Home Selling Process – in Detail

Selling residential real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area is a complicated financial transaction involving many important issues: home preparation, pricing and fair market value, comprehensive marketing across a wide variety of media, buyer profile and buyer qualifying, contract negotiation, showing the property, statutory disclosure of the property’s condition and circumstances, buyer due diligence, appraisal and financing and liability management. Doing these things well can make a huge difference in time and money.

Below is a simple graphic that outlines the process, followed by a detailed step by step description from the first consideration of market conditions to having the proceeds of sale wired into your bank account. It’s relatively self-explanatory, but will make even more sense when reviewed with your agent, who can explain the decision points along the way and the strategies and options you will have at each step.


The Home-Selling Process – in Detail

First Steps

  • Agent reviews Seller’s needs, preferences, priorities, timeline and special requirements
  • Agent collects detailed information on the property’s condition and circumstance
  • Agent prepares comparative market analysis assessing current market conditions and comparable sales, pending sales and competitive properties
  • Agent develops marketing plan to maximize buyer and broker response
  • Agent and Seller review the listing, marketing and sales process; how to prepare the property to show to its best advantage; Seller’s relocation needs; and Agency
  • Agent and Seller calculate estimated costs and proceeds of sale
  • Agent and Seller review and sign state Agency Disclosure and listing contract
  • Agent and Seller discuss timeline for preparing, marketing and showing property, protocol for offer presentation and Seller’s preferences for close of escrow
  • Agent and Seller prepare property disclosure package of statutory disclosures, and other pertinent reports and documents

Preparation & Marketing

  • Agent collects keys, genies, alarm codes, showing instructions; HOA, building manager, condo or tenant information (as applicable)
  • Agent coordinates staging and/or landscaping consultation
  • Agent and Seller develop the property-preparation to-do list
  • Agent begins development of marketing materials: flyers, brochures, direct mail and email pieces, newspaper and magazine advertising, open house advertising, sign, professional photography, Internet marketing, broker to broker marketing, etc.
  • Agent schedules professional photo shoot of the property
  • Agent coordinates pre-sale inspections of property: structural pest control, contractor, energy/water compliance, as appropriate
  • Agent orders statutory 3rd party reports: city/county, natural hazard, etc.
  • Property posted as featured home on Paragon and agent websites
  • Property description, photos, brokers’ tour and Sunday open house entered into MLS
  • Property posted to hundreds of real estate listing websites with multiple photos, extended description and showing information
  • Agent creates property-showcase website with description, photos, slideshow, neighborhood information, financing options, etc.
  • Property is posted to Craig’s List with photos, description and open house dates
  • Agent orders property-purchase loan scenario sheets
  • Agent arranges for catering of first Brokers’ tour and Open House, as appropriate
  • “Just Listed” or Open House invitation cards mailed to surrounding area
  • Agent alerts area brokerages via email announcements of new listing, showcase-website address, broker tour and open house dates
  • Agent finalizes disclosure package of disclosures, reports and other pertinent documents
  • Agent and Seller review market updates—new competitive properties, recent sales, changes in economic conditions—and revise marketing/pricing strategy as appropriate
  • Property preparation to show is completed

Property Showing & Offer Review

  • First brokers’ tour; agent solicits feedback and reports to Seller
  • First open houses; agent solicits feedback and reports to Seller
  • Showings by appointment
  • MLS, websites and advertising revised to reflect next brokers’ tour and open houses
  • Offer(s) received. Agent and Seller review offer(s)—price, terms, contingencies, close of escrow—negotiating strategies and possible counter-offers. Agent negotiates, on Seller’s behalf and instruction, to achieve best possible price and terms

Offer Acceptance, Contingencies of Sale & Close of Escrow

  • Offer is ratified; back-up offer is also ratified, if possible
  • Agent confirms that escrow is opened and Buyer’s initial deposit received
  • Agent prepares Timeline for the Removal of Contingencies and Close of Escrow
  • Agent provides Seller’s loan payoff information to Escrow Agent
  • Property marketing continues until all Buyer contingencies are removed
  • Agent coordinates the delivery of all outstanding statutory disclosures and documents to buyer
  • Agent and Seller review Preliminary Title Report
  • Agent coordinates and attends Buyer property inspections, and supplies Seller with inspection report copies
  • Agent coordinates financing appraisal and monitors Buyer’s loan approval process
  • Agent monitors Buyer’s removal of contingencies item by item as contractually specified: approval of RETDS, other disclosures and reports, inspection contingencies, loan and appraisal contingencies, approval of Preliminary Title Report, etc.
  • As appropriate, Agent counsels Seller and facilitates Seller collection of additional information—contractor quotes, title and permit data, legal advice, etc.—necessary for Seller to understand, quantify and resolve contingency removal or renegotiation issues
  • As necessary, Agent coordinates any statutory compliance or repair work necessary: energy and water conservation compliance, smoke detectors, water heater strapping, etc.
  • Agent represents Seller should Buyer attempt to renegotiate purchase price or terms; Agent coordinates delivery of Seller’s Notice to Perform to Buyer, as necessary
  • Buyer contingencies of sale are removed
  • Agent confirms Buyer’s increase of deposit into escrow, and Receipt for Increased Deposit under Liquidated Damages is completed, if and as contractually required
  • Agent coordinates final Buyer walk-through
  • Agent provides final escrow instructions, and schedules appointment for Seller to sign closing documents; Agent and Seller review Seller’s Estimated Closing Statement
  • Agent and Seller meet at Title company for signing of closing documents
  • Agent confirms with Escrow Agent everything is done for close of escrow: final Buyer monies deposited, funding of Buyer’s loan
  • Seller receives proceeds of sale; Agent coordinates delivery of keys, genies, alarm codes to Buyer’s Agent

The quality of the agent working on your behalf, his or her competence, integrity, work ethic and commitment to your interests can make an enormous difference in the outcome of your home sale—often to the tune of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.