For most folks, their home is their largest financial asset. Deciding to sell it is a big decision that involves a lot of thought and preparation. When you’re ready to sell, it’s important to hire an experienced real estate team to handle the details involved in the successful sale of your home.
As experienced professionals who have helped hundreds of Indy area residents sell their homes, we know how to handle every aspect of the sales process… from strategically marketing and showcasing your home to ensuring that everything is signed, sealed and delivered by the closing date.
Providing a comprehensive process that walks the seller through each step of the way is how we handle every home listed with us.
The Home Selling Process
Prep / Staging
We always start by sitting down with you at your home so that we can gather all of the necessary info to help us market and sell your home. We explain in detail the process we use to sell homes and we discuss how this process can be tailored to work specifically with you, your situation, and your home.
Before listing your home we will:
- Prepare a “Market Analysis” on your property including information on past sales and other properties currently listed in your area.
- Secure all information needed to list your property: Tax information, Mortgage exemptions, Current Mortgage Information, Legal Information, Square Footage, Room Sizes, Lot Size, etc.
- Consult with you in pricing your home at a price appropriate for today’s market.
- Review estimated net profit based on your choice of listing price and your payoff amount.
- Review Listing Contract and discuss terms and date for start of listing and showings.
- Consult with you in showing your home at its best.
- Take high-quality images of your home for use in listing/marketing.
A house that “sparkles” on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well maintained.
A “well-polished” house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see is well maintained, they assume that what they can’t see has also been well maintained.
How Much Should You Spend to Prepare Your House for Sale?
In preparing your home for the market, it is often best to spend as little money as possible. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren’t likely to give you dollar for dollar for it. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive repairs and touch-ups to your house, and doing extensive and costly renovations. We are familiar with buyers’ expectations in your neighborhood and can advise you specifically on what improvements need to be made and which improvements are most effective.
Maximizing Exterior and Curb Appeal
When preparing to put your home up for sale, your first concern is the home’s exterior. If the outside, or “curb appeal” looks good, people will more than likely want to see what’s on the inside.
Here are some tips to enhance your home’s exterior and curb appeal to buyers:
- Keep the lawn cut, edged, and watered.
- Regularly trim hedges and weed lawns and flowerbeds.
- Be sure your front door area has a “Welcome” feeling. Buyers notice.
- Paint the front door.
- In spring and summer, add a couple of pots of showy annuals near your front entrance.
- In snowy areas, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
- Check foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and deterioration, and fix any problem areas.
- Remove and repaint any peeling paint on doors and windows.
- Clean and align gutters.
- Inspect and clean the chimney.
- Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
- Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
- Reseal old asphalt.
- Keep the garage door closed.
Maximizing Interior Appeal
You want your home to look as spacious, bright, and clean as possible. Also the home should look neutral without a lot of your personal and sentimental objects, so buyers can begin to imagine living there.
Here are some tips to enhance your home’s interior appeal to buyers:
- Give every room in the house a thorough cleaning and remove all clutter. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms actually rent storage garages and move half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, and more spacious look.
- Use a professional cleaning service every few weeks while the house is on the market.
- Remove the less frequently used and even daily-used items from kitchen counters, closets, basement and attic to make these areas more inviting.
- Make sure that table tops, dressers and closets are free of clutter.
- Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms: they should look as modern, bright and fresh as possible. It is essential for them to be clean and odor free.
- Repair dripping faucets and showerheads.
- Spruce up a kitchen in need of more major remodeling by installing new curtains and cabinet knobs, or applying a fresh coat of neutral paint.
- Clean walls and doors of smudges and scuff marks.
- If necessary, repaint dingy, soiled or strongly-colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige. The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.
- Check for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement, and fix any problem areas.
- Seal basement walls if there are any signs of dampness or leakage.
- Repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint and tiles.
- Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork.
- Inspect and repair the plumbing, heating, cooling and alarm systems.
Listing your home includes much more than setting up a sign in the front yard and throwing the pictures up on the MLS/Internet. While each home and situation is different, we tailor each plan to your specific circumstances. However, there are many common practices we use every time we list a home. We evaluate the market and adapt our marketing and networking appropriately.
The 5 main components of listing your home in Central Indiana are:
- Listing Contract(s)
- Yard Sign
- Lockbox (Access)
- Professional Pictures
- Listing Details and Description.
Once we have these components, we are ready to customize our marketing and networking to get your home exposed to as many potential buyers as possible.
Marketing / Broker Networking
Buyers looking for homes in Central Indiana are looking online right now… it is their main source of listing information, if not their only. Our marketing is impactful and puts the emphasis on your home’s aesthetic appeal. The goal is to make sure that all buyers looking in your area and in your price range, schedule a showing on your home the second they see it. We create visual call to action!
Some ways we market homes:
- Professional Pictures and Video Tours
- Post listing on RuleTeam.com, TalktoTucker.com, Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Facebook.com, and all other appropriate websites. We also make sure that your home is heavily marketed on social media.
- Mail “Just Listed” Postcards to neighborhood/area.
- Post on NextDoor or neighborhood Facebook page.
- Submit announcements for Sunday Open Houses.
- Hold an open house and get feedback from potential buyers. An open house will be scheduled for your home once or twice a month depending on availability and will be advertised a week before. This is a great opportunity to capture potential buyers and their feedback.
- Scan the BLC (Broker Listing Coop) for all entered prospects with a match to your home’s criteria. Contact agents via E-mail, flyers, phone calls, etc. to market property.
- Schedule a tour or broker’s open for all top brokers in your area.
- Inform F. C. Tucker Relocation about your home.
- Inform The International Center of Indianapolis about your home.
- Send flyers/packet to the agents on the F. C. Tucker Relocation Team.
- Discuss your property with key agents in the area offices (All area real estate companies).
- Contact you regularly to inform you of all showings, feedback and market conditions giving recommendations to improve the salability of your home.
- Prepare and deliver additional flyers/packets for top brokers in your area.
- Send flyers, packet or open house announcement to known buyers for this area and price range.
- Review the activity on your home, the current market, and list price.
- Continually update all information in marketing your home.
- Follow up with all agents who have prospects looking for homes similar to yours within your price range.
- Market your home to agents that have previously sold a home in your neighborhood.
Showings, Open Houses, and Feedback
Showings: Most showings will be set through Centralized Showing Service (CSS). You will receive a phone call, text, and email when a request for a showing is made. CSS will let you know the time and date of the request. All efforts will be made by the showing agent to meet the time frame specified.
One important thing to remember, agents may be showing 10 to 15 homes to a buyer in one day. If you ask the agent to reschedule another time or day, you may lose the showing as they are most likely inserting your home into their showing itinerary or the buyer may be from out of town and unable to come back later.
Most buyers feel more comfortable when the owners are not home so they can talk directly to their agent while walking through the home. If you are unable to leave during a showing, please go outside (weather permitting) or move to another area of the home.
Be cautious when talking with prospective buyers—the one thing you may want to point out about your home may be the one thing the buyers do not like. Casual remarks that you feel are important and harmless could possibly cause the prospect to eliminate your home.
Open Houses: When it comes to selling real estate in this market, exposure is key! If we are only able to produce a few showings per week and even a few showings per month, the best supplement is to have an open house that could generate anywhere from 5-10 “visitors” on a given Sunday. In just two hours on a Sunday, we can get more exposure for your home than we may have been able to during a particular week waiting for showings.
Scheduled showings will bring more “qualified” leads than an open house, but the point is to get exposure to people (and neighbors) so they will “get the word out.”
The Rule Team holds open houses with the utmost care and professionalism. We get the directional signs out early and get the open house posted online in advance. We will present the proper documentation to inform visitors not only about the home, but also the area, schools, comparable sales, etc. We do not “hound” visitors, but rather we create a comfortable environment for them to view your home.
Feedback: Believe us when we say that we want to hear the feedback from a showing just as bad as a seller. Unfortunately, the quality and timeliness of a response is lacking most of the time. What we try to do on the Rule Team is help you understand why agents don’t always give feedback and when they do, why they use vague terms and unconstructive criticism. When we do get good feedback, we will help you utilize it to your advantage.
Price objections are always clothed in different terms. If a buyer says things like “finishes are lacking” or “size compared to other homes is small”, it may have to do with the perception of price compared to other homes on the market that had better finishes or more space.
Please take any feedback with a grain of salt and take it constructively. In this market, any showing is good… and if the buyer has some thoughts for us to use even better!
Note: Don’t expect agents to give a full critique of the house. If they showed 15 homes, they honestly may not remember it in detail. Also, if an agent won’t call us back, it likely means the buyers are not interested.
In Indiana we use a standard, state purchase agreement that was written to equally reflect the interests of the buyer and the seller. While selling price is one consideration, it is also important that we consider your desired closing date, closing cost assistance and other details as we review and counter offers on your home.
Offers will normally go back and forth several times between the buyer and the seller, being revised a little more each time. This part of the process can be very stressful and many people make mistakes here that they don’t realize until later because of this. The Rule Team has negotiated hundreds of deals for both buyers and sellers, we know the process, we know the area, and because we take the time to know you are your family’s needs before entering into negotiations with the buyer we are able to leverage our experience and knowledge to help secure the best possible contract for your home.
After you reach an agreed upon purchase agreement with the buyer, the buyer will be responsible for having the home inspected by a licensed Indiana Inspector. The inspection will be scheduled through CSS. The inspector will provide a report to the buyer covering the condition of the home specifically looking for major defects. The buyer will then use this information to prepare the “Buyer’s Independent Inspection Response” form.
Common Inspection Items:
- Foundations: Crawl, slab, Basement floor and walls, proper drainage and ventilation, evidence of water seepage.
- Exterior: Exterior siding, windows, doors, porches, decks, balconies, and attached/detached garages.
- Roof: Roof type and material, condition of gutters and downspouts, flashing, chimneys, and skylights
- Plumbing System: Hot and cold water system; the waste system and sewage disposal, water pressure and flow, and hot water equipment.
- Electrical System: Type of service, the number of circuits, type of protection, outlet grounding, and load balance.
- HVAC System: Energy source, type of cooling equipment, capacity, and distribution.
- Interior: Interior Walls, Ceilings, Floors, Windows, Doors, stairways, cabinets, and countertops.
- Attic: Structural, Insulation, and Ventilation Information.
- Garage: Doors, walls, floor, opener.
- Appliances: Kitchen/Bar appliances, smoke detectors.
- Lot and Landscaping: Ground slope away from foundation, sidewalks, steps, and driveway.
Once we receive the “Buyer’s Independent Inspection Response” and the Inspection Report, we will discuss on how we will respond. The Buyer Inspection Report is where the buyer will request that you make repairs to the home based on the inspection report findings. We will then respond to the inspection response by agreeing to make the requested repairs, a portion of the repairs, providing an allowance in lieu of making repairs, or to make no repairs at all.
Just like the initial negotiation there can be a couple of iterations here. It is important to remember that this serves the purpose of correcting “major defects” and we can help you identify these from maintenance issues. Major issues and defects found on the report may likely be found by other buyers and it may be our recommendation to make repairs in order to sell your home.
Your listing price is important for marketing your home to the right buyer. The appraisal can be an easy and uncomplicated part of the process if we have done our homework upfront and priced your home appropriately in the first place.
In order to protect the interest of the buyer and the lender (who is lending money to the buyer to purchase your home), the buyer’s lender will order an appraisal through an appraisal management company. An appraisal is generally done without any contact between the appraiser and any other party to the transaction (specifically the seller and list agent). Appraisals will be scheduled through CSS.
An appraisal is not always necessary for a cash only transaction, but these are rare and cash buyers may still want the sale contingent upon a third party appraisal.
After the appraised value has been confirmed and the inspection repairs are completed, there are a number of very important last minute steps that need to be taken to ensure that the closing experience is smooth and without surprise.
- Settlement Statement: Around the time we list your home and likely other times during the listing process, we will create a Seller Net Sheet for you detailing what your Net proceeds will be based on a certain price point. If all of the information you have provided regarding your payoff and taxes owed, we will be fairly close to the final number stated on your Settlement Statement at the time of closing. We will get a copy of the final Settlement Statement about a day or so in advance of the closing. The Settlement Statement will be a breakdown of all the fees, credits, and mortgage information in regards to the selling your home. (Note: If you owe money at closing, you will need to bring a certified check from your bank or if the amount is over $10k, you will need to wire funds). Once we are good on the numbers, we should be ready to close!
- Homeowner’s Insurance: Most of the time, the bank owns the majority of your home. They want to make sure that if anything were to happen to the home (a fire, etc.), that their interests would be protected by insurance. So, they require that you have insurance on your home at all times.
- Utility Transfer: You should keep the utilities on in your name until closing or possession is delivered. The final date will be discussed at closing unless the property is already vacant and you are giving possession at closing. You should contact the utility companies and schedule a day to get the final meter readings. Don’t forget to consider phone, cable, and security providers as these services sometimes have large lead times.
In Indiana, closing takes place at a title company. The title company is the party who researched the title of the home and verified that you have no outstanding liens against the home and that you are it’s lawful owner. The title company also oversees the payoff of your mortgage. The title company receives documents from the buyer’s lender and then prepares the Settlement Statement. The Settlement Statement shows all the charges (commission, closing costs, tax prorations, etc.) and all of the credits (purchase price, etc.). It condenses all of these charges/credits down into the final “Settlement Statement” and that statement will show the final amount you will receive at closing.
What you need to do for the Closing:
- Maintain the condition of your home.
- Take care of any agreed upon items from the inspection.
- Notify your utility companies of a final service date.
- Make arrangements to transfer mail and other services to your new address.
- Get ready to move!
Note: It is important not to cancel your homeowner’s insurance policy until AFTER the transfer of ownership.