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When selling real estate, the process is straight forward 1) Determine the value 2) Market the property 3) Negotiate and sign a contract 4) Provide buyer(s) with all disclosures and legal documents 5) Collect buyer’s money and payoff any liens (mortgage). Many home sellers incorrectly believe home selling is simple after reading some home selling tips from an article titled “Sell My House Quickly” or something close to it. The truth is there are a lot of legal forms, disclosures, and time restraints that need to be met. So it is important that everything is done correctly as home buyers can legally sue the sellers years after a transaction takes place.

If the property is an investment property, either residential homes or commercial real estate, the seller can do a 1031 exchange to defer paying taxes and there will be additional legal documents.

Non US citizens who sell property will have 10% of the sell price held until taxes are paid on any profits. If the property is owned for more than a year the profits are classified as capital gain and incur a 15% tax.

1) Determine the Value of a Property
The simplest way to determine the value of a property is to contact us and we will perform a thorough comparative market analysis by searching the database of all the recent properties sold in your area. If you feel your property is unique, then the only truly accurate way to determine the value is to have a licensed appraiser appraise your property. Since the appraiser won’t be doing an appraisal for a loan application, it will be inexpensive and quick to have it done. Finding the correct value is key to a “fast house sale”. Contact us and we can set this up:

2) Market the Property
The most important aspect in marketing a property is determining the selling price. Many properties are priced too high initially and sit on the market without generating the excitement they should. The first two weeks on the market are the most crucial as this is when most ready buyers will decide if they want to see the property or pass because it appears over priced.  A property priced too high tends to discourage buyers who do not want to deal with an unrealistic seller. After a property has been on the market and the price has been reduced, the excitement is passed and buyers start to think something is wrong with it.

Sometimes if a property is priced low more buyers may become interested in it and compete against each other, bidding the price up, possibly above the appraised value. The first objective in marketing real estate is to get the most exposure as quickly as possible in the hopes of obtaining multiple offers.

Our approach is to market property through the use of the internet and high-end luxury magazines. Using the internet only makes sense as over 80% of buyers start their search there. In addition to using the many websites that offer search capabilities for homes like and, we also use banner ads on international websites and ads in high-end luxury magazines that are read around the world.

3) Sign a contract
Like in most countries, U.S. real estate agents are certified to process real estate purchase contracts. When the purchase contract and all counteroffers are signed this commits both the seller and the buyer to the sale. The contract will be subject to certain conditions such as the buyer obtaining a mortgage (if money is borrowed) and the seller ensuring that the title to the property is “clean” and all inspection issues resolved. The seller should be aware that the commitment to certain dates is binding. It is important to adhere to dates and conditions set out in the agreement, otherwise the buyer might take the opportunity to pull out of the sale, particularly if a they find another place they prefer.

There are costs incurred at the time of the sell and typically these costs are paid from the proceeds of the sell and are not considered out of pocket costs. These costs will vary according to factors dictated by the purchase agreement and the contract between the seller and the seller’s agent. Some of the costs are city and county transfer tax, title, escrow and the commission fee to the seller and buyer agents. The industry standard for commission is 6%; 3% for the seller agent and 3% for the buyer agent. The commission amount is negotiable but reducing commission may affect the marketing of the property.

4) Disclosures and Legal Documents
Upon acceptance of the purchase offer the seller typically has 7 days (the number of days depends on what is in the contract) to deliver all disclosures to the buyer for review. It is a good idea for the seller to have all disclosure forms and a title search completed before putting a property on the market. If the buyer accepts the property after reviewing the inspection report and disclosures, all that is left is paying for the property. If on the other hand, some damages or defects are discovered the buyer can request the seller to repair them or reduce the price. The buyer can also back out of the deal even if the seller is willing to do the required repairs or agrees to reduce the price.

5) Collect Buyer’s Money and Payoff any Liens
Once escrow has all the money, the title insurance, and Grant Deed and everything checks then the purchase is completed by the final signing of forms at which time the seller gets their money. If the seller has a loan the loan is paid off by escrow along with any addition costs and fees.

Non US citizens will have 10% of the sell price held by escrow and paid to the IRS for any taxes due. If the property is owned for more than a year the profits are classified as capital gain and incur a 15% tax on the profit portion only. If there is no profit, the seller will receive all the money back from the IRS. See a licensed Accountant for more information. 

When Deciding on a Real Estate Agent
If you decide to use an agent to market your property and handle the legal forms, be sure to do your homework. Finding a good Realtor might take time but it is an important first step. Many agents will have colorful CMA’s (Comparative Market Analysis) for a listing presentation and hope for no tough questions but what questions are relevant to the industry. The right questions will provide you with insight about the agent and the eventual outcome of the sale of your home or the non-sale of your home. Contact us if you want more information on how we protect the seller.

1031 Exchange
Investment property can be sold and the money from the sale can be used in the purchase of a similar property to defer any taxes from the net gains. The new property needs to be purchased within 180 days from the close of escrow of the sold property or before the tax filing deadline, whichever comes first. Also, the buyer needs to identify at least three possible properties to purchase within 45 days from the close of escrow. The money from the sale needs to be held by a Qualified Intermediary; this is similar to an escrow. Many Qualified Intermediaries will assist in the whole process including filing necessary IRS forms. Contact us and we can set this up:

Seller Tax Break
When a home is sold for a profit the seller gets up to a $250,000 tax break for a single filer and up to a $500,000 tax break for a married couple that file joint returns. That means if a husband and wife own a home with a tax basis of $250,000, they can sell that home for $750,000 and not pay a penny to the Internal Revenue Service. The only catch is the seller is required to live in the house for two of the last five years; this does not have to be consecutive years. And this tax break can be taken every two years. See a licensed Accountant for more information.

For more information, contact us anytime to set up a free, no obligation consultation so you can meet us and learn more on how we assist home sellers.