Derek Buse's Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Home in Bellingham

Derek Buse's Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Home in Bellingham

  • Derek Buse
  • 08/6/22

If you've considered selling your Bellingham property, now is an excellent time to list. Bellingham's real estate market has been white-hot due in part to people taking advantage of remote working opportunities and moving out of cities. While the market is cooling slightly, it's a good idea to list your home now. Interest rates will rise throughout the rest of the year. Buyers are eager to get into a new home now and lock in interest rates before they go any higher.
That means you'll want to get your home ready for the market as soon as possible. Whether it's your first time going through the home selling process or your tenth time, it's a good idea to refresh yourself on the steps involved in selling a home. This can make the process easier and help you know what to expect.

How to sell a house in Bellingham

Ready to sell your home? Here are seven steps to take you through the process, from the initial listing to closing day.

Find the right agent

Interview potential agents and ask how many homes like yours they've sold in the past few years. You'll want to work with an agent experienced in selling real estate like yours. If you have a high-value luxury home, make sure the agent you choose has experience in this niche market. The same goes for vacant land, waterfront properties, and small bungalows in town.
Why does this matter? Because each property type requires a different kind of approach. You'll want an agent who understands the area, sees what makes your home special, and can sell both the property and the lifestyle that goes with it to a potential buyer. That will help your home sell faster and for the best possible price.

Get an appraisal

You'll also want to get your home appraised by a professional. Your real estate agent can help you with this process, especially if they are familiar with the market. An appraisal is helpful for a few reasons:

  • You'll get a report on the current market. An appraisal may include a real estate report on other homes in the area like yours that have sold recently. This can give you an idea about how long your home may be on the market and its potential value.

  • Your home may be worth less (or more) than you think. It's easy for sentimentality to cloud a homeowner's judgment on the value of their home. Similarly, it's easy for you to nitpick tiny details that a buyer will happily overlook. A professional appraisal takes the emotion out of the process and assigns a value to your home-based purely on facts.

  • Getting the price right at the beginning is better for the seller. If your home is too high, it will sit on the market for a long time. If it's priced too low, you won't get the equity out of it that you deserve. It's best to hit that sweet spot and list it at the right price from the start.

Focus on staging

Photo courtesy of Derek Buse
Once you've decided to sell your home before the first showing, you'll want to focus on staging. Staging is the process of decorating your home to appeal to the greatest number of buyers. This means creating a clean, neutral space that allows them to picture themselves living there. That doesn't mean your space needs to be devoid of personality and style.
  • Clean everything. A deep clean can do wonders when making an excellent first impression on a buyer.

  • Declutter your space. That includes piles of mail, kids' toys, and closets crammed with clothes. Decluttering will make your home look bigger and won't distract potential buyers.

  • Eliminate furniture. Thinning out your furniture in each room will make the space look larger and help buyers visualize their furniture in the space instead.

  • Focus on curb appeal. The outside of your home is essential, too. It's the first impression a potential buyer will have of your property. Clean up your yard and garden, plant a few colorful flowers, and pick up toys and debris.
The staging process is an opportunity to start preparing for your upcoming move. You can begin packing away some of the things you won't need in the next few months, making moving easier when the time comes. Some people find it beneficial to rent a storage space to keep their packed items until moving day.

Carefully consider offers

Once your home is listed, you'll work with your real estate agent to schedule viewings. After that, hopefully, the offers will start to come in. Your agent will let you know about any offers made on your property, and it will be up to you whether you want to accept them, reject them, or negotiate.
Don't dismiss any offers out of hand. Instead, consider and weigh the details of the offer. For example, you may get an offer well above the asking price, but the buyer hasn't secured financing. You may also have a lower offer from a pre-approved buyer. You may be better off taking the lower offer from a pre-approved buyer because their financing is in place, and they'll be able to move on to the closing process sooner. If you get a cash offer, this process can go even faster.
Talk to your real estate agent if you aren't sure about which offer to take. They can give you feedback on whether you should accept an offer or return to the negotiating table. A counter-offer is almost always a viable option.

Prepare for a valuation and inspection

Once you accept an offer, you'll need to prepare for a valuation and inspection. The valuation is different from an appraisal. It's a more thorough process that will assign a value to your home that your buyer can use to secure financing. If the valuation is too low, they may not be able to get a mortgage for the required amount, and you may need to lower your selling price.
You will probably also need to have an inspection done. Some buyers will waive the inspection process if you offer a lower offer, but most want an inspection. Your real estate agent can tell you everything the inspector will look at so you know what to expect. You may need to prepare your home by moving items away from the basement or garage walls or providing access to an attic.
Don't panic if the inspection comes back with some issues. Often, buyers can easily remedy these items after the sale. If there are significant problems, the buyer may be willing to negotiate with you on them. This might mean you need to do the repairs before the sale, or you may need to reduce the sale amount to compensate for the buyer's repair costs.

Gather your closing paperwork

Once the negotiations are final, and you've met all the contingencies, it's time to prepare for closing. You'll want to gather documents needed to sell a house, including:

  • Property disclosure. This document discloses any information you know about the home that might affect the buyer, such as defects or hazardous materials. This document protects the buyers, ensuring they aren't purchasing a property with major known issues they'll need to deal with later on.

  • Deed and transfer documents. Your deed certifies that you have the right to transfer the home's title to a new owner. The transfer documents transfer ownership to the buyer.

  • Government-issued identification. Make sure you bring your driver's license or passport to closing.
Your real estate agent or the title company will help you prepare all the necessary paperwork. If you've agreed to cover closing costs, you'll also need to bring a check for the required amount. Don't forget to bring the keys, garage door openers, and codes to any locks on the property, too.

Sign the title and attend the closing

Once you have all your paperwork ready, you'll just need to attend the closing appointment. You'll sign the paperwork, including the deed to your property and a bill of sale. If you have an outstanding balance on your mortgage, the title company will work with your lender to transfer the required funds to pay it off. The remaining funds can be transferred to your bank account. Or you may wish for them to be sent to a new home escrow fund if you purchase another home with the proceeds soon after.

And that's it — congratulations on selling your home!
If you want to list your home for sale, contact Derek Buse. Derek is an experienced Bellingham real estate agent who understands this market and how to bring interested, qualified buyers to view your property. He'll guide you through the process while working hard to market your property, so you get the best offer possible. Call Derek now to list your Bellingham home for sale.

*Header photo courtesy of Derek Buse Real Estate

Work With Derek

Specializing in relocation, new construction properties, and vacant land, Derek sets himself apart by providing an exceptional real estate experience. He is the only agent in Whatcom County to achieve the Accredited Land Consultant designation from the LAND Institute.

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