The Selling Process


1. The First Step: Prepare Your Home Prior To Listing

Are you planning to sell your home within the next 3-6 months?  Even if your timeline is a little longer, you should start getting your home ready to shine now. When your home hits the market you want it to wow potential buyers so you can get the best possible price and sell within your optimum time frame.
Here is a helpful list of things to do ahead of time so you will be confident and not stressed or overwhelmed when the time rolls around. It always comes faster than you think!
Have a pre-listing inspection done on your house. It will cost approximately $400-600, depending on the size of your house, and it's well worth the expense. The inspector will identify all the items that need repaired or replaced, and you will have plenty of time to get those items taken care of prior to selling. The buyers of your home will have an inspection done once their offer is accepted. So it's much better to take care of these items in advance than to potentially lose a good buyer, or end up renegotiating the contract to account for repairs or a reduction in the sale price. 
Contact your real estate agent and invite them over to view your home. Your agent will be able to help you make a list of things that you should do to maximize your home's appeal.  This could include rearranging or editing the furniture, painting, updating or removing carpeting, and updating hardware, plumbing fixtures, or light fixtures. There are many low cost upgrades you can make to your home that will make a big difference in its attractiveness to potential buyers.
Get rid of all the clutter in your home. Tackle one room at a time. Remove all the unnecessary knick knacks from the furniture and walls, and clean out the closets.  You can sort the items to discard into piles to give away, throw away, or sell. The goal is to have your closets be about half full. So if you will be moving before breaking out the winter wardrobe, then pack away all your winter clothing and label it for the impending move.
If you are keeping things for your children or grandchildren, first ask them if they really want the items, and if they do, perhaps they can take them now. If there are items that you want to keep that are 'cluttering up' your home, you may want to consider placing them in a storage unit or boxing them up and stacking them on shelving units in the basement until you move on to your next home.
If your basement has that dungeon feel, it's time to spruce it up. Get rid of all the things you no longer need, organize the items you want to keep, and give the walls a fresh coat of paint. If you have cement floors, caulk any cracks and paint the floor as well. 
Take a look at your garage. It may need a fresh coat of paint too on the walls and floor. If it's full of clutter, organize items on shelves or cabinets, and toss the items you won't be moving to your next home.
If you will be selling soon, the last thing to do is to thoroughly clean everything. Clean behind the furniture and appliances, wash your walls and windows, and be sure your carpets, ceramic, and wood floors look as good as they can. Make sure your kitchen and bath faucets and cabinets are polished, the tile and grout in your bathrooms sparkle, and replace any old caulking or cracked and missing grout. 
If you have questions about the time frame of selling your home, or you want to know how much your home is worth, contact us. We have successfully helped sellers achieve their goals for many years.  We're your neighbors and we know your neighborhood.

2. Listing Your Home For Sale

The first step toward listing your home is contacting a real estate sales associate to view your home from the eyes of a well-trained professional.  Your agent will advise you of improvements that should be made prior to the sale, gather the information needed to properly market your home, and prepare a comprehensive comparative market analysis that will establish a likely sale price and a suggested listing price.
To schedule an appointment with a Century 21 Professional, call our office at 501-922-2021, find an agent, or complete the Contact form and we will make your needs our priority.

3. Creation Of A Marketing Plan

Selling can entail a variety of marketing strategies. Once listed, it's likely that your home will be quickly entered into the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and placed on our company website,,, dozens of other national real estate sites, as well as on all the other local real estate company sites that participate in the MLS IDX online data sharing.
Much of an agent’s work will be quiet and unseen – yet important. The quiet telephone calls, the work with contacts, arranging for and marketing open houses, the follow-ups with open-house visitors, conversations with ad respondents, web postings and other outreach efforts are all part of the process required to sell homes.
Your agent will create a marketing plan for your home that will help distinguish it in your local marketplace and attract buyers to your property. Your CENTURY 21 Sales Professionals often use the CENTURY 21 Customized Marketing System to create a personalized selling program for clients. Its purpose is to sell a home at the best price possible in the shortest amount of time.

4. Determining the Right Listing Price

A key part of the marketing plan is setting the list price. If a home is priced too low, you won’t benefit from the optimal profit. If a home is priced too high, potential buyers may be scared away. To determine the best asking price review the cost of recently sold homes, evaluate the competition and study marketplace trends. CENTURY 21 Sales Associates are trained to use this information to help you reach the right asking price. It is also helpful to discuss other terms and conditions, such as timing and items that can be included with the sale of the home. Both of these can make your home more attractive to potential buyers.
1) Location: You can't get away from this one. If your house is located in a desirable area that is in demand, you will be able to get a higher price than you can for the same house in a less desirable area.
2) Condition: A house that has been better maintained and shows better will always sell for more than one that has had deferred (neglected) maintenance and needs work.
3) Desirable amenities: If a house has amenities that are currently popular in the marketplace, it will bring a higher price.
4) Calculate the price per square foot: The average price per square foot for homes in your neighborhood shouldn't be the sole determinant of the asking price for your home, but it can be a useful starting point. Keep in mind that various methodologies can be used to calculate square footage.
A formal written appraisal can be useful if you have a unique property, if there hasn't been much activity in your area recently, if co-owners disagree about price, or if there is any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a value on your home. Appraisers consider the location of the home, its proximity to desirable schools and other public facilities, the size of the lot, the size and condition of the home itself and recent sales prices of comparable properties, among other factors.

5. Showing Your Home To Potential Buyers

Although the buyer is a guest in your home, you want the buyer to imagine owning the home. You don't want to make the buyer feel like an intruder.
Now it's time to get your home ready for the spotlight. Start with a good cleaning, then eliminate any clutter, add a fresh coat of paint and tidy up the yard. Talk to your CENTURY 21 real estate agent about other tips that can help boost a home's curb appeal and impress potential buyers once they're in the door. One way to make a home more attractive is to purchase a Home Protection Plan. This insurance protects you, the seller, from paying repair or replacement costs of major items during the listing period. It also protects the buyer during their first year of homeownership.
Check the Temperature. If weather permits, open the windows -- if there is too much noise outside, close them. And if it's cold enough to wear a sweater to stay warm, turn on the heat. You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more of a reason to linger, especially on hot or cold days!
Create a Mood Light. Light a fire in the fireplace, and if you have water fountains, turn them on. They are especially useful for drowning out traffic noise.
Play Up the Visual.  Open all the window coverings to let in light. Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery such as a dilapidated fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views. If you have seasonal photographs showcasing flower gardens, leaves bursting in color or a snow-covered lawn twinkling from street lights, then display them in a prominent position. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spot lights on the floor behind furniture.

6. Negotiating a Purchase Contract

When a buyer is ready to make you an offer their agent will contact your agent to let you know. Buyers should present their offer formally with a contract to purchase. These documents can be obtained from the buyers or sellers agent.
Most home buyers and home sellers want to arrive at a win-win agreement, but that's not to say either side would regret getting a bigger “win” than the other. Successful negotiating is more than a matter of luck or natural talent. It also encompasses the learned ability to use certain skills and techniques to bring about those coveted win-win results.
Start with a fair price and a fair offer
There's no question that significantly overpricing your home will turn off potential buyers. Likewise, on the buying side, making an offer that's far lower than the asking price is practically guaranteed to alienate the sellers. Asking and offering prices should be based on recent sales prices of comparable homes.
Respect the other side's priorities
Knowing what's most important to the person on the other side of the negotiating table can help you avoid pushing too hard on hot or sensitive issues. For example, a seller who won't budge on the sales price might be willing to pay more of the transaction costs or make more repairs to the home, while a buyer with an urgent move-in date might be willing to pay a higher portion of the transaction costs or forego some major repairs.
Be prepared to compromise
"Win-win" doesn't mean both the buyer and the seller will get everything they want. It means both sides will win some and give some. Rather than approaching negotiations from an adversarial winner-take-all perspective, focus on your top priorities and don't let your emotions overrule your better judgment.
Your Century 21 Professional is experienced and trained in effective negotiation skills and is there to work with the Buyers and the Buyers' Agent to help keep the negotiations moving in the right direction and remove the emotional factors from the eventual outcome. 

7. The Home Inspection

Your home is in escrow, and the buyer has scheduled a home inspection. A home inspection is a thorough visual examination of the home and property. The process usually takes two to three hours, during which time the house is examined from the ground up. The inspection includes observation and, when appropriate, operation of the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and appliance systems, as well as structural components: roof, foundation, basement, exterior and interior walls, chimney, doors, and windows.
It’s important to remember that a home inspection does not detect every conceivable flaw. It is an inspection of those areas and items that can be seen. Home inspectors cannot see through foundations, floors or walls, and cannot inspect areas or items that are inaccessible.
The buyer and buyer's agent both generally attend the home inspection. It's important for the buyer to be there, if possible, to better understand the findings in the report. They have the opportunity to ask questions, and most home inspectors take the opportunity to give the buyer maintenance tips, show them how to change furnace filters, access shut off valves, and other important things that homeowners should know. 

8. The Closing

Closing -- or settlement or escrow -- is essentially a meeting where the closing agent (the party who conducts settlement) takes in money from the buyers, pays out money to the owner and makes sure that the purchaser's title is properly recorded in local records along with any mortgage liens. All papers have been prepared by closing agents, title companies, lenders and lawyers. This paperwork reflects the sale agreement and allows all parties to the transaction to verify their interests. For instance, buyers get the title to the property, lenders have their loans recorded in the public records and state governments collect their transfer taxes.
The closing agent reviews the sale agreement to determine what payments and credits the owner should receive and what amounts are due from the buyer. The closing agent also assures that certain transaction costs are paid (taxes and title searches).
Closing is also the time when "adjustments" will be made. For instance, suppose you've pre-paid taxes four months in advance. In this case, the closing agent will compensate you for the prepayment at closing by having the buyer pay you additional money.
It could also work in reverse. If you are behind on property taxes, the closing agent will reduce the money due to you at settlement by the amount of the unpaid taxes.
The Closing Paperwork generally consists of the following documents:
Deed - A legal description prepared by an attorney to transfer and record, in public records, ownership of property.
Title Insurance Policy and Certificate of Title - This coverage is issued by the title company after completion of the title search. They check to see if there are any judgments, liens or attachments that need to be taken care of to `clear' the title. After checking on unpaid taxes and assessments (e.g., sidewalks or sewer), the attorney provides a certificate of title to the lender and the buyer.
Homeowners' Insurance Policy - New home buyers must obtain a binder for new coverage on the home, and the seller is generally required to keep the property insured against loss or damage prior to the Closing to protect the new buyer's interests.
Mortgages - The mortgage contract gets recorded to protect the mortgage lender's interests. 
Warranties and Service Records - Home buyers appreciate these records, if available from the home sellers, as they can aid in obtaining satisfaction if a product or service fails within the given time or usage limits. It is also helpful to know what service people the sellers have used in the past as they experience, sometimes for the first time, the maintenance of a home (furnace cleaning, snow plowing, plumbers, etc.)
Water and Sewer Bills - Proof of payment by the seller may be required for the Closing.
Utilities Records - Homebuyers generally arrange for services to be changed the day of or day after your Closing. Check with each service provider to determine how they handle requests and what is required for final readings and new service setups.

9. Moving On To Your New Home

Whether you have moved once or a dozen times, it never seems to get any easier. Here are some hints that we hope you will find helpful as you prepare for moving day.
  • Make arramgements with buyers about possession of the home and moving date. Having sellers and buyers meet on the front walk – each with a house full of furniture – is not a happy situation.
  • Start planning early. Once you are confident that you will be proceeding with the sale, start weeding out your current possessions. Toss (or give away, sell at a yard sale, or on-line) things that you don't want to move.
  • Make a list of any important items you will need to buy for your new house. Examples: draperies, blinds, shower curtains, etc. Having these things with you on the day you move in prevents unnecessary surprises.
  • Start packing early. Anything that you are sure you will not be using before moving day should get boxed.
  • Mark every box and carton. Again, it makes it much easier if you need an item before you move, and makes it much simpler after you move. Unpacking will probably be somewhat of a gradual process--this way you know where the most necessary items are located.