Checklist FAQs Preparing Virtual Agent

Check it Off: Take Care of These Items Before You Show Your Home

Planning to sell your home in the near future? Here are some quick tips to help you prepare to invite buyers into your house.

Make repairs or improvements. Replace broken tiles, fix leaky faucets and ceiling cracks, and resurface driveways, etc.

Rent a storage unit to store excess furniture. Most homes show better with less furniture and more open space.

De-clutter. Make your home more attractive by finding a place to store any unnecessary items.

Reorganize. Make sure closets and drawers are kept neat and tidy. Potential buyers tend to look behind the scenes.

De-personalize. Remove family photos and religious or political items. Potential buyers will be able to picture themselves living in your home.

Clean and refresh. Repaint, wash windows, wax floors and dust everything.

Boost your curb appeal. Keep the exterior of your home groomed: Mow the lawn and trim shrubs, clear sidewalks, fix broken gutters and, if needed, give your home a coat of fresh paint.

Consider buying a home warranty. Itʼs a great differentiator when buyers are considering homes to purchase.

Checklist Deciding FAQs Virtual Agent

Price Your Home To-Do List

New listings receive the most attention within the first 30 days. One of the most important things any home seller must do is price their property correctly. To arrive at the right asking price, conduct your own Comparative Market Analysis.

Compare your home to similar homes currently listed on the market by researching listing websites, classified ads, realtor sites and Open Houses in your area.

Review recent sales in your neighborhood through county property transfer records.

Consider hiring a professional appraiser to give you an expert opinion of your home’s value in today’s housing market.

Review and document improvements you’ve made that may impact your home’s value.

Analyze all your research, and set an asking price.

Are you in a hurry to sell? Consider reducing your asking price by 5 percent to attract more buyers.

Checklist Deciding FAQs Virtual Agent

Review Your Finances To-Do List

Before you decide on your sale price, prepare your home for sale, or start marketing your listing, review your financial situation to feel confident about your decision to sell your house and move into a new home.

Do a preliminary assessment of your home’s value.

Gather your mortgage documents to determine how much you owe on the property, including any second mortgage or equity loan you might have.

Figure your current approximate equity. (Subtract what you owe on your home from the amount you feel it will sell for.)

Add up costs you expect to incur, including home repairs or upgrades, professionals you’ll hire such as an appraiser and real estate attorney, listing fees, marketing your home and moving. Subtract that amount from total equity so you know your projected net equity.

Decide on your price range for buying a new home (or monthly rental payment if you’re not buying).

Determine approximately how much you will need on a down payment for a new home (if you will be buying) and decide where that money will come from: proceeds from your sale (net equity), current assets, borrowing from a relative or other source. If you’ll be using proceeds from your home sale be certain that the money will be there when the sale is complete.

Research mortgage lending interest rates in the area where you’ll be buying. If you’ll be renting, decide how much you are willing to pay on a monthly basis.

Calculate your approximate new mortgage payment based on the price you’re willing to pay for your new home, the down payment you plan to make and likely interest rate to be certain you’ll be able to afford your new home.

Checklist Closing Virtual Agent

Step 3: Paperwork & Closing

Closing a home sale by owner

There’s no avoiding it: Selling and buying real estate involves lots of paperwork and legalities. You can navigate this process if you are careful, meticulous and rely on the counsel of qualified experts, especially a real estate lawyer.

Make sure potential buyers are pre-approved to ensure that they will qualify for a mortgage. This story will fill you in on key terms.

Download state-specific real estate forms and contracts from We also offer related forms and contracts for financial and estate planning.

We strongly recommend you hire a real estate attorney who can help you handle the paperwork. The few hundred dollars that you pay an attorney will still be much less than relying on an agent, whose commission will be high and whose knowledge of legalities will be unknown.

Prepare for, and cooperate with, the buyer’s home inspector and appraiser.

Only accept offers from pre-approved buyers. When you receive an offer, you and your attorney can accept, reject or make a counteroffer.

Agree on a sale price, and have your attorney to assist you with the contracts.

Agree on a closing date that’s acceptable to all parties.

Close the Deal

Contact your mortgage lender to determine the mortgage payoff amount.

Closing day. You, along with your attorney and/or a representative of your title company, will meet with the buyer and his or her legal counsel to sign a wide array of closing documents that will convey the title of the property to the buyer.

Hand over the keys to the buyer.

Determine how much you saved in commission. Our average home seller saves $12,400!

High five! Congratulations!

You have sold your home directly, saving time, money and recouping maximum equity!

Articles Checklist Virtual Agent

Inspection: Rejection, Concession or Graduation?

Appraisers and inspectors are commonly viewed with fear by both sellers and buyers. Their independent opinions can upset a deal. If an appraisal comes back low, a lender will refuse to make a loan based on the purchase price, and the seller will be forced to meet the appraised value – or forfeit the deal.

Likewise, inspectors often find flaws that can undermine a deal or reopen price negotiations. The value of the house is intrinsically linked to its condition. If the condition of the house is not accurately reflected in the agreed-on price, both the appraisal and the inspection might come into play to indicate the true value of the house. That can put the owner and buyer back at the negotiating table to hammer out concessions.

Here is a short guide to getting the most from the inspection – and to keeping your deal on track. To learn more about how inspections fit into overall home pricing, please visit our Pricing Guide.

First, hire a qualified inspector.  Inspectors must be licensed by the state and should be experienced in examining houses similar to yours.  State regulations vary. For the latest in changes in state regulations and rules, check with the American Society of Home Inspectors.


  • Assemble for the inspector a set of receipts, drawings, municipal building permits, occupancy permits and other evidence that supports your contention that improvements were made legally and in compliance with local building codes.


Don’t assume that the inspector is conversant with the building code for your municipality. If an illegal improvement seems sturdy enough, the inspector may not realize that it is not in compliance with municipal codes.

To ensure that the house is compliance with local codes – so that you do not inherit sloppy or dangerous work that will be expensive to bring into compliance – hire a municipal inspector to come out and examine the house. Have the inspector pull permits for the address and compare those with the list of improvements on the listing sheet. If there are discrepancies, that could mean that the owners did work without permits or inspections. That means that the work might be substandard at best and dangerous at worst.

If you discover illegal improvements, negotiate to either have the seller cover the cost of coming into compliance retroactively, or have the seller handle that themselves. Of course, demand signed permits and certificates of occupancy to ensure that the work was done properly.

Don’t confuse maintenance with improvements.

Maintenance includes:

  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Water heater
  • Foundation
  • Roofs
  • Windows
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical system
  • Appliances

Are all in good condition? Can the seller provide evidence of cleaning and other routine care?

Improvements go beyond keeping what is there functional. Improvement can include:

  • Kitchen remodels
  • Bath renovations
  • Additions
  • Conversions, most typically, attics and basements to living space

Ask the seller to provide proof that the improvements were done in compliance with municipal building codes.  You want to see evidence in the owner’s records that correspond with the city’s records of permits pulled, work inspected,  and certificates of occupancy granted.

A good inspector will peel back corners of carpet to see the condition of the floors underneath. She will poke a jackknife into wood that looks soft to search for  termites and carpenter ants. He will examine the joints and crevices of the foundation, outside and in the basement, looking for leads and evidence of improper drainage that can make the house susceptible to floods.

The inspector will also observe and comment on the condition of :

  • surfaces, such as counters and floors
  • fixtures, such as showers and toilets
  • appliances, especially essential kitchen appliances
  • windows and doors, checking that they open and close
  • safety features, such as handrails.
Checklist Deciding Virtual Agent

Selling a Condo By Owner: What You Need to Know to Go FSBO

Selling a condo by owner is a little different than selling a home by owner. Depending on the size of your building, you may have to notify neighbors, the condo association board, even your doorman. Use this checklist to navigate to unique the steps you’ll take from pricing your condo to the paperwork a buyer will need during negotiations and closing.

  • Check with your neighbors and the association to be sure that you are not scheduling your open houses to coincide with parties, maintenance, renovation or even deep cleaning of the common areas.
  • If you’ll be out of town over the course of your listing, arrange with friendly neighbors to show your unit. Don’t forget to say thanks with the occasional muffin basket.
  • Promote your listing through your HOA intranet and related social media, not to mention the bulletin board at the fitness center.
  • Loop in your HOA’s management firm. Ask the manager for your complex to cross-post the listing for your unit to the other associations it manages.
  • Calculate the price per square foot so buyers can easily comparison-shop.
  • Explain your rationale for your asking price. Show how your unit compares to others and how each difference affects the price per square foot. For example, the value of high-rise units rises with each floor – to quantify the ever-more-sweeping view. Find out what the additional value is per floor – $2,000 per unit? More? – and add the explanation to your pricing sheet. Make a copy of this for the appraiser.
  • Get the doorman on your side. You already know his sweet spot – a fresh cup of coffee from your kitchen as you’re headed out the door to work? Fresh flowers for the front desk? You’ll be relying on his goodwill to welcome potential buyers, so cultivate that goodwill early and often.
  • Find out what regulations apply to signs in the windows of your unit and on the parkway or lawn of the building or complex. You will need to check with both the homeowners association and the municipal zoning department.

Have all the paperwork ready. Your buyer will need multiple copies, for herself and for her lawyer. Essential documents are:

  • Copies of the legal description, including parking & storage spaces
  • CC&R – Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • Rules and regulations currently enforced
  • Most recent financial statements of the homeowners’ association
  • Current operating budget
  • One year’s minutes of HOA meetings
Checklist Deciding Virtual Agent

Home Selling To-Do List

Selling your home by owner saves you time, money and helps you retain as much equity as possible. Studies by the National Association of Realtors, Northwestern University and Stanford University have documented the financial and logistical advantages of direct selling. Use this list as a quick reference as you frame your selling plan, and find in-depth stories on selling must-knows in our Seller’s Guide. Get updates and analysis about housing trends and news at our blog, and join us on Facebook, where homeowners swap ideas and post listings.

STEP 1: Prepare a Price »

STEP 2: Market the Home »

STEP 3: Paperwork & Closing »

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Checklist Closing Virtual Agent

5 Simple Tasks to Do Before Moving Day

After months of open houses, negotiating, paperwork and packing, moving day is finally here. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and anxiety of moving out of your old house and into a new home. So, to save yourself some sweat and trouble, here are five simple tasks to do before moving day to make the move as smooth as possible.

1. Create a Survival Kit
While being thrust into the wilderness isn’t likely to happen on moving day, you should create a box or bag full of essential items that can readily be accessed as soon as you set foot into your new home. This includes toiletries, non-perishable snacks, important paperwork, unpacking supplies and any medications that need to be administered soon after the move is completed.

And don’t forget your pets when assembling the kit! Make sure there are a few snacks for Fido and some litter for Lola in there, too.

2. Make Your Home “Mover-Friendly”
Completely emptying a house of its contents isn’t the easiest task. To make your move quicker and safer, clear off walkways, remove any obstacles that might get in the movers’ way, prop doors open and get rid of any trash that may be lying around. Your movers will appreciate it, and the easier their job is, the safer your belongings will be.

3. Keep the Kids Away
Children, stressful situations and heavy objects don’t tend to mix well together, which is why it’s critical to figure out a way to entertain your kids off-site on moving day. One simplest solution is to ask a family member or friend to look after them during the moving process. Another option: Schedule the move for when the kids are at school. If you have babies or toddlers in day care, make sure you let an administrator know about your situation, just in case he move gets delayed, and you need someone to stay with your child after-hours.

4. Double-Check Everything
Before you leave your old house for good, make sure it’s clean from attic to basement, all your boxes have been loaded in the truck, all windows and doors are locked, and there are no stray items hiding away in cracks or crevices. This will secure the house and prevent any hassles in retrieving anything you may leave behind on moving day.

5. Protect Your Valuables
Losing anything is bad, but losing something of incredible value, monetary or personal, is even worse. Keep your valuables close on moving day, or if you’re trusting them to the movers, make sure you document where they’re securely and safely packed.


Please note that this editorial content was produced by staff of, who are not employed by or by Tribune Digital Marketplaces. This article has been republished for additional education purposes. This article is not affiliated with any links or products that appear on the on the same pages. Read more about our editorial policy.

‹‹ More moving tips

Checklist Closing Virtual Agent

5 Moving-Day Tips that Make Moving Out Easy

Moving day has finally arrived; the papers are signed, the boxes are packed and you’re ready to make the trip to your new house. Before you leave for good, remember these five essential moving-day tips that will make moving out quick and easy.

1. Make a Good Last Impression
Just because the house you’re moving out of isn’t yours anymore doesn’t mean that you should leave it in disarray for its new occupants. Moving can be messy; be sure to do a thorough cleaning before leaving. It’s easy to overlook a few scraps of box tape here and some stray packing peanuts there in the middle of the loading process. Think about how you want your new house to look when you get there, and try to emulate that.

2. Leave No Belonging Behind
This is pretty self-explanatory: Check every seemingly pointless drawer and cabinet, along with all the nooks and crannies for any stray objects, tools or toys that may have been hiding from you while you were packing.

3. Raid the Fridge
You don’t want to leave anything in the house, and you certainly don’t want to leave anything in the refrigerator. To be safe, you should unplug and defrost your refrigerator 24 hours before moving day to dry it out. This will prevent you from leaving a messy—and possibly smelly—housewarming gift for the new owners. Any non-perishable food you’re not taking with you can be donated. The organization Move for Hunger coordinates with movers to take any unused food during a move to local food banks.

4. Don’t Fall Off the Map
Before you leave your old home, it’s nice to leave an email address or phone number for the new owners. You or the movers might have forgotten a box or a few items, an issue with the house may have been overlooked in the inspection or they may just want to check in to see what lawn service you used while you lived there. In any case, it’s a good idea to make sure the new owners can reach you if they need to.

5. Keep Your House Safe and Sound
Make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked before you leave. This is especially important if your house is going to remain unoccupied for a few days. Also, turn off all faucets and lights, turn off the water heater and lower the thermostat to prevent wasting any energy.


Please note that this editorial content was produced by staff of, who are not employed by or by Tribune Digital Marketplaces. This article has been republished for additional education purposes. This article is not affiliated with any links or products that appear on the on the same pages. Read more about our editorial policy.

‹‹ More moving tips

Checklist Marketing Virtual Agent

Step 1: Prepare a Price

Build Your Home-Selling Team can help you assemble the experts you need to market your home. Our services can get your house listed on and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), both of which are used by real estate agents in your area. This will get your house online where it is most likely to be found by house hunters. You’ll also need some specialized professionals to help you market your house and execute legal and technical tasks. Use our Find a Pro service to easily locate a qualified specialist in your area. Here’s a list of the experts we recommend you engage as part of your home-selling team:

Home Inspector

Title & Escrow Company

Real Estate Lawyer

Real Estate Appraiser

Home Warranty Company

Prepare the Home for a Successful Sale

Most buyers prefer homes that are in good condition, so you’ll want to repair and refresh your home.

A certified home inspector will assess the condition of your house and flag any problems that could prevent a sale or become negotiating points for buyers.

Review the inspector’s report, and decide what repairs you want to do. We recommend: fixing the basics, such as cracked glass and leaky faucets; updating worn surfaces; and replacing outdated appliances.  Our Find a Pro section will help you find specialists and contractors.

Price the Home

One of the most important things you must do is price your home correctly. The more information you have about recent sales in your neighborhood, the current listings that are your competition, and home value trends, the more evidence you’ll have for setting and justifying your asking price.

Compare your home to similar homes currently listed on the market. We recommend that you visit open houses to understand how these homes are priced. Adjust the comparison to your house by adding value for features your house has, and subtracting value for features your house does not have. Use the estimators and market data found in our Pricing Guide.

Get a Property or Valuation report for your home. The report will compare your home with recent sales in your neighborhood. (Note: Most listings come with a free property or valuation report.)

Consider hiring a professional appraiser to get an expert opinion about what your house is worth in the current market and how to price it competitively. This will cost several hundred dollars, but it will arm you with essential evidence supporting the price when you negotiate with a buyer.

As you do this research, keep a running list of features that distinguish your house from others currently for sale. These features are your strongest selling points. And make copies of key records and documents for a buyer’s file. These documents will be essential when your buyer applies for a mortgage.

Analyze all your research; add in other factors, such as how urgently you want to sell; and set an asking price.

STEP 2: Market the Home »