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Selling Your Home In Silicon Valley – 9 FAQs

Photo of house with text - Selling your home in Silicon Valley - Frequently asked questions and answersIf you’re planning on selling your home in Silicon Valley, there are a number of things to plan out and do to maximize your sale price and minimize your stress. Often, it’s best to start with the most frequently asked questions.

Questions on Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley

If you’re thinking of, or planning to sell your home in Silicon Valley in the upcoming 6 – 24 months, you probably have a lot of questions about the process of listing, marketing and selling your home as well as the cost and time involved.  You may be wondering:

    1. What’s my home worth in today’s market?
      • If I sell, how much will I net after everything?
    2. Should I hire a Realtor? If so, how to find and choose one?
      • How long will the listing agreement bind me to that agent?
      • What if I am unhappy, can I get out of the listing?
    3. What inspections will I need to have before selling my home?
      • Why do they matter?
      • What will they cost?
    4. How important is staging the home?
      • How much does staging cost?
    5. Do I have to move out to sell the home?
    6. What will it cost to get the home ready to sell?
    7. Can I sell “AS IS”? Does that mean I don’t have to paint or clean it or do anything?
    8. What happens in escrow?
      • Once I accept an offer, how long will it take before the sale is completed (and I get my money)?
    9. Who pays for what?
      • Do any of the costs get paid out of escrow, or do I pay a check upfront for everything?

Particularly if you haven’t bought or sold a home in Santa Clara County (or nearby areas) in recent years, there are many unknowns to the whole home selling process. Some Santa Clara County home sellers will be content to hire an agent and be guided through the process. Others, though, would like details on what to expect when selling a home upfront, before they talk with an agent or are asked to sign paperwork.

If you are one who’d like to get a head start by reading up on selling homes in the Los Gatos, Saratoga, and San Jose areas ahead of time, I have several resources for you, including a book I’ve co-authored with you in mind.

Brief answers to the FAQs for selling your home in Silicon Valley

We’ll do a brief, surface level, and generic response to these basic frequently asked questions in bold.

  1. What’s my home worth in today’s market?  I can provide you the probable buyer’s value either very broadly (sight unseen, not as accurate), or I can visit  your home in person to see it, take notes, and get you a more accurate range. The online sites are usually pretty far off, and if you were to compare 10 online sites’ values against each other they would likely be very divergent.
    • If I sell, how much will I net after everything? If I see your home and work up the likely sale price, I can also provide you with an estimated net seller’s proceeds. Old Republic Title has a really great online netsheet program that anyone can use, too, if you want to plunk in some numbers and see some of the fees without having to speak with a Realtor. It allows you to export the numbers to excel, too. If you are selling your home in Silicon Valley, you want to net as much as possible, and that is a priority for me on your behalf.
  2. Should I hire a Realtor?  In most cases, sellers net more money when they hire a real estate professional, so in general, I would suggest hiring an experienced, highly regarded Realtor when selling your home in Silicon Valley. (There are a few exceptions to this advice, but not many.)
    • If so, how to find and choose one? Referral is often best since someone else can tell you if the experience with that person was good or bad. About half of my clients find me from my blogs (this site is one of many that I write in). If they like what they read, they then check out my online reviews or do other research and  then reach out to me. In both of those approaches, the consumer is deliberate and doesn’t just hire an agent from an open house with no other research. It is always wise to Google the agent’s name and do research on him or her before hiring.
    • How long will the listing agreement bind me to that agent? Some agents write very long listing agreements, a year or more. Some are short (3-4 months). In mine it depends on the circumstance and how much time will be used for preparation before the house or condo goes on the market, but ordinarily between 3-6 months. My listings all have an “easy exit” clause, too, so the length is not so relevant.
    • What if I am unhappy, can I get out of the listing? The listing contract does not automatically have a cancellation clause, only an expiration clause. Some (possibly most) real estate companies and agents will release you if you’re unhappy, but they are not required to do so. All of my listings clearly state in the “other terms” section that sellers can cancel the listing as long as the home is not in a sale pending status.
  3. What presale inspections will I need to have before selling my home? This really depends on the type of home (condo vs house), the age of the home (Victorian vs new construction), and other things. For most houses, it would be wise to have a general home inspection, a roof inspection, and a termite / pest control inspection. 
    • Why do they matter? When selling your home in Silicon Valley, you’ll be competing with other sellers who are providing inspections upfront, and buyers expect to see the inspections. Now, most sales in our area have no contingencies, and that is really possible only when buyers really understand what they are buying. Further, if you don’t have presale inspections, buyers will have a property condition contingency (most likely) and when they have their inspections may not like what they learn and either renegotiate the price or back out. If they back out, there’s a good chance the home will sell for less when it does re-sell. Solid presale inspections make for confident buyers, and confident buyers pay more. Bottom line: you as the seller will net more if you provide the inspections, and it will be less stressful, too.
    • What will they cost? The cost is relative to the size of the home, townhouse, or condo. Smaller houses may have all 3 inspections for around $1,000 to $1,200. Historic homes, large homes, or homes which are very remote will cost more.
  4. How important is staging the home? Super important! A well staged home helps buyers to fall in love with the house and become motivated to purchase it. There are many studies showing that sellers make many times more than the staging cost when they sell a professionally staged property.
    • How much does staging cost? This depends on the size of the home and which stager you hire. For a small house it might be around $4,000.
  5. Do I have to move out to sell the home? It’s best if you do, and that’s true for many reasons. You CAN sell while living there, but it’s not ideal, especially with Covid. As of this writing, in early 2022,  there are so few homes for sale that buyers are converging on available homes for sale in droves. That’s great, but it is not fun to live through that. And it may a little risky with so many people coming through, too.
  6. What will it cost to get the home ready to sell? There’s not a “one size fits all, sight unseen” answer for this question. Most condos and houses could use fresh paint, new floor coverings, some repairs here and there, possibly some landscaping refreshing. Part of the answer depends on your budget. I will discuss the items that I think will get you the most bang for your buck (or return on investment), and will do my best to rank them in order of importance for you.
  7. Can I sell “AS IS“? Does that mean I don’t have to paint or clean it or do anything? Most sales are As Is, but that doesn’t mean that sellers don’t prepare their homes for sale. When sellers don’t clean or make the home show ready (or habitable), they leave a LOT of money on the table (even in cases where it’s clearly a fixer upper). When homes are dirty, or come across as unloved, buyers are less likely to fall in love. Most home buyers mentally buy because of how they feel, if all of the needs and budget fit, and then work to figure out economically or otherwise why it’s the right choice.
  8. What happens in escrow? Once you accept an offer, the buyer will get the 3% initial deposit to the title company within 1 business day, at least that is true in 99% of the cases. In escrow, the buyer may return to the home for inspections (even if there is no inspection contingency, the buyer may want to learn more about the condition). If there’s a loan, an appraiser will also visit the house. Often there are 17 days for access. At the end of the escrow period, buyer and seller will sign off on all the final papers, and a few days later, the sale closes. (This is a very brief summary.)
    • Once I accept an offer, how long will it take before the sale is completed (and I get my money)? Most of the time it’s 30 calendar days, but if the offer is all cash, or if the bank is swift, it could be sooner. If the buyer needs more time, or if you do, it might be 45 days, possibly longer.
  9. Who pays for what? Most of the time, the seller pays the commissions, the staging, the presale inspections, the owner’s policy of title insurance, the escrow fees, the county transfer tax,  and in some cities, a city transfer tax, the natural and environmental hazard disclosure, the cost for strapping and bracing the water heater, the cost for installing the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, plus some other smaller fees for recoding the deeds, the notary, etc. The buyers pay for their loan costs, their appraisal, the lenders policy of title insurance, their notary fee, plus any inspections they ordered, certain recording fees, and some other items.
    • Do any of the costs get paid out of escrow, or do I pay a check upfront for everything? Commissions, staging,  the natural and environmental hazard inspection report, title and escrow fees,  transfer taxes all get paid through escrow when the sale closes. Any staging, presale preparation, and inspections are paid upfront. 

 

Articles on other topics related to Selling your home in Silicon Valley

Seller rent back after close of escrow: what do you need to know? (on our Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)

When a parent, spouse or loved one dies – what do you need to know or do about the house? (on our Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)

Seasonal pricing patterns (on our Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)

What’s my Silicon Valley home worth?

 

Perhaps the biggest question is this: “what’s my home worth“?  Even if you aren’t thinking of selling just yet, but would like an estimate of what your Silicon Valley real estate is worth in today’s market, I can help with that. Ask for a ballpark valuation online to get a “sight unseen” range. This offer is no obligation but is ONLY available to home owners whose property is not currently on the market or has not sold in the last 6 months.

Even better, please email me with all of the information (address, home size, beds, baths, major improvements or features like a pool, owned solar, etc.) The more details you provide, the more accurate my information will be. Please email me at mary@popehandy.com. Again, this offer is no obligation but is ONLY available to home owners whose property is not currently on the market or has not sold in the last 6 months.

Also, you can see what’s listed, sale pending and sold near any address in Santa Clara County on the property analysis tab of my REReport.  Please note that it loads slowly, so be patient! It’s worth the wait as you will get photos and great descriptions as well as a map showing all relevant properties. It does this automatically – immediately see listings, pending sales, and solds from the last year in your immediate neighborhood or around any Santa Clara County address you input.

 

Sale Pending with 21 offers - words over the pool

 

Real estate market statistics for selling your home in Silicon Valley

 

If you’d like to see monthly, quarterly or annual reports on closed sales for condos, townhomes and houses in San Jose, Campbell, Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park, and all over Santa Clara County, please visit my online Silicon Valley Real Estate Report, which is updated each month somewhere between the 5th and 8th for all of the county, by cities/town, and major areas of the city of San Jose.

Additionally, you can view my printable, 4 page report on the state of the current market by clicking on the following link: https://rereport.com/scc/print/Mary.PopeHandySCC.pdf

For in-depth real estate market commentary on many areas of Santa Clara County, please visit my blogs, where I focus on Los Gatos, Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park, Campbell, Willow Glen, Monte Sereno and Saratoga but include many other areas as well (mostly those in the “west valley”) at SanJoseRealEstateLosGatosHomes.com (the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog). If you are selling your home in Silicon Valley, that website is a must-visit resource!

More information for homeowners wanting to sell in Los Gatos, San Jose, Saratoga, and across Silicon Valley

 

Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley

 

Mary Pope-Handy & Ken Deshaies' Book "Get the best deal when selling your home in Silicon Valley"Ken Deshaies and I wrote a book, published in 2004,  “Get the best deal when selling your home in Silicon Valley” to assist Peninsula, South Bay, and nearby home sellers to better understand and navigate more profitably the process of selling a home in any market, up or down. I provide the book to all who meet with me for a free, no cost, no obligation initial consultation on buying or selling homes here in Silicon Valley. (Please just request it when booking your appointment, since now it’s an older book and not as much in demand.) The book is also available on Amazon.) Or, if you’d prefer, I can email you a chapter in pdf form. What’s covered in the book? All the basic questions a home seller in Silicon Valley might have are discussed, and perhaps some that many haven’t even considered. Questions are included for when or if you decide to interview real estate professionals to assist you in marketing and selling your property.

Yes, some things have changed! Today we use 3D virtual tours, sometimes drone or video marketing, and online ads. But the basics of the book are still solid if you are selling your home in Silicon Valley.

Section One includes the basics of selling your home in Silicon Valley:

    1. Going It Alone
    2. Using A Real Estate Agent
    3. The Role Of The Internet
    4. How Much Is Your Home Really Worth?
    5. Selling Your Home In A Up or Down Market

Pre-Sale Preparation (super important when selling your home in Silicon Valley!)

  • Screening Prospective Buyers
  • We’re In Escrow, Now What?
  • Preparing for Uncle Sam

 

Section Two considers buying the next home as well:

  1. Play The Field And Lose The Game
  2. Mortgage Rate Deals
  3. Loan Abuses
  4. Finding Your Next Home

And finally, we’ve included an appendix with a detailed moving checklist.

If you would prefer to not read the book but would like to get brought up to speed on how to sell a home in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell or San Jose in today’s market, please send me an email or phone me. It would be my pleasure to meet with you virtually for an hour or have a call and discuss your situation and the current market.