10 Steps to Selling a Home in Washington DC

Step 1 – What Are Your Goals for the Sale of Your Home?

Ask yourself:

  • Why am I selling my home?
  • Where do I want to live next?
  • How much time do I need to complete the sale of my home?
  • Will the proceeds from the sale of my home allow me to easily purchase the new home I desire?
  • Will the sale of my home make it easier to achieve my short and long term goals?

Answering these questions and any others you feel are important will help you to clarify the decisions associated with the sale of your home.  The insight provided by the answers will also guide your agent in understanding your needs and serving you properly in achieving your goals.

The sale of your home is an important decision. The future opportunities and consequences of selling should be thoroughly understood before you put your home on the market for sale.

Your agent can help you sort out your options by providing advice on pricing, property preparation, extensive information on market conditions and access to qualified buyers.

^ Back to Top

Step 2 – Pricing Your Home Properly

Pricing is an art, not a science.

Your agent will analyze numerous factors, including:

  • The condition of your home
  • Improvements which could contribute to getting the highest price in the shortest time frame with the least expense on your part.
  • Recent “sold” comparables in the neighborhood
  • Directly competing “for sale” properties
  • The general state of the local market including interest rates and “for sale” inventory levels

In the final analysis, the value of your home is determined by what a ready, willing and able buyer will agree to pay for it.

^ Back to Top

Step 3 – Preparing Your Property for Sale

First impressions are important. In preparing your home for sale, it helps to look at your home from the buyer’s perspective.

Curbside appeal counts. So does having a clean, uncluttered, staged home which shows off its best features to maximum advantage. Minor and sometimes major repairs should be completed in advance.

Your agent knows the details required for this kind of preparation. If needed, they have access to contractor resources to help you in the preparation process. Your agent can help you determine whether the time and cost of doing certain repairs and making specific improvements will be worth the effort.

Your agent is connected to the real estate market on a daily basis and knows what buyers want and what they ask for. Following through on their suggestions will generally garner you thousands more dollars at the settlement table.

^ Back to Top

Step 4 – The Marketing and Advertising Strategy

Now that your house has been prepared and is ready to be viewed, it is time for your agent to market and advertise it.

You will need to decide how you are willing to get the word out that your house is available for sale.

There are several ways to market your home:

  • Marketing it discretely is one approach and can be accomplished through agent networking.
  • A more open approach is the norm, and allows for broader and faster exposure.

Evidence of the success or your agent’s marketing strategy is a combination of buyer showings and offers received. A good agent will spend the time and the money to achieve these using some or a combination of these marketing techniques:

  • Assuming an open approach, your agent will enter your home into the Metropolitan Regional Information System (MRIS) database reaching thousands of realtors.
  • A yard sign should be posted.
  • Your home will be posted on relevant websites and advertised in newspapers and magazines.
  • Your agent will hold broker open houses so that realtors can preview the property for their clients.
  • The agent will also hold weekend open houses for prospective buyers.
  • Property flyers which show the beauty and special features of your home will be created and distributed.
  • Mailings will be sent to the surrounding area and to other agents.
  • Your agent will carry out telephone follow up with realtors who have seen the property and with unrepresented buyers.

The goal is to create high awareness of the availability and desirability of your home and to generate strong interest and enthusiasm to make the best offer possible for its purchase

^ Back to Top

Step 5 – What Happens When You Receive an Offer?

Once a buyer decides they wish to purchase your home, an offer will be prepared and presented. Often this presentation is done in person with all parties represented; the listing agent, the sellers, the buyer’s agent and the buyers.

You and your agent need to review the offer carefully. Your agent will go over what needs to be done to successfully execute the transaction based on the terms and conditions of the offer received.

Your agent is likely to make recommendations, including corrections and additions to the contract and suggested pricing counter offers.

The contract should address the interests of all parties; however it is the responsibility of your agent to negotiate toward the best terms and conditions for you.

Once the contract is fully ratified, you have accepted the terms. No changes can be made to the contract without written agreement from the both seller and buyer.

The contract, although not limited to the elements below, should include the following:

  • A legal description of the property
  • The sale price
  • The escrow deposit
  • The down payment
  • The financing terms and approvals
  • The deposit amount
  • A description of inspection rights, repair allowances, if any, and who will pay for them
  • The method of title conveyance
  • Who will handle the closing and the date of closing
  • A list of items that do not convey, if any
  • Any contingencies asked for and agreed to by both parties

^ Back to Top

Step 6 – Negotiating The Price And Terms Of Sale

It is your agent’s responsibility to protect your best interests throughout the offer, negotiation and acceptance process.

They will work with you in explaining what specific clauses mean, what the buyers are offering, what they are asking for in return and how these issues could or will affect you.

Elements that you may find yourself negotiating include:

  • Price
  • The type of financing utilized to complete the sale
  • Closing costs and the proportion of those costs you will pay
  • Repairs to the home required as conditions for sale
  • Inclusion/exclusion of appliances and fixtures as part of the sale price
  • Landscaping additions, improvements and allowances included in the sale price
  • Painting included in the sale price
  • The occupancy date for the homes availability to the new owner

^ Back to Top

Step 7- The Escrow Deposit and Escrow Period

An escrow deposit is a good faith deposit made by a buyer. It says to you as the seller that the buyer is serious about buying your home.

It is either held by the brokerage firm of the buyer’s agent or by the settlement company who will be doing the closing. It is deposited to an escrow account once the contract is ratified (agreed to by both parties).

The amount of the escrow deposit is deducted from the necessary down payment. The down payment is due and payable at settlement.

During the escrow period your agent will oversee the execution of the terms of the sale contract. A successful sale will occur if all the terms of the sale contract are met by both you as the seller and by the contracted buyer.

Your agent will coordinate all the necessary contract provisions and items needed to finalize the sale of your home. They will keep you informed and do everything possible to ensure a smooth and timely closing to the sale of your home.

^ Back to Top

Step 8 – Preparing For The Close Of Your New Home

You are almost there…

A few days before closing you should be in contact with the Settlement Attorney/Agent to ensure that all documents needed to close your sale are in order and properly executed.

By now you should also have made arrangements with a mover.

Remember that before you go to settlement your property needs to be broom clean and in substantially the same condition as of the contract date, and as specified and agreed to in the sale contract.

^ Back to Top

Step 9 – Settlement On Your Home’s Sale

A successful settlement results in the transfer of legal ownership of your home to your contracted buyer.

You have successfully sold your home and should now be in possession of the proceeds of the sale.

^ Back to Top

Step 10 – Your Future


You can now utilize the proceeds from the sale of your home according to your plans. Your agent can help you find a new home or refer you to someone who can, if you are leaving the area.

For information about selling a home Washington DC and other area real estate, please contact Lynn Bulmer, Washington DC Realtor® at 202-257-2410.

^ Back to Top