Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
The process of selling a home is typically filled with questions, especially if it’s your first time as a seller. Finding answers to your home-selling questions and taking the right steps can help you complete the sale and walk away with as much cash as possible.
To help you manage this process with minimal stress, here are some of my best answers to three of the most common home-selling questions posed by potential sellers.
1. What are the pros and cons of selling your home yourself (for sale by owner or FSBO) vs. using an agent?
When getting ready to sell your home, you may think you can avoid agent fees and save money if you tackle the process yourself. While this is certainly an option, the process can be fraught with complications that may trip you up. So watch the details before you jump in and begin acting as your own real estate agent.
First, when you sell on your own, you have to act as the seller and the agent. As the seller, you’re responsible for keeping your home looking its best for every showing. At the same time, everything an agent would have handled is now your responsibility, including marketing the home, researching pricing, and conducting showings. Agents often bring experience and knowledge of the local market to your sale, and they typically know what both the seller (you) and potential buyers want out of the process.
Avoiding the fees paid to a real estate agent may not mean you will automatically save a great deal of money. Even if, in the end, you sell your home yourself, you’ll likely spend more to advertise or market the property, including setting up a website, taking professional-level photos of your home, printing brochures, and hosting open houses.
You’ll also want to make sure you price the home correctly. Sellers who are FSBOs often underprice their properties, because they don’t know exactly where homes will sell. Take time to research your local market so you understand exactly how to price your home.
Finally, if you really believe you can sell your own home, you should try. But if you don’t get any offers over a month or two, you might want to find a real estate agent to manage the process for you. Aside from handling many of the more stressful activities for you, an agent may be able to generate far more interest in your property.
2. Should I provide closing cost assistance to the buyer? How could this affect my taxes?
Some buyers, but particularly those buying a first home, often have trouble putting together enough cash for a down payment. Scraping together additional cash for closing costs is even tougher.
That’s why providing cash to help a buyer pay his or her closing costs can be one of a seller’s best tools for getting the property sold. Closing costs do add up, and the cash required can be overwhelming for buyers. Offering to pay some, or all, of the buyer’s closing costs can be a relatively inexpensive way to bring more prospective buyers to the table.
Generally, seller contributions toward closing costs affect the seller’s taxes in only one way: They can be added as part of the “costs of sale” to the cost basis of the home, and help reduce any capital gains tax a seller may owe.
How much can you contribute to the sale? Depending on the buyer’s loan type, there may be a limit to how much you can contribute, so be sure to consult with your real estate attorney or the buyer’s agent before you throw out a number for discussion.
Finally, if your property has been listed for a while without any offers, and you’re deciding whether (or how much) to lower the price, consider advertising that the seller will contribute to the buyer’s closing costs into the notes section of the listing. Buyers’ agents will see that and can use that to get their buyers more interested in your property.
3. In a multiple-offer situation that includes a cash offer, how do I decide which offer to take? Is cash always the best choice?
The best offer for you will depend on your particular situation: For example, some sellers want the most money possible out of the deal, and others are more interested in closing on their own timetable.
Typically, offers that have a mortgage may take longer and be more complicated to close, especially if there is a financing contingency attached to the contract. In that case, a cash deal, as it is often referred to, can translate into a faster, easier closing. This does not mean that you should accept a cash offer as soon as you receive it, though.
The amount of the cash offer is also important. If you need to get out of the house quickly, cash may be the fastest way to do so. But if you receive a better non-cash offer and you aren’t in a hurry to move immediately, you may prefer to pursue that offer instead. Also, if the buyer provides you with a contract that does not include a financing contingency – even if the buyer winds up getting a mortgage to purchase the property – you should treat the offer as a cash deal, since the buyer has forgone the right to cancel the deal if the financing falls through.
For more detailed answers to these questions and any others you might have about selling your home, be sure to do your research. A little knowledge and some planning may help you find the best options well before you receive any offers. And if you need help making decisions, don’t be afraid to seek out the help of real estate professionals.
Ilyce Glink is a best-selling author, real estate columnist, and web series host. She is the managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog and CEO of Think Glink Media. Follow her on Twitter: @Glink
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.