Selling a home involves many moving parts and players that must communicate well with each other to close the deal successfully and smoothly. Unfortunately, it can also include those who prey on ignorance. We want you to be able to protect yourself even if you do not hire us. We feel, and research has backed this up, that having a Realtor puts more money in your pocket. Having representation also means less stress. Professionals will help you sort it out and protect you from charlatans and unnecessary lawyers’ fees.  If you are buying at the same time, there are some significant differences. Read more about buying a home in Tallahassee.

The Five Biggest Items that Impact Selling a Home

There are five things that impact your bottom line the most when selling a home. We will discuss these things throughout these pages and what you can do to make the most from selling your home.

  1. Location – it is what it is. A community off North Monroe has two extremely different routes coming into the neighborhood. One route brings you past low plain brick ranch houses and mobile homes. The other route brings you past sprawling custom-built homes on large lots around Lake Jackson. Which you choose could impact a buyer’s first impressions of your home.
  2. Pricing – you have complete control over this. This aspect of selling a home is so essential we devote a whole page to it.  We will discuss pricing in more detail here. If you price too high, you will put less in your pocket. We have peer-reviewed research journal articles to back this up and tips for how to price your home.
  3. Attributes and Conditions – If you have remodeled and upgraded your home, you MAY be able to recoup some of that investment. The home’s condition is one of the biggest things that keeps sellers from the closing table. A pool or a view will add value, but how much depends on many other factors. Buyers will lower their offer if they think the seller is overpriced or has not kept up with maintenance.
  4. Marketing – One of the best things a Realtor can do for you, besides the negotiations, is market your home to bring a buyer. The description of a house has been shown to bring buyers through the door, and which words they use influences who shows up. Pictures are essential, and words matter more. We want to point out that if you are reading this, our marketing is working.
  5. Realtor / Negotiator – Some people have no problems talking to strangers and asking them to change their minds. This does not include the average American who does little negotiating in daily life.  Realtors know the market and have experience with creative solutions that keep everyone happy. We have provided the independent research below.

The Process of Selling a Home

While the selling process doesn’t change much over time, the details vary significantly. There are many moving parts when it comes to selling your home. We are here to make it easier for you and help you earn more from your sale. We have decades of experience negotiating and have sold real estate since 2013. In that time, we picked up a few best practices and learned some things the hard way. We have taken classes to sharpen our negotiating, marketing, and communication skills. And, being professional investigators, we have checked the peer-reviewed journals for the latest university and think tank research. We have condensed this information and written a book (coming soon). Check our summaries below and the pages linked above.

Sellers have dominated the real estate market for many years, but things are changing in the winter of 2022. The higher interest rates made many buyers fall out of the market this summer. In the fall of 2022, buyers found some leverage in negotiations. This means sellers have agreed to more repairs, closing costs, and/or concessions than we have seen in years. There are still multiple offers on select homes, but it is rarer. There are many things you can do to help your home be the one finding multiple offers. Read on!

Picture of a home in Tallahassee Florida that is selling on the real estate market.

Step 1: Hire the Realtor. When selling a home, Realtors help you put more in your pocket. 

Selling a home can be complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. Of course, we recommend that you hire a local Tallahassee Realtor, specifically us. (You didn’t expect otherwise, did you?) Research and experience show that having professional representation positively impacts the outcomes in real estate matters. Let’s suppose you are like most people selling a home. Getting the best price is your top goal. However, it is probably not your only goal. You may have timelines to meet, another house to find, or many other things specific and unique to you and your family. You also want honesty and integrity.

We cover negotiating the listing agreement on our sellers’ negotiations page.  Anyone familiar with gaming theory knows that treating other players ‘unfairly’ leads to retaliation when possible. Some agents have bad reputations with other agents, and their homes do not sell as smoothly as others. Do NOT get caught in the crossfire and end up punished by a buyer’s agent for something unrelated to you. Just because a real estate agent spends thousands a month on marketing does not mean you will benefit from that investment. Read every contract carefully and consult an attorney if you have legal questions. There are many excellent real estate agents in Tallahassee, Florida. Also, there are a small number of agents that make us wonder how they keep their licenses. The best Tallahassee real estate agents will help you meet your goals.

Step 2: Begin the process of moving and prepare for the beauty contest

Prepare for showings by clearing any surface. This photos shows a kitchen with bare counters and all lights on. This is best staging you can give your kitchen counters.

There is no such thing as too clean or too pretty. Try to make your home as close to those staged pictures in glossy magazines as possible. Pack as much away as possible and store the boxes in the garage away from the electric panel. Make sure you can see closet floors and space on every shelf. If you have a lot of large and dark furniture, you may want to store it temporarily.

In the age of the internet, pictures have become your first showing. They must be high quality and show your home in a flattering light. Also, there must be many of them. Studies have found that additional photos increase the chances of a sale. Every photo is a chance to market to the buyer.

Interestingly, while photos are important, they are not as important as the details provided to the buyer in the description. Research has shown that buyers want information in both pictures and words. Taking note of what you love about your home will make writing the description of your home easier.

Also, consider the outside photos. Perhaps your home has spectacular winter sunsets, or the azaleas are GORGEOUS for a week in the spring. If a particular time of the day or season shows your home to its best advantage, get the photo. Even if you hire a photographer for an hour, that $300 you spend for professional photos will be worth it when it comes to marketing. Read more on our seller’s preparations page.

Step 3: Let the negotiations begin.

While you are preparing your home for showings, take the opportunity to interview agents. This is the first of many negotiations when it comes to selling your house. How the agent performs during the interview will give you an idea of how they will represent you and your home during the sale.  Even if you want to sell it on your own, have an agent tour your home and offer suggestions for staging and prepping. Having an agent’s name handy will come in useful when you get bombarded by agents asking to list your house.

As Americans, most of us do not negotiate anything daily. Many find discomfort in asking questions and making the requests necessary for negotiations. Because of that, we have a couple of suggestions when it comes to negotiating and selling your home.

Tips for Negotiating the Sale of Your Tallahassee Home

  1. The answer is always no if you do not ask. So, if you get the low-ball offer, it may be an investor, or it may be a buyer telling you that they feel you are way overpriced. Take all offers seriously and send a counteroffer even if you ‘know’ they will reject it.
  2. Generally, your first offer is your highest. If you have ten showings and no offers or ten days without a showing, you are priced too high. There are exceptions to these generalizations.
  3. We do not believe that negotiations should be a zero-sum game with a clear winner and loser. Selling a home is stressful enough without trying to win something that is not even a contest. We believe in negotiating a win-win and we have the experience to think outside the box and do that.
  4. Knowing what works best for your family is half the battle here. You can trust us to do everything we can to make you comfortable and happy with the negotiated terms.
  5. We will present ALL offers. Unless you tell us, in writing, that you do not want to see contracts below a certain amount or from a certain brokerage, we are going to send all offers to you for review and signature. Even if you are rejecting the offer, we ask you to sign to verify to the other agent that we have presented your offer and it stunk.
  6. Everything is negotiable. Everything can be solved by time or money. Read more on our seller’s negotiation page.
Image of a fountain in a red brick path. Fountain can be found at Dorothy Oven Park. Having beautiful landscaping helps sellers homes move quickly.

Step 4: Inspections, repairs, and deferred maintenance can keep sellers from the closing table. Some items are more important than others, budget appropriately.

Image contains a pictures of a gutter attached to a down spout. The downspout has greenery growing out of it. It has not been cleaned for a long time.

Let us be frank here, it is the unknowns in selling (and buying) a home that causes anxiety. The most important thing to do when selling a home is to disclose all known material details and defects. DO NOT try to cover up any issues. It is better to lose a buyer than to lose a court case and pay damages, attorney’s fees, AND the repair. No ‘caveat emptor’ or ‘buyer beware’ exists in real estate. As the seller, you must disclose known facts even if you have not lived in the home. Also, you will be required to provide utilities during the inspection process.

We strongly encourage sellers to consider spending approximately $400 for a home inspection prior to listing the home. (Smaller homes cost less.) Some buyers will accept your inspection, and some will order additional inspections. Offering the inspection to prospective buyers shows them you have nothing to hide and lowers their anxiety.

Buyer’s Request for Repairs

Even with an as-is contract, buyers may end up asking for repairs. When we submit an as-is contract as a buyer’s representative, we had a conversation with the buyer about repairs. There is no expectation of repairs when it comes to an as-is contract. HOWEVER, if the inspection reveals an issue that was not disclosed or readily apparent when touring the home, buyers may ask for it to be addressed.  This is especially true for repairs that are required by the lender or insurance provider.

Most loans do not require repairs. FHA & VA mortgages are most likely to require items to be addressed BEFORE closing and transferring homeownership. In Tallahassee, it is usually the insurance companies that say they need a new roof to lower their risk. The buyer may accept credit or a reduced home price and agree to handle the repairs after closing. Sometimes money can be held in an escrow account after closing for certain big-ticket items needed by insurance or loans. Insurance companies also require new water heaters if the inspection finds they are older than their expected lifespan.

Step 5: When selling a home, the appraisal follows the inspections. The appraised values are hard to change, and it is best to be prepared.

After the housing crash, many more rules have been implemented to ensure that banks are not selling loans that cannot be recouped in the event of mortgage default. The lender will have a rotation of local appraisers. Most appraisals will come in at or above the negotiated contract price. Low appraisals are more common for rural properties.

Some appraisal reports are kept on file and available for future buyers to review. Because of this, the seller is forced to accept the appraised value. Most appraisers will not change the value they find. However, a seller can appeal a low appraisal. The most successful appeal is showing that an appraiser does not have geographical competence and/or has ignored relevant sales.

How to make sure your home appraises when selling.

The appraiser is the last one you must sell your home to when selling your Tallahassee home. Here are some things you should do to help your home appraise when selling:

  • Ensure your home is still immaculate and staged when the appraiser arrives.
  • Require representation at the appraiser’s walk-through.
  • Check that the appraiser has worked locally for years.
  • Provide the appraiser with the properties used to price the home.
  • Make a list of home improvements with contractors’ names.
  • Do not be afraid to be friendly and welcoming to the appraiser.
Older home on Sharon Road in Tallahassee is pictured. It is white brick with a covered front step and a new driveway.
Home on Jim Lee is pictured. A home's value is most reliant on what the neighbors' house sold for all things being equal.

Step 6: The title search is next. If there is a cloud, the seller must address it. 

Photo of an orange tabby sitting in a box with branding on it from a Tallahassee title group. Title agents will order the lien search for the house.

The closing agent is the same as the title agent in Tallahassee when selling a home. The title agent transfers ownership from the seller to the buyer on closing day. In Tallahassee, it is traditional for buyer to chose the closing agent. The closing agent’s fee is a buyer’s closing expense. There is one listing agent in town that requires the buyer to close with their brother’s law firm. If you have a mortgage, the closing agent will need a current payoff. They will have you sign a form allowing your lender to give it to them.

Lenders require a title insurance policy to cover them. Title insurance requires a survey (this is usually a buyer’s expense). If you have your old survey and have not made any changes to the property lines, the title company might be able to use it to issue a new title policy and save the buyer a couple of hundred dollars. This can be something you offer instead of money during negotiations.

If the title company finds a lien or ‘cloud’ on your title during the title search, they will contact you. Normally, there are no surprises. Sellers are responsible to clear the title so they can transfer ownership of the house. So if something is found, you will hear from the closing agent.

Step 7: The final two weeks and the day before closing.

Before closing, the buyer will complete a walk-through before the final acceptance of the house. At this point, the house should be clean and vacant. Leave the utilities on until closing day and let the utility company know the name of the buyer who will be calling to set up service in their name.

Complete the negotiated repairs before the final walkthrough. If there needs to be a ‘clean’ WDO report, have the repairs complete the week before closing. That gives the inspector time to complete his paperwork. During the final walkthrough, the buyer will check repairs. Buyers can reject the quality of work during their final walkthrough. This is a good reason to have a licensed professional complete required repairs. Save the receipts and contractor’s contact information for the buyer. Leave any spare keys, garage door openers, and manuals on the kitchen counter. Turn off all water valves and faucets. If you have any systems hooked to apps on your phone, cancel the subscription or account.

Step 8: Closing Day!

Since COVID-19, we have had fewer closings where the seller and buyer sit down together at the same table. This is a bummer. The seller often ends up passing along useful information. For example, sellers share the number of trick-or-treaters, names of neighbors, or community quirks. We once discovered one of Tallahassee’s hidden parks during a conversation at closing.

If there is a home loan, the home buyer has quite a few documents to sign. If there is not a traditional closing, the seller can stop by the title company and sign the documents that need their signature before the buyer. It only takes about 5 minutes. The seller will then get their proceeds after the buyer signs their documents and the bank has funded the loan. The seller’s proceeds are available when the bank funds the loan. That is usually before closing. You can have the money from the sale wired to your account, or you can pick up a check after closing.

Please remember to bring photo identification with you to closing. Your signature will need to be notarized, and the closing agent will need it to verify you are who you say you are.

Entrance to gated community in northeast Tallahassee

Don’t Forget… If you are considering selling your home, we would love to work for you!

Involve us as early in the process as you feel comfortable. Selling a home and moving is a HUGE investment of time, energy, and emotion. The more we talk and get to know you, the better we can help you. We can help you prepare your home with suggestions for staging, repairs, and professionals to get your home ready for showings. We have worked with many roofers, builders, carpenters, and others in Tallahassee. You can use our contacts to find the professional you need.
When you are ready, contact us. When you reach out, we will do two things:

  1. Set up a time to see the house and meet everyone involved in the process (spouse, parent, child, sibling, etc.).
  2. Collect contact information and some basic information about your goals.

Because each family is unique, we like to talk to all the stakeholders simultaneously. We are available in the evenings and on weekends to make it convenient for you.

What You Can Expect From Us When Selling Your Tallahassee Home

How You Want to Sell – Your Actual Input, Not Our Assumptions

Surveys tell us what people selling a home want and look for in an agent, and we could assume you are like everyone else. However, we know it is probable that you have unique priorities and requirements. The best way to know is to ask, and we will ask many questions. We will listen to you. As we work for you, we will never force our opinion, or the buyer’s or buyer’s agent’s opinion, of how things should be for you or your family.

We Will Find a Buyer for Your Home 

We design our marketing plan and media posts to find a buyer for you. Our listings have extensive syndication reach, and we invest in ads to reach buyers looking in your neighborhood. Your home will be shown in the best positive light in photos, a detailed buyer-focused description will be written, and we will negotiate for you with your priorities in mind. Your home will also be marketed to the buyers we are working with personally.

We Will Work to Sell Your Home Within Your Specific Time Frame

We will discuss with you all the things that will impact on the pricing and speed of a sale. Marketing is a huge factor, and this is our expense for you. We also value your input in marketing. You have loved your home and can help us show buyers how they will love it too.

We Will Help You Price Your Home Competitively

You want your home to sell for the most amount possible. Pricing correctly the first time is essential. We will complete a thorough market analysis and home condition review. We will be honest about what to expect at various price points. Pricing is a balancing act, and unlike many Tallahassee FL real estate agents, we will not list an overpriced house. Typically, properly priced homes in Tallahassee will receive an offer by the second weekend on the market.

We will Guide You Through Paperwork, Inspections, and Closing

It may not be very glamorous, but this part is particularly important. What you do not know could hurt your proceeds. We will help you avoid that.