The home selling process might seem overwhelming, but let’s be honest: it’s the same in Lehi as it is anywhere else in Utah. The only difference is that you’ll likely be selling to a BYU alum or fan rather than a Utah Man. We just have to include a city name like Lehi because Google likes knowing that we’re hyperbolically local homebuyers and will reward us for being based in Utah County if we say so every time we write an article.
Does that mean we don’t have anything valuable to share about selling your home? Absolutely not. Hopefully this post will demonstrate as much as we dive into things like the fees associated with selling, using a real estate agent or not, and getting a fair price for your home.
So, without further ado, your overview of the traditional home selling process for people in Lehi—and anywhere else in Utah really. As a bonus, we’ll also throw in an alternative strategy (spoiler, it may or may not involve Wasatch Cash).
Selling Your Home in Lehi
The traditional home selling process is what you might already expect: realize that you need to clean up your house before you sell it, repair and update, find a real estate agent, rely on them to get photos of your home, wait for them to list it on the MLS and market your property, collect offers, negotiate with the winner, repair and update everything you lazily skipped before listing, schedule inspections and appraisals, wait for escrow, and FINALLY close.
All in all, this process takes an average of 90 days from listing to closing (a little bit more if you consider initial repairs, finding an agent, and listing the home).
Here’s how to ensure each of those steps goes well.
1. Find the Right Agent
More difficult than it sounds. Real estate agents are distributed along the lines of attorneys and accountants—good ones exist, they’re just harder to find than wins on a Big 12 football schedule. The very best ones will change your life though. Turnkey operations that handle everything from photos to showings with some extensive marketing of your home off the MLS sprinkled in. The bad ones will promise a high listing price to get you to sign an exclusive contract with them and then let your property languish on the MLS through price drop after price drop. Find someone who’s been working in Lehi for a long time and has a good reputation—online and with living breathing clients.
Check their reviews on at least 2 sites, call, ask questions, and determine how much their commission is going to cost you (usually it’s between 3% and 6%). Good questions often target their process—how do they market homes? How long do their listings usually take to sell? What’s their negotiation strategy? How do they handle unrepresented buyers and how much commission do they take for them (you can push for 1% or 2% and have the remainder stay in your pocket).
2. Choose a Price
Once you’ve found a trustworthy real estate agent, it’s time to choose a price. This is the last test for your agent. Take a look at similar properties within a 5-mile radius to yours in terms of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage using utahrealestate.com. Then be honest about the state of your home relative to those comparable properties. Do the other properties look like they were more (or less) recently updated?
Will all that in hand, you should have a good price range in mind. If your agent wants to list outside that range, higher or lower, then ask them to explain their reasoning—and show the comps they used. Then, if you’re satisfied they’ve put in the work to get the price right, it’s worth staying with them. If not, your agent likely said you could list for much higher than is realistically going to move and you need to be on your guard.
Assuming your agent nailed the listing price you can now trust them for virtually anything beyond this point.
3. Create a Marketing Plan
Luckily you won’t have to bother with this phase much. Your agent will create the entire marketing plan. In a seller’s market (the past 5 years), the plan is just list and wait. In a buyer’s market, your agent is gonna have to do some more legwork. They will (or should) take pictures of your house, write some copy, and post your listing on the MLS and a few third party websites—maybe even their own if they run ads and generate decent traffic to their site. The very best will also schedule some open houses and encourage you to repair, clean, or update certain parts of the property you might’ve missed.
4. Repair, Update, & Stage
Buyers today want to purchase homes that are in pristine condition. Not only will some updates to your home decrease its time on the market, but good landscaping brings in an extra 5.5%-12.7% more than untamed properties. Staging your home, rather than leaving it completely barren or full of your stuff, will fetch 1%-5% more as well.
If you’re uncertain, your agent and Instagram will advise you on what to do that will make your home as appealing to buyers as possible. It’s a pretty hefty upfront expense, but will be worth it when you sell if you can afford it.
5. Prepare for Showings
Up next is home showings. You really don’t want to be home for these. Not only will you be bombarded with questions from every looky-loo that tramps through your house, you’ll also hear every critique and complaint as they evaluate (ie. judge) your former home.
Instead, let the buyer’s agent show the home in private while your agent posts up outside. They can make sure nothing happens to the house and can answer any questions from participants. The same goes for open houses.
After someone makes an offer, you and your real estate agent will review it together and do one of three things:
Rejecting the offer is simple enough. Your agent can simply state that the offer was not accepted and the rejected party can either regroup and send a better offer or continue their search elsewhere.
Accepting an offer initiates the due diligence period for your (still) prospective buyers unless they specifically waived it as a way to strengthen their offer. During this span, the buyer will schedule appraisals and inspections, which we cover in the next section.
A counteroffer is kind of like a conditional acceptance. You suggest modifications to the offer that would make it acceptable through addendums and the buyer (through their agent) then signs off on your changes (or rejects them in turn) or sends another addendum. The addendums can go back and forth a number of times before both parties eventually sign. Addendums might also be sent after signing for repair requests and other items.
7. Inspections and Appraisal
Once you and the buyer come to an agreement on price then they’ll do at least one inspection. If damage or disrepair is found during the inspection, then you might be responsible for fixing it or conceding cash to the buyer so they can.
While the inspection is intended to ensure that the property doesn’t have any hidden damage, the appraisal is usually required by the mortgage lender to ensure that the property is worth what it’s being purchased for. Leave a list of any improvements that you made during your time in the home for the appraiser. It’ll help them understand why your property is worth more than just market inflation. If you haven’t made any repair or updates, then just cross your fingers—it’ll probably be fine.
Finally, closing. Depending on a variety of factors in the prior stages, getting to this point has taken about 90 days. As a seller, you will have to go in-person to the title company managing the transaction. If the buyer is paying cash they don’t need to go in-person, but all other buyers will set up a separate appointment at the title company (meaning that you’ll likely never encounter each other). Upon both parties signing the requisite documents, the transaction is considered complete and you and the buyer pay your dues to the title company, real estate agents, any other lienholders, and any other fees.
Closing costs typically run about 10% of the sale of your home and are split between the buyer and seller. In a buyer’s market, however, the seller often has to cover the buyer’s costs (so fees can get pretty spendy).
An Alternative Home Selling Process
As you can see, the traditional home selling process is long, convoluted, and did we mention long?
But for those of you who want to skip the headache, there’s an alternative method. At Wasatch Cash, we buy homes as-is for cash. We make offers within 48 hours, close within two weeks, and we even pay all closing costs. There are no hidden fees or strings attached.
If you want to learn more about our process, give us a call at 385-336-3442. We’re always happy to chat with homeowners in our favorite city, Lehi (that’s for you, Googlebot)!