For homeowners looking to sell for the first time, the process can seem overwhelming. Local real estate agents addressed some of the key questions new homesellers often ask.

How long until the house is sold?

Sheryl Bentley, a real estate agent with Ebby Halliday Realtors, said her typical response to this common question is “it just depends.” Many factors, like the size, price and location, come into play for how quickly a house may sell.

“If it’s a $300,000 (house) — it’s going to take longer to sell than it is for a $100,000 house,” Bentley said.

With the current state of Grayson County’s housing market geared for sellers, Sheri Quinlan, a Realtor with Vincent Realty Group, said the local market is hot and houses are typically selling fast.

Pam Harper, a real estate agent with Century 21 Dean Gilbert Realtors, said even though it is a hot market, sellers are not guaranteed the same results. Some houses sell within just a few days while for others it could take months. The location as well as what the house offers are key factors.

“Everybody wants a three bedroom, two bath, two-car garage, and they want it for a certain price range,” Harper said. “If you’re priced correctly, you’re probably going to have multiple offers, and you’re probably going to be able to sell it very quickly.”

What’s the first step in getting a house ready to sell?

The first step is making the house presentable, so clean, de-clutter and make minor repairs. Quinlan said this also involves putting away personal items so potential buyers have a better opportunity to project their own ideas for a space.

“They’re wanting to make that home theirs and so if you have family pictures and things like that around, it kind of puts like a bad taste in their mouths,” Quinlan said. “When they come in to see a house, they want to imagine themselves living there.”

Bentley said this is the time to conduct a deep cleaning and make the outside presentable as well by planting some flowers.

How is a house priced?

Bentley said real estate agents conduct a comparative market analysis for the property and suggest a listing price to the sellers. Quinlan said the analysis examines the neighborhood, average square footage and the average price range of that area.

Harper noted that agents see what recently sold in the same neighborhood and for what price, and that factors into pricing a house. A comparison range is created, and she said the price suggestion usually comes somewhere in between.

“I find some properties through our multiple listing service that are sold recently and that are comparable,” Harper said. “And by that I mean they’ve got about the same square footage, about the same age, same amenities — we try to find that.”

What if the seller wants to go higher?

“That’s fine — we can do it for seven days, but if we have no showings, we’re going to have to reduce,” Bentley said.

Quinlan said Realtors work for their clients, so they will follow the wishes of the sellers and price the house at what they want. But if the house isn’t getting much attention, as far showings, the agents might start suggesting to lower the price.

“We might say, ‘Hey, let’s start out there, we’ll try it and if you don’t get anybody looking, then how about we drop it down a little bit,’” Quinlan said. “We’re there to please our clients.”

What should sellers disclose about a property?

Sellers should disclose anything they’re aware of that’s wrong with the property, Quinlan said. So if there’s lead-based paint, problems with the plumbing or foundation, all of this needs to be disclosed. Quinlan said agents have a checklist of questions where the sellers can indicate the problems they know about or have no knowledge of.

Harper said that checklist is usually one issued by the state, and it lists all the systems of the house. The document also has a section where sellers can list the repairs they have made to the house and the utilities they use.

“The main thing is if you have any defects, you need to list those,” Harper said. “The house is inspected when it’s under contract. The inspector is going to find all of that stuff, so you might as well be forthcoming.”

How should sellers handle low-ball offers?

“They can either counter back or they can just not accept the offer at all,” Bentley said. “I usually recommend they counter back.”

Quinlan said agents present every offer to their clients even if the agents feel it’s too low or not fair. She noted some sellers may feel offended by the low offer and won’t make a counter. Others try to negotiate and come back with a counter offer.

“If it’s really, really low, I’ve seen where people just don’t want to even deal with that person,” Quinlan said. “I think it depends on how bad they want to sell their house. Right now in Grayson County, our real estate market is very good, there are multiple offers going on with homes.”

Quinlan noted that the market is a sellers market, so houses in certain prices ranges are often receiving multiple offers. So it’s not uncommon for sellers to get the full asking price.

What stays with the house?

“Basically anything that is built-in or permanently attached to the structure is supposed to stay,” Harper said.

So window treatments, built-in appliances and landscaping stay with the property. Harper said sellers can take some of these items but they must be excluded in the contract. Bentley noted the refrigerator and washer dryer do not stay unless these items are negotiated. Harper also said flat screen TV brackets and wiring were recently designated to stay with the property.