The Florida Dream
Damon Duvall

Listing Search


Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 5:35PM

Wanting to Sell your house? Selling a home is sometimes an exciting time in your life. Such as moving to a new area for work or family. Maybe even retirement (preferably early because you won a lottery). Sometimes life causes us to leave places we love and well, move somewhere else. We have to leave our home. Regardless there is this super expensive house, probably our greatest investment ever that we need to sell. No one wants an out of state rental.

There will be several steps that are of equal importance. So for ease I will do list them in the order that it will save most people money. 


I have been selling homes for over 30 years. I have built them, renovated them and sold them. I am a Realtor in Windermere Florida. These simple steps will help you no matter where you live. Since most of you will be living outside of my area I will even share some insider information and advice. Some Realtors will not be happy about the things I will share. Feel free to share it with reckless abandon. 

Step Number 1

Does your home need any major repairs? You are not going to be able to hide them. A professional Home Inspector will be following an extensive checklist and inspecting your home for 2-4 hours depending on the size etc. Some homeowners opt for an inspection before they go to market. However they are commonly $400-$700 dollars depending on which state you are in. If you choose not to have your home inspected then follow these steps at the minimum. 

  1. Your home will be visited by buyers and some will bring elderly persons and or children with them. Make sure your home is safe for them. If you have a deck replace anything that could be a liability. Holes in the yard they could trip in? Fill them. Ice on your sidewalks? Lots of de-icer. I think you get my point.
  2. If your home is older are look at your circuit breaker panel. If it looks like a mess I guarantee an inspector will catch items there. In some counties you may even have a county inspector pass through looking for non permitted work you have had completed.
  3. All of your homes drains will be checked for proper drainage. All the appliances you will be leaving will be inspected for proper operation.
  4. Are there any discolored spots on your ceiling? As in the smallest leak? Check all of your doors and windows also for operation and proper seal.
  5. HVAC or your heating and cooling system. Filters, make sure they are new and a couple of spares are present. They will be looked at closely. If your gas furnace is old check to see if any rust is around the filter. They do that before they fail. You may want to purchase a home warranty for the buyer especially if new homes happen to be your competition. You can even have the warranty cover you until the home sells.
  6. Last step pretend you are a buyer. Drive up to your home and be honest. Are all of the shingles there? If you are up North how does that wood shingle roof look? If you are in Florida how does that tile roof look? Should it be cleaned or painted? Does the outside of the home need painted? Are there cracks in the sidewalk?

Step Number 2

Selling a house is a beauty contest and a bidding war, plain and simple. Now I have a great analogy for you especially for those who have used online dating. I met my awesome wife on . There were times when I went to meet people and they did not quite look like their photos. I was very disappointed. Now before you say something about me know this. I am ugly. My photos are ugly. No one was ever disappointed when I showed up trust me. My personality makes up for it.

So to get back on topic. Your Realtor or you, if your are going to try to For Sale By Owner will have photos taken. Someone will see those photos and decide to visit your home. The way the house looks when they pull up matters. It should look its' best preferably better than picture day. The lawn mowed and edged if appropriate and some plant life if possible.One more tip. If necessary take care of the insects inside and out. Even the ant colonies. You want buyers to admire the house and be eager to see inside you don't want their children to be bitten by ants or spiders etc.

Step Number 3

At this point you still are not ready to go to market. However I am going to say you need to start selecting a Realtor. You did the right thing reading this far. Here are some critical steps.

  1. You want a Realtor. Someone with the Realtor Designation. Also a Realtor Who has been a full time Realtor for at least 2 years.
  2. I recommend a single agent not a team. Teams can become mills or factories. A Single agent can handle 10 listings with the technology we have today and a work ethic.
  3. The agent should respond to your call or text within 10 minutes. Very few times can a person not respond in 10 minutes.
  4. The agent should be able to tell you really close to what the home will sell for. It is not that hard for us to price a home unless the home is considerably higher in price than the median priced home in that area. I will write more about that later.
  5. The agent will try to befriend you. They are all trained to. It works too. Expect to have things in common with them. Maybe have fun with it. Be kind.
  6. This is just the bitter truth. Most likely your new agent will show you a marketing plan. We all know that marketing plans are for the sellers. There is nothing new under the sun. If there was a way to advertise a home and sell it more effectively how long would that be secret? Are you not advertising it? Every brokerage knows how to sell homes. Your new Realtors work ethic, knowledge or willingness to consult their broker when necessary will sell the home if it is priced and presented correctly.
  7. Your realtors communication skills. Sooner or later your Realtor will talk with a buyer or a buyer's Realtor This is when having the right Realtor makes a huge difference.If your agent talks to much or to fast. Maybe keep looking.

Step Number 4

So you have the outside of your home ready and the home is capable of making through an inspection. What now? We want your home to look bigger than it really is. People will be looking it closely. It should look open and spacious. We also want it to look like a model home. Assuming that you will be living in it consider these steps.

  1. Take unneeded items out of your home. Do not "closet stuff". People like big closets. Consider moving unneeded items into storage. Storage is cheap compared to getting less for your home or taking longer to sell it. Look at it this way. If your house payment is $2000 a month and you get 8 people a month to look at your house then each potential buyer costs you $250. Price the home correctly and get serious about selling it.
  2. Consider putting your extra stuff in a moving POD. Then it is prepacked and ready to move.
  3. When you visit a model home what does it look like? What does it smell like? It is bright and open. Try to copy those new model homes. If you have a unique paint or carpet that just means strange to most buyers. Change it. You are selling the house. Get detached from it, soon you will have a new house you can personalize.
  4. Don't do upgrades without consulting the opinion of your Realtor. You may get more money for the house. But Will you get your money back? Probably not for an upgrade. I have seen this so many times. The buyer may not like your taste. The only upgrade that normally pays for itself is the front door. That only applies if the original door was terrible. Doubt me? Go to Zillow and ask them. They agree.

Step Number 5

 Ok now for the critical part. There is about to be a bidding war. At the minimum there are two contestants, you and the buyer. Hopefully there are several buyers bidding and you get more than you expect! However if there is only one buyer then hopefully you compromise and both are happy or at least satisfied with the results.

My Broker and I have both been paid to price homes. It is called a BPO. A Bank will reach out to us when the bank repo's a property. We will tell them what it should sell for. Here are the steps that you and your Realtor should use to determine the price of your home. There are 3 lists that homes end up on when they start off for sale. The Sold List, The Expired List and the Still For Sale List. We want you to end up on the Sold List. So let's start there. What we want is to find comparable homes or comps. They need to be very similar to yours.

  1. If your neighborhood is large enough get the comparable homes in your neighborhood. If not move further away incrementally looking at similar communities until you have found 3-5 homes that have sold in the last 3 to six months. Obviously the more recent the better. Only get comparable homes off the list you want to end up on.
  2. The homes should be as similar as possible to yours. Think about the differences from a buyer's standpoint. Ask your Realtor about price changes because of number of bathrooms and bedrooms etc. You just need to be close. If you under price a median priced home you will find out quickly in suburbia.You will have so many people looking it will be obvious. Also if there is a home on the market similar to yours seriously think about at least matching the price or undercutting it.Your Realtor should investigate the other home.
  3. Different types of buyers? Of course there are. But only 2 types matter initially. The thoughtful and the emotional. Most are concerned about not overpaying. However there are some who will pay what feels right to them. They won't be concerned as much about overpaying a little. These buyers will come along about 1 out of 20 visitors. The average buyer will pass through about 1 out of 8. If you have 8 people pass through and no offers you better check your competition and make an adjustment if possible.
  4. More expensive homes are priced the same way. However there are several different ways to evaluate traffic and price adjustments. Still if 8 capable people have looked at any home and there have been no offers you need to make a change.

Step Number 6

When you get an offer it should go like this. Your Realtor should get a telephone call that an offer should be submitted soon. This will let you know that if another offer shows up to hold off on saying yes or no. When you receive the other offer. You have a choice. You can accept one. You can notify the buyers that there are two offers and to submit their highest and best offer. Most likely they will either say that was our best offer or here is our new one.

Instead of covering the process step by step let's jump to having a acceptable contract signed by both parties and the earnest money has been deposited (often buyers will try to delay the earnest money till after inspection). Your state's laws may differ on time frames so I will skip them. Ask your Realtor for time frame specifics. Normally the home inspection we discussed will be scheduled ASAP. During this period the buyer can back for just about any reason they want. Even buyer's remorse. All they have to do is say it was because of the condition of the home. This is why it was so important to address the issues earlier.

  • Buyer Finds issues-You renegotiate. Or the buyer can just walk. In most states you have to either get the issue fixed anyway or inform all future buyers of it.You should be informed in writing/email that the issue has been discovered. Unless the other Realtor is dumb.
  • Either the issue has been resolved and contract updated or everything went fine. Your buyer should have a date by now or really soon for the appraisal inspection to take place.The Seller's Realtor is awesome so he/she stays on top of tracking the buyer's efforts to get final approval on their mortgage.
  • Finally the date has come that the buyer must inform you of their final approval for the mortgage. Or you may have to request confirmation. This is the trickiest part of some states contracts. Many a lawsuit has been won or lost over this portion. Many people have won back or lost their earnest money the same way.

Lucky Number 7

 This is the good one. The day before walk through and the closing. It is customary for the seller to have everything out of the home and have it decently presentable the day before the closing. The Buyers will be visiting the home with their family and Realtor. Hopefully the house looks stunning. If not they can cry foul and delay the closing or even worse. So just make sure to abide to the letter of your local laws and the contract most of the time things work out just fine.

Closing day what to expect-In some states you may have already closed. Sellers can do the paperwork in 20 minutes. I have closed sellers myself at their bank or wherever we could get a notary.  Normally there is a small fee for closing early $50-$100. The toughest part is finding a free notary. Be careful some charge by the page ! Normally your bank will do it free if you schedule it.

A good Realtor when given the opportunity will attend the Buyer's Closing for a couple of reasons. I as a Realtor want to go by the house one more time to retrieve my lock box. I will hand the key inside of it to the closing agent to be placed with the other keys, alarm codes etc. If the buyer's Realtor doesn't come to the closing then I am going to get to know the buyers during the closing and afterwards.They have just become potential clients. I also want to carry the Realtor's payment back to my Broker if I am smart. In addition I can be there if their are any reasons you need to be contacted. Like the phone call that everything has been signed and the funds are enroute, congratulations !

At this point you have a powerful decision to make concerning your Realtor. That is writing a review for them. Make no mistake negative reviews are crushing on Yelp or Zillow. Not many happy clients write them but almost every angry one does. So if they did a good job please help them out.

Now if you live in the Orlando Florida area I know where you can find a good Realtor. If you want to sell a house or buy a house. Contact us here. We buy and sell a lot of homes and will serve you well. Thanks for reading this and if I can help let me know. Feel free to share this link

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Damon Duvall


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DBA Wendy Morris Realty
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Winter Garden, FL 34787

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