Seller’s Guide

Working with the Chibbaro Group

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1. Initial Consultation

During our initial meeting and needs analysis, we will review the current market activity together and determine the right pricing and marketing strategy to help you reach your goals.

Selling your home is a big decision, and we want to make sure that all our clients can make a well-informed decision that is best for them and their unique personal situation.

This is also where we talk about your preferred frequency and means of updates, so we can keep you up to date every step of the way.

2. Prepare Your Home For Sale

This phase includes completing potential repairs and improvements, staging (if needed), professional photography, video production, and installation of the For Sale sign.

We’ll talk through specific preparations so that your house is positioned competitively in the market. And, we’ll put you in contact with professionals such as renovators, decorators, and stagers who can help.

Before photos are taken and before the first showing, consider the following action items:

  • Clean deeply.
  • Paint some or all of your house.

  • Do minor repairs such as caulking tubs and windows.
  • Consider major repairs – we’ll identify them during the walk-through

  • Stage your furniture to showcase your home’s best features. We can connect you with great local staging professionals.

  • Remove personal items such as family photos.

  • Declutter every surface and storage space.

  • Reorganize your closets and pack excess items.

  • Eliminate odors by cleaning the fireplace or shampooing rugs.

  • Create an appealing color scheme with curtains or pillows to warm up your home.

  • Upgrade your lighting or light bulbs to make your rooms brighter.

  • Spruce up the landscaping.

  • Power-wash your decks and sidewalks, if needed.

3. List & Market Your Property

Once your home is ready to be seen by qualified buyers, we will officially list it for sale and execute our ongoing marketing strategy that we tailored to your property and goals.

New listings get a lot of attention, and we definitely want to capitalize on that. As time goes on, buyers tend to shift their attention to newer listings and it becomes more difficult to attract large numbers of interested prospects. Be prepared to give serious thought to any offers received. The best offers are frequently received within the first few weeks.

As we continuously market your home, rest assured that you will receive regular updates from every step of the way. We will keep you posted on how the market is reacting to the property, as well as any buyer or agent feedback.

4. Showings & Open Houses

As soon as your property is officially listed, we are ready to conduct open houses and regular showings for interested buyers and agents.

What is a showing?

A showing takes place either at an open house, which is a scheduled session when anyone can come by without an appointment, or during an appointment scheduled with us.

What can I expect during the showing process?

Three important things you can do to help get your house sold are:

  • Leave when your house is being shown. Buyers prefer to look at homes when they can move around freely and the owners aren’t there. They will also be more willing to voice concerns, which we can then address.
  • Make your house as available as possible. While it may be inconvenient to show your home at certain times, buyers who can’t see a property when they’re eager may cross it off their list.
  • Consider any feedback we receive from buyers or their agents.
Tips for last-minute prep just prior to any showing:
  • Turn on the lights and open the blinds for maximum light.

  • Take out the garbage.

  • Make the beds.

  • Clear and dust surfaces.

  • Take your pets with you and put away pet bowls.

  • Hide your valuables.

  • Turn off your computer.

  • Set the temperature.

  • Put out fresh towels.

5. Receive & Negotiate Offers

We will evaluate all offers with you and decide together whether you would like to accept, counter, or reject. We will do everything possible to negotiate favorable terms for you to ensure all your goals are met or exceeded.

We’ll negotiate until both you and the buyer agree on the final contract. We’ll be your ally during the negotiations, leveraging our data and expertise to work on your behalf.

What is an offer?

An offer to buy your home is a purchase agreement signed by the potential buyer that includes:

  • The amount of the offer
  • An explanation of how the buyer will pay, such as cash or a pre-approval for financing
  • The terms – such as a request for closing-cost help or contingencies such as the sale of the buyer’s house, a final mortgage approval, a satisfactory home inspection, and an appraisal
  • A target date for closing
  • A time limit for the offer

Reviewing Offers

Once you receive your first offer (or offers), we’ll evaluate that offer and decide how to respond.

How do I evaluate each offer?

When you receive an offer to buy your home, we’ll review it and consider whether you want to accept it. Whether you have one offer or several, we’ll look at:

  • The amount offered
  • Whether the buyer has included or waived contingencies
  • Where the funds are coming from, such as all-cash, a reputable local lender, a well-known online lender, or an unknown out-of-town lender
  • The proposed closing date and date of possession of the house to see if it aligns with your needs
  • Any special requests for items to convey or for special inspections
What happens if I receive multiple offers?

If you receive multiple offers, we’ll explore the following options:

  • Accept the best offer. If one offer stands above the rest, you can accept that one right away. But be careful not to be swayed by a high offer if the financing seems uncertain or if the buyer hasn’t explained a plan for a possible low appraisal.
  • Counter all the offers to get a better price and terms. You can ask all potential buyers to give you their best offer by a certain deadline.
  • Counter one offer that’s close to what you want. If you like one offer but think the buyer could do a little better, you can send them a counteroffer to see if they’ll accept.

I’ll work on your behalf to negotiate the terms of your sale.

6. Open Escrow

Once you accept an offer we will open escrow. An escrow company is a neutral third party that protects the integrity of the transaction. As part of the California settlement process, they serve as an intermediate until all the mutually agreed upon conditions between the parties have been met.

The duration of the closing process can be negotiated between seller and buyer. Typical are 30 days, but anything between 10 and 60 days is not uncommon. Here is the typical beginning for a 30-day escrow:

Escrow Process Timeline

Within the first week of escrow, you’ll have many documents to fill out, including disclosures regarding the home, a property questionnaire, and agency disclosures just to name a few.

  • Day 1: Pre-Escrow
    Once an offer to buy the property has been accepted by the seller and a purchase agreement contract has been signed, escrow begins.

  • Day 2-5: Escrow is funded
    Before you go any further, escrow has to be funded. That means a fraction of the down payment (referred to as earnest money deposits) is deposited into the escrow account by the buyer’s real estate agent. This ensures the buyers put some skin in the game, demonstrating their seriousness about the purchase. Your escrow officer will send you your specific escrow instructions. Typically, the package will include your grant deed to notarize, escrow instructions to sign, commission instructions, tax forms, Statement of Information, and payout documentation. The seller must get these documents back to escrow in a timely manner in order for escrow, title, and the lender to process.

7. Disclosures & Inspections

Sellers are obligated to disclose all known defects or issues of the property. Most buyers request a home inspection as a condition of their offer, which could lead to negotiating requested repairs. Here’s what is and isn’t covered in a home inspection and how we can best prepare.

The Escrow Process Continues…
  • Day 3-20: Disclosures & Inspections
    The buyers perform their due diligence and investigations on the property. The home must be available for the buyer and their hired inspectors during this time period. The seller must also keep on all the utilities through the close of escrow. The buyer receives a list of disclosures about the house or property as mandated by state law. We will walk you through the disclosure process. Providing detailed and complete disclosures is important because they can provide legal protection for you, if future defects occur after the sale.

Home Inspection

Most buyers request a home inspection as a condition of their offer. While a home inspector will dig more deeply into your home than a buyer, the preparation you made before your first showing should help you get ready for the inspection. Before the home inspector visits, we’ll provide personalized advice too.

What happens next?

Once the inspection report has been generated, we’ll discuss how to handle any possible issues a buyer mentions. We can negotiate with the buyer, decide to fix an item, provide money for the buyer to fix it, or provide documentation that the problem has already been addressed. We can help you handle any inspection issues as they arise.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a thorough review of your home’s structure and systems by a professional home inspector. A buyer can use the inspection report to decide to rescind their offer if a major issue is uncovered, or to request repairs if the contract is contingent on a satisfactory report. In some cases, a home inspection is solely for the buyer’s information and can’t be used to negotiate.

What is looked at during a home inspection?

The inspector will check:

  • Structural conditions such as the foundation, beams, and floors
  • Roof condition

  • Mechanical systems such as heat and air conditioning

  • Appliances – to make sure they’re working, although some inspectors skip appliances that are not built-in

  • Plumbing – for leaks, rust, and water pressure

  • Electrical systems such as grounded outlets and code violations

  • Safety issues such as stairs, handrails, mold, or chimney maintenance

What’s not looked at during a home inspection?

The general inspector won’t check some items that are unusual or inaccessible, such as:

  • Septic systems
  • Wells
  • Underground pipes and sprinkler systems
  • Swimming pools and spas
  • Playground equipment

However, the buyer can also decide to pay for specialized pest inspections, roof and chimney inspections, foundation inspections and sewer inspections to see if any of these systems have issues that require repair.

How should I prepare for an inspection?

Before the home inspector arrives, you should:

  • Clean your house.
  • Remove or crate your pets.
  • Make sure all your light bulbs work.
  • Empty your washing machine, dryer, oven, and dishwasher – in case they are inspected.
  • Make sure everything is accessible, including your attic, crawlspace, garage, and any sheds.
  • Leave a note if anything doesn’t work and explain that you’re getting it fixed.
  • Provide documents about maintenance and repairs.

  • Leave your phone number for the inspector.

  • Leave the house.

8. Appraisal

As you near the end of your home sale journey, one of the last remaining steps is getting your home appraised. As part of their due diligence, lenders insist on an official appraisal before issuing their final loan approval for the buyer.

We’re on the home stretch of the escrow process…

  • Day 20+ of Escrow: Price negotiations based on inspection findings

    Following inspections, the buyer could submit a Request for Repairs, which will either ask the seller to repair an issue or give a credit based on the findings of their inspection. Once a decision has been made, the buyer signs the inspection results, thus removing their inspection contingency. At this point, the buyer cannot pull out of the transaction without losing the deposit, unless the home does not appraise or the buyer cannot get a loan. The seller has the option of agreeing to the repairs, or they may negotiate the price down to compensate for needed repairs.

    If the buyer’s offer includes an appraisal contingency, an appraiser will come out to the property. As a standard of California law, every home must be properly fitted with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and the water heater must be double strapped. The appraiser will check for this. During this visit, they will be taking notes on the property, measuring square footage, and lot size to ensure it matches the tax assessor information.

  • Day 24+: Buyer secures funding

    In the next part of the process, nearly all of the work must be done by the buyer. Appraisals must be completed, homeowner’s insurance must be secured and funding must be approved by the buyer’s lender. At this point, once financing is secured, the loan contingency will be removed.

Title searches & insurance

Once all financing and other requirements finish, it’s time for closing.

First, the Title Company runs a title search. Most contracts state that the seller must provide a free and clear title to the buyer.

Next, the buyer may secure title insurance. Title insurance is not required for cash transactions, although most buyers want a title insurance policy to protect their interest in the title. If a buyer utilizes financing, the lender will most likely require title insurance. The buyer runs a final title search to make sure the title is considered free and clear.

Finally, the buyer’s lender sends the final loan documents to the escrow agent or attorney for the seller.

9. Pack & Move

It’s time to pack and move, if you haven’t done so already. Let’s not forget that this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for you. Our free moving concierge service can help you get up and running faster in your new home.

If you can’t move before the closing, you may need to arrange a rentback from the buyer. A rentback agreement would allow you to remain in your home for a specified amount of time after closing. We can help you complete appropriate paperwork for a rentback should you need it.

Remember to:

  • Cancel all utilities for the day after the closing
  • Cancel or move all your subscriptions.

  • Communicate your change of address to everyone who needs to know

Our free moving concierge can help think of every detail. They can put you in touch with local movers and facilitate every service you need – from home insurance and security systems to mail forwarding and utilities.

10. Final Walk-Through & Close

You’re nearly there! Here is what’s important as we finalize the sale of your home and approach “Close of Escrow”.

Before closing day, you’ll need to:

  • Take care of repairs required by the contract.
  • Keep all receipts and invoices and before-and-after photos of repairs.

  • Gather all appliance manuals and warranties for your buyers.

  • Review all settlement documents, especially the settlement statement.

  • Clean the house.

  • Prepare for the buyers’ final walk-through.

Within the final 5 days – Close of Escrow

The buyer will do a final walk-through to make sure the home is in the same condition as when the offer was made. The buyer will also check if all the necessary repairs were made from the Request for Repairs, if any. Assuming all goes well, both buyer and seller will sign one of the final forms known as the Verification of Property. The buyer then finishes paying the down payment, closing costs and other expenses to the escrow agent. Once the deed is recorded, the funds are disbursed, and closing is complete.

After Closing…What’s Next?

Congratulations! You’ve sold your home!

After the closing is finalized, you will:

  • Receive the proceeds from the sale, usually by wire transfer.
  • Cancel your homeowners insurance “post-close” – to make sure you’re covered on that day.
  • Save your closing documents and home improvement records for taxes.

Congratulations!

You’ve successfully sold your home. Please keep in touch with us for all of your future real estate or home ownership needs. We’re always happy to connect you with great local contractors. And should you ever want to buy or sell again in the future, we would love to help!