When your house is on the market, your door is always open. And we’re not just talking about buyers walking through.
Contractors will constantly come in and out with a mission—whether it’s spruce up the curb appeal, retile your bathroom, or take photos for the listing—so keep your checkbook handy.
OK, you’re thinking. Who are all the contractors involved in selling a house? Give it to me straight.
Well, a contractor is anyone you hire for their labor or services to get a job done right. Depending on how much TLC your home needs, you could be calling on quite a few of them.
With each contractor’s unique expertise, your house will become easier to sell… but it won’t come cheap. It’s up to you to know which contractors are worth the cost.
With the help of real estate agents who’ve worked with every contractor under the sun, we created this exhaustive list with simple explanations for each contractor’s job specs, qualifications, and pricing, so you don’t overspend or hire the wrong schmuck for the task at hand.
Your straight up list of all the contractors involved in selling a home
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, here’s a handy list of contractors involved in a home sale and a short summary what you can expect from them.
- Real estate agent – markets and sells your home
- Real estate attorney – represents and protects your legal rights when you sell your home
- Home inspector – identifies any issues with the home’s structure and function
- Home appraiser – determines the value of your home
- Title company/title agent – reviews the title and provides title insurance to the buyer or their lender
- Insurance agent – manages your homeowner’s insurance for your move
- Mortgage lender or broker – underwrites and services the mortgages for you and the buyer
- Repair and maintenance contractors – fix and maintain necessary repairs on your home
- Remodeling contractors (electricians, plumbers, painters, roofers) – provide cosmetic repair, installation, and updates for your home
- Real estate marketing pros (photographers, stagers) – provide useful tools and services to market and sell your home
What does a contractor do, anyway?
When you think of a contractor in a home sale, you probably think of a general contractor––the main contractor in a renovation, improvement, or building project.
But actually, a contractor can be anyone who performs work or provides supplies. So essentially, when you sell a house, a contractor is anyone that you bring in to complete a job. To make it even easier to remember… a contractor is anyone that works in a contract.
The contract for every professional that you hire to work on your home sale should include the following information at a minimum:
- Who, what, when, and where
- Description of job/service
- The cost of the service
- Insurance or warranty information
- Procedure for settling disputes
- Cancellation terms
Now, let’s get into every contractor involved in the home sale, starting with the most important players.
The key contractors to get you through all the home sale logistics
Right off the bat, you need to sync up with the key contractors who help you navigate the fundamentals of your home sale. Their roles are crucial for everything to run smoothly from here on out, so choose the following contractors wisely.
Real estate agent
A real estate agent is the first contractor you need to hire when you decide to sell your home.
Here are just some tasks your real estate agent will handle:
- Price your home right based on the local market
- Advise which repairs or updates are worth the cost
- Provide trusted recommendations for painters, electricians, plumbers, stagers, photographers, and more.
- Add your home to one or more multiple listing services (MLS)
- Reel in buyers with strategic showings
- Negotiate offers to get you the best price
- Organize the mounds of paperwork that come with selling a home
- Much, much more.
“In other words, your Realtor is the source of everything,” says Maureen Horn, who ranks in the top 1% of seller’s agents out of 1,278 agents in Longboat Key, Florida.
“A good Realtor has built a team. So a seller should have no problem making repairs or finding someone to do it,” Horn adds.
The cost of a real estate agent is relative to the price your home sells for––so you know they’ll work hard to sell your house for the most money possible. A standard real estate agent commission for sellers is 6% of the sale price, which they will then split with the buyer’s agent 50/50.
Much of the commission your agent earns doesn’t end up in their checking account, but actually goes towards marketing your home.
WIth 2 million active real estate agents out there, how do you find one you can trust with your largest financial asset?
Well, the best real estate agents (as opposed to average ones, of which there are many) will help you handle the deal seamlessly from start to finish—plus sell your house faster and for more money.
To find a top real estate agent in your neck of the woods, you need to vet your candidates based on their experience and performance history.
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Now, that’s one contractor down!
Real estate attorney
A real estate attorney protects you and your assets throughout the home sale to make sure you walk away with everything you are entitled to. In some states, a seller is required to have a real estate attorney at the closing table. Check with your real estate agent to verify if your state requires you to hire a real estate attorney.
Even if you aren’t required by law to hire an attorney for closing, their knowledge of the various state laws, language in documents and contracts, and negotiation skills exceed those of a real estate agent and are a small price to pay compared to what’s on the line––a home worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The cost of a real estate attorney ranges from $150 to $300 an hour, so be prepared to spend upwards of $5,000 on a real estate attorney. Your real estate agent can help determine if a real estate attorney is worth the cost based on the complexity of your situation. For example, if you’re selling a house in the midst of a divorce or separation, or on behalf of the deceased owner, a real estate attorney is money well spent.
To find an experienced attorney to represent you in the sale of your home, search for a real estate attorney on one of these sites:
- Your local bar association provides a list of trusted attorneys in your area.
- Avvo gives access to lawyer reviews and legal resources.
- FindLaw is a search engine to find lawyers and resources for your needs.
When your home goes under contract, the buyer will hire a home inspector to evaluate the house and identify any functional issues or red flags that pose a safety threat.
The buyers are responsible for the costs of the inspection itself, which runs about $325.
From there, they can decide whether they want to move forward with the sale, renegotiate their offer, or request repairs or repair credits.
You also have the option to have your home pre-inspected before you put it on the market. Be prepared to pay the fee and disclose anything that the home inspector finds to buyers that come through the door.
The quality of the home inspection depends on the experience and certifications of the home inspector. If you or the buyer brings in a home inspector who isn’t qualified to conduct a legitimate home inspection, you run the risk of paying for unnecessary repairs or getting into a scuffle after the deal closes over an undiscovered flaw.
Find a trusted home inspector through reviews, referrals, and proof of certifications. A top-notch home inspector is certified by at least one of the following associations:
- American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)
- International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)
- National Society of Home Inspectors (NSHI)
- American Home Inspectors Training (AHIT)
In the final steps of your home sale—once the buyer’s inspection is all said and done—a home appraiser determines the value of your home based on similar properties in your area, how much it costs to build in your location, the income potential of the property, and… well, their opinion.
The home appraisal is a standard process that the buyer’s mortgage lender uses to verify the amount they loan to the buyer. The cost of a home appraisal is a few hundred dollars and is typically paid for by the buyer.
If the home appraiser values your house for less than the buyer’s offer, the mortgage lender will adjust the approved loan down to the appraised value. So, the buyer will either adjust their offer, pay the difference themselves, or back out of the sale completely.
Make sure the home appraiser has the training and experience necessary to give your home a fair valuation. Use these review and referral websites to pore over performance reviews on contracting home appraisers in your area:
Title company/title agent
When you sell your home, a title company runs a title search to make sure the property title is legitimate. The search reveals if there are any judgements or liens on the title to take care of before the sale closes.
Oftentimes, a title company will maintain the escrow documents and facilitate the closing of the sale with a settlement agent from the title company. The specifics of a title company (like who chooses the company and who pays for the title insurance) vary by state and sometimes by county.
Horn explains that each county in Florida has a “tradition” when it comes to title insurance costs. In Sarasota, the buyer usually always pays for the title insurance––but in Manatee, the next county over, it’s often negotiated to split the cost between the buyer and seller 50/50.
The average title insurance policy carries a one-time premium of about $1,000 that covers upfront work and legal coverage, but premium costs can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
The contract between you and the buyer will determine who covers the expenses, and whatever costs you’re responsible for will be deducted from your home sale proceeds during closing.
One of the final steps of your closing checklist is to cancel your homeowner’s insurance. Once the title has been transferred and the closing is complete, call your insurance agent to cancel the insurance agreement for your house.
Wait until the sale is closed before you cancel your insurance to stay protected in the event of unforeseen disasters. Talk to your insurance agent to find out more information on cancellations, premium reimbursement, and insurance transfer once your home sale closes.
Mortgage lender or broker
When you take out a mortgage on a house, you and the financial institution that you borrow from enter a contract. Throughout the home sale, the buyer works with their mortgage lender to solidify the details of their agreement and will pay the lender several thousand dollars in closing costs at the end of it all.
If you still have an outstanding balance on your mortgage at the time of your sale, the most common way to settle it is to use the proceeds from your home sale to pay the remaining balance. Talk to your real estate agent and your mortgage lender to determine the steps you should take to settle your mortgage when you sell your home.
If, as the seller, you have a prepayment penalty on your mortgage, you may owe your lender money at closing.
All contractors who help you repair and remodel your house
Aside from the common contractors involved in the transaction side of your home sale, there are a variety of different home maintenance, repair, and real estate contractors you can hire to help get your house ready for buyers.
It’s unlikely you would need all of these contractors. Your real estate agent’s advice, the condition of your home, your local real estate market, and the results of your pre-inspection (if you get one) can help you determine which of these contractors you’ll need to hire before you list your house for sale.
Repair and maintenance contractors
“The number 1 thing that people want to know is that your home is maintained,” says Horn. “You should either have your real estate agent or a home inspector come in [to do a pre-inspection] and kind of see what you can do beforehand. That’ll pay off.”
Here are some of the contractors that you should bring in to fix noticeable and significant issues in your home before you put it on the market:
- Pest Inspector/Exterminator
- Radon Tester
Make sure you hire experienced and professional experts to fix issues with your home’s function and safety. A shoddy repair job could come back to bite you once a buyer brings in a home inspector, not to mention waste your time and money.
“A handy person that you know is not the same thing as a handyman,” says Horn. “Handyman companies are licensed and insured, so that’s what you have to be careful with.”
To get the best service for your home, every contractor that you hire to repair or maintain your home’s function should have:
- A license for the specific job that abides by your state or city’s laws
- Proof of insurance that covers liabilities for the specific service
- A free quote and cost explanation
- Positive client reviews and testimonials
Check on the following websites to search for experienced and recommended contractors for your home projects:
- Angie’s List
Contractors for remodels and updates
Remodeling contractors are much like repair and maintenance contractors. They should obtain all of the same qualifications to perform each task, but the tasks at hand might not be as crucial to the sale of your house.
From minor cosmetic updates to total home makeovers, the cost of contractors for home improvements has a wide range. Here are some of the contractors you might hire to remodel and update your house:
- Flooring Contractor or Installer
- Window Installer
- Kitchen/Bathroom Remodeler
- General Contractor, Architect or Designer for large scale projects
Before you hire a contractor for remodels and updates, make sure the project will increase your home value. Talk to your real estate agent about your local real estate market to decide which remodels and updates are worth the cost.
Real estate marketing contractors
The contractors who help market your home for sale are typically hired and managed by your real estate agent. All of the marketing techniques for your home fall under the tasks included in their job and is factored into their commission costs.
Your real estate agent might contract one of the following professionals to improve your home’s marketability:
- Home stager – to bring in furniture and decorations to attract buyers
- Professional photographer – to take pictures, virtual tours, and videos for your home’s listing
- Graphic designer – to create eye-catching flyers, advertisements, or e-mails.
Skip the contractors—sell your house to a cash investor
To skip the hassles associated with hiring contractors, you can sell your house for cash to an investor. When you sell your home for cash, you can sell it as-is, meaning you don’t have to worry about maintenance or updates that other buyers would expect.
But, just because you save time and effort, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. The amount you’ll get for your house from an all-cash investor will be significantly less than what it’s worth––they offer around 65% of a home’s actual value.
If you do decide to sell your house for cash, make sure you work with a legitimate service that protects you throughout the transaction.
Every contractor involved in selling a house
There’s a lot of contractors that can help you sell your house—from the key players to the buyer-attracting experts—so you need to know which contractors you should hire and how to find the best ones for the job.
The most important contractor involved in selling your home is your real estate agent. Sell your home faster and for more money with a top real estate agent that points you in the right direction for all of your contractor needs.
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