Seller’s Guide


Your home may be your single biggest investment and one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make. So when you sell, you want to get the best price and the most favorable terms. But there’s much more to marketing a home than placing a classified ad on the Internet or in newspaper and anchoring a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. There are many marketing options, legalities and details that go into the sale, from the time you set the price to the final closing.

The best way to make sure you sell your home for the best price, and in the shortest amount of time, is to work with a full-service professional Windermere agent. I’m educated in every aspect of the transaction, from writing an offer to negotiating the price, to arranging financing and following the transaction through to escrow.

As your Windermere agent—

• I know the market and will help you set the right price.
• I also know what buyers are looking for and the financial incentives that will encourage them to buy.
• I am a member of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS ), a service that enables me to provide detailed information about your home to the thousands of other agents assisting buyers.
• I n addition to the MLS , I interact with other agents on a daily basis. We trade information about new properties and match eager buyers with the right homes.
• I have access to several advertising opportunities—both in print and online— that will raise interest in your home.
• I will maximize our exclusive online listing enhancement tools, such as PhotoGallery, to create an online presence on and that will attract attention to your home.
• Windermere’s nationwide referral system provides me access to the large number of people who relocate each year, increasing the pool of qualified buyers for your home.
• I can quickly separate the qualified buyers from the rest of the pack. This saves you time, because your home is only being shown to serious buyers.


A clean, neat home in need of few or no repairs will sell faster, and at a higher price, than one that is showing wear and tear. To give your home its best possible presentation, perform a mini-makeover or have your home professionally staged before it’s shown to potential buyers. As your Windermere agent, I can do a final walk-through with you to make sure no details have been overlooked. Here’s a list of tips that will help you make your home more attractive. Some of the items below will be part of a buyer’s inspection and may need to be repaired or replaced as part of the transaction. I will discuss these important items with you to help make a well informed decision.



• Remove peeling and chipped paint; replace with a fresh coat.
• Clear gutters and downspouts.
• Make sure there is good exterior lighting and all walkway lights and front-door lanterns work.
• Remove any moss from the roof.


• Mow and trim grass; re-seed and fertilize where necessary.
• Prune all overgrown trees and shrubs.
• Remove or replace dead or diseased plants, shrubs and trees.
• Clean grease and oil stains from driveway.
• Weed flower beds.


• Paint or stain worn areas in wood decks.
• Remove grass growing in concrete cracks; sweep off debris from shrubs and trees.
• Clean all deck rails and make sure they’re secure; replace missing slats or posts.

Front door:

• Polish the hardware on the door until it shines.
• Add a fresh coat of paint to get rid of nicks.
• Clean the glass on the storm door; make certain the screen is secure.
• Make sure the doorbell operates properly and there are no squeaks when the door opens and closes.


• Clean all windows—inside and out.
• If needed, add a fresh coat of paint to the window trims and sills.
• Make sure all windows open and close easily.
• Replace cracked windowpanes and those with broken seals.
• Make sure window screens are secure; replace any screens with holes or tears.


• Clean entryway floors and area rugs.
• Downsize clutter in entry closet to give the appearance of spaciousness.
• Double-check entry lighting to make sure it works.

Living room/dining room/family room:

• Give the room a fresh coat of paint if necessary.
• Repair cracks and holes in ceiling and walls.
• Make sure all wallpaper is secure.
• Repaint any woodwork that is worn or chipped.
• Clean draperies and blinds; open them to maximize light.
• Make sure draperies and blinds open and close.
• Wash windows.
• Steam-clean carpets. Clean rugs and wood flooring, and remove any stains or odors.
• Position the furniture to showcase the size and space of the room.
• Remove and replace any attached items, such as chandeliers and draperies that you wish to move with you.
• Put away toys and hobby supplies; remove extra magazines and books from tables.


• Make sure countertops and sinks are clean and stain-free.
• Fix dripping faucets.
• Organize pantry and cupboards so they appear clean, neat and spacious.
• Make sure the refrigerator and the freezer are defrosted and free of odors.
• Clean the oven and cook-top thoroughly.


• Make sure sinks, tubs, showers and countertops are clean and free of stains.
• Repair any leaky faucets.
• Remove grout and soap stains from tile.
• Replace any missing or cracked tiles or grout.
• Make sure all joints are caulked.
• Make sure all fixtures, including heat lamps and exhaust fans, are operating.
• Install a new shower curtain.
• Store all supplies, such as toilet paper, shampoo bottles and cleansers.


• Repair cracks in ceiling and walls.
• Apply a fresh coat of paint if necessary.
• Make sure wallpaper is secure.
• Clean draperies and blinds; open them to maximize light.
• Put away toys, clothes.
• Neatly make up the beds.


• Check for water penetration or dampness; call for professional repairs if necessary.
• Get rid of musty odors.
• Clean furnace and drains.
• Make sure light fixtures work.
• Arrange storage area in a neat and organized manner.
• Sweep floor.
• Make sure stairway handrail is secure.

Tidy extras:

• Plant flowers to brighten a walkway and enrich the entry.
• Remove any indoor houseplants that are brown or losing their leaves.
• Remove all “fixer” cars, campers and boats from the property.
• Discard the clutter of magazines on the coffee and end tables.
• Hide or get rid of worn-out throw pillows.
• Replace shower curtains and invest in a matching set of towels in the bathroom.
• At night, turn on porch light and outdoor lighting. Buyers often drive by homes they are considering at various times of day.
• Last but not least, use incandescent bulbs and not fluorescent bulbs in your home while it is for sale. Fluorescent bulbs are slow to light up and can make a home look especially dark.


Once your home is ready to show, as your Windermere agent, I will begin marketing it to potential buyers and other sales associates. If possible, leave the home when buyers are present so they feel comfortable asking their agent candid questions.

Other helpful tips include:

• Remove pets. Take them with you or keep them penned in the yard or garage.
• Open shades and curtains to let in light.
• Turn on enough lights so the home is well-lit. Remember to use incandescent bulbs throughout your home while it is for sale.
• Remove clutter from tables and bookshelves. Neatness makes rooms seem larger.
• Put away items in the yard such as garden tools, bicycles and toys.
• Light a fire in the fireplace to create a cozy atmosphere.
• Grind up part of a lemon in the disposal to add a fresh smell to the kitchen.
• Keep radios and TVs off, or on low volume.
• Keep money and other valuables, as well as prescription drugs, out of sight.
• No smoking inside your home while it is for sale, this is a big turn-off for potential buyers


Once you’ve found the home you want to buy, together we’ll complete a purchase and sale agreement. This is the contract in which you and the seller outline the details of the property transfer. The purchase and sale agreement usually consists of the following:

• Earnest money receipt
• Financing addendum
• Inspection addendum
• Conditions/disclosure addendum
• Contingency addendum—when appropriate
• Addendum outlining special conditions
• Lead-based paint notification—when appropriate
• Agency disclosure
• Property disclosure form completed by the property seller




Once a buyer has decided to make an offer on your home, it will usually be contingent upon a professional inspection of the entire property—including improvements. The home inspector looks beyond the cosmetics to make sure that the home’s general systems operate properly. The inspector will also look for large repairs that are needed and report on the condition of the home.

The standard home inspector’s report will review the conditions of the home’s heating and cooling systems; interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; foundation, basement and visible structure. The inspector will also look for cracks in cement walls, water stains that indicate leakage and any indication of wood rot.

A home inspection also points out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape.

As the seller, you can also elect to hire an inspector to evaluate your home prior to putting it on the market. Many times an inspector can point out major or minor issues with your home that you may be unaware of and that may affect its value.

As your Windermere agent, I’m familiar with home-inspection services and can provide you with a list of names from which to choose. Another good way to find a home inspector is to ask a friend, or perhaps a business acquaintance, who has had a home inspection and can recommend a home inspector they were satisfied with.

Remember, no home is perfect. If major problems are found, I will help you negotiate through the process.


During the negotiation stage of the transaction, a mutually agreed-upon date for closing is determined. “Closing” is when you and the buyer sign all the paperwork and pay your share of the settlement fees, and the documents are recorded. Settlement obligations vary widely due to specific contract language, local laws and customs. Prior to closing, the closing agent (usually an escrow or title company or attorney) will complete a detailed settlement statement for both buyer and seller. As your Windermere agent, I can help you understand which of the following typical settlement fees apply to you.

The Seller will receive:

• Utility deposits held by gas, electric, cable, telephone and other companies
• Prorated portion of pre-paid property taxes
• Prorated mortgage interest from payments made during the current month
• Fuel rebate for oil or propane remaining in storage tank
• Net proceeds after seller’s share of expenses is paid

The Seller pays:

• Brokerage commission (the sum or percentage of the sale price previously agreed upon by the seller and real estate agent)
• One-half of escrow or legal fees paid to the attorney or escrow company for preparing the closing
• Document preparation fees
• Recording and notary fees
• Title search and title insurance (paid by either the seller or the buyer)
• Local transfer taxes, if any
• State taxes, if any
• Repairs or inspections seller has agreed to pay for


Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
Interest rates on this type of mortgage are periodically adjusted up or down depending on a specified financial index

A method of equalizing the monthly mortgage payments over the life of the loan, even though the proportion of principal to interest changes over time. In the early part of the loan, the principal repayment is very low, while the interest payment is very high. At the end of the loan, the relationship is reversed

Annual Percentage Rate
The actual finance charge for a loan, including points and fees, in addition to the stated interest rate

An expert opinion of the value or worth of a property

Assessed Value
The value placed on a property by a municipality for purposes of levying taxes. It may differ widely from appraised or market value

Balloon Payment
A large principal payment due all at once at the end of some loan terms

A limit on how much the interest rate can change in an adjustable-rate mortgage

Certificate of Title
A document, signed by a title examiner, stating that a seller has an insurable title to the property

The deed to a property is legally transferred from seller to buyer, and documents are recorded

Closing Costs
See “Settlement” or refer to “Settlement—who pays what” in this guide

A fee (usually a percentage of the total transaction) paid to an agent or broker for services performed

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)
A survey of the attributes and selling process of comparable homes on the market or recently sold; used to help determine a correct pricing strategy for a seller’s property

A condition in a contract that must be met for the contract to be binding

A binding legal agreement between two or more parties that outlines the conditions for the exchange of value (for example: money exchanged for title to property)

A legal document that formally conveys ownership of a property from seller to buyer

Down Payment
A percentage of the purchase price that the buyer must pay in cash and may not borrow from the lender

The value of the property actually owned by the homeowner: purchase price, plus appreciation, plus improvements, less mortgages and liens

A fund or account held by a third-party custodian until conditions of a contract are met

Fixed Rate Mortgage
Interest rates on this type of mortgage remain the same over the life of the loan. Compare to “adjustable-rate mortgage”

A recognizable entity (such as a kitchen cabinet, drape or light fixture) that is permanently attached to a property and belongs to the property when it is sold

Hazard Insurance
Compensates for property damage from specified hazards such as fire and wind

The cost of borrowing money, usually expressed as a percentage rate

A security claim on a property until a debt is satisfied

Listing Contract
An agreement whereby an owner engages a real estate company for a specified period of time to sell a property, for which, upon the sale, the agent receives a commission

Market Price
The actual price at which a property sold

Market Value
The price that is established by present economic conditions, location and general trends

Security claim by a lender against a property until the debt is paid

Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
A system that provides to its members detailed information about properties for sale. In Washington State it is referred to as the NWMLS

Origination Fee
An application fee(s) for processing a proposed mortgage loan

Principal, interest, taxes and insurance, forming the basis for monthly mortgage payments

One percent of the loan principal. It’s charged in addition to interest and fees

Prepayment Penalty
A fee paid by a borrower who pays off the loan before it is due

One of the parties to a contract; or the amount of money borrowed, for which interest is charged

Divide or assess proportionately

Purchase & Sale Agreement
A contract between buyer and seller that outlines the details of the property transfer; or refer to “Purchase and sale agreement” on this page

All financial transactions required to make the contract final. See “Settlement—who pays what” on this page.

A document that indicates ownership of a specific property

Title Search
Detailed examination of the entire document history of a property title to make sure there are no legal encumbrances

Windermere Real Estate NW, Inc.
Offices Conveniently Located In
Ballard | Eastlake | Madison Park | Mt. Baker | Greenwood