How to Sell a House in the USA: Key Steps in the Home Selling Process

Sell a House in the USA
Sell a House in the USA

How to Sell Your House?

A house is usually the largest investment most people will make during their lifetime. If you are the owner of a house, there may come a time when you will decide to sell it. The reasons may be different: you are moving, you need a lump sum and have decided to rent out a house instead of owning it, or any other. In this case, the urgent question is "How do I sell my home?".

The easiest and the most widespread way of selling a house is to hire a professional real estate agent. The hired agent will handle all the aspects of the process and save you a considerable amount of time. Keep in mind that the average realtor’s commission for selling a house is somewhere between 5% and 7% of the total deal. If you want to be smart with your money and have some personal time that you can invest, you may choose to sell your property by yourself. It will be tricky but is guaranteed to save you a considerable amount of money.

How to Sell a House by Owner?

Selling a house by the owner is not as complicated as it is time-consuming. Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you understand how the whole process works.

The first step is the legal part. When selling your home, you will have to deal with numerous documents and real estate forms. Make thorough research and consult a real estate attorney to get the full list of documents you will need according to the local law. The three basic documents you will be dealing with are:

  1. Building Permits. If you have ever made any additions, structural changes, or other major repair or remodeling works, you need to have corresponding permits. Neglecting this part can cause problems if a potential buyer applies for a mortgage to cover costs of buying a house and an appraiser discovers the lack or required permits. Check up this question with a building department in advance;
  2. Real Estate Purchase Agreements. A potential buyer will use one of these to propose their offer. Once you and the buyer sign it, it becomes an official contract;
  3. Disclosure Statements. The disclosure statement is required to inform a potential buyer of major defects in the house, like plumbing or electrical system defects. In addition to the basic disclosure statement, you may need to provide a natural hazard disclosure statement (if the area is prone to natural hazards like flooding, mudslides, or any other) and a lead paint disclosure statement (if the house you sell was built before 1978).

The second step is to define the price. When selling a house it is difficult not to overprice it. Before you start to list your house for sale, make sure the price you indicated is competitive. People who want to buy a house in the United States are usually acquainted with average market prices.

The third step is listing and marketing. Here are a few listing and marketing tips for selling your home fast and at the best price:

  1. Pay attention to photos and description. This is the first impression of your house potential buyers get;
  2. List your house at a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This is the database that contains all the houses for sale in your market. Besides, when you purchase a flat fee MLS listing, your property will automatically appear in major real estate portals and websites;
  3. Use different instruments to advertise your house: put a "for sale" sign, advertise in social media, create brochures and a website, hold an open house;
  4. Deep-clean the house before showing it to a potential buyer. By the way, many sales contracts state that the house should be “broom cleaned” before you transfer it to your buyer. Use a house cleaning checklist to make sure you do not forget anything;
  5. You may decide to hire a specialist and prepare your house for "staging". Staging a house helps people to imagine they are already living in this house; the house looks spotless and is presented in its best light;
  6. Prepare for negotiations carefully. This task may be complicated if you are not an experienced negotiator. Even foreigners can buy property in the U.S., so be ready to communicate with different people and uphold your position in a firm but friendly manner;
  7. Make sure you comply with all federal and local laws. Continue with the sale with the Fair Housing Act in mind. The law states it is a federal crime to discriminate against your buyers for their sex, religion, race, or nationality.

​House Bill of Sale Templates

When all negotiations are over and you are ready to sell your home to the buyer, there is one more document you deal with – a house bill of sale. A bill of sale is a document that transfers the ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. In fact, there is no bill of sale specially designed for selling a house. You just take the general bill of sale template, the same you may use to purchase land or any other property and customize it to meet your needs and state law requirements. It is typically your responsibility as a seller to prepare a bill of sale.