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The Ultimate California Home Seller’s Guide

Posted by Jaime Ure on May 10, 2022
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If you are selling your house in California, it is important to be aware of the laws and regulations that apply to the process. Our California Home Seller’s Guide guide covers all of the important steps from beginning preparations, listing, and accurately determining the market value of your property, through negotiations and settlement and a lot more actionable tips for selling California real estate. So read on to find out exactly how to sell your home in the Golden State with ease and minimal hassle.

By understanding the rules and following them closely, you can help ensure a smooth transaction for all involved. Let’s jump in!

Process of Selling a House in CA /// California Home Seller’s Guide

Determine the market value of your house

There are a few key things you’ll need to know in order to determine the market value of your house. Size, condition, and location are the basics. Start by looking at comparable houses in your area that have recently been sold or are currently on the market, taking into account features like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, age of the home, etc.. If you become very familiar with these comparable properties, you can get a pretty good idea of what your house might be worth in today’s market.

Find a real estate agent

When meeting with an agent, be sure to ask questions about their experience, what type of properties they specialize in, what kind of marketing plan they have, and how long they’ve been working in the real estate industry. You want to get a sense of whether or not you feel comfortable working with them as a person and as a professional.

  • Ask your friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations of agents they’ve worked with in the past that they were happy with.
  • Look online for reviews of agents in your area.
  • Narrow down your list to a few agents that you would like to meet with and contact them to ask for an appointment.

List your house

You could list your house by contacting a real estate agent or a fee-for-service real estate company. These methods will help you to list your house and to find potential buyers.

Even better, you can easily list your house yourself online. LoomHomes is the best place to list your home if you want to sell your house in California – list with us today and we’ll work with you to get your house sold on your terms.

Negotiate a sale price.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to negotiate a sale price depends on the situation and the parties involved. However, some tips on how to negotiate a sale price include:

  • Know your worth and what you’re willing to sell for.
  • Be prepared to walk away from the negotiation if it’s not going your way.
  • Remain calm and polite throughout the negotiation.
  • Be clear and concise in your requests and offers.
  • Understand the other party’s needs and motivations.

Close the Sale

Once all parties are satisfied with the arrangement, you can finalize the deal in writing. Congratulations! You can now move on to your next venture, feeling satisfied that you met your goals in selling your house. Following is an overview of the costs involved in the selling process, from start to finish.

Costs associated with selling a house in CA /// California Home Seller’s Guide

Real estate agent fees: 

In California, real estate agent fees are typically a percentage of the selling price of the home. For example, if you sell your home for $500,000, your agent would earn a commission of $10,000 (2% of the selling price). 

Some agents may also charge a flat fee instead of a commission percentage. For example, an agent might charge $5,000 for their services regardless of the sale price. 

Lastly, some agents may have a minimum fee they charge regardless of the sale price. So, if you sell your home for $200,000, your agent would still earn at least $2,000.  

Mortgage payoff: 

If you still have a mortgage on your home, you’ll need to pay it off in full before the sale goes through. 

A mortgage payoff in California is a sum of money paid by a mortgagor to the mortgagee to satisfy a mortgage loan. Upon the payment of the final installment of principal and interest, the title to the property is conveyed from the mortgagee to the mortgagor.

The amount of a mortgage payoff in California depends on a number of factors, including the principal balance on the loan, any outstanding late fees or penalties, and current interest rates. In addition, many lenders require that a certain amount be paid in order to release lien holders who have recorded their interests against the property.

It’s important to note that not all mortgages are eligible for payoffs, for example, mortgages that have been assigned to the government. 

Closing costs: 

Closing costs generally range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price of a home. In California, the specific items that are included in closing costs vary depending on the location of the property. For example, escrow and settlement fees are generally higher in coastal counties than in inland counties. And some municipalities may have their own transfer taxes in addition to the state’s 1.5% transfer tax.

Typically, the buyers cover most of the associated closing costs, however, depending on the agreement that the buyer and seller come to, the seller may be responsible for some number of fees.

These can vary significantly, but typically include items such as: 

  • Agent commission
  • Transfer tax
  • Title insurance
  • Prorated property taxes
  • HOA fees
  • Credits toward closing costs
  • Seller attorney fees
  • Any escrowed money promised to the buyer

Capital gains tax: 

If you’ve owned your home for at least two years and have made a profit from the sale, you’ll likely have to pay capital gains tax. 

In California, a capital gains tax is imposed on the sale of a home that is not your primary residence. The tax is calculated as the difference between the sales price and the original purchase price, minus any related expenses such as closing costs and real estate agent commissions.

If you have owned and lived in your home for at least two of the five years prior to sale, you may be exempt from paying the tax. To qualify for the exemption, you must file a form with your California income tax return stating that you meet all of the requirements.

Selling Laws You Should be Aware of /// California Home Seller’s Guide

The following is a list of some of the more important California real estate laws that sellers should be aware of: 

Transfer Disclosure Statement 

A transfer disclosure statement is a document that must be completed and filed when transferring ownership of a property in California. 

The transfer disclosure statement provides information about the condition of the property as well as any material defects that may exist. It’s important to complete and file a transfer disclosure statement accurately and honestly, as doing so can help protect you from potential legal trouble down the road.

Under Civil Code 1102, California sellers are required to disclose anything about their home that would influence the buyer’s decision to purchase it. The disclosure is done in a Transfer Disclosure Statement.

Escrow Agent 

Escrow agents are commonly used in California to facilitate the sale of houses. An escrow agent is a third party who holds the proceeds from the sale of a house in escrow until all of the conditions of the sale have been met. This can provide peace of mind to both the seller and buyer, as it ensures that neither party will be able to walk away with the money without fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a house in California, it’s important to familiarize yourself with escrow agents and how they work. This can help ensure that your transaction goes smoothly and that everyone involved feels confident about what’s happening. 

Hazard Disclosure Statement 

The Hazard Disclosure Statement is a document that must be completed and submitted to a potential buyer before the sale of a property in California. The statement discloses any known or potential hazards associated with the property, including but not limited to lead-based paint, asbestos, mold, and bed bugs.

It’s important that sellers complete and submit a Hazard Disclosure Statement accurately and honestly, as buyers can sue sellers for misrepresentation if they feel that they were not made aware of a known hazard at the time of purchase. Failure to disclose a known hazard can also result in criminal penalties.

You can learn more about disclosure laws in California here.

Transfer Tax 

In California, there is a state-level transfer tax that is paid by the seller when a property changes hands. This tax is calculated as a percentage of the sales price and varies depending on the municipality in which the property is located. For example, in the city of San Francisco, the transfer tax rate is 1.5% of the sales price for properties that are sold for more than $5 million.

The good news for sellers is that this tax can often be negotiated into the purchase price, so that it’s ultimately paid by the buyer rather than the seller. However, it’s important to be aware of this tax before selling a property in California, as it can add up to a significant amount of money.

Conclusion 

If you’re a homeowner in California, it’s time to get started on your preparations for putting your home on the market. Our comprehensive guide has everything you need to know about getting your home ready to sell in today’s market. Plus, by listing your homes with us at LoomHomes, you’ll gain access to our powerful real estate marketing tools and resources that will help get your home sold quickly and for top dollar. List with us here, or contact us today to learn more!

California Home Seller’s Guide

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