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Questions to ask a Realtor when selling your house

Napa realtor Joe Brasil holding a paper and his two clients

Selling your home and listing it on the real estate market is a complex process, especially if it’s your first time. Not only do you have to consider the condition of your house, you also have to think about the kind of market your neighborhood is in. More than anything else, though, you want to ensure that you get the most out of your property.

Hiring a trusted Realtor is the first step. But real estate agents do much more than putting your house up for sale.

The right Realtor is your expert partner, guide, and advisor throughout the journey – from deciding when to sell to marketing the home to closing the deal. As a client, you want to ask questions along the way. You don’t dive into the ocean without a licensed guide and a walkthrough, do you?

Take my experience as a top-ranking Napa Valley Realtor and an internationally top-producing Global Luxury Certified real estate agent within the Coldwell Banker system. I’m Joe Brasil, a resident of Napa Valley, and I provide my clients with all the information necessary that allows them to achieve their real estate goals.

I treat every client with care and excellence.

If you’re buying or selling a home in Napa Valley, you can ask me any real estate question throughout your real estate journey. To help you along, I prepared a guide with answers to frequently asked questions that come my way.

Before the sale

Long before the “For Sale” sign goes up in your yard and your house is listed, ask these 8 critical pre-sale questions. From the timing of your listing to the costs you will incur in the process, the answers to the questions below will help set clearer expectations and address any initial concerns you may have.

  1. When is the best time to list my home?
  2. One of the first questions clients often asked is when to put the home on the market. The answer is truly based on what’s best for your situation.

    The best time to list your home is when you are ready. You can get great results in summer, fall, or winter.

    Nevertheless, spring is considered the most ideal among Realtors. If you are under no pressure to sell immediately, wait until springtime if you can.

  3. How long will it take to sell my home?
  4. Asking about the time frame for selling your house can help you set realistic expectations and plan your move accordingly. As your Realtor with an excellent grasp of the area’s real estate market, I’m able to provide you with a reasonably accurate timeline, inform you whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, and the kind of buyers your home is likely to attract when you list it.

    You can also ask how long, on average, it takes the Realtor to sell a home compared to other agents working in the area. Note, however, that there’s a difference between selling a home quickly and selling it at the best possible price. You should compare the asking prices of homes in your area with the actual prices the homes sold for.

  5. How much is my house worth?
  6. The potential value of your home is one of the most important questions you should ask. Realtors will refer to previous listings, the current real estate market, and sometimes third-party appraisers when they make their estimates.

    If you want to know the approximate value of your home, but don’t want to commit to getting a home appraiser just yet, you can get a comparable analysis from me: All you have to do is provide the address of your property and your email.

    Determining your home’s value will also give you a clearer picture of what to expect whether luxury home buyers or entry-level buyers are your target market.

  7. What is the best price for my home?
  8. In determining the optimal listing price, many factors come into play. I will need to consider the home’s condition, how much similar houses in the neighborhood sell for, and my pulse on the local market. I may even suggest getting an appraisal if necessary.

  9. Should I make repairs or upgrades to my home?
  10. Yes! First impressions matter. You want your house to be in tip-top shape before allowing buyers and other agents to look at it. Buyers are more likely to make a good offer if they see a pristine home with flex spaces promising greater options for prospective owners.

    With extensive knowledge of what sells and with years of experience selling homes at the best prices, I, as your Realtor, am more than qualified to help you identify what needs to be repaired or upgraded. Don’t forget to declutter, depersonalize, and thoroughly clean your house before a tour, all items I can help you facilitate.

  11. Do I need to hire a home inspector to look at my property?
  12. Depending on where you live, hiring a home inspector may be necessary.

    Suppose you think your house has major issues or serious concerns, such as bad electrical wiring, faulty plumbing, or a damaged roof. In that case, the home inspector will undoubtedly point those out. You may then be obligated to resolve these issues at a high cost, on top of disclosing the inspector’s findings.

    To manage your expenses, make sure to complete any repairs and upgrades, no matter how seemingly trivial, before putting the house on the market.

  13. What repairs or upgrades have a high return on investment?
  14. That’s a good question to raise. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report, nine out of the top 10 projects with a high return on investment (ROI) are outdoor projects. The one indoor project on the list is renovating your kitchen.

    Here is a summary of some of the home remodeling projects that deliver the highest ROI:

    1. Manufactured stone veneer • 96% cost recouped
    2. 2 Garage door replacement • 94.5% cost recouped
    3. Minor kitchen remodel (mid-range) • 78% cost recouped
    4. Siding replacement (fiber cement) • 78% cost recouped
    5. Window replacement (vinyl) • 72% cost recouped
    6. Deck addition (wood) • 72% cost recouped
    7. Window replacement (wood) • 69% cost recouped
    8. Entry door replacement (steel) • 69% cost recouped
    9. Deck addition (composite) • 67% cost recouped

    Read our insights into these home projects in my blog post, “Remodeling Projects That Will Boost Your Home’s Value.” Write a list of repairs and upgrades you’re willing to make and your budget, and then discuss it with the Realtor.

  15. What home features should you highlight to sell the property?
  16. A real estate agent should sell your home in such a way that its best features shine. It’s about putting your best foot forward.

    Knowing which parts of your home will help sell it on the market also gives you an unbiased view on:

    • How much the home is worth before and upon listing
    • Whether or not you need to make any repairs, minor or major
    • What parts of the home need upgrading and maybe even staging
    • How much a prospective buyer will want to purchase the house

  17. Should I stage my home?
  18. To get the best offer, you will want to present your home in the best possible light. I will suggest ways to stage your home and make it more appealing. Remember, a home with too much “personality” is harder to sell. At the other end of the spectrum, an empty house will make it less easy for your buyers to imagine themselves living in the property, or to properly envision their furniture there.

    The need to stage professionally or with or without your Realtor’s help largely depends on your property’s value and the type of real estate market. Staging is practically a must for higher-end homes.

  19. How much will it cost me to sell my home?
  20. Asking about the cost of selling your home is important. You don’t want to be surprised by the assortment of fees you need to pay for including:

    • Title and escrow fees
    • Transfer taxes
    • Inspections
    • Staging
    • Repairs, upgrades, and renovations

    You may also offer to pay for the closing costs of the buyer as a way to sweeten the deal. As your Realtor, I’ll make sure to provide you with the best course of action given market circumstances.

During the sale

It’s time to show your home. While most open houses have been put on hold because of the virus, a Realtor might suggest a private house tour by appointment, a virtual tour, and a walkthrough livestreamed on Facebook or similar platforms.

By this time, you would have sorted the following concerns with my help.

  1. How to market the home
  2. Where will the home be listed? What marketing tools will I employ? Will social media play a part? As your Realtor, trust that I will employ the most effective marketing tools – but it’s important to ask what they are and how they meet your objectives.

    How a Realtor markets your house online and offline speaks volumes about their process. You should have a written marketing strategy that is clear, comprehensive, and structured around the first three to six weeks of listing. Also, request samples or case studies of their past marketing efforts.

  3. How to post a listing that stands out
  4. While a Realtor will be busy on the ground selling your property, it doesn’t mean the hard work is up to them alone. Good home sellers are good clients who help their Realtors make the sale. Feel free to discuss with me how you can help with the process like:

    • Making yourself available (or scarce) during house tours
    • Decluttering
    • Doing the necessary repairs

  5. How to screen potential buyers
  6. You don’t want to spend your precious time on dead-end offers or deals that can’t be closed. A professional Realtor is proficient in determining if a prospective buyer has the interest, means, and resources to purchase your home.

  7. What to do if there aren’t enough buyers
  8. It’s always a good idea to ask a Realtor about less-than-ideal situations. What if your home does not attract potential buyers, for example? Or what contingencies you can offer to sweeten the deal? What’s the lowest offer you can accept? The answers to these questions will prepare you for worst-case scenarios or if things don’t go as planned.

  9. How to choose among multiple bids
  10. Having to choose between multiple offers is a nice problem to have. Your broker can inform potential buyers that there are multiple offers on the table, which could spark a bidding war or elicit some of the best offers on your property.

    However, it’s not all about the highest offer. Factors that need to considered include:

    • The buyer’s closing date. Is it too short a time to look for another place to move to?
    • Is the buyer waiting for his mortgage to be approved and processed or are they paying in cash?
    • A two-offer scenario. Will you choose a buyer with the higher offer but orders a home inspection that may reveal issues you may need to pay for? Or would you rather accept a lower bid that waives the Option Period for inspections and allows you to close the deal faster without having to negotiate repair costs?

  11. Your obligations as a seller
  12. When it comes to selling your home, honesty is the best policy. (See California’s Disclosures in Real Property Transactions here.) By this time, I should have briefed you about disclosure and other legal requirements.

After accepting an offer

Congratulations, you have an offer on your house! But your house selling journey isn’t over yet. Fortunately, you can ask a Realtor these two critical questions about navigating the final steps of your home selling process.

  1. What do I need to do during closing?
  2. Once you accept an offer to sell your home, you and your Realtor need to list all the things you need to wrap up to ensure a smooth closing process. Your house may have to be formally appraised, surveyed, or inspected. The buyer will also ask for a final walkthrough of your home.

    Preparing to close or transfer your home to the buyer involves contacting the buyer and their agent and making sure the necessary documents are ready for signing. Also, begin to arrange for your move if you haven’t done so. Create a to-do list of tasks you need to accomplish as part of moving out of your current home and making the turnover easier for the new homeowner.

    I make it a point as your Realtor to be there for you during the closing phase to provide complete guidance and ensure everything goes smoothly.

  3. What are the things I need to prepare for closing day?
  4. Just prior to closing day, be prepared to sign documents that signify the transfer of property ownership. Providing all household keys and remote controls, security codes, remotes, and keys. Please include those that provide access to the garage, mailbox, gate, appliances, and smart devices.

    Before closing day, check with the Realtor about additional documents, such as your last property tax statement, home repair receipts, and utility bills.

Ask your Realtor about selling during the pandemic

The real estate market is in constant flux, and more so this past year because of the coronavirus outbreak. Don’t hesitate to ask your Realtor about their strategy to sell your home amid COVID-19 and what steps to take to protect everyone’s health and safety. Here is a list of add-on questions to ask about selling your home in the time of corona:

  1. Is it wise to sell our home during the pandemic?
  2. How will we handle a positive case of COVID-19?
  3. What is your plan for hosting virtual open houses?
  4. Will you market my home through video?
  5. What should I do to get my house ready for virtual tours?
  6. What health precautions do we have to take?
  7. How does COVID-19 impact transactions? Can we close electronically?

Ready to sell your home in Napa, CA?

Are you thinking about selling your Napa Valley home? Get started by getting in touch with Joe Brasil of Own Napa. Joe is a Napa Valley resident, a top-ranking Napa Valley Realtor, and an internationally top-producing Global Luxury Certified real estate agent within the Coldwell Banker system.

Joe can also help you sell your home in nearby towns and cities, like American Canyon, Calistoga, St. Helena, Vallejo, and Yountville. Call Joe Brasil at +709.319.1887 or send a message to joe(at)ownnapa(dotted)com to find out more.

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