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The Selling Process

Selling a house is an extremely important decision for a consumer. The wrong choices can have long standing financial ramifications. The best advice I can offer is to first select an honest and trustworthy agent to represent you.

In Pennsylvania, real estate agents may legally represent the buyer, the seller, neither, or both.  Dual agency is what occurs when either one agent or one company represent both buyer and seller in the same transaction. Some companies practice designated agency, which is when one agent in the company is designated to represent the buyer, and another one the seller.  Single agency is when the agent or company represents only one side of the transaction. A seller agent, once you enter into an agreement with them, owes you all the duties outlined on the Consumer Notice, as well as the additional duties of confidentiality, obedience and loyalty.

The fiduciary duties are all comprised by a dual agency: the agent cannot, by law, take any steps which would harm either consumer, so some instructions either party might want to give the agent cannot be followed. Even if the agent knows either party’s highest price  or lowest acceptable price, the agent cannot tell the other party; and finally, the duty of loyalty is most comprised: the agent is supposed to simultaneously put both parties interests ahead of all others, including his own.

For all of these reasons, selecting the right agent to represent you is very important. Once this is accomplished, here are steps that need to be taken:

Determine an appropriate asking price for your home. If you hired the right agent, this will happen! You want an agent who is knowledgeable about the local market; is experienced, and can demonstrate to you why they think your house is worth the price they came up with. If shopping among various agents, be aware that some agents will promise you anything € to get the listing and will also “bid” on a listing—in other words, say it is worth more than the last agent said, in order to get the listing
Enter into a listing agreement. At this point, you will discuss with the agent the following:
Times the house can be shown, and how much notice you need
What personal property is included and what is excluded
When you would like to close and give possession
The completed Seller Property Disclosure Statement: you and the agent should review this together
What types of staging or just plain tidying up might help the house to sell
Which MLS service the house will be placed in, and when
What you should do when the house is being sold (best practice is that you are not there; buyers and their agents can speak more freely without you there)
The term and fee of the contract
The sign goes up; your house is in MLS; you may have a lock box and/or an Open House Scheduled. Ask what other steps your agent is taking immediately. Many agents canvass the neighborhood (often by sending a postcard) announcing your home is for sale and the asking price Your neighbors are always interested in who will buy your home. Once the agent has a print-out available from the MLS listing, and can email it or give you a hard copy, review if for accuracy.
You get showings â€and feedback. You may not like all the feedback you get. This is normal. You are subjective about your house; buyers are objective (and yes, some of them are objectionable!) But, listen to the feedback. If several buyers say: “the rooms are small” consider removing furniture to make the rooms look larger.
You get an offer €”now what  Your agent will help you evaluate the offer. Offers have three components:
Terms and conditions can make an offer with a good price a bad offer. No terms and conditions (cash sale, no inspections, no contingencies) can make a lower offer a good offer. The ultimate decision is yours; your agent will help you evaluate the pros and cons, and review the paperwork with you so you know what you are signing.

You have a contract  now what? The appraiser for the bank where the buyer is getting a loan needs to schedule an appointment to do his inspection, as does the home inspector. Once again, you are probably better off leaving the house during these inspections. You will need to have an attorney or title company prepare a new deed, conveying ownership from you to the buyers. You should begin packing and making plans to vacate by closing.
Final walk through, utilities and closing: You will have to call to end the utility bills in your name. A final water and sewer reading will be done and you will have to pay these final bills at closing, as they are lien-able items  Make certain for the final walk through that all of the personal property you agreed to include is on the premises, and everything else is gone. No, no one really wants that half roll of wallpaper that matches the paper that was put up 20 years ago  faded, and besides, they will have that wallpaper off the walls within weeks. Gather all keys, garage door remotes, codes for security systems, etc and take them to closing, or give them to the agent. If you do not plan to attend closing, you must sign the deed in the presence of a notary public, and have your signatures notarized. The notary will ask for photo i.d.. A HUD-1 is prepared and signed by you or your agent at settlement; it is essentially a receipt for the transaction. It recites all of your closing costs, and indicates your net proceeds  The HUD-1 will include all final readings, loan payoffs, and tax proration. After closing, cancel your homeowner’s insurance and transfer it to your new residence (you should have already insured your new house or apartment). Have the Post Office forward your mail.