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Donna "Sunshine" Smith

We Make Home Buying
& Selling Easy!

Office: 760-436-0087 
Cell/Text: 760-212-8225

Home Sellers FAQ


This section of the Q&A is made up from the most common questions we are asked in our daily business. If you don't find the answers to your questions, please Email us or give us a call at
1-760-212-8225 or 760-436-0087

1) What are the most important things when I'm selling my house?

 There are many things to consider, but the most important things are price; condition; terms; location, access to the home for showing, exposure to the market and legal liability.

2) When is the best time to list a house for sale?

Once you have made the decision to move, you should give yourself as much time as possible to sell your home. In Southern Calif., we see March through June being the hottest.  November through January are usually the slowest months.  Given that, buyers are looking every day of the year.  If you can plan to sell in the spring and summer, do it.  If not, sell when you need to sell. The more potential buyers your home is exposed to, the better your chances of getting a higher price for your home. This is not to disregard the necessity of pricing your home to get maximum attention from prospective buyers right from Day 1.

3) Is there any seasonality to the market?

Traditionally, the busiest times of the market are in the spring. In other areas of the country, the market cycles may well change greatly. An important point to consider is; the more homes on the market, the more competition you face. Some of the better times to sell your home are: December Holidays and the summer. Why? Because you have less competition.

4) Should I wait for prices to go up, or interest rates to go down?

Remember, there are no guarantees that the prices will go up, or that interest rates will go down. The experts in the financial markets have forecast steady interest rates for the foreseeable future. Real estate analysts do not forecast any great variations in house prices. A 40 year trend in
San Diego real estate is for homes to go up in price in years ending in 7, 8 and 9 and for prices to go down in years ending in 1, 2 and 3. For instance, Oct. 1989 was the accepted peak of the last up market. July 1995 was the accepted bottom of the market. Will that happen again??? Unfortunately my crystal ball has a small scratch in it right there. As the stock brokers say "Past performance is not a guarantee of the future". Another thing to consider is what, when and
where you plan to buy. Realize that all buying, holding and selling costs are based on the sale price.

5) How long should it take to sell?

The time your home takes to sell will depend on the items addressed in #2. There are various factors that affect the time it takes to sell your home, including: The supply of comparable homes. The condition of the economy in general. The demand for homes such as yours. Your price.  For an example of the average time it takes to sell homes in San Diego over the past 4 years has gone down from 4.5 months in 1995 to 45 days in many areas today. The time will also depend on the time of the year.  

6) Should I buy first, or sell first?

While this is a decision that rests with you, your real estate professional will be able to give you some good guidance in making this decision. If there are a number of homes available that you would consider investing in as your next home, then you probably should list your home first. If you are looking for an uncommon type of home, or there is a definite shortage of homes that meet your criteria, some believe that you should hold off on listing your home until you find a home that will be suitable for your next home. We recommend that you get your home on the market, and make any offer on your current home conditional upon your finding suitable accommodation. As with the other factors in selling and buying a home, the laws of supply and demand will have a major bearing on your decision. 

7) How do I set the price my house?

For a complete explanation of this, see the section of this website titled "How do you set the price on my home". The key in setting the price on your home is to be realistic. This area is one where you should draw upon the experience and expertise of your real estate professional. Setting the price on your home realistically, in terms of the current market, is a big part of the marketing of your home.

8) What is 'fair market value'?

Basically, Fair Market Value is what the seller is willing to accept and an informed buyer is prepared to pay.A buyer will be armed with a CMA, showing them what other, similar homes have sold for. When a house is sold, it has to be sold to not only the Realtors and the buyers, but also
the buyer's financial institution. For this reason, a CMA is very important in both setting the price on your home, and determining if an offered price is realistic. See the article "What is Market Value".

9) How much room should I allow for negotiation in my asking price?

Again, this is an area where your real estate professional can be of assistance to you. Only in the 'hottest' of markets will you find homes selling over the listed price. The ratio of list price to sale price varies from area to area. For example, in San Diego it is approximately 96% of the asking price with variations from 80% to 110% depending on the original pricing strategy.

10) Should I fix my house up before listing?

There are some things that you will want to do to make your home show at its best. These are generally minor things such as painting, a thorough cleaning, fixing loose doorknobs, etc. When considering any more significant fix-ups, ask the opinion of your Realtor . Very important: read "You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression".

11) Should I hire professionals to do any work?

If, like me, you have neither the time, talent, nor patience to do the work, then the answer is a resounding YES. However, most people don't mind doing the smaller fix-ups, such as painting, replacing washers, etc. themselves. For larger projects involving the mechanical systems of
the house, or anything that requires inspection by various authorities, be sure to use a professional to do the work. When using the professionals, ascertain beforehand that any warranties
on their work can be transferred to the new owners. Please refer to our "Trusted Advisors", a list of good guys for construction, personal and professional services.

12) What advertising is the best?

It will probably come as a surprise to you to learn that newspaper advertising is just about the least effective method of advertising your home when it is for sale. Nationwide, less than 5% of all houses sold are sold through the newspaper advertisement. The best, most cost effective form of advertising has been the realtors MLS. Why? Because, as pointed out in #1, 97% of all homes sold are sold by a realtor . The up-and-coming leader in marketing is the Internet. Technologically savvy
real estate professionals will make sure that their client's homes are featured on as many websites as possible, including their own personal web page.When hiring a realtor to market your home, you should insist that they have a web page of their own; one that actually generates inquiries about the homes they have listed for sale.

13) Should we hold public open houses?

As with many of the components of the home marketing process, the effectiveness of open houses for the public varies regionally. Here, some of the homes available for sale are held open for the public to view. One of the main reasons for public open houses is for Realtors to gather new buying clients. Nationally, only 2% of the buyers bought the home they saw at a public open house. Some police departments even advise against open houses. The typical visitor to visit open houses in this area is more likely to be a curious neighbor.A critical part of the home marketing process is to hold the house open for the other Realtors to inspect. These inspections are usually held during weekdays, at pre-set times. This Realtor Open House offers a chance for all Realtors to view your home, at a time when most people are at work, thus gaining mass exposure in a very short period of time. However some areas of San Diego do not hold effective broker open
house tours. I will advise you on this.

14) Should we be home when the house is shown?

NO, if it is at all possible. Prospective buyers will feel rushed and will not be able to relax if you are at home when your house is being shown. If you have young children or elderly people living
with you, ask your Realtor to restrict the showing times to hours that suit your children's bedtime, etc. If you have pets, it is important to have them out of the home or at least "contained". Some adults and children have strong fears of pets, especially ones they don’t know.

15) Do I have to pay commission even if I find the buyer?

Yes, once you have signed a listing contract, you are contractually obligated to forward all inquiries about your house to your Realtor . If you find a buyer, you will still owe the commission that is spelled out in the listing agreement. It is in your best interest to help your Realtor market your home by telling everybody that the home is for sale.Contact friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives.

16) Can I sell my house myself?  

Yes you can. Anyone CAN sell his or her own home.
The more important questions are:
Are you a full time professional Real Estate sales person.
Can you determine a realistic listing price for your house?
Can you create your own effective advertising? In how many medias?
Can you determine if prospective buyers are financially able to buy your home?
Can you take the time from your daily responsibilities to show your home to prospective buyers?
Can you reach as large a market as a real estate professional can?
Do you want to risk your families’ safety by allowing everyone into the house?
Are you familiar with all the legal requirements?
Are you familiar with all the laws about disclosure?

Of the above points, perhaps the two most important are the demands that would be made on your time, and the potential for making a simple mistake that might end up costing you money. In this area, less than 3% of all homes sold are sold by the owner. The peace of mind that working with a real estate professional brings, relative to the expense of paying a commission, outweighs peoples desire to save some commission. With 97% of all homes being sold by a realtor, if your home is not exposed to the real estate professionals in your community, it may well be very difficult for you to obtain the maximum return on the investment in your home.

A few of the many benefits of working with a real estate professional are:
They have a vast amount of information at their disposal. Information that can be very beneficial in the marketing of your home, therefore possibly resulting in a higher return on your investment. Realtorsare up to date on the very latest market trends. They know homes in your area and may well know of other Realtors who have clients looking for a home such as yours.  A Realtor is always on call. Always available to do things like work on weekends and staying up late.
Answering inquiries from potential buyers and giving just enough information to buy and not to much to scare them away. A Realtor can ask the buyers personal financial questions they probably would not answer for you. And dealing with many of the other stresses that selling your own home would add to your daily life.

If you don't find the answers you're looking for, please e-mail us or give us a call.

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Donna "Sunshine" Smith  SFR, Realtor

Dennis Smith, ABR, SRES, e-PRO, CDPE, Realtor

Local  760-436-0087    Cell/Text:  760-212-8225

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