Home Seller FAQ
Have questions about selling a house in Portland, Oregon or surrounding areas? You’ve come to the right place.
When is the best time to sell my home?
The best time to sell your home is when it makes sense in your life to do so. If you are moving to a new area for a job or want to enroll your kids in a particular school, are often important reasons for moving to a new home. People may need to upsize or downsize and this could require you to sell a home. At Swift Realty we will do everything to make the selling process as smooth and easy as possible. We know selling your primary residence is going to be an endeavor that you should feel is worthwhile before starting the process. With that being said typically during the spring and early summer months you will see a bump in real estate prices. If your number one concern is getting the best price for your home then these are historically the months most likely to create that situation.
How is the real estate market right now?
The Portland area real estate market has been on an upward trend for years now. Recently that growth has slowed some, but still continues to increase. The Portland real estate market is still considered a “Sellers Market” this means that there is demand and competition for homes and appreciation in prices. According to PSU’s Population Research Center, “Portland continued to add more residents than other cities in Oregon. Its 2019 population of 657,100 includes growth of 8,360 (1.3 percent) between 2018 and 2019.” This growth rate is slower than recent years but still steady and as long as it continues pressure will be put on housing demand leading to appreciation.
How do you determine how much my home is worth?
When we look at a home’s value we are looking at a number of factors to determine the market value. We create what is called a “comparative market analysis,” to do this we take all the similar homes that have sold over the past several months up to a year, to gain data on what the market is for your specific house and neighborhood. We look at broad numbers like total square feet, lot size, year built, number of beds and baths and then look more specifically at some of the things you can’t measure with an algorithm. For example, have their been major improvements or renovations that might boost the value of the house? Or perhaps the house needs some major repairs which would lower its value. We look at which homes sat on the market for a long time to see where the price caps are, to avoid a similar situation. We weed out homes that might seem comparable but actually aren’t for some reason. Perhaps a home nearby sold for a lower price because it was next to a junk yard, if your home isn’t next to a junk yard then that really isn’t a great comp to use. This is what sets apart a true comparative market analysis done by a professional Realtor from a computer algorithm like Zillow or Trulia. Their zestimate is a good estimate if you only put a few factors into a computer, but it can be off by $20,000. When we determine the value of your home it is only after taking much more into consideration.
What is a listing agreement and how long does it last.
A listing agreement is a contract between a home seller and a real estate agent. It gives the real estate agent the exclusive right to sell the property for a specified duration, usually 3-6 months. It also lists the duties to be performed by the real estate agent and creates a fiduciary responsibility to represent the sellers best interests. Finally it outlines the compensation or commission for these responsibilities , usually 4.5-6% of the homes selling price. We at Swift Realty offer a lot to our clients, free staging, free professional photography, a competitive market analysis, tips and help getting your home ready to be sold, all before the property hits the market. We can do this because we are in a contract that protects both parties and puts us on the same team with the same goals.
What steps should I take to prepare my home for sale?
The most important thing you can do is to try and make your home as appealing as possible. A few actions that almost anyone can benefit from is to:
1. Reduce- When potential buyers walk into your home they want to be able to imagine how they would live in it. The closer to a blank canvas you can provide their imaginations with, the better. Have a garage sale or donate any items you don’t plan on taking with you. Get a storage pod or other movable storage unit that you can start packing and putting unessential items into. Clean off the front of your fridge and reduce overall clutter in and around your house.
2. Curb Appeal- Do you what you can to make the front of your house a great first impression for people when they first pull up. Clean up any items that might be laying around the front yard. Make sure your landscaping is well maintained. Do any minor repairs that otherwise might stick out like a sore thumb.
3. Interior- Do or pay for a thorough cleaning, make sure to get all the cobwebs and dust. After that focus on the details; make sure you have light bulbs in all the fixtures, fix any holes in the walls, and do any needed touch up paint on walls.
4. Get a professional- When you hire Swift Realty we will come and do a free thorough consultation with you. We have a home preparation checklist that we use. We also have years of experience looking at houses which has helped us develop a keen eye for what buyers will see when looking at your home.
What is Staging?
Staging is hiring professionals to curate the placement of furniture and art into your empty home to make it more appealing and photogenic. Staging takes the marketing of your home to the next level. Many people will pay $1,500-3,500 depending on the size of the home for this service. At Swift Realty part of our promise to you is that we will do everything we can to help get your home sold as quickly as possible, for as much as the market will allow. We provide free staging to all of our customers and according to Investopedia, “Home staging has become a “must do” for sellers. Some 77% of buyer’s agents said home staging makes it easier for prospective buyers to visualize the property as a future home. Staged homes sell faster and for more money than those that are unstaged, according to industry analysis.”
What should I disclose to potential buyers?
In Oregon, state law requires a specific form and set of questions that must be answered and shared with the buyer of your home. This ranges from questions about the source of water and type of sewer system, to any easements on the property, or whether you belong to an HOA. At the bottom of the form is a catchall question that asks, “Are there any other material defects affecting this property or its value that a prospective buyer should know about?” In order to protect yourself legally you have to share anything you know to be wrong with your home or property, such as does the basement flood during the winter, do you have mold, is there a leak in the roof, or do any of the major hvac systems fail to operate as intended? Having a Realtor to help you navigate this part of the home selling process can help prevent a disgruntled buyer who found out the hard way there was a problem, from suing you.
What happens once we get an offer on the house?
When we receive an offer on your home we will usually be given between 12-72 hours to review the offer. When reviewing the offer we will look at price of course, but also any special terms or requests the buyer might have, whether or not they have included earnest money and a pre-approval letter to show they are serious. You then have three options:
1. Accept- You accept the offer as is and things move forward into the inspection period.
2. Reject- You reject the offer out of hand, the deal is dead.
3. Counter offer- You might have felt the buyers were close but not quite close enough. Let’s say you listed it at $500,000 and they offered $480,000. You can’t go that low but you are willing to come down to $490,000 so you send back a counter offer at that price and then they have the option to accept, counter, or reject.
Offers and counter offers are all part of the process, rarely do I recommend fully rejecting the first offer, even if someone comes in at a ridiculously low number. Remember this is a business decision and some people like to haggle, the most important thing is to keep a cool head and have a good idea of what your lowest price is before beginning the process, that way we can counter offer from a position of calm and clarity.
How long do I have to respond to an offer?
What is a sale contingency?
Some buyers decide when buying a home they would like to find a suitable property before selling their existing home. A sale contingency is a clause in the offer that says the purchase of the home is dependent upon the sale of the buyers home.
What is the inspection period?
An inspection period is typically 10 business days and provides the buyer time to do “due diligence.” This means the buyer has 10 days to bring in professionals to inspect the home and make sure they are aware of any problems or repairs that might need to be taken care of. This usually includes a professional home inspector, and can include other services like a sewer scope, radon testing, an oil tank inspections. You will have to provide access to the home for these inspections but we will work around your schedule as much as possible. After the buyer has completed the inspection period they will often request that repairs be made or that asking price be lowered to reflect the needed repairs. This is essentially another round of negotiating to be prepared for.
What happens if the bank appraises my home for less than the sale price.
When an appraisal from the bank comes back lower than the agreed upon price between the buyer and the seller someone will have to make up the difference between those numbers. This can be the seller agreeing to lower the price to the banks appraisal value, the buyer paying out of pocket to cover the difference or a combination of the two. Most offers are contingent on successful financing which means if the difference is not made up the whole deal could fall through with the earnest money returned to the buyer.
How much do you charge for commission?
At Swift Realty we charge 5% of the total sale price of your home. We feel like this a competitive price for the Portland real estate market. We make this price even more valuable by offering additional services to help get your home sold, like free professional photography and staging. At this price we offer full real estate services, pricing, marketing, negotiations, and contracts. We encourage potential clients to find out what exactly is included in any real estate companies that offer lower prices. The old phrase “you get what you pay for” applies just as much in real estate.
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