are a number of steps to selling any house. Experience
has taught us that every home sale is unique. Yet every
sale — from putting the house on the market to
settlement day — shares a common process.
Long & Foster’s Home Sellers Guide is designed
to help you understand the selling process beforehand.
This inside know-how will help you make smart decisions
every step of the way — and set aside any worries
you may have from the beginning.
Of course, this short guide cannot answer all your questions.
For specific answers to your specific situation, we
encourage you to contact
will be happy to share her expertise. After all, we
want you to get the best selling price in the shortest
time. Every advantage is yours when you do business
with Long & Foster, The Real Edge in Real Estate®.
a link below.
Your House On The Market
The first step toward putting your house up for sale
is to meet with a real estate Sales Associate at your
home. This is what we call the “listing appointment”.
Up, Fix Up, Or Toss Out
Today, the home that stands out among similarly-priced
houses is the home that sells. Why? Because it makes
a good first impression that lasts right to the settlement
You may not be able to improve the market value of your
house (finish basement, remodel kitchen, etc.), but
you can improve its marketability. And usually this
can be done with more elbow grease than hard cash. The
key is to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. In
fact, if you drop by some open houses (you may soon
be a buyer yourself), you’ll pick up some pointers.
Then practice making your house as appealing and uncluttered
as the home you wish to buy.
The Selling To Us
While the home seller is actively getting the
house ready to show, the listing broker is actively
spreading the word that the property is available. Generally
speaking, the listing is promoted to two groups: the
real estate community and the buying public.
Many home sellers are surprised to learn that approximately
56% of all buyers come from referrals between brokers
and their vast network of contacts. Approximately 17%
of buyers come from inquiries stimulated by “for
sale” signs in yards. The remaining 27% of buyers
come from a combination of the real estate company’s
reputation and image, open houses, and advertising or
other promotional efforts. Obviously, the most productive
source of buyers is working closely with other brokers,
and this is where your listing broker begins.
exposure to market your home:
Marketing System’s Featured Homes Program Member
(Only 4 Realtors in Sussex County have this coveted
Position). When potential home buyers and sellers
search for homes in our zip code (19971), they will
see my listed properties prominently displayed at
the top of the page with color photographs and pricing
details. On average, this can provide my listed homes
with twenty times more exposure. My clients’
properties will benefit from the more than 6.1 million
individuals per month who, on average, spend 86% of
the time they searched for a home online on REALTOR.com.
averages 25,000 hits per day.
provides endless resources for my buyers and sellers.
On The Dotted Line
A buyer makes an offer by submitting a written and signed
offer to purchase, which will become the sales contract
when ratified by everyone’s signature. Once the
seller and buyer sign the paper, they are bound by the
The “presentation of a contract” begins
when the selling broker registers the offer with the
broker’s own office and notifies the listing broker
of the offer. The listing broker then arranges a presentation
appointment with the home seller, and with the selling
broker in some areas. (The buyer doesn’t attend
Either the selling broker or the listing broker presents
the terms of the offer, depending on local customs.
The listing broker acts as the home seller’s advisor.
Part of the presentation is determining that the buyer
is qualified financially to make the purchase. (Should
either the seller or buyer be out of town, the contract
is presented via telephone and confirmed later by FAX.)
The Case, Etc., Etc.
The listing or selling broker (depending on local custom)
oversees a contract through to closing and helps to
place the financing, process the case, arrange various
inspections and review financing and “points”.
At this stage, all contingencies will be satisfied and
removed. The buyer will select a settlement and/or a
title company, and the listing or selling broker will
notify those firms and provide the vital information.
A number of professionals come into the home selling
process during this period, including a home inspector
(if requested by the buyer), well and septic inspectors,
termite inspector, appraiser and attorneys. A mortgage
approval can be made at application in many cases subject
to verification of the information provided. However,
on the chance that the financing falls through, the
seller should keep the property in showable condition.
The purpose of the walk-through inspection prior to
settlement is to determine if conditions in the contract
are satisfied. The time for the buyer to inspect and
note defects for correction by the seller is during
the contract negotiation and prior to signing the sales
agreement. Repair or replacement items should be noted
in the contract. Most resale homes are sold in “as
is” condition, however, mechanical, electrical,
and plumbing items should be in working condition.
It is up to the buyer to perform the inspection, not
the seller who may or may not be present. The buyer
should be accompanied by the selling broker and/or the
listing broker. The home seller should be sure utilities
are on so that equipment can be operated.
Papers And Transferring Keys
The big day is here! Tonight you can pop open the champagne,
but today there will be a lot of paper signing and a
poignant passing of the keys (don’t forget the
garage keys, and the electric garage opener, too).
At the settlement will be an attorney or title company
representative, the buyer, listing and selling brokers,
and all owners. The home seller should bring all warranties
on equipment (or leave them in the house) and any instructions
on equipment maintenance or operation.
The attorney will have searched the title, and obtained
old and new lender instructions. First, all unresolved
walk-through deficiencies are resolved.
With the buyer, the attorney explains the deed of trust,
deed of trust note, and settlement sheets. The buyer
signs all three, and pays the balance of the down payment
and buyer’s closing costs.
With the seller, the attorney explains the deed and
settlement sheets and gets the home seller’s signature
on them. The seller pays appropriate closing costs.
To The Wise
Below is a handy guide of terms that sellers need to
A person acting on behalf of another, called the principal.
Agreement of Sale
Known by various names, such as “contract of purchase”,
“purchase agreement”, “sales agreement”,
or “binder”, according to location or jurisdiction.
A contract in which a seller agrees to sell and a buyer
agrees to buy, under certain specific terms and conditions
spelled out in writing and signed by both parties.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
Includes quoted interest rate on the loan plus all additional
service and finance charges associated with the loan.
Includes all costs of financing; those paid at the time
of closing and those paid over the term of the loan.
The APR is usually slightly higher than the note rate.
An expert judgment or estimate of the quality or value
of real estate as of a given date.
The valuation placed upon property by a public tax assessor
as the basis for taxes.
Bill of Sale
An instrument which transfers title to personal property
(chattels); a “Deed” transfers real property.
Certificate of Title
A document signed by a title examiner or attorney, stating
that the seller has a good marketable and insurable
Closing Statement (Settlement)
The computation of financial adjustments between buyer
and seller as of the day of closing a sale to determine
the net amount of money which buyer must pay to seller
to complete purchase of the real estate and seller’s
net proceeds. Also, “settlement sheets”,
Payment to a real estate broker for services performed.
To deed or transfer title of property from one person
A formal written instrument by which title to real property
is transferred from one owner to another. Also, “conveyance”.
Deed of Trust
Like a mortgage, a security instrument whereby real
property is given as security for a debt. However, in
a deed of trust there are three parties to the instrument:
the borrower, the trustee, and the lender (or beneficiary).
The money given to the seller by the potential buyer
(usually held in escrow) upon the signing of the agreement
of sale to show that buyer is serious about buying the
house. Also, “deposit”.
The interest or value which owner has in real estate
over and above the debts against it. (Sales Price –
Mortgage Balance = Equity.)
Funds, property, or other things of value left in trust
to a third party. The escrow may be released upon the
fulfillment of certain conditions or by agreement of
What was formerly personal property which is now permanently
attached to real property and goes with the property
when it is sold.
Protects against damages caused to property by fire,
windstorms, and other common hazards.
Between a homeowner (as principal) and a licensed real
estate broker (as agent) by which the broker is employed
to market the real estate within a given time for which
service the owner agrees to pay a commission. Also,
The highest price which a buyer, ready, willing and
able but not compelled to buy, would pay, and the lowest
price a seller, ready, willing and able but not compelled
to sell, would accept. Basis for “listing price”,
or “asking price”.
The actual amount for which a piece of property is sold.
Also, “sales price”, “purchase price”.
A lien or claim against real property given by the buyer
to the lender as security for money borrowed.
A written agreement to repay a loan. The agreement is
secured by a mortgage, serves as proof of an indebtedness,
and states the manner in which it shall be paid. Also,
“deed of trust note”.
Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Most residential
mortgage payments include the above and are therefore
referred to as P.I.T.I. Also, “carrying charges”.
Sometimes called “discount points”, a point
is one percent of the amount of the mortgage loan.
Penalty for the payment of a mortgage note or deed of
trust note before it actually becomes due.
This word has several meanings:
(A) to denote the most important;
(B) a capital sum lent on interest;
(C) one who appoints an agent to act on their behalf;
(D) either party to a contract.
The operation of real property, including the leasing
of space, collection of rents, selection of tenants,
and the repair and renovation of the buildings and grounds.
To allocate between seller and buyer their proportionate
share of an obligation paid or due. For example, a prorate
of real property taxes, fire insurance, or condominium
A person with a real estate license and associated with
a specific real estate broker.
A map or plat made by a licensed surveyor showing the
results of measuring the land with its elevations, improvements,
boundaries, and its relationship to surrounding tracts
of land. A survey is often required by the lender to
assure a building is actually sited on the land according
to its legal description.
As generally used, a document that indicates rights
of ownership and possession of a particular property.
A summary of the public records relating to the title
to a particular piece of land. An attorney or title
company reviews an abstract or title to determine whether
there are any title defects.
Protects lenders and homeowners against loss of their
interest in property due to legal defects in title.
Title Search or Examination
A check of the title records, generally at the local
courthouse, to make sure the buyer is purchasing a house
from the legal owner and there are no liens, overdue
special assessments, or other claims.
State tax, local tax (where applicable), and tax stamps
(in some areas) required by law when title passes from
one owner to another.
Ask your Long & Foster Sales Associate for a copy
of the “Understanding the Role of the Real Estate
Agent” (LF1192, for use in the state of Maryland
only);”A REALTORS® ROLE” (LF1193, for
use in the state of Virginia only); or “The Agency
Disclosure Brochure” (LF1195, for use in the District
of Columbia only).