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In order to make the best impression of your home, we have prepared important key factors for you, the seller, to follow at your discretion. These tips and key factors will enable prospective buyers to see the best qualities of your home and keep your home on top of their list. It will also help you spot the little things that buyers will notice, things that they might try to use in order to negotiate a lower price.

The exterior is the most important. A homebuyer’s first impression is based on his or her view of the house from the outside. The appearance of the exterior will determine the buyers decision if they are going to view the inside of the home.

The Yard

The landscaping should be at least average for the neighborhood.
Keep the lawn well trimmed and edged. Keep shrubs and trees trimmed and weeded.

Brighten your landscaping with seasonal flowers. Buy mature colorful flowers and plant them. They will add liveliness and color, creating a favorable first impression.
Your lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, watered, and free of brown spots. Certain areas may need sod, and you should give it a chance to grow so that re-sod areas are not immediately apparent. You should also give fertilizer enough time to be effective. Always rake up loose leaves and grass cuttings.
Put away lawn equipment, toys and other outdoor items. Remove all trash.

Repair, paint, or stain fences as needed.

The House

The big decision is whether to paint or not to paint. When you look at your house from across the street, does it look faded? If so, a paint job may be in order. It is often a very good investment and really spruces up the appearance of a house, adding dollars to offers from potential homebuyers.

Repair and paint rotted wood such as fascias and any wood trimming on the house.

Clean, paint, repair, or realign gutters.

Fix broken windows and screens, and make sure windows are clean.

Pressure clean the exterior of the house, the roof, driveways and sidewalks.

Check the roof and repair loose shingles or flashing.

Paint, stain, or clean the front door if needed and make sure the lock is working properly.

Replace house numbers and welcome mat as needed. Make sure the entry light and doorbell work.
The Back Yard
The back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, keep it maintained and constantly cleaned. For those that have dogs, be sure to constantly keep the area clear of "debris." If you have swing sets or anything elaborate for your kids, it probably makes more sense to remove them than to leave them in place. They take up room, and you want your back yard to appear as spacious as possible, especially where the yards are not as large.

In the home:

Remove all unused items to reduce clutter. Example: shoes in entrance, toys, umbrellas, video games and so forth.

Arrange clothes and shoes neatly in closets.

Leave kitchen countertops as clean as possible. Organize interior cabinets.

Check walls for smudges, chipped paint, and torn or loose wallpaper. Make repairs if walls have hole punctures from doorknobs and paint surfaces in neutral colors. Clean the baseboards where dirt/dust may have accumulated.

Check all the ceilings for water stains. Old leaks sometimes leave stains, even after you have repaired the leak. If you do have a leak, you will have to get it repaired unless your selling price reflects repairs needed.

*Note- Painting can be one of the best investment when selling a home. It is not a very expensive operation and most people do it themselves. Choose colors based on what would appeal to the most possible number of buyers. You should choose a neutral color or an off-white color because white helps your rooms appear spacious and clean.

Tighten loose doorknobs, switch plates, cabinet doors and handles. Make sure the doors open and close properly, without creaking. If they do, a spray of WD40 on the hinges usually makes the noise go away. Be sure the doorknobs are clean and polished to look sharp.

Check or fix all windows to open and close properly. A spray of WD40 often helps windows and doors to open easier. Make sure there are no cracked or broken windowpanes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home.

Fix leaky faucets; check to see if you have good water pressure, and remove water stains. Your sink fixtures should look shinny. If this cannot be accomplished by cleaning, buy new ones if needed. They are fairly easy to install.

Repair or clean caulking on tubs and sinks.

Clean window treatments and carpets. Also, clean tile grout if applicable and repair or replace broken floor tiles. If the carpet is definitely an outdated style or color, you probably should replace it with something inexpensive in a neutral color.

Clean and organize the garage, attic, and other storage areas in order to look larger.

Arrange furniture to give an impression of largeness in each room.

Remove pet or cigarette odors. For those who smoke, you might want to minimize smoking indoors while trying to sell your home. Pets create odors that you may have become used to but are immediately noticeable to buyers without pets or with more finely tuned senses. For those with cats, be sure to empty kitty litter boxes daily. For those with dogs, keep the dog outdoors as much as possible.


First Impressions:

Turn on all the lights, including the outside entrance lights. Open all window drapes that have a pleasant exterior view.

Turn on the Air conditioning to a cool or heated temperature in order to show buyers the system works.

Play soft music to relax the buyers while viewing your home.

Spray a neutral and fresh home fragrance scent throughout all rooms.

Turn off the television.

Put pets outside or have them watched at a friend’s house, especially during an open house.

Children should be outside of bedrooms, preferably quietly in the living room or at a friend’s house.

*Be friendly to the prospective buyers, try not to be over eager or act in a desperate manner.

Allow the buyers to walk through your house and give them space to view details of the home, such as closets, bathroom cabinets, refrigerator and so forth. You can also point out special features, upgrades, and improvements done to the home.

Once the buyer has viewed the home, answer all their questions and then ask them if they would be interested in purchasing the house. (* Make notes on items they point out that need to be repaired or in better condition.)

Try not to negotiate until you have a written contract, then you know they are serious. (Remember: Most buyers will ALWAYS want more, so don’t promise anything until you have a contract!)

Remember that questions are buying signs. If they aren’t interested enough to ask questions, they probably aren’t interested enough to buy. Answer the questions truthfully. You are setting the stage for future negotiations, so be calm and friendly.
It is possible that the buyers will indicate that they are interested in the house and will ask what the next step is. You should always be prepared for this question. The next step is always for the buyers to put their offer in writing. If you have hired a contract attorney to negotiate the contract for you, the attorney should provide you with contract forms to give to the buyer. If you have not hired an attorney, consider using real estate contract software to document the sale. If the buyer says that s/he would just like to talk about the sale and be sure you are on the same page, use common sense. Obviously you and the buyer have to come to terms and there is nothing wrong with friendly discussion, but nothing is binding until it is in writing. The best advice is to not negotiate price verbally. If the buyer asks you how low you will go, indicate that you need to see their entire offer and evidence that they can qualify for the mortgage before you can negotiate price. Indicate that you have priced your home to sell and, while everything is possibly negotiable, price is only one part of the equation, and you will have to see their offer in writing.
Remember to remain calm and friendly. Don’t take negative comments about the house or your price personally. This is critical to your success. Even if the buyer seems to be difficult (and some will be, it’s a fact of life) REMAIN CALM AND FRIENDLY. By owner transactions require a win-win. Do not allow the discussion to become confrontational.

Contract Information

Your options:

Accept the offer and terms with no changes and sign the offer.

Make a counteroffer to the buyer by making changes in price or terms and initial the changes. Many counteroffers may take place before the final agreement is signed.

Reject the offer without a counteroffer.

Once you’ve accepted and signed an offer, you may still accept a backup offer. Make sure the buyer’s with the backup offer is aware that the house is currently under contract.

Offer to Purchase

The offer tells you the price the buyer is willing to pay and under what conditions. This offer is the most important document of the sale. Once you and the buyer sign the offer, it becomes the Contract for Sale and Purchase. Read the fine print in your contract to understand the provisions of who pays for what and what you have to leave with the property, such as; appliances, fixtures, window treatments, and in some cases furniture. Carefully review the offer to purchase submitted by the buyer. This entails:

Closing Date
Title insurance
Doc Stamps

Sales Price
The full amount being paid for the property.
Full Names of Buyers & Sellers & Their Martial Status
Full legal names of buyers and sellers and whether they are single or married.
Address & Legal Description of the Property
Complete address and legal description of property can be found on your tax bill.
List of Items Included in the Sale
List of what will go with the house - appliances, lighting fixtures, window treatments, etc.


Determining the right sales price is the key factor on selling your home. You can determine the price by paying for a professional appraisal. The appraiser will determine the value of your home by comparing sales in your neighborhood. Some of the comparisons are location, square footage, improvements, view, and the condition of the home.


A deposit should be held as a good faith to purchase the home. The deposit should be held with a third party (an escrow agent), such as an attorney or the title agent doing the title work. This deposit can be obtained after the seller and buyer enter into a contract. The deposit amount is negotiable, depending on the purchase price. Usually the amount is 2%-5%. Keep in mind that most buyers won’t feel comfortable giving a seller the deposit directly. At closing, the buyer will receive a credit for the amount held in escrow towards the buyers closing cost

An escrow account is an account that the deposit is held in, without interest paid and no one can access the money until closing or both parties sign a Release of Deposit.


The contract has a financing clause with terms that allows the buyer to receive escrow deposit refund if the buyer doesn’t obtain financing. Terms consist of time for buyer to obtain a loan commitment, which ensures the buyer will receive the loan, and certain days for buyer to make application. It also specifies interest rate and points paid on the loan. The seller can negotiate these terms and place deadlines for such terms to be met. It is at the seller’s best interest not to take the property off the market until the financing terms are complete.

When you finalize the sales contract make sure you obtain the buyers finance company and broker phone numbers. This will enable you to research the buyer’s capability to obtain financing for your negotiated price. You can also follow-up to see if the buyer is supplying the proper documents needed to obtain financing.


In the state of Florida, it is the seller’s responsibility and duty to disclose all facts that materially affect the value or desirability of the property. Facts include: Homeowners association dues, roof damage, termite infestation, renovations done without permits, and the presence of neighborhood nuisances or noises which a prospective buyer can’t notice; such as a dog that barks every night next door, poor TV reception, any death in the property within the last three years, zoning ordinances or association restrictions.

It is wise for a seller to provide the buyer with a Sellers Disclosure form to be signed by both the buyer and seller. Along with this form, the seller should also provide a disclosure form for lead-based paint (if applicable).

Closing Date
The closing date is determined by the time needed for the buyer to obtain financing.
It is also determined on the time the seller needs to move. The closing date is negotiable.

Property Title

In most cases, a buyer will request a title research to insure the buyer marketable title to Real Property. This research will detect any outstanding liens, encroachments, assessments, or legal claims on the property. If a lien is attached to the property title, the seller has to pay for the entire lien amount and, in some cases, repair the property to the city/county building and code requirements.

An abstract of title can also be ordered. This search is a history of title to the property and a certification by the abstractor that the history is current and accurate.

Who chooses the escrow company varies with locality. Generally, the party responsible for paying for the title insurance chooses the escrow attorney or company. Some counties in the state of Florida, the buyer usually pays for the title searches, but in some counties it is negotiable. For example, in Palm Beach County, it is customary that the above searches are paid by the seller to prove to the buyer clear title to the property. Yet, it is a negotiable factor in the contract for purchase. The party that pays for title can pick the title/closing agent.

Property Deed

Be prepared to convey the property with a deed. This is a legal document that transfers the title of the property to a new owner. Most buyers will require a general warranty deed, in which the seller guarantees that no one will hold a claim against the title.


A survey is a property evaluation on size and depth. This is usually requested by the buyer’s lender and paid by the buyer.

Doc Stamps

Although it is customary for the seller to pay for doc stamps on the deed, this expense is negotiable. To determine the cost follow the following equation:
Purchase price x .70 divided by 100= doc stamp amount


Almost all purchase contracts include an inspection clause, a contingency that allows a buyer to back out if numerous defects are found or negotiate the repairs.
Most lenders require a clear termite inspection within the 30 days prior to settlement. This ensures that the termite inspection is current

Professionals will be hired and paid by the buyer to inspect the property to the buyer’s satisfaction. This can consist of inspecting for termites, roof leaks, air conditioning status, electrical problems, appliances, window function, attic insulation, seawall, boat dock, and many other items in the home.

The contract does allow you to limit the repair amount for such inspection problems. The seller can offer the property As-Is with right to inspect within a certain amount of days. Giving the buyer the sole option to back out of the contract and deposit returned, if the inspections are not to the buyer’s satisfaction.

The buyer should have 2-3 days after completion to indicate to the seller IN WRITING any problems discovered in the inspection or disclosures. The seller should then have 2-3 days to determine whether and how to fix the problems and respond back to the buyer IN WRITING.

Home Purchase Contingency
Use if you have to find a house before you can close. There should be a timeframe for you to locate and put a contract on a new house of your choosing, which you must agree to diligently pursue. The buyer's deposit should be refunded in full if you cannot locate and contract for a new house within the timeframe specified.
Home Sale Contingency
Use if the buyer must sell another house before purchasing this house. There should be a timeframe for the buyer to sell their old home and settle the closing transaction on that home, if necessary.

Closing Procedure

You’re almost there! At this point, you should be just a few days from settlement (also called Closing) day. Confirm with everyone that all the documentation is done. Make sure the buyer’s lender is ready to fund the buyers loan. Confirm the date and time of settlement.
Find out from the settlement agent what will be expected of you. And ask:
• Will you be at the settlement with the buyer, or can you go in earlier and sign your documents?
• If you are buying another house immediately after you settle on this one, how will funds be transferred to your next settlement?
• Will any money be held in escrow? Frequently money for the last water, sewer, etc. bills is held by the escrow agent to pay the bills.
The buyers will do a final walk-through inspection to make sure the property is in the condition they bought it in and all the repairs are done according to the contract.

You should review the final settlement statement to be sure all figures are accurate.
Any issues or questions should be resolved by this time so that both parties can simply review and sign all the documents.

At the closing, the closing agent will close the property transaction, the buyer’s loan and possibly your mortgage payoff.
You will sign over the deed to the buyer to convey the title to the real property.
Shortly after the buyer has signed all the documents, you’ll turn over the keys to your house and any warranties and instruction books for your home’s appliances or major systems to give to the buyer.

Finally, it is the moment you’ve waited for! You’ll be given a check that you can take right to the bank.

Note: Make sure you notify the utility companies, and other services to advise them of your final billing date. The final billing date should be the closing date.

Determining the right sales price

Determining the right sales price is the key factor on selling your home. You should always try to be the best deal in the neighborhood in order to sell in a reasonable time frame. You should also find out information on the current sales in your neighborhood. You can access this information by going to your local county courthouse at the property appraisers office or tax roll information. You can also try researching on the Internet under your specific county using the search terms property appraisers office or tax deed information.
Drive by some of the properties that recently sold (comparables) that compare to your property. Some of the comparisons that you should consider are location (house backing to main street vs. house on interior lot), square footage of the home (which is very important), improvements/condition of the home, and view (garden view vs. golf course view).
You can also determine the price by paying for a professional appraisal. The appraiser will determine the value of your home by comparing sales in your neighborhood as well.

Supply and demand:
Now that you gathered this information we will explain supply and demand.
PRICE is important and is better determined by comparing your home’s condition with neighboring sales. If there is another home similar to yours for sale in your area, and appears to be a better deal by Price or Quality and Condition of home, then that home will be a more desirable purchase to a buyer than yours. THUS, pricing your home correctly to begin with is very important for a successful and quick sale.

• A property that is in wonderful condition with many upgrades that are generally acceptable to most buyers could be priced higher than a home that is in worse condition.

• A home in poor condition that needs paint, carpet, or new roof should be priced lower than homes without these problems.

Example: You and your neighbor three houses away have the same square footage and similar location. The neighbor’s house is priced at $150,000. Which is priced $5000 more than your house. Your house has outdated flooring and an older roof than your neighbor’s house. Your neighbor’s house has newer roof and the interior is completely renovated. Obviously, a buyer will lean more towards your neighbor’s house than you r house even though there is a slight difference in price due to the condition of the homes.

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