Money Moments: Getting ready to sell your home? What you need to do

Confidently navigate your first home sale with this step-by-step guide.

Tags: Goals, Home, Home improvement, Mortgage, Planning
Published: December 20, 2021

Selling your home can be easy and exciting with a little preparation.

U.S. Bank loan officer Robert Leitzel shares a checklist of insider advice on how to prep, plan and execute the best sale.


Think spring to sell your home – but only if it works for you 

In-depth market studies show the beginning of April is the ideal time to list your house for sale. But this isn’t a rule. It doesn’t apply every year and it doesn’t apply to every market in the United States. 

While early spring may be the selling season with higher volume and often higher sales numbers, it won’t necessarily ensure a better sale. Seasonality is just one factor. Ask yourself: 

  • Why are you thinking of selling? 
  • Do you need to move for a new job?
  • Is your family changing, maybe it’s getting bigger or you are becoming an empty-nester? 
  • How quickly do you need to move? 
  • What timing works for you?

Review your answers and analyze how timing and seasonality best suits your family, move and lifestyle. Talk through all the factors with your household and with a professional well in advance.


Getting your house ready to sell: Assess repairs and/or upgrades

Having a well-maintained home sends a good message to the potential buyer. It may help them see your house as a home they could live in. However, there is a big difference between repairs and upgrades. Repairs correct damage. Upgrades are improvements to the house. You don’t want signs of deterioration when your house is for sale. The buyer may want a lower price or simply choose not to buy if you don’t repair damaged areas. 

When considering upgrades, weigh the cost with the potential benefit. If upgrades would cost thousands of dollars, but wouldn’t actually increase sale price, then maybe they’re not worth doing. Your local real estate market is unique and hiring an industry professional will help you make these decisions. 


Selling your home: Consider additional service fees

Depending on the state the property is in, you might use an array of services. These include a real estate attorney, real estate broker, title insurance company, escrow company, appraiser, staging company, home inspector and mortgage lender. Some of these professionals are paid by the seller and some are paid by the buyer. As a seller, between 5 and 10 percent of your contracted sale price will be considered commission for your agent. Your real estate agent or attorney can give you a clearer picture. 

Alternately, you can sell your home through companies without using a real estate agent or attorney. Regardless, do your homework. While they may say their fees are much lower, your net profit may actually be lower. Get an estimate from them, but also check with a licensed real estate agent.


Listing your house: Pay your lien in full

You can sell your house before paying off your mortgage. Your mortgage will be paid off as part of your sale process. 

If you have a mortgage, your lender will have a lien filed with your county registrar’s office. It must be paid off when you sell your home, but it doesn’t stand in your way. Go ahead and list your house for sale. When the buyer’s transaction goes through, your escrow company or real estate attorney will ensure the lien is fully paid before the transaction completes.


Know what paperwork is needed to sell a house

You should definitely have a written contract. And the transference of the deed to your home should be recorded at your county’s registrar. Different states have different requirements and even use different terminology so find out what your state requires.

A good place to start is with a real estate attorney or agent. A professional can guide you through the correct paperwork in what may be the largest financial transaction of your life. 


Enlist a Mortgage Loan Originator before a realtor

Talking with a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) is a good place to start for sellers and buyers who want to find other real estate professionals. “Our primary responsibility is to help the buyer secure the mortgage for their new purchase, but we can also help sellers get ready for their next move,” Leitzel says.

MLOs are trained to know the ins and outs of investment financing. They can help anyone who wants to become a property investor. Professional help navigating the selling stages is key and the earlier MLOs are involved, the better.

“The biggest advice I would give anyone is to sit down with a mortgage professional every two years whether you own a home or not,” Leitzel adds. “It’s a free meeting, of course, and we’ll take the time to assess where you are currently with your financial situation. You may think buying your first home or next home is years away – but we might be able to show you a way you can realize that dream much, much sooner.”


Updating your home in the selling process? Here are some tips, strategies and guidance to help you get started.