FIRPTA (a 3 1/3 withholding tax: 3 1/3 % of the sales price, right
off the top and is paid via escrow by the title company to CA State
Franchise Tax Board).
2. Understanding The Market
While you and your agent set the price, buyers determine
the value. Buyers will compare your home and your asking price to
similar homes on the marketplace.
Factors That May Add or Subtract From The Value of
- Location – What are the tradeoffs and advantages
of your property? Is the house on a busy street or is it on
a quiet cul-de-sac? In Truckee, there is a significant difference
in the snow load on Donner Summit vs. Glenshire because of the
elevation difference. Year-round accessibility can be an important
factor in establishing the value of your home. How close is
your home to area amenities?
- Features – Vaulted pine ceilings tend to be
more desirable in this second home/vacation home market rather
than run-of-the-mill 8-foot drywall ceilings. Buyers are looking
for that cozy “cabin” look and feel. Does your property
back to a greenbelt or golf course? Does your home offer panoramic
mountain, wooded or lake views or do you look at your neighbor’s
- Condition of the House – Has the house been
adequately maintained during your ownership? Are there minor
or major repairs that could make a difference in the immediate
sale of your house? Because of the intense summer heat and high
snow accumulation customary to the greater Tahoe/Truckee area,
the exterior of the homes require staining approximately once
every 3 to 5 years. What is the age of and condition of the
roof? Are there any shingles missing? Do you have a shake shingle
roof? If yes, the wooden shake shingles tend to be very dry
and are no longer used in new construction; insurance carriers
either will not insure shake shingle roofs or they will add
a surcharge to your insurance premium. If you have a metal roof,
are any of the screws backing out (this occurs on a regular
basis because of the thermal heating and cooling that occurs
in our region)? Is the carpeting stained and/or worn? Light-colored,
neutral cut or loop Berber carpeting is what buyers see in newly
constructed or recently renovated homes, hence this is what
they typically are expecting to find in a desirable home. New
Berber carpet installed runs approximately $18 to 22 per square
- Age Of The House – Potential buyers will want
to know the age of the plumbing, furnace, roof, appliances,
etc. Does the wood-burning woodstove meet EPA particulate matter
- The Current Market – We are in a “Seller’s
Market.” While interest rates are low, there are relatively
few houses listed for sale and housing prices are on the rise.
The median home price in Tahoe Donner has increased 28% from
$485,375 in 2002 to $624,650 in 2004.
- Your Time Frame – How long do you realistically
have to sell the house? What was the average “Days On
Market” for a comparable home? Can you wait while a buyer
arranges financing? The typical escrow period is 30 to 45 days
once you’ve accepted an offer on your home. Does your
purchase of another home depend on this deal closing quickly?
3. Getting Your Home Ready To Show
To get top dollar and sell quickly, you must prepare
your home and property so that it’s in top-notch, move-in
condition. Take a look at your house as if you were seeing it for
the first time. You may not notice that the driveway is in need
of sealing, that the interior walls are scraped, scuffed up and
dirty or the burn holes in your carpet near the woodstove but I
can assure you that the buyers will notice immediately.
First impressions are hard to break, and the way your home looks
from the street (“curbside appeal”) can make or break
the sale. Repair torn screens – replace missing ones. Clean
outdoor light fixtures and replace burned out light bulbs. Repair
loose roof shingles, tighten any screws that are backing out of
your metal roof. Fill the cracks in your driveway and seal it. Prune
trees, rake accumulated pine needles. Selling during the winter
months? Make certain that you have a snow removal contract in place.
If a buyer can’t get to your front door they won’t bother
even getting out of their car. And now that you’ve got the
potential buyer out of the car, continue the allure with a friendly
front door. Restore its luster with a few coats of varnish. Make your house a showpiece from the curb to the front door.
They’re about to open your front door. Is your home
in order? Start by getting rid of the clutter (and don’t forget
the garage). Sparse homes give the appearance of being spacious.
Remove knickknacks from tables, countertops and bookshelves. Remove
all unnecessary, damaged or worn furniture to make your rooms seem
more spacious.Brighten rooms with a fresh coat of paint –
choose neutral shades of white, off-white or beige that will coordinate
with most decors.
Kitchens should be absolutely spotless. Clean the
oven – inside and out. Pack up all excess kitchen appliances.
Make sure all appliances are in working order.
4. Closing The Deal
Congratulations – your homework and patience
have paid off. The offers are now rolling in. Your sales associate
will present and review all offers with you but the final decision
is yours. Review every offer – compare the financial qualifications
and readiness of each buyer. Price isn’t always the most important
or only factor to consider. You have three (3) options when it comes
to an offer:
- Accept the offer as it was written,
- Reject the offer entirely, or
- Make changes to the offer, “countering” the terms,
price and/or conditions.
In turn, the buyer may do the same:
- Accept your counter offer,
- Reject your counter offer and walk away from the deal, or
- Propose a counter offer to your counter offer.
This process continues until a deal is agreed upon
or negotiations are terminated. Terms and conditions are every bit
as important and should be carefully evaluated, along with the purchase
price and buyer qualifications.
Before accepting an offer, all terms will be negotiated
in writing. Once you accept a written offer, the deposit monies
will be provided to the title company, along with a copy of the
accepted contract – this will serve as “escrow instructions.”
A preliminary title search will be conducted by the title company
and provided to both the buyer and seller. The buyer will arrange
for their financing, obtain any and all inspections they want to
order (typically a pest and contractors home inspection at minimum),
obtain an appraisal for their lender and review all inspection findings.
The standard “contingency” period is 17 days after offer
acceptance – at the end of this period, the buyer must either
remove all contingencies and proceed with completing the purchase
or cancel the deal. The CA Purchase Agreement is extremely “buyer
friendly” – during the contingency period, the buyer
can cancel the agreement pretty much for no reason whatsoever. Contingencies
should be removed in writing and typically an increased deposit
should be made upon removal of contingencies (the CA Purchase Agreement states that a seller can legally require up to 3% of the purchase price for the initial + increased deposit monies combined).
Your sales associate will provide you with an “Escrow
Timeline” to ensure you know what is to happen when, what
actions you are required to take and to make certain your transaction
is handled smoothly and close in a timely fashion. Prior to Close
of Escrow, your sales associate will prepare and review an “Estimated
Closing Settlement Statement” with you. This is when you and
your sales associate check to make certain that all taxes, utilities,
special assessments, etc. have been properly prorated, that the
title and escrow fees are accurate, that the commission dollars
are correct, etc. Once the documents are correct, you will then
“sign closing docs” with your title/escrow officer OR
if done out-of-area, in the presence of a Notary of The Public.
Final closing day will be scheduled when all steps have been completed.
Closing is when you and the buyer sign all the paperwork and pay
your share of the settlement fees, and the documents are recorded
at the county recorder’s office. Once you present an executed
deed to the buyer and receive the check in agreed upon amount, your
home has successfully sold.