Common Seller FAQs
If I accept an offer over full price and it doesn’t appraise, do I have to lower the price?
The short answer is no. Keep in mind that everything is a negotiation. If we receive multiple offers, chances are good that your home will appraise for purchase price, but if for some reason it does not, you then begin a new negotiation process with the buyer.
How much does it cost to hire you?
We charge a 6% commission on residential property and an 8% commission on vacant land. Here’s how that breaks down:
Will you discount your commission?
Keep in mind, we work for free until closing. If our lack of budget to properly market your house results in a lack of offers (and it will), chances are good that we’ve just donated our time to waste your time.
Why do I have to put my house on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?
We are marketing agents. We may not be the agent to sell your house but we’ll be the reason it gets sold. We rely on an extensive buyer network by fostering strong working relationships with agents in every brokerage in our area.
I received multiple offers. Does this mean I was underpriced?
We crunch A LOT of data to ensure that we’re not leaving a single penny on the table, while also finding that sweet spot in market positioning that attracts the largest number of buyers possible. That said, the value of your home is not a fixed number – it’s what a particular buyer agrees to pay for the property. Our positioning strategy in a seller’s market is to receive multiple offers – that means we’ve nailed the formula.
Too High = listing could stagnate —-> Multiple Offers <— taking money from our sellers = Too Low
How do I know if we’ve positioned the house correctly on the market?
The market never lies, but it can change its mind. Our rule of thumb to quickly respond to the market is this: two weeks with no showings or ten showings with no offers means we’re not positioned correctly.
How am I protected if a buyer changes their mind?
The buyer is typically well-protected if they back out of the contract for any reason which has been contractually stipulated, which is why we don’t typically ask for a large amount of earnest money to be put down. However, if a buyer terminates a contract for any reason other than those mutually agreed upon as acceptable by both parties, you are entitled to the earnest money from the title company.
I have to sell this house before I can close on my next house. Can I move after we close?
The best thing to do from a risk viewpoint is to make a clean break. We’ll work together to coordinate closing dates on your old and new homes so that nobody is homeless, but delays do happen. In Montana, we can use a “rent-back” option but keep in mind that it is entirely at the discretion of the new buyers to allow this scenario, and any special requests such as this have the possibility of weakening your negotiation position, so it’s best to try to avoid these situations to protect your bottom line.
Can I put an offer in on another house before mine is sold?
Yes. Keep in mind that unless you can pay for two mortgages at once, it is necessary to make any offer contingent upon the sale of your home. This includes risk for both you and the other seller; for you, the risk is that another buyer could swoop in and get your dream home. In a seller’s market, you stand the best chance of getting your offer accepted if your home is already under contract or if you do not require that contingency.
Can I install a nanny cam?
In Montana it is illegal to record audio without all parties consenting. This does not mean that you are not being watched or listened to, however, so keep that in mind when we are touring properties and refrain from making any value statements while inside someone’s home.
How do I prepare for listing? For showings? For open houses?
We’ll send you a checklist from our photographer to help prep for the professional photos. There’s additional information about creating a fabulous first impression in our CMA. We’ll bring a paper copy of this to our listing presentation, or you can find copies of these documents on our website under the Seller tab.
How can I increase my buyer pool?
Price is the biggest factor. Think about how a buyer searches. If a buyer is preapproved for up to $400,000 and you’re listed at $405,000, they will never see your home.
Loan type is also a big factor. FHA and some RD loans require specific inspection standards, so for instance if you have chipped paint on your siding, you’ll want to correct that before we list to ensure your home still qualifies for FHA.
For all the rest, leave it to us. We have a thorough marketing plan designed to get the maximum number of eyes on your property. If you’re comfortable sharing on social media, we’ll provide you links so that we can take advantage of your circle of acquaintances as well – we never want to hear “if only I’d have known this home was available”!
We’ve got an offer, what happens next?
What should I disclose to potential buyers?
What would you want to know if you were buying this house? Think about anything quirky that you may be used to, such as pipes making a loud noise at night, or any work that has been undertaken such as a new roof after the 2010 hail storm. Take a few hours to walk through every aspect of your house. The rule is; “if you know it, you must disclose it”.
Who pays for the inspection?
In a seller’s market the buyer always pays. However, as with all parts of a real estate transaction, this is negotiable.
What do I need to do to prepare for the inspection?
Be sure that there is a clear path to your crawl space and attic access and that personal belongings aren’t preventing the inspector from getting access to any areas.
Who pays for pictures? Advertising? Staging?
With 95% of today’s buyers beginning their home search online, putting your best foot forward with professional photography is a must. We pay for all advertising costs, which includes professional photography. As to staging, this service is dependent upon the property and its specific needs. If we find that staging will dramatically enhance a property’s ability to sell, we will discuss details during the listing appointment.
What is a CMA?
A CMA, or comparative market analysis, is a tool used to determine what value other buyers have determined through past sales as well as active and pending sales. A complete CMA includes several similar properties in the same neighborhood and price range, along with adjustments to make each comparison property match the subject property. A CMA without adjustments is simply a market snapshot.
Is the CMA like the Zestimate?
Not even close! A Zestimate in Montana is based upon public record and Montana is a non-disclosure state, meaning no sales data is publicly shared.
Try this exercise – go to Zillow and click on “How Accurate is the Zestimate?” From there you can see that Gallatin and Park both get one star, or what Zillow defines as “unable to compute Zestimate accuracy”. https://www.zillow.com/howto/DataCoverageZestimateAccuracyMT.htm
How do I get started?
Call or text Amy at (406) 600-1560, or go online to bit.ly/whatsmyhomeworthinmontana to get started. We’ll put together a comprehensive CMA that looks at your property through the eyes of an appraiser and through the eyes of a buyer and will come up with a market positioning strategy and expected timeline.
Should I interview more than one agent?
Absolutely! This is a major decision and you want to have confidence that you have hired the right team for the job. Be prepared for your interviews by visiting this great guide at bit.ly/15InterviewQuestions. You may also want to check out bit.ly/signsofabadagent to know what to avoid.
During the listing presentation, make sure the agent you hire is armed with data to back up their pricing suggestions and has a solid marketing plan ready to go.
Things You Should Expect to Happen:
Delays on closing. If you are simultaneously closing on your old and new homes a delay on one side or the other could mean a few unexpected nights in a hotel, and a few extra days on your moving truck rental. We’ll work to mitigate any inconvenience but there are no guarantees so be prepared for this possibility.
Agents will not show up for scheduled appointments. We try hard to ensure this does not happen but at some point, someone’s schedule will change last-minute. Try to be flexible!
Agents will show up way too early or too late for scheduled appointments. Not uncommon when a client is looking at 4-6 houses at a time. We try to limit this by setting longer appointment times for each client.
People will knock on your door and ask if they can see your house. If this happens, call us – we’ll handle it. Don’t let them in.
Lowball offers. It is our duty to present to you every offer that we receive so even when we get absurd lowball offers we will take the time to present them. Don’t be discouraged – there are an awful lot of people out there that are not shopping for a house, they’re shopping for a deal.
Appointments will be cancelled last minute. Things happen.
“Surprises” during inspection. Even if you’ve gotten a pre-inspection before listing your home, each inspector has a different background and is trained to look for different things. An average home inspection lists anywhere from 25-40 items, some cosmetic, some quite minor and some that reflect an actual structural, mechanical or safety issue. Unless there is fierce competition for a home, expect the buyer to ask for anywhere from $500-$10,000 worth of repairs. (see “Several rounds of negotiations”)
Property Appraises Low. Although we work hard to position your property based on both the buyers’ perspective and the appraiser’s perspective, there could be times when your home’s extra value in a buyer’s eyes is not easily quantifiable for the appraiser and the appraisal comes in low. See “Several rounds of negotiations” below.
Several rounds of negotiations. Each sale is negotiated a minimum of three times. Once when the initial offer is extended, once during the inspection period and once during the buyer’s final walkthrough. We could also negotiate if an appraisal comes in low, if financing is delayed, or if any additional contingencies are requested, such as a rent-back agreement or a home sale contingency. Your home isn’t sold, and negotiations aren’t completed, until all parties have signed on the dotted line and the deed is recorded.
Things You Should Not Do:
Record buyers without their knowledge. It is against the law in Montana to record audio without all parties’ knowledge/agreement.
Leave out valuables. Lock up any jewelry, guns, medicine, etc.
Identify yourself. Sweep your home and put away anything that gives away your identity, such as paperwork, mail or photos. If you are selling because you are divorcing, ensure your closet doesn’t give you away. Some buyers will try to exploit any perceived advantage they can find so the less they know about you and the reason you are moving, the better.
Post your reasons for selling on social media. See above. Savvy buyers and agents are going to search for you on social media. Make sure your accounts are private before you list.
Believe what the neighbors tell you. Trust, but verify.
Trust a Zestimate. We’ll run a CMA based on actual data. Google “Trust a Zestimate”, and if you prefer anecdotal evidence, google “Zillow CEO Sells Home Below Zestimate”.
Open a credit line or make a major purchase. Your credit is going to be run again a few days out from closing. Absolutely any change to your credit can affect your interest rate or even your ability to qualify for your loan. Hold off on purchasing furniture for your new place until everything is signed, sealed and delivered to the county records office.
Quit your job. Unless you are selling your house to give #vanlife a try or you are a cash buyer, you’re going to need that stable work history to qualify for your new loan.