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The Real Estate Sales Process Walkthrough: From Listings to Closing

Step 1. Prepare the sales listing
Step 2. Name your price
Step 3. Organize property viewings
Step 4. Negotiate the sale
Step 5. Close the sale
Final thoughts

The real estate process can be time-consuming, frustrating and full of back-and-forth discussions between sellers, buyers and real estate agents. To streamline the process, it helps to know the ins and outs of the real estate sales process

With a solid understanding of this process, you can save time, close deals quicker and support buyers and sellers with the home-buying process

In this article, we’ll walk you through the five steps of the real estate sales process. By the end, you’ll know exactly how to move through the sale and what you can do to improve the buying and selling process for everyone involved.

Step 1. Prepare the sales listing

The first step is to prepare a sales listing for the property you’re selling. It involves three core parts:

  • Interviewing the seller

  • Preparing the property

  • Promoting the property

Before you dive into the preparation process, make sure you have a constructive way to organize and stay on top of property and client information.

A CRM allows you to store and manage key information about the properties you’re selling and the people you’re working with. You can track the progress of your sales, automate repetitive tasks and get a clear overview of your entire real estate sales process.

Now, let’s take a look at how to get listings out to the public.

Part 1: Interview the seller

As a realtor, you need to talk to your seller about the following information:

  • The reason for selling

  • How long they’ve owned the property

  • The ideal sale price

  • The preferred timeline for the sale

  • The history of the property

  • Any recent upgrades to the property

  • Any features that make the property unique

This will help you create a listing that reflects what the seller wants as well as provide an accurate property valuation (more on this later). You’ll be able to outline key information for buyers to consider, such as recent renovations or why the homeowner is selling the property in the first place.

You’ll also need to discuss potential hurdles that might prevent the sale from going through.

For example, if the seller’s property has an ongoing claim for water damage, you can add this information to the listing or ask the seller to settle the claim before the listing goes live.

Understanding if the property has any unresolved issues will make it easier for you to be upfront with potential buyers. It helps them make an informed decision and reduces any issues for you in the future (such as the sale failing an inspection and falling through).

Part 2: Prepare the property

Once you have all the information for your listing, you need to make the property look attractive to potential buyers. The best way to do this is to encourage owners to stage their property correctly.

Staging a home helps buyers visualize what it’s like to live there and can help sell the property faster.

Over 65% of realtors in this study from the Home Staging Institute believe that home staging helps sell a house for more money. The same report also found that almost 85% of realtors agree that a staged home sells faster than an unstaged home.

Here are some steps for preparing the property for photos, videos and in-person viewings:

  • Redecorating. Update some of the decor to modernize it and make it feel newer.

  • Rearranging furniture. Something as simple as moving existing furniture can make rooms feel bigger and more inviting.

  • Cleaning. To give a good first impression, give the house a clean before any photos or viewings take place.

This research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that staging the living room was the most important aspect for buyers (39%). So, if the seller doesn’t want to rearrange and deep-clean their entire home, they could just focus on the living space. Even a little effort goes a long way.

Pro tip: Send your seller this virtual checklist to help them out. It’s an easy way to let them know what you expect from them in the lead-up to staging their property. If you’re using a CRM, you can save the checklist as a trigger in your sales funnel so it’ll be sent to your seller automatically.

Part 3: Promote the property

Once the property is looking top-notch and the photographs are done, it’s time to release the listing to the public.

As a realtor, you should be promoting your seller’s property through online channels. Research from NAR found that 47% of buyers look online at homes for sale before doing anything else.

Here’s a basic checklist of promotional activities to consider:

  • Use local Multiple Listing Services (MLS): To promote new listings as a real estate agent, your first stop should be listing the property on the Multiple Listing Services (MLS). An MLS is an online platform for buying and selling properties. It provides buyers with detailed information on the properties, including the type of property, its location, its ideal use (for example, single-family home or for young professionals), the price, its size (including square footage) and other relevant details. Make sure you upload your listing to one (or more) of these sites to reach buyers in your local area.

  • Add the listing to your realty website: Upload the listing to your website – complete with staging photos, your contact information and a call-to-action (i.e. book a viewing).

  • Promote on social media sites: Promote your listing by posting on your social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn accounts. You might also want to use paid promotion to reach more potential buyers.

  • Upload a post on your blog: Write a blog with a rundown of the property’s top features and fittings, staging photos, your contact information and a call to action (i.e. get in touch for more information).

Pro tip: Make sure your branding is consistent across all marketing channels. You aren’t just selling your client’s property – you’re promoting your agency as well. Poor quality marketing materials can damage your brand.

The complete guide to real estate sales

When it comes to Real Estate Sales, process is king. Optimize your process with our free ebook guide.

Step 2. Name your price

The next step is to value the property and give it a selling price.

Stick to the code of ethics to ensure you price the property fairly. This means reviewing the current market conditions and comparable sales to estimate the property’s worth.

Start by taking a look at other listings in the area. It helps to review them at different stages so you get a well-rounded picture of what properties are selling for. This gives you a good benchmark to work from.

Here are the listing stages you’ll want to review:

  • Active listings. Have a look at listings in your area that are live, but that haven’t had an offer made. Take these with a pinch of salt, as these prices don’t reflect market value until they sell. However, they do give you a good insight into what other buyers expect to get for their property sale.

  • Pending listings. These are listings that are under contract but haven’t closed. Unless you’ve got a real estate connection involved in the sale, a listing agent is unlikely to let you in on any information about the price of the pending sale. That means until the property closes, you’ll only be making a calculated guess. However, listings that are pending can give you an idea of how the real estate market is performing.

  • Sold listings. These sales will give you a clear picture of the market value. Don’t look past six months of comparable sales data. Anything beyond that can skew your analysis of the market.

  • Withdrawn listings. Withdrawn listings are properties that have been taken off the market. You won’t know the exact reason they’re no longer live, but you might be able to identify common trends. For example, if there’s a large chunk of properties that have been withdrawn and they’re all over the average market value, you can take this into account when valuing your properties.

When reviewing all these listings, consider properties that have similarities to the property you’re selling. For example, reviewing properties of a similar size, age and location will give you a better idea of what your property is worth.

Think about the cost of a two-bed townhome in New York compared to New Jersey. Or a penthouse condo in Los Angeles compared to the same size property in Houston. Although they’re similar in size, their locations mean that the prices differ.

Another example is the age of a property. A three-bed family home that’s 30 years old is likely to cost less than a new construction build that’s the same size. Considering these factors means that you can be more accurate with your price valuation.

After reviewing all this information, you can create a report to outline your recommended sale price.

There isn’t a set size for this report. Sometimes it’s a couple of pages, sometimes it’s a 50-page document. The more in-depth it is, though, the more you’ll be able to persuade your client that your price is the right choice.

You can also add a disclaimer in the report that your home values are based on current market conditions, which are subject to change. That way, the buyer knows that you’re basing the price of their property on market trends. You’re not plucking it out of thin air.

Pro tip: Use a real estate CRM tool to track comp listings by consolidating all of this data into one platform. You can then use the CRM to create charts and graphs with all the property sales figures to include in your report.

Step 3. Organize property viewings

When the seller agrees on the sale price, it’s time to hunt for a buyer.

There are two main approaches to viewing: arrange an open house and organize private viewings.

How to plan and manage an open house

Scheduling an open house involves setting a date and time when potential buyers can look at the property in a group setting. For example, buyers can view the house anytime between 2 pm and 4 pm on Friday 3rd December.

To arrange the open house, speak to the buyer to confirm when they’re happy for it to take place. Then, reach out to any interested parties to let them know when they can attend.

You should have a list of interested buyers from promoting your listing online. Potential buyers will have requested more information or asked to book a viewing on your MLS page, your website or your social media channels.

Reach out to these contacts to let them know when the open house is happening. Create a sign-up form so you know who’s attending and who you can follow up with after the event.

During the open house, you can speak to the interested buyers about what they’re looking for, their budget and what they think of the property. If they’re interested, you can keep in touch after the open house and see if they want to put in an offer.

Even if they don’t want to make an offer on the house, make a note of all this information. You can add it to your CRM and keep them in mind for future sales

Pro tip: With a real estate CRM, you can easily send out invites for the open house and track responses. Depending on the platform you use, you can use email templates to quickly create an invite and send it to interested parties.

How to set up private viewings

At the open house, note any real estate prospects that show interest in the property. Then contact these potential buyers to arrange a private viewing.

Private viewings allow potential buyers to imagine themselves living in the home without the crowds that come with an open house. They also give them a chance to ask you for more information about the house and to look at the property in more detail.

Here’s an example of an open house follow-up email:

Hi there [name of interested buyer],

It was fantastic to chat with you yesterday and to hear your thoughts on [open house address]. You expressed a desire to make [open house address] your new home, so I’d love to get a chance to talk to you about this further.

Here are a few more aspects of the property that would make it a good fit for you [list some of the reasons the property would be a great fit for them based on what you picked up in the conversation. For example, the local school district if they have kids, transport links if they commute and nearby parks if they have a dog.]

Our real estate firm works in this neighborhood regularly and I can tell you that [address of property] is unique to the area because of [include unique selling points]. I’d love to show you around the property for a private viewing so you can get a more personal feel for the place before bidding ends.

I’ll be in the neighborhood on [day and time] if you have time to meet me and discuss the property further. Please let me know and I can arrange to put a viewing together.

Warm regards,

[Your name]

Feel free to use this template to reach out to interested buyers. You can also contact them via phone if you’d prefer to speak to them directly. Take a look at some of these real estate calling scripts for inspiration.

Pro tip: You can also follow up with those who didn’t seem interested, but you might want to take a different approach. For example, instead of sending them an invite for a private viewing, you might share other listings for similar properties that better suit what they’re looking for.

Step 4. Negotiate the sale

When you receive an offer from a buyer, the negotiations can begin. Your goal here is to get a property’s price and terms agreed upon as quickly as possible without rushing either party.

As a real estate agent, this process can be a stressful and tense time. You’re handling any offers and counteroffers with the client and keeping both parties up to date on the latest developments.

To make the negotiations easier to handle, consider using a real estate CRM.

With a CRM, you can track all stages of the negotiations in a single location, making sure you’re always up to date with communications and developments.

Let’s take a look at how you can navigate the negotiation process.

1. Qualify the potential buyer

Before moving along with a potential buyer, you must make sure they’ve got their pre-approval for a mortgage.

A mortgage pre-approval involves a lender evaluating the buyer’s creditworthiness and financial information to determine how much money they’re willing to lend for a home purchase. It’s as close as you can get to confirming the buyer has the funds to purchase the property.

It’ll be a much quicker sales process for you and your seller if you only consider buyers that have the green light for their mortgage.

2. Accompany your seller to the appraisal

Next up will be the home appraisal of your seller’s property, which involves an unbiased professional valuing the property.

Appraisals are one of the last hurdles for your seller to clear. It’ll have a big impact on the price of their property, particularly if the appraiser values the property for less than you or the seller are hoping to sell it for.

This is why it’s crucial that you attend the appraisal.

You need to be on hand to answer any questions and let the appraiser know about any updates or improvements to the property. That way, the appraiser can get a well-rounded perspective of the property before providing a price.

Real estate negotiation

3. Compare offers

In an ideal world, a potential buyer will simply agree to pay the asking price. However, if there are several buyers interested in your seller’s property, you’ll need to compare the offers for your seller.

When comparing potential offers, here are some things to consider:

  • Who has offered the highest price? This is the offer you’ll pay the most attention to, so review it carefully to make sure it’s foolproof.

  • Has the buyer with the highest offer passed financing pre-approvals? If they haven’t, their offer might fall through.

  • Does the highest bidder fit the profile of the ideal buyer from the seller’s perspective? For example, if the seller is selling their family home of 30 years, they might prefer to sell to another family in comparison to an investor who will convert the property into apartments.

After reviewing all this information, you should have a better idea of which potential buyers will be the best fit for the property.

Step 5. Close the sale

When the seller has accepted an offer from a buyer, the final step is to close the sale. This involves a final property inspection, final negotiations, providing the buyer with the necessary paperwork and taking the property off the market.

Let’s walk through these steps.

Part 1: Schedule a final inspection

A final home inspection takes place when the home is under contract but before the final sale. The purpose is to identify any issues or defects with the home that the seller may need to address before completing the sale.

The buyer and the seller might want to be present for the inspection so they can be sure it’s completed and that it covers all areas of the property. Work with the buyer and the seller to arrange a time for a qualified inspector to prepare a final inspection report – the sooner the better to keep the sales process moving.

Part 2: Handle the final negotiation for your seller

During the inspection, a licensed real estate professional inspector will thoroughly examine the property. They’ll review the structure, electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC systems and any other components of the home that could affect its value or safety. The inspector will then provide a report detailing any issues or defects that they find.

If the report outlines any issues, you’ll need to negotiate with the buyer and the seller to address them.

For example, let’s say the inspection found a small water leak in a bathroom pipe. The seller either needs to repair the pipes or amend the price of the property to account for the buyer making the repairs. It’s up to you to handle this process and communicate with both parties.

In some cases, a final negotiation isn’t necessary. If the information given to the buyer was accurate, and there were no surprises during the final inspection, they’ll likely be happy to pay the original price.

Part 3: Sign the papers and exchange necessary documents

After the inspection and negotiations (if any), you can complete the sale. This involves handling a lot of paperwork, which includes the following:

  • The property deed. A property deed is a legal document that transfers ownership of a property. It includes important information such as the names of the current and previous owners, a legal description of the property and any encumbrances or liens on the property. When a property sells, the seller transfers ownership to the buyer by executing a deed. After it’s signed and recorded with the appropriate government agency, it becomes a public record and establishes new ownership.

  • The purchase agreement. A purchase agreement outlines the terms and conditions of a real estate transaction between a buyer and a seller. It’s a binding contract that establishes the agreed-upon terms for the sale of a property. For example, the purchase price, the closing date, the type of property being sold and any contingencies or conditions that must be met before the sale is finalized.

  • Any water, sewerage and property tax bills. If the seller’s property is hooked up to municipal sewerage and water, you’ll need proof that everything is paid for before closing. This goes for property taxes, too. State or local transfer taxes are usually paid when the property title is handed over from the seller to the buyer.

  • Final utility readings. On top of settling their bills, the seller will also need to take final readings of any gas and electric meters. They’ll have to provide these readings to their service providers and the new buyer, which makes it easier for the new buyer to set up their accounts and provide accurate readings from their move-in date.

  • Title Insurance Policy. You’ve already checked titles and policies earlier in the process to ensure there are no surprises (refer back to the first step in this guide). Now, you can hand over the property’s title insurance policy to the buyer. This policy covers them for potential losses that could result from property ownership disputes. Both the new buyer and their lender should get a copy.

  • Any service records or warranties. The seller should hand over any service records or warranties for any appliances or maintenance that’s been done on the property. Any recommendations for a reliable plumber or electrician are also a nice touch for the new buyer, especially if they’re new to the area.

  • Final property survey. A property survey confirms that all the closing documents describe the correct property. It ensures everyone’s on the same page and that the buyer is happy to proceed with the sale. The seller will provide the buyer with this survey right before closing.

Once all of the documents are complete and all the paperwork is signed, the very last step for you as a realtor is to remove the property from the market.

Mark it as sold on the MLS, your website and any social media advertising you’ve been running for it. That way, other sellers will see that you’re helping people sell their properties and might be more inclined to use your services in the future. If you’re trying to get listings as a new agent, this is a good place to start.

Final thoughts

To sell real estate can be complex, time-consuming and tricky to navigate. The good news is that by understanding how the real estate sales process works, you’re in a much better position to navigate it.

You know what steps need to happen, when they should happen and how to move things forward. As a result, you’ll find the process easier to manage and quicker to complete.

To improve the process even further, consider using Pipedrive’s real estate CRM. With our platform, you can track communications with buyers and sellers, nurture potential buyers through the sales funnel and organize the documents you’ll need to review when closing the sale. Try it for free to see what you think.

The complete guide to real estate sales

When it comes to Real Estate Sales, process is king. Optimize your process with our free ebook guide.

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