Checklist Closing FAQs Virtual Agent

How to Get from Accepting an Offer to Closing – To-Do List

Congratulations – you accepted an offer on your home! Now what?

Before you do anything, take a moment to savor that signed purchase agreement. It typically means all the energy you spent marketing your home has led to the right offer. It’s a major milestone – but it also means you have a new set of tasks ahead of you. If you’re selling your home on your own, use this for-sale-by-owner closing checklist to make sure you’re on the way to a successful sale!

1.      Hire an Attorney (If You Need One)

You may have heard that you should hire a real estate attorney when you sell your home. But do you really need one? Legally speaking, it depends on where you live. Some states (and in some cases, certain regions within states) require that an attorney prepare certain legal documents or oversee the closing of a home sale. You might need to do a little digging to find the requirements in your area.

Even if you don’t need to hire an attorney, it still might be a good idea. An attorney will make sure your paperwork is in order and that your rights are protected. Sometimes transactions get complicated – especially when there are questions of title, property distress, judgments or liens – so having an attorney to sort through all the red tape can be a lifesaver.

If you decide to hire an attorney, try to do so immediately after the purchase agreement has been signed. That way, your attorney can review the contract right away and negotiate any repairs or adjustments to the terms.

2.      Order Title and Arrange for Escrow

A home buyer and seller can negotiate who hires a title company and pays associated fees. In most cases, the home seller pays for the owner’s title insurance policy while the buyer pays for the lender’s policy. If you’re the one responsible for ordering title, be sure to have everything sorted out before closing day.

When it comes to escrow, you can typically use your title company as an escrow agent at no extra charge. Your escrow agent will order the title, property tax information, loan balances and other necessary paperwork.

The escrow agent will also serve as a third party who holds money in trust until a property sale closes. Say you received an earnest money deposit from the home buyer or have contracts that need safe keeping. Deposit these with your escrow agent, who will ensure smooth transfer of all money and documents after closing.

3.      Prepare for the Appraisal and Inspection

Two of the biggest steps to closing on a house are the appraisal and the inspection.

An appraisal is an estimate of the fair market value of home, typically ordered by a buyer’s lender during the mortgage loan process. This means a licensed professional will evaluate your home’s value based on things like age, condition, upgrades, location and the surrounding housing market. The purpose is to let a lender know the proper loan amount to provide. If an appraisal comes in below the sale price, a buyer and seller may be forced to renegotiate to cover the difference.

Similar to an appraisal, a home inspection is ordered by the home buyer to evaluate the structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation. It covers things like the home’s heating system, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical systems, windows, doors, ceilings and floors. The main purpose is to find out if any major repairs are needed, in which case you may need to cover the cost.

So, how do you prepare for these home evaluations? Ensure that there’s easy access to all areas of your home and take care of the little things that could raise bigger questions. Replace burnt light bulbs, which could point to electrical problems. Eliminate slow drains with any of your sinks to remove doubts about the plumbing. Change your furnace air filters and be sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working. Basically, get your home in the best shape possible to pave the way for a smooth appraisal and inspection.

4.      Negotiate Repairs

If there’s an inspection contingency in your purchase agreement, that means the buyer can negotiate repairs based on the findings of their home inspector or cancel the contract.

The purpose of a home inspection is to identify major defects that would require a major investment of time or money – not to come up with a list of minor repairs for you take care of so the home is in flawless condition. Keep that in mind when the home buyer comes to you with their list of issues.

You’ll most likely need to do some haggling. Resist agreeing to fix all cosmetic issues like cracked tiles or loose doorknobs, as these are minor inconveniences that a buyer could have easily seen when touring the home. Major defects you should address include mold, electrical issues, lead paint or leaking roofs – the types of issues that will require major investments of time or money.

No matter the extent of the repairs you agree to address, it’s wise to provide inspection credits as opposed to taking care of the repairs yourself. The buyer will likely be far more critical about the work done than you will be. Providing cash value for repairs upfront will likely spare you and the buyer from tension down the road.

5.      Get Your Paperwork in Order

You’ve already filled out one of the most important forms to sell your home – the purchase agreement. As you move through the closing process, you’ll also need to produce additional paperwork to reach the finish line. Here are some of the most common documents you’ll need.

Title. This proves that you are entitled to transfer ownership of the home. You’ll also need to have the deed if you own the home outright.

Property taxes. Have your most recent tax statement ready, which will give the buyer an idea of what they’ll need to pay after purchasing your home.

Loan documents. Gather paperwork on your first mortgage – and second mortgage or home equity lines of credit if applicable.

Property survey. This is usually ordered by the buyer. It shows the boundaries of your property and where fences, driveways and other structures are located. You probably received this when you bought your home. If not, try checking with your lender or title company who may have a copy. If all else fails, you might need to contact a local engineering firm to produce a new one.

Plans and permits. If you’ve done any work on your home like additions or upgrades, you’ll probably need to show documentation that proves everything was above board.

Homeowner’s insurance information. Make sure you have the documents that detail your current policy for the home – and be sure not to cancel your policy until after closing.

For more on the documentation you’ll need to sell your home, check out our blog on The Paperwork Every FSBO Home Seller Needs to Organize.

6.      Close with Confidence

You’ve gathered the documents you need, and now you should receive one more. After the terms of your purchase agreement have been met and all the loan paperwork is ready, your escrow agent will fill out and deliver a HUD-1 settlement statement. This form details all transfers of money. It’s important for you and your buyer to review this statement before your closing day when you’ll sign all the final documents.

On the day of your for-sale-by-owner closing, gather up all your paperwork and make sure you have a photo ID and your checkbook on you. When you meet with the buyer (and their real estate agent, if they have one), you’ll sign all the paperwork required to transfer ownership of your home.

You’ll typically need to make a few payments, such as your mortgage balance, the buyer’s agent commission (if applicable), escrow or attorney fees, title fees and any pending property taxes or bills. If you’re making a profit after all expenses are paid off, you should receive a check for the balance. If not, you should have a cashier’s check ready to square your end of the bargain.

7.      Tie Up Loose Ends

After you get through the closing, you’re almost home free.

You might feel like you’ve been tying up loose ends for a month by now, but chances are there a few more to go. Here are some common to-dos to get through before you exit your home for the final time.

•  Start packing and hire a moving company if you need one

•  Submit a change of address form to the post office

•  Contact your mortgage company and make final payoff arrangements

•  Call your homeowner’s insurance agent, as you may receive a refund for any prepaid premiums

•  Close accounts for things like utilities and newspaper subscriptions

•  Gather the house keys, gate keys, remotes, etc. in a kitchen drawer

•  Stack up appliance manuals, receipts, warranties, security alarm codes, etc. on the counter

•  Close all the curtains and blinds, turn off all the lights and lock all the doors on your way out

Once you lock up and head out, your home closing checklist should be complete. And that means you’re ready to start the next chapter of your life – free and clear!

Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

Selling your home on your own is no easy feat. It’s an accomplishment worth celebrating, and chances are you saved yourself some money in the process. Plus, with all this experience under your belt, selling your next home should go even smoother!

If you need any help buying from someone who’s selling on their own, we’ve got you covered there too. Check out our blog on How to Buy a Home Directly from the Owner.

Checklist Negotiating Virtual Agent

Be Prepared for Buyer Negotiating Tactics

Negotiation is about more than giving and taking. It’s the skill of crafting an agreement to everyone’s satisfaction. It can make the difference between an accepted offer or a deal completely falling through. Read on to learn how to prepare for some common tactics buyers use when negotiating with sellers.

How to Prepare to Negotiate Your Home Sale

There are steps you can take to help address some common buyer negotiating tactics. Much of it boils down to being prepared.

•  Get your home in first class condition so the buyer cannot bring-up any significant objections.

A home warranty goes a long way to overcoming these objections. It brings peace of mind and is a great marketing tool for you.

•  Learn (if possible) the buyer’s motivations and pressures.

This will help you know how to really appeal to them while keeping your top priorities in mind. On the flip side, don’t disclose your own motivations or pressures.

•  Have your facts at hand about any recent, local sales to support your asking price.

We recommend before you start the home selling process that you obtain an appraisal of your home. In a strong or rising market, you can price your home slightly above the appraisal. In a weak market, peg your asking price at the appraisal and prepare all the items you feel that the appraiser missed. If the buyer does not see the value, you can use the appraisal to help support your position on the price when you enter negotiations.

•  Practice your presentation.

This helps you be ready to handle the typical “buyer’s tactics” discussed below. You know your home better than any buyer’s agent out there. Use this to your advantage.

•  Be prepared to walk away.

When selling your home you must be prepared to turn down unacceptable offers or situations. You always have the option to do a counteroffer as well which is explored in more detail below.

•  Monitor the latest mortgage rates and lending news.

Why? Because the more you understand the lending conditions facing your buyer, the better you will understand what factors your buyer can change, and what factors you both must work around.

You can also prepare by reviewing this guide to negotiating home prices.

Common Buyer Negotiating Tactics

Here are some of the buyers’ tactics, that you should be prepared for. These may drive you crazy when you are trying to offer a fair home price. Having a sense of humor about things, smiling and speaking slowly will go a long way in the negotiating process.

The “higher authority” negotiator

This tactic uses a third party who will need to see the home or review the contract before the sale is completed. Common examples include:

• “My parents who are giving us the down payment would like to see the home.”

• “My attorney needs to review the contract.”

These are last-ditch attempts to lower the price. An effective way to counter this tactic is to ask (before setting a negotiations appointment), “Is there anyone else whom you would want to be here when we finalize all the details?”


These are the non-stop negotiators. Sometimes this is referred to as “nickel-diming”. The best way to avoid nibblers is to document all items and details thoroughly that you previously agreed upon. Make sure that everything to be included in the sale is clearly listed. A deal is a deal. If they want to change things, it creates a counteroffer, which you have no obligation to accept and they can lose their purchase. You should inform buyers that their counteroffer must be in writing and that you may or may not accept it. Often this will stop the nibbling. Other tactics you can use are SILENCE and The WINCE discussed below.

Good Guy / Bad Guy

This is a similar situation to the “higher authority” tactic. In order for this tactic to work, the good/bad team must be in different places so that you don’t have access to the bad guy who has all the objections. The resolution of this situation is to set an appointment, which is convenient for all the  the all parties to attend. If a joint consensus is necessary, don’t negotiate unless everyone is present.


This is normally a sudden statement blurted out by a buyer – often a “trial close” designed to catch you somewhat by surprise and get your confirmation on a deal favorable to the buyer. The best response to a “wouldjatake” is: “I’ll look at any offer that you present me in writing.” This response diffuses the situation immediately and allows you time to consider things.

The Trial Balloon

Trial balloons are questions designed to assess your position without giving any clues about your counterpart’s position. Essentially, these questions allow them to gain information without making a commitment. When you’re on the receiving end of a trial balloon question, you may feel compelled to answer it thoroughly. Resist and counter with another question. For example, if someone asks, “Would you consider financing the house yourself?” respond, “Well, if I did, what would your offer be?” The expected response should be a higher offer from the buyer as they’re not as strong as a buyer who is able to qualify for conventional financing terms or pay cash.

Negotiation Advice for Sellers

Below are some thoughts to keep in mind that may assist you in smoothing the home sale negotiation process.

Start with a fair price

By doing this you immediately remove a significant point of contention. Any lower counteroffer thereafter must be reasonable and fair.

Respect the buyer’s important issues

You may be able to strengthen your own positioning by knowing and respecting items of particular importance to the buyer.

Be prepared to compromise

If you try to win every point, you could sour the deal. Both parties should walk away “relatively” satisfied with the final terms.

Put minor issues aside
If you cannot agree on minor issues, put them aside and complete the main agreement. With the main agreement completed, you’ll find minor issues are far easier to settle.

Understand your options

As a seller, you have options when it comes to accepting or countering any offers that come in.

  • You can decline a full price offer. Sellers can decline any offer, including full or above asking price offers. Some common reasons you may do this is if you receive offers at a higher price but less desirable (i.e. FHA instead of conventional).
  • You can counter any and all offers. You can even make a counter offer for higher than your original asking price. This is most common in a multiple bid situation when one (full price) offer is better than the other. It’s important to note that all counters (which should always be in writing) are a decline/rejection with a new offer. This means that the original offer is void and the party making that offer/counter offer is no longer bound to the terms of their offer.
  • You can withdraw a counteroffer. In most cases, the seller can withdraw a counter offer up until the time of “delivery” of the buyer’s accepted offer. The delivery is a key piece as the buyer’s agent must deliver the buyer signed offer to you to be binding. If this hasn’t happened yet, you may be able to withdraw.

How to Negotiate when Selling a Home

Below are several strategies you can use when negotiating your home’s price.


When used strategically, silence is a powerful negotiating tactic for you to bring into play. If you’ve stated your price and you’re waiting for a response, just sit back and wait. Most people feel uncomfortable when conversation ceases. The buyer (and their agent) will be expecting you to start equivocating on your price. Don’t say a word! Almost without fail, your counterparts will start whittling away their position when you use this tactic. Buyers will have been primed to expect you to back off your price or qualify it. You’ll see their discomfort in their body language when they perceive by your silence that you mean business.

Suppose the buyer also understands the importance of silence. After several long moments, simply, restate your price. Don’t make suggestions or offer concessions. Just repeat your terms. This maneuver forces the other person to respond, and more often than not, they respond with a concession.

The Wince

The wince is a way to convey via body language your negative reaction to something the buyer or their agent is suggesting without resorting to argument or other negative verbal responses. It alerts your counterparts to the fact that you know your limits and they may be approaching them.

If you are on the receiving end of the wince, you must counter with silence. To do anything else will weaken your position.

Practice your Techniques

Preparation and practice are important. Take time to rehearse these methods so that you are comfortable using them and can recognize the precise moments when you should use them. You will be pleasantly surprised when you watch the results. The better you prepare and practice, the more satisfied you’ll be with the entire transaction.

It’s always best to seek the advice of an attorney when contemplating complex legal matters such as those mentioned throughout this article. For more guidance, check out this article on selling your home without a real estate agent.

Checklist FAQs Marketing Virtual Agent

15 Things to Check Off Your Showing a Home For Sale To Do List

Showing your home is crucial to a home sale, but it takes some work to get it right. From preparing your home with a thorough cleaning to collecting feedback from house hunters after the viewing, you’ll want to have a plan in place from the start. Give yourself the edge and follow this printable checklist to guide you through the process of getting your home ready to show to home buyers.

Before Your Showing

Stage, declutter and fix.

Clean, clean, clean.

Create a showing schedule that offers flexibility to buyers and works for you.

Prepare answers to buyers’ questions about your house, neighborhood, school district and other pertinent facts.

Make sure your home looks great from the outside. Curb appeal is important.

Create a safety and security plan before visitors arrive.

Once You Have a Showing Scheduled

Assemble a packet for the buyer including a color copy of your listing flyer, disclosure statement, survey, most recent property tax bill, utility bills and school district report card (if available).

Have light, season-appropriate refreshments on hand.

During the showing, you’ll accompany the buyer at all times. Practice letting the visitor dictate how the tour proceeds, and what you’ll say about each room, but be prepared to lead if the buyer prefers that.

Put away your valuables.

Clean again. Pay extra attention to floors and carpets, windows, counter tops, and smells.

Ask the buyer for a letter of pre-qualification or, better yet, pre-approval from a lender.

After Your Showing

Send the buyer a thank you email and ask if there are any questions.

Use our anonymous Buyer Feedback tool to instantly find out what the buyer thought of your home.

Put that feedback to work by making changes.

Checklist Closing FAQs Virtual Agent

Create a Closing Timeline To-Do List

You’re entering the home stretch. Soon, you will be moving into your new home, perhaps starting a new life in a new neighborhood. Before you get there, there are critical steps you need to take. Once you’ve accepted the buyer’s offer or negotiated a deal acceptable to both sides and have a signed contract in hand, you can expect to spend about 6-8 weeks working to get to the closing table. Not all of the burden will fall on you, but you’ll need to dedicate time to completing the tasks on your closing to-do list.

In the first few weeks after the purchase contract is signed, you’ll work to hire the team of professionals you’ll need to close your transaction and make sure your mortgage, insurance and property documents are at your fingertips.

During the same time period you can expect to be contacted by the inspector hired by the buyer and the appraiser sent by the buyer’s lender to set up time when they can visit the property. You’ll need to be there when they visit so it will likely be in the evening or on a weekend unless you are home during the day. Neither visit should take more than an hour or two and you would be wise to accompany both inspector and appraiser as they go about their jobs.

You’ll also need to take care of the other end of your transaction: finalizing the steps needed to complete your move into your new home whether you are buying or renting (or have another arrangement, such as living with relatives).

To be certain your closing process will unfold smoothly, plot your upcoming steps on a to-do list that you can also use to check off completed items.


Hire a real estate attorney immediately after reaching agreement with the buyer


Arrange for escrow through a title company or separate escrow agency (depending on what the custom is in your state) and deposit the buyer’s earnest check into the escrow account

Download a HUD-1 closing document from the American Land Title Association or Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and work with your attorney to begin filling in seller elements of the form in anticipation of closing


Find the personal financial information you’ll need (mortgage documents, property survey, insurance documents, etc.) within the first few weeks after agreeing to an offer

Cooperate with the buyer’s home inspector and appraiser

Find state-specific disclosure forms and other legal documents you need for closing


Fix items that you agree to repair as soon as possible after the inspection

Make final arrangements with a title company for a title insurance policy that you will need to purchase on behalf of the buyer

Set a closing date in cooperation with the attorneys and your title company


Contact your mortgage company to make final payoff arrangements

Hire a moving company

This is an exciting time in your life. Take care of the details that need to be handled to get to the closing table, and when the closing date arrives, you’ll be ready.

Checklist Closing FAQs Virtual Agent

Inspector Gadgets: 26 Areas to Check Before the Final Home Inspection

As soon as you and your buyer agree on a sale price, expect the buyer’s home inspector to come knocking at your door. Don’t be caught by surprise when the inspector appears with his tools of the trade. Do a home inspection beforehand, then fix what needs to be repaired.

Here’s a checklist from A to Z of the main areas in your home to inspect to make sure they are in proper working order.

Be sure your…

Heating/cooling system works properly

Hot water heater is fully functioning

Interior walls are free of cracks

Lights and other fixtures work perfectly

Windows and doors open and close with ease

Locks work properly

Alarm system is in good working order

Shower heads aren’t gummed up

Tub and tile caulk is free of mildew and cracks

Door bell or intercom systems are in working order

Caulking around windows is solid

Window shades and other window treatments are in good shape and work well

Weather stripping on doors is installed properly

Flashing around your chimney is in place

Chimney is capped (to keep critters out)

Fireplace is properly lined and clean (with fireplace screen in place)

Fireplace flue works

Dryer is properly ventilated

Washing machine drains efficiently

Gutters are clean, free of mold and attached properly

Overhead garage door opens with ease (Hint: if you don’t have an electronic garage door opener consider installing one)

Crawl space/basement storage is organized, free of mold and odorless

Sidewalks and driveway are not cracked and pavement is even

Staircase rails are affixed solidly

Electric outlets work

Faucets are drip free

You can also be proactive and pay for a certified pre-inspection of your home that may satisfy the buyer and get you to the closing table quicker.

Checklist FAQs Preparing Virtual Agent

Indoor Home Improvement Projects to Consider To-Do List

As an initial step in preparing your home for visitors, take a critical look at the inside and make repairs and upgrades you feel are necessary before showing your home.

For instance:

Consider painting where needed. Earth tones and neutral colors sell best.

Decide whether flooring needs to be repaired or upgraded.

Identify and repair major defects: cracks in foundation walls, roof leaks, etc.

Fill cracks; caulk where needed.

Unify the look of your home. (For instance, replace metals as necessary so they match.)

Be sure your plumbing and electrical systems are working properly.

Fix any locks that don’t work or doors that don’t open and close with ease.

Checklist FAQs Preparing Virtual Agent

Outdoor Home Improvement Projects To-Do List

Before you begin fixing, decluttering and staging your home in preparation for visitors, take a critical look at the outside then make a list of repairs and upgrades you feel are necessary before showing your home.

For instance:

Remove landscaping and or trees that block the view of what buyers are paying for.

“Compliment” the entry — paint the front door to make it pop.

Make sure your shutters are in good shape.

Plant attractive bushes and flowers (in the ground or in pots) especially near the front door.

Assess the condition of your gutters, soffits and fascia and fix where needed.

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.