Even in a hot real estate market, the process of listing through the closing on your home can be long and arduous. Knowing what to expect will help you to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible from the pre-listing phase all the way through to the closing of the property. Here is a basic timeline helping you to understand what to expect from start to finish as you list your real estate in NYC.
- Hire an Agent and Attorney - The first step in the pre-listing phase of selling your property is to hire both an agent and an attorney. A qualified agent will guide you through the selling of your property and advise you on how to proceed in the event of a bidding war. While specialized real estate attorneys may not be necessary for other markets, the complexities of the NYC market make this a worthwhile hire. This is not a process that you want to leave up to chance, making it important that you have the right professionals on your side.
- Prep the Property for Staging - Now that you have the professionals that you need, it is time to prep your property. Your agent will be able to provide direction regarding what improvements to make to get top dollar for your listing. Experts warn that supply chain issues are making this part of the process take longer than in the past, making it crucial that you allot an adequate amount of time to make this happen.
- Show the Property - Be aware that showing your property looks different in the pandemic era than it did just a few years ago. Be sure to leave plenty of time for potential buyers to schedule individual showing appointments so that you can get as many eyes as possible on your property.
- Make Corrections - The right price and staging will typically generate multiple offers. If you are having issues getting looks for your property, it may be that you need to change your listing strategy or adjust the price.
Months Two Through Four
- Field Offers and Accept - The fun part of the process is watching the offers come in and deciding which one to accept. Obviously, this part will take longer if you are fielding multiple offers that you need to weigh against each other. Do not be surprised if the negotiations take up to 24 hours. This will largely depend on the complexity of the parameters of the offer and acceptance terms.
- Draft an Agreement - Once you have selected the offer, you will need to draft an agreement. This deal sheet needs to include the price, the terms of the transaction, contact information, and any contingency agreements. This is when having an attorney is particularly helpful.
- Sign the Contract - It is the seller's attorney that is charged with putting together the contract. At the same time, the buyer’s attorney is busy reviewing the offer, building the financial agreement, and doing a final assessment of the property. The contract will list an agreed-upon closing time frame. Both the seller and the buyer have the right to delay the official closing by up to 30 days, making it important that you recognize that this is an approximate date.
Heading Into the Homestretch
- Order the Stock Certificate - For NYC co-ops, you may need to track down your stock certificate so that you can present it at closing. It is important to leave up to two months to ensure that you have these files with time to spare. Lean on your attorney to get this done.
- Track the Buyer's Mortgage Approval - Unless you are lucky enough to choose a buyer that is paying all cash, you will need to make sure that they have their mortgage approved. If the buyer is in need of financing, this process will take even longer. Savvy home sellers stipulate in the contract how much time the buyer is allowed to get a mortgage and to line up the proper financing. It is also within your domain to ask them to use a specific bank if you think this will accelerate the closing process.
- Deal with Title Issues - The bulk of the work shifts to the buyer once the contract is signed. It is up to the buyer's agent or attorney to order either the applicable title report or lien search to ensure that there will be no hiccups when transferring ownership. While this is the responsibility of the buyer, the seller will want to stay informed along the way.
- Handle the Appraisal - It is typically the buyer's mortgage broker that will start the ball rolling on an appraisal. You can expect that to happen within a week or two of the signing of the contract.
- Schedule Final Walk-Through - Most final walk-throughs are scheduled on the closing date or the day prior. During this event, the buyer will inspect the property for damage or other issues that may impact the closing. Be sure to remove any staging furniture or decor items prior to the closing.
- Finally the Closing - After all that work, it is time to finally close on the property. You should plan on the closing taking about two hours. While many closings moved to escrow and the online space during the pandemic, most in-person appointments have now resumed.
There is no doubt that selling property in NYC can be a complicated affair. However, hiring the right team of professionals and taking the time to acquaint yourself with the process from start to finish will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks in this journey.