The Ultimate Guide To Selling Your Home

By DeSoto County, FL Realtor Mike Manwarren

There are many steps to selling a home, after reading the ultimate guide to selling a home you will be well-informed, confident, and ready to put your home on the market for sale.

15 Steps To Selling Your Home

When many homeowners consider selling their home, they want to know; what are the steps involved in selling my home? Knowing the home selling process is important when selling a home; knowing what steps are involved in selling a home, will allow you to prepare both physically and mentally as it can be exhausting. From getting your home ready to sell & move, to dealing with the emotional side of leaving your home, selling a home can truly be draining. We know that selling your home can be stressful, we do everything that we can to relieve your stress.

Step 1: Hire a Real Estate Agent who will look out for your best interest

When you have decided that you want to sell your home, you’ll want to make sure you find an agent that will be available when you need them, can answer all of your questions, and make your best interests their priority.

Step 2: Disclose anything that may affect the value of your home

Now is not the time to cross your fingers hoping the needed, hidden repair issues won’t pop up and get noticed. Discuss what the known repair issues are with your real estate agent to determine a course of action on whether or not you’ll fix the repairs or simply plan on knowing that they may become a repair issue that will come up in the Buyer’s home inspection.

This will also pertain to any possible existing liens on your home other than your primary mortgage. Are there any open permits for any prior work completed on your home? Be sure to check your records to ensure the work was inspected and the permit was closed out.

Florida Disclosure Laws: What Sellers Have to Share About Their Home

Material Facts

Where the seller of a home knows of facts materially affecting the value of the property which are not readily observable.
Even if a home is being sold “as is,” the seller has an obligation to disclose known latent defects.
A homicide, suicide, or death that occurred on a property is not a material fact that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction.


A specific statutory radon gas disclosure must be provided prior to or at the time of execution of a contract for sale and purchase.
The radon gas disclosure is not required for transactions involving unimproved properties (for example, vacant land).

Code enforcement action

If a home has a pending code enforcement action against it, the seller has several requirements.

The seller must:

  • disclose, in writing, the existence and the nature to the prospective buyer
  • deliver to the prospective buyer a copy of the pleadings, notices, and other materials relating to the code enforcement proceeding
  • disclose, in writing, to the prospective buyer that the new owner will be responsible for compliance with the applicable code
  • file a notice with the code enforcement official of the transfer of the property, with the identity and address of the new owner, within five days after the date of the transfer.
Insulation information in a new home

Every new home sales contract must include the type, thickness, and R-value of the insulation that will be installed in each part of the house. The one exception is if the buyer signs a sales contract before you know what type of insulation will be installed.

Step 3: Determine your home’s selling price

This will be the fair market value of your home. Fair market value (FMV) is; an estimate of the market value of a property, based on what a knowledgeable, willing, and unpressured buyer would probably pay to a knowledgeable, willing, and unpressured seller in the market.

This is based upon knowledge of the local real estate market.

Your real estate agent will have completed a comparative market analysis (CMA) by reviewing recent sales, pending sales, and active listings to determine your home’s selling price.

Step 4: Prepare the home to be listed for sale

Preparation is always key when your goal is to sell your home quickly and for top dollar. Take care of all of those things you’ve been meaning to fix. If your budget allows, by all means, make the repairs. Letting needed repairs go for a Buyer of your home, will result in a requested price reduction by a Buyer whereas, had you completed the repairs yourself, you would likely be looking at a greater home sale profit.


Many sellers might not realize that they have the option to get a pre-listing home inspection which is a home inspection that they pay for themselves before ever putting their house on the market.

A home inspection is traditionally known as a part of the due diligence process when a home is under contract with an intended buyer. A professional home inspector will visit the home and conduct a thorough review of the structure, noting any deferred maintenance, defects in the building, and the remaining useful life of major appliances and systems such as the air conditioner and water heater.

Depending on what the inspector finds, the results can have an impact on the sale of the house. The buyer can ask for repairs to be made, try negotiating on the sale price, or walk away from the deal.

To avoid any surprises that a home inspection may bring to light, homeowners looking to put their house on the market can opt for a pre-listing home inspection, which provides sellers with a thorough report before the home goes on the market. Sellers have the opportunity to make necessary repairs before potential buyers start touring the property and to avoid a deal that falls through due to structural or maintenance problems that could lead to other potential buyers steering clear of a property that has issues.

The sellers would do the same due diligence if they were going to buy the house.

When sellers have a pre-listing home inspection, they can get ahead of issues a buyer might find in the home and reduce the likelihood a deal will fall through.

A pre-listing inspection serves many benefits not only for the seller but also for his or her agent.  A pre-listing inspection costs the same as one conducted while a property is under contract, ranging between $300 and $500, depending on whether the inspection includes special checks like those for radon, termites, or wind mitigation.

Even in a hot real estate market where buyers are snapping up available homes quickly, a pre-listing inspection can help reduce the chances a deal could fall through and get you closer to selling your home for the price you want in the time frame you need. Here are five reasons you should consider a pre-listing home inspection before putting your house on the market.

Advance notice.

Every house comes with its fair share of quirks and problems, and you’re probably at least vaguely aware of a few of them – a window that lets water in when it rains or bowing floorboards in one corner of the dining room, for example. If you’re planning to put your property on the market, an inspection report ahead of time will help you see all the potential problems together, including some you may not have known about.

The pre-listing inspection gives you the knowledge to do with it what you will – make repairs or updates or reflect any deferred maintenance in your sale price. Sellers have all the cards – they’re not going to be blindsided by any major finds from the buyer’s inspection.

There is a caveat: Once you have the report in your hands, you can’t completely ignore a problem. If your inspector finds cracks in the foundation, you’ll be required to disclose that information as a known defect to the buyer or fix it before anyone puts an offer in.

DIY option.

For simple repairs, however, the pre-listing inspection gives you the added benefit of being able to take on projects yourself. When negotiating with a buyer, necessary repairs will typically require you to bring in professionals for all work done, even when the fixes are simple.

There’s a lot of do-it-yourself projects that the homeowner can do where it’s satisfactory, it’s not going to be an issue. If the buyer’s inspector finds it – let’s say there’s an electrical outlet that needs to be replaced or some simple plumbing – they’re going to typically mandate that a professional electrician or plumber do it.
An outlet replacement or tightening a washer on a faucet – both simple projects that homeowners can do – could be a couple of hundred dollars for a pro to complete.

Contractor of choice.

For those bigger projects that do require professionals to come out, time is also on your side when your home isn’t yet on the market. You get time to use the contractors you want.

Rather than needing to find a roofer in a specific time frame to appease the buyer, you can shop around for the right price, availability and skill to ensure you’re satisfied with the work.

Informed pricing.

Of course, there are some projects you’re just not willing to take on. If you can’t afford to fix a foundation issue with your house or you don’t want to invest the money to replace cracked tile in a bathroom when you know a buyer will completely renovate it anyway, you don’t necessarily have to take care of the repairs. Instead, that can be reflected in the price.

Work with your real estate agent to establish the right sale price, taking into account whatever issues you can’t – or aren’t willing to – fix before putting the house on the market. Your final sale price will be lower, but it may be better than paying for repairs that won’t be fully recouped by a buyer’s offer.

Buyer may accept results.

Some home inspectors provide a warranty with their inspection reports. This helps some buyers feel more comfortable because the warranty can be transferred to the next owner.

Homebuyers accept the pre-listing inspection roughly 50% of the time.  That doesn’t mean you can expect buyers to accept the pre-listing report as the only inspection.

5 ways a pre-listing home inspection benefits sellers

  1. It allows the seller to make repairs before listing the home.  If a seller has a pre-listing inspection, he or she will then be aware of every issue present in the home and can make repairs to make it easier to sell. Making repairs before listing a home can help it show better.
    If the seller chooses not to make the repairs, he or she can at least be aware of issues present in the home, which allows him or her to fully disclose this information to potential buyers. It also gives the seller more leverage during negotiations because he or she will not be unprepared.
    Sellers may be able to convince buyers to waive their home inspection contingency if the seller presents them with a copy of the pre-listing inspection.
  2. It ensures a smoother, more efficient transaction.  When issues are discovered during a pre-listing inspection, the seller can either have them fixed ahead of putting the home on the market or choose to disclose the issues to potential buyers. Either choice will make the home sell faster because it will prevent the buyer and seller from becoming entangled in long negotiations after the buyer has an inspection. Because the issues have been disclosed ahead of time, the buyer will not be surprised by anything and will be less likely to walk away or demand a lower price for the home. Homes that provide buyers with the results of a pre-listing inspection give the buyer the opportunity to decide well in advance if he or she wants to purchase a home despite its issues.
  3. It helps the seller and his or her agent more accurately price the home.  Sellers who do not wish to fix the issues revealed during a pre-listing inspection can factor the repair costs into the asking price of the home and explain to buyers that while the home has certain issues, they will be getting it for a lower price as a result. Conversely, sellers who do decide to make repairs or who come up with a clean home inspection can ask buyers for more money.
  4. It saves the seller money.  When issues are discovered during a buyer-initiated home inspection, the buyer and seller will enter into negotiations to determine who will cover the costs of repairs. In general, buyers tend to significantly overestimate the costs of these repairs, and the seller loses far more money than he or she would have paid to have completed the repairs before listing the home.
  5. It makes the seller more trustworthy.  A pre-listing inspection is the ultimate gesture in disclosure on the part of the seller. By disclosing any issues in advance, the buyers can feel confident they are making a deal with a trustworthy person who is not trying to hide anything.

3 ways a pre-listing inspection benefits real estate agents

  1. It helps them market the home. When a pre-listing inspection reveals no issues, real estate agents can use it as a marketing tool to help sell the home.
  2. It helps the sellers appreciate them.  Real estate agents are obligated to act in the best interest of their clients, and failing to at least discuss the option for a pre-listing inspection with them is not doing so. If clients lose time and money that could have been saved with a pre-listing inspection, they may blame the agent for not telling them about the possibility. Conversely, sellers will appreciate an agent who takes the time to discuss every possible option.
  3. It helps them smoothly broker the deal.  When a buyer and seller enter into negotiations following the buyer’s home inspection, the real estate agent generally has to figure out repair estimates and schedule repairs in a very short amount of time. A pre-listing inspection will eliminate this last-minute rush as buyers, sellers and agents will be aware of issues far in advance of these negotiations. As a result, the deal will go more smoothly and is more likely to be completed. Time is of the essence in contracts, and scrambling to find reasonable bids for repairs may leave the seller with no option other than to offer funds to the buyer at the close of escrow.  A pre-listing inspection might cost the seller a few hundred dollars, but it could save him or her thousands. Even more, it will save the seller tons of time and stress, and it will help the agent provide the best possible customer service.

Not only do you have to remember that people will be walking through your house to consider purchasing it, but the photographs on the internet are also what will draw people to your home. You will want it looking its best.

Tips for preparing your home to be photographed

  • General Prep
    • Vacuum carpets
    • Mop hard floors
    • Clean countertops
    • Clean windows
    • Clean fan blades
    • Turn on all lights & lamps
    • Replace burned-out bulbs
    • Turn off fans, TV’s, and computer monitors
    • Open blinds & window treatments
    • Remove personal photos if desired
    • Remove small rugs & mats
    • Hide shoes, jackets, & hats in closets
    • Remove holiday decorations
  • Exterior, Yard, Pool, Deck
    • Close garage doors
    • Remove cars from the driveway
    • Remove trash cans
    • Mow grass, trim shrubs, clear leaves
    • Remove empty planters
    • Remove cobwebs from eaves & doors
    • Remove visible water hoses
    • Remove toys & sports equipment
    • Clean porch, tidy up tables & chairs
    • Clean pool, remove the vacuum hose
    • Hide pool cleaning supplies
    • Turn on water features
    • Docked watercraft should be clean
    • Neatly organize fishing gear
  • Dining Room
    • Clear table of papers, mail, personal items
    • Use decorative place settings, feature one centerpiece
    • Straighten chairs
    • Remove child/booster seat
  • Kitchen
    • Clean countertops completely
    • Clear the refrigerator of magnets/photos
    • Hide trash cans in pantry or closet
    • Remove dishes from the sink
    • Clean stainless steel appliances
    • Clear island of view obstructions
    • Remove floor mats
    • Remove paper towels & napkins
  • Living Room / Family Room
    • Remove magazines, papers, mail, etc.
    • De-cutter fireplace, mantle/hearth
    • Clean the interior of the fireplace (Do not block fireplace)
    • Fluff & arrange pillows
    • Remove toys
    • Hide TV remotes
  • Bedrooms
    • Make beds
    • Clean bed linens and bed skirts
    • Clear nightstands of personal items
    • Hide charging cables
    • Remove items from the top of dressers
    • Remove family photos if desired
    • Hide under bed items that may appear in the photo
    • Remove diaper genie
  • Bathrooms
    • Clear countertops completely
    • No personal items in view
    • Put toilet seats down
    • Close closet doors
    • Remove soaps, shampoos, loofahs, etc
    • Open shower curtains
    • Remove dirty towels and laundry baskets
    • Remove floor mats
  • Pets
    • Hide food & water bowl, pet crates, beds, & toys
    • Remove pet hair from furniture
    • Clear yard of pet waste and toys

Be sure to consider how the pre-listing inspection and great photographs can maximize your return when selling your home.

Step 5: Home Warranty

A home warranty is a service agreement that protects a home’s systems and appliances from everyday wear and tear or accidental breakdowns due to age or mechanical malfunctions. A seller’s home warranty is a form of protection that limits out-of-pocket expenses for repairs or replacements after a buyer has purchased your home.

Home sellers can purchase a home warranty plan through their realtor and not pay for the plan until closing. The seller-purchased home warranty can benefit both parties; sellers might have a better chance of closing a deal if buyers are less concerned about the condition of major appliances and systems, and buyers can purchase the home with peace of mind.  However, whether a seller is motivated to pay for a buyer’s home warranty really depends on the local real estate market.

Step 6: Prepare for home showings

You’re now ready for your home to be shown to the buyers ready and waiting to view your home, and more importantly, those ready to buy your home.

You want everything to be just right, that ever-important first impression should be a favorable one; a vision where they can see themselves or their family living there. We all likely know about the effect of appearance on first impressions and the same holds true when a buyer views your home for sale.

When a buyer schedules a showing of your property, do not stay at the property during the showing. This will cause the buyer to be uncomfortable and rush through your home, not looking around. Plan to be away from your home for 30-40 minutes, this will give the buyer time to look around and discuss your home with their agent.

Step 7: Review the Buyer’s offers to purchase your home.

You’ll want to make sure the Residential Contract for sale and purchase is reviewed thoroughly by you and your real estate agent. Besides the purchase price, of course, you need to pay close attention to any and all filled in spaces such as; Purchase price, deposit, dates, financing and financing commitment periods, title evidence, assessments, inspection periods, addenda, and any additional terms just to name a few of the main areas to pay attention to on the real estate contract. It’s also very important to pay close attention to timelines used and that they are computed correctly.

It is important to note here how timeframes and deadlines are calculated.

Calendar Days are used to compute time, other than time for acceptance and effective date.  Any dates ending on Saturday, Sunday, or a National Legal Holiday; shall extend to 5:00 pm of the next business day.  Time ends at 11:59 pm for all deadlines, other than the 5:00 pm next business day, weekend, and national Legal Holiday exception.  The day the contract has been signed by and delivered to, both parties; is day zero.

If the last party signs the offer or final counteroffer on a Tuesday but the contract doesn’t get delivered to the other party until Wednesday, the effective date is Wednesday.

Escrow Deposits

Example: If the effective date of the contract is Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, and the time period for making the deposit is “within 3 days after the Effective Date,” the deposit must be made no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 24: Not counted, as the language states; the time for making the deposit begins after the Effective Date
  • Thursday, Nov. 25: Day 1 (This counts even though it’s Thanksgiving, a national legal holiday – holidays only affect time periods if the deadline ends on the holiday)
  • Friday, Nov. 26: Day 2
  • Saturday, Nov. 27: While this is technically Day 3, the deposit isn’t due as the time period ended on a weekend, which means the deadline is extended to 5 p.m. of the following business day
  • Sunday, Nov. 28: The deposit still isn’t due because Sunday is not a business day
  • Monday, Nov. 29: The deposit is due by 5 p.m.

Also, included in this step is to confirm buyer’s financial ability to buy your home, if they’re financing.

A Buyer having had a conversation with a Lender does not provide you with confirmation of the buyer’s ability to purchase your home, the Lender can send a letter indicating the buyer is Pre Qualified. This is simply a waste of everyone’s time. The buyer’s credit, income, and assets need to be reviewed by their Lender in order to accurately determine credit, income, and asset worthiness and provided in writing as a Pre Approval Letter.

As your real estate agent, I will be sure to go over this with the Buyer’s agent as well. Keep in mind, that this does not guarantee the buyer’s ability, however, it will provide you with the most assurance that you will have at this point, of the Buyer’s ability to obtain a final loan commitment.

If the Buyer is paying cash to purchase your home, you’ll want to see their proof of funds. These funds must be liquid funds not tied up in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other investments. The statement of their account should also show that the funds are in the name of the Buyer.

Step 8 – Prepare for your home’s buyer inspection

A Buyer will hire a home inspector to thoroughly inspect your home to make sure there are not any major issues to contend with in the purchasing of your home. The inspection will detail all the little items and uncover any major items that they’d need to address. This may involve negotiations according to inspection results.

Prepare for a home inspection.

Clean your house and move furniture away from the walls.  A clean house is a great way to show someone that you take good care of your residence and it provides a great first impression.  Moving furniture away from walls will enable your inspector to get to all necessary outlets and areas of the house to make sure that it is properly inspected.

Be on time because as an inspector they will be.

Many times, as an inspector, they may be running ahead of schedule will show up at the property a bit early to get started. If you have an inspection scheduled for 9:00 am, make sure to have the house ready at 8:30 am; so that the property is ready when the inspector arrives.  Inspectors will usually start with the exterior of the property so don’t be alarmed if someone is walking outside of your house at the inspection time.

Leave all utilities connected.

Without the utilities turned on the inspector will have to reschedule as they won’t be able to check appliances, receptacles, or run the air conditioner.
Provide workspace around the water heater, air handler, and electric panel. Remove boxes, furniture, or any other items that may block the inspector from getting to these areas. The inspector will not move any of these items and it will require another inspection or the area will be left un-inspected.

Make sure all pilot lights are on.

Many home inspectors will refuse to light pilot lights because they are not covered for that type of liability. If your pilot lights are not lit, then important items like the water heater or gas stove will not be inspected, and the buyer could delay closing until those inspections are completed.

Provide access to the attic and garage.

Once again if these areas are cluttered or not accessible it could delay the closing due to the area not being inspected.

Clear away brush or debris from the exterior of the home.

This includes trash cans, kid’s toys, and anything else that could prohibit the inspector from getting to the areas around the outside of your home.

Have repair documents available.

Make available to the home inspector all invoices and documents regarding remodeling projects or new items such as a roof or heat pump. If you’ve upgraded the electrical from ungrounded to grounded, installed a new dishwasher, or repaired a leaky faucet, find the paperwork. Documentation will give the buyer peace of mind to know those items were reinspected.

Prepare to be away for 3-4 hours.

Often the buyer will accompany the home inspector, and buyers feel uncomfortable asking questions if the home-owner is present. Try to schedule a time for the inspection when you can be out of the house, and take the children with you. Crate your pets if you cannot remove them from the premises.

Step 9: Make preparations to move

By now, you should have been considering where you are going to be moving to if you didn’t know prior to deciding to sell your home. Typically, once you have a signed executed real estate purchase contract, you’ll have roughly 30 days in which to move. Of course, keep in mind that a closing date can also be negotiated with the Buyer. The day of closing is when the buyer takes possession of the home so you’ll want to plan accordingly.

Step 10: Keep the home in the same condition as when buyer submitted the offer

You worked hard to get your home ready to be sold. Now that you’ve made it all the way to this point. Now more than ever you need to keep your home in the same condition as when the Buyer initially fell in love with your home, as the Buyers are going to want to see your home again, very soon.

Step 11: Be advised of the buyer’s financing progress

If the Buyer of your home is financing their purchase, you’ll want to make sure that you are kept informed of the loan progress and that all is moving along satisfactorily.

The Buyer’s loan commitment date according to the Real Estate purchase contract is important to be aware of, as that is a date that must be met so the Buyer is not in default of the contract. Far too many, don’t pay attention to this critical date. Missing this date and not keeping you the Seller advised can have the Buyer forfeit their escrow deposit should anything happen with the sale not being completed.

Step 12: Title Company preparation for Real Estate closing

The Title Company plays an important role in making sure that the Title is clear for a deed transfer to the new Buyer. They will provide the Buyer with a Title Commitment through proper examination which also includes a search of any possible existing liens or open permits that exist for the property. If any existing liens or open permits exist they will have to be resolved prior to closing.

Step 13: Moving out, leaving home neat and clean

When closing day arrives. You’ve made your preparations to move and the moving company knows when to arrive to get a lifetime of memories safely relocated to your new home. It’s important to leave your home clean upon your departure.

Step 14: Buyer completes final walkthrough

Now you’ll know why it was so important to keep your home in tip-top shape even after the buyer’s contract was signed and delivered.

Usually, on the day of closing, just before closing, the buyer will go back to your home to make sure that all is the same, as when they saw it last. If anything is missing and/or damaged it will likely stop the closing if it can’t be resolved before closing.

Step 15: Attend closing

The day you’ve been anxiously awaiting for has arrived!

Before you leave to attend the closing you’ll want to gather up all of your house keys, remote controls, codes, manuals, etc., anything that the buyer would need to operate the home and then anything you’d think they’d find useful while living in your home.

Once at the closing table, you will sign all of the necessary closing documents to sell your home. The closing typically takes 30 or 40 minutes. Once all is completed and signed, you’ll be provided with your funds.

Congratulations!  You can relax now as you have just sold your home!