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Timelines for Selling a House

Charting the timelines for selling a house can reduce some of the stresses involved in achieving a successful sale. Most of us want to know how long it takes to sell a house in today’s brisker than usual market. Interest rates are near historic lows but the Federal Reserve has signaled an intention to raise interest rates over the next few years.

If you’re thinking of selling a home, use your phone or tablet calendar to map out the timelines. Expect the process to take 90 days or even longer. If you’re blessed with a highly qualified cash buyer, your timeline may be shorter than most. Although good fortune might be a happy accident, your shorter than typical sale might happen because you considered the potential buyer’s perspective and planned for a smooth process.

The truth is, no one really knows how long it will take to sell your house. If you’re in the midst of a hot real estate market, you may have offers in a week. If the market is slow, expect the sale to take longer. Prepare for the long-term sale and, if your house sells fast, enjoy the happy surprise. The following timeline assumes a 90-day offer to close example.

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At 12 Weeks

  • Consider whether you’ll hire a real estate professional or sell your home on your own.
  • Interview realtors or real estate agents. Check agents’ credentials and discuss all important issues before agreeing to list your home with him or her.
  • Research comparative home prices.
  • Ask a local real estate professional for a no-cost market analysis. The agent will compare your property with others in your neighborhood. The service is free because the agent wants your listing.
  • Gather survey, title and deed to list the property.
  • Make a list of improvements (see above), such as cleaning, repairing, painting, or landscaping. If you have carpets, have them cleaned before showing the home. Refinish bare wood floors and perform tile and grout work. An agent can help you determine the improvements to be done. Get estimates for larger jobs if you can’t do the work yourself.

At 8 Weeks

  • Check your HVAC system and all appliances if you’re leaving them with the house.
  • Clean your garage. Have a “garage sale” or donate items to a local charitable organization if you’re not taking them with you.
  • Hire a landscaper or fulfill landscaping needs yourself.
  • Get inspections.
  • Consider paying for an appraisal. If you’re being transferred, it may be part of the corporate relocation package.

At 6 Weeks

  • Make contingency plans, such as what happens if the house sells faster than projected? Have you lined up a new home or apartment? What will happen if the buyer doesn’t want to move in right away? Can you rent it back from the new buyer until you find a new place to live?
  • Relocation issues may be involved. Know what your company will pay for in the move. How much will they pay for moving expenses? Will you be reimbursed for house-shopping trips? Will you have temporary housing until your new home is ready? What assistance does your employer offer in buying a new house?
  • Contact real estate agents in your future city or town. Go online to check out demographics.
  • Have an estate sale to sell furnishings. Travel light.
  • Get movers’ estimates. Request at least three to get an accurate estimate. Consider how to trim costs if you’re paying any portion of moving costs.
  • Notify friends, creditors, family, doctors, dentists, and schools about the move.

At 5 Weeks

  • Call your insurer to cover belongings during the move. Ask what the mover covers. Basic coverage may insure items per pound. Ask about extra coverage for valuable items.
  • Appraise valuable items you plan to ship through the mover.
  • Ensure that recent refinancing changes have been recorded with your mortgagee
  • Ask your lender about arranging a bridge loan if you’re selling and simultaneously buying another property. Inquire about other programs that make sense for you.
  • Book flights if you’re moving to a distant location. Line up the mover and ship your cars. Reserve a rental car if needed.

At 4 Weeks

  • Pack delicate items you don’t want the movers to touch.
  • Give away flowers and plants. Safely dispose of flammables, chemicals, paint, ammunition, etc.
  • Prepare for closing. Discuss it with the lender’s representative or your attorney. Review fees, taxes, points, commissions, etc., that you will pay.

At 2 Weeks

  • Contact utilities and phone companies. Have the services shut off or transferred if you’re moving within the local area. Your mover needs light, so don’t cut off the power until your items are packed. Keep your current mobile service to travel en route to your new house.
  • Arrange a hotel or place to stay after closing if the new buyers are moving in right away.

At 1 Week

  • Retain important papers and valuables, such as jewelry, for the move. Close your safe deposit box if you have one.
  • Consider your checking and savings accounts. If you use a national bank, you might not need to close the accounts.
  • Visit the bank to draw a cashier’s check for the moving company.

On Moving Day

  • If the house hasn’t sold yet, give a friend, relative, or real estate agent duplicate keys.
  • Review the mover’s bill of lading with care.

On Closing Day

  • You might take a final walk-through with the new owners.
  • Sign papers at the closing before receiving the check for the sale of your property.

Take time to plan the sale of your home. Organizing the sale timeline makes the process of selling a home seem less stressful. Discuss the timelines with parties following the sale, such as your real estate agent and attorney.  You might need more time to prepare your home for the marketplace if it needs major repairs or remodels to sell.

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