Listing your home

If you are listing your home, then you are selling your home. If you are selling your home, then most of the time it is a good idea to have an agent rather than try it on your own. Experienced agents are valuable. When deciding on an agent, you are actually “hiring” an agent to do work for you -sell your home.

Did you know that just like any one else you may “hire”, you are entitled to interview several agents prior to making a decision? Well, you can interview agents. Simply call a few that you may know of, or that have been referred to you. Let each agent know you are considering listing your property, and you are going to conduct a few interviews to see who you would prefer to work with during this time.

Most agents will agree to meet with you at your home for an interview. Most of those agents will bring with them a CMA (comparative market analysis). A CMA is a report compiled by the agent showing similar homes to yours in your area that are currently on the market, are pending under contract, or have recently sold. The CMA gives the agent a good idea of what the fair market price is for your home. The agents will go over their CMA with you in hopes of educating you on the current market. Each agent should also tell you in this interview what their brokerage fees are, and how they intend to market your property. After you have met with several agents, you are free to pick the agent of your choice, as long as you are not under contract with another agent. So, in other words, don’t sign anything until you decide which agent you are going to hire.

Once you have chosen your agent, the agent will have you sign several contracts, including a listing agreement, possibly an exclusive agency agreement, possibly an exclusive right to sell agreement, as well as contracts stating the items that will convey with your property (items you will leave behind like appliances, window treatments, and/or swing sets), and other forms required by law to accompany your listing. Please make sure your agent goes over each and every line of each and every contract with you. Know what you are signing, and know what the consequences can be for not following through with any of the agreements.

Agents will also have you sign a contract stating the amount of the brokerage commission at this time. In the Hampton Roads area, the average commission is 6%. With a 6% commission, typically the listing agent’s broker (your agent’s broker) gets 3% and the selling agent’s (the buyer’s agent’s broker) gets 3%. The amount each agent receives after closing varies on their agreement with their broker. Agents are not allowed to accept money from you. Agents can only be paid by their broker.

When signing your listing agreement, always be honest with your agent. Do not hide defects in the property. If the faucet leaks, tell your agent. This way, your agent will be well aware of the situation when approached by a buyer’s agent about the faucet. “Yes, Mr. Smith told me about the faucet and they are arranging to have it repaired”. It makes matters a lot simpler when the agent is aware of any defects – large or small.

You will be required to sign a lead paint disclosure if your home was built prior to 1978. The lead paint disclosure lets buyers know there is a possibility of a lead paint danger; however, in our area, the current lead paint disclosure has two spaces for the Seller to initial… one stating -yes, the seller knows there is lead paint; the other states the seller has no direct knowledge of lead paint, but it is possible since the house was built prior to 1978. Do not lie on these disclosures. You are required by law to be honest and submit full disclosure.

Be sure that all owners of your property, anyone listed on the deed, signs the listing agreement.

At the time you sign the listing agreement, your agent will discuss with you convenient times to show your property…what should the agent tell the buyer’s agent when he/she receives a phone call? Are you going to require a lengthy amount of notice for buyers to enter your home? Are you going to ask that it only be certain days of the week? If you want to sell your home in a timely manner, make it simple and easy for buyers to view your home. Sure, if you are living in the home, asking for a little bit of a notice is fine, but don’t put off buyers any longer than you absolutely have to. While they are “waiting” to see your home, they may stop at a home down the street and decide they like that one. Always try to make your home available for viewing.

Part of making your home available to buyer’s agents is to allow a lock box to be placed outside of your home containing the key to your home. In the Hampton Roads area, the lock boxes currently used must be opened by agents with electronic keys. The electronic boxes and keys let your agent know exactly who opened the box and when they opened the box. Leaving your house keys in a lock box is safe. All real estate agents have been through a back ground check prior to being licensed by the state. Criminals are not allowed to be real estate agents. Again, using a lock box is safe.

If you are concerned that agents will enter your home unannounced, your real estate agent can place a code on the lock box. These codes are called CBS codes. Any buyer’s agent would have to call your agent to get the CBS code in order to unlock the electronic lock box with their electronic key.

Once all contracts are signed and everyone has a copy (you and the agent, along with the agent’s broker), it is time to put the sign in the yard, and put the property on the MLS. The MLS is The Multiple Listings Service. Buyer’s agents are combing the MLS for properties that fit their clients needs and budget. The MLS is the best exposure your house will get. Every real estate brokerage is on the MLS. It is the real estate super highway. Many buyer’s agents have searches set up specifically for their clients. These searches send their clients listings that suit their needs and budget via email as soon as the listing hits the MLS.

Next, we hope, the phone calls start. When your agent receives calls in reference to your property, they should be letting you know. If anyone wants to view your property, your agent will notify you first (if that is the agreement that you have–sometimes sellers give their agents permission to show the property anytime day or night, especially if the property is vacant).

If you are not receiving calls, and if people are not coming to look at your property, your home may be overpriced. Check with your agent on what the current market is doing. Ask your agent if you should be receiving more calls or having more showings than you are getting.

Keep in mind that overpricing to leave negotiation room, doesn’t always work. Buyers are usually pre-qualified by their lender and know what they are able to spend on a home. Therefore, when the Buyer’s agent searches for homes in their price range, they may actually be able to afford what you really want for your house, but it may never pop up in their search, because you overpriced it hoping to leave some negotiation room. You may be sheltering your home from people who can actually afford it and who are willing to pay full price on a home that is priced right. So, price your home according to the fair market value, and you should be hearing the phone ring. If your home has been on the market for 30 days, and the phone has only rang a few times, it may be time to bring the price down.

When your home is being shown to potential buyers, leave. Buyers are likely to spend more time in your home imagining themselves living there, if you are not hoovering around or in the next room listening to them discuss the property with their agent. When you get the phone call, do a quick pick up of the house, and leave.

Don’t forget “Fido”. Don’t leave your pets behind during a showing of your home, unless you absolutely must. If you must leave them at home, then they should be crated, not just locked in a bedroom. Buyers need to see each room of the house, and they would much rather do so without “Fido” bouncing around or scaring them.

Leave the emotional attachment to your home at the door. Don’t let your emotional attachment to the home interfere with the selling process of your home. Okay, so the prospective buyer doesn’t like the pink bedroom and is asking that you paint it as part of their offer to purchase. Oh, but you think to yourself, “that was little Cindy’s bedroom and she picked that color when she was 4 years old”. Frankly, so what. You are moving. Don’t let a deal worth many thousands of dollars go down the drain over a $30 gallon of paint and primer. Yes, there are some emotional attachments, but this is a business deal, and we should always remember that when listing our property.

So, get started on those agent interviews and good luck! If you would like to interview one of Keffer Realty’s friendly professional agents, just give us a call. -Or click here to view some of our agents’ profiles…their phone numbers and email addresses are included.


  1. Karen A says:

    This post contains a TON of good advice when listing your home. You really covered it. Thanks for posting. I’m looking foward to more!

  2. L Myers says:

    Wow. Thanks for the listing advice. I’ve learned alot of things that were not communicated with me before. Appreciate it

  3. Stana Marshall says:

    This is a great article on listing your home for sale. I think alot of people will appreciate the advice on selling their home. Thanks

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