Ultimate Checklist: How to Sell a Home in the Bay Area

Ultimate Checklist: How to Sell a Home in the Bay Area


So, you've decided to sell your Bay Area home and tackle your next big life adventure. Woot!

Wait, did you just gulp nervously after reading that sentence and wonder, "Ummm, now what?"

Selling your home is both exciting and overwhelming – but it doesn't have to be stressful if you follow Abio Properties' ultimate checklist. We break down the steps and help get you to that finish line.  If you are a more visual learner, follow along with our Seller's Roadmap below.

How to Sell a Home roadmap

1. Plan

Pick a partner whose job is to know how to sell a home

Don't go it alone! "For Sale by Owner" might sound like an attractive way to skip paying the agent commission, but beware of landmines that cost you money. You might undervalue the property, misunderstand the liability, get overwhelmed by the paperwork, not market it on the right channels...

Partner with a licensed, experienced real estate agent who you trust and vibe with, who has community and industry relationships and a promising track record. Date around and interview agents about how well they know East Bay property values and trends, how they would market your home, and whether they use web, mobile, and other high-tech marketing tools.

The right Realtor will hold your hand through all the steps on our checklist.


Set the price  

This one of the most important decisions you will make. The price you set determines  whether your property attracts multiple offers and achieves the highest return. Here's where your Realtor's knowledge of the local market is invaluable. Your Realtor will start with a comparative market analysis (comps) of your neighborhood and go from there.


2. Prep 

Get the property ready for prime time 

First impressions can make or break your sale. Consider which cosmetic and structural fixes will give you the best bang for your buck.

At the very least, every home seller should tackle these basics: Declutter and clean, de-personalize (take down family photos and knick-knacks), freshen up interior paint with neutrals (whites, beiges, and grays), and fix that dead lawn that's killing the curbside appeal. Get Abio's complete cleaning checklist.

As for big repairs and upgrades, ask your agent to help with a cost-benefit analysis. Will a kitchen face-lift boost your profit? What about fixing that leaky roof and those scratched wood floors? Do you live in Alameda County and need to bring the sewer lateral line to compliance?


Consider staging  

A staged home makes it easy for even the most unimaginative buyer to picture themselves living there – and helps them look past basic defects. A well-dressed house also looks better in online photographs and videos, which is extremely important because more than 90% of home searches start online.

Potential buyers decide within 90 seconds whether the property is worth seeing in person. Bottom line: A staged home could boost your sales price by as much as 10 percent, according to some industry estimates. You can hire a pro or stage it yourself. Read Abio's can't-miss staging tips for our detailed home staging advice.


Pull your reports  

Try not to think about all the trees sacrificed in the name of property paperwork... The reports you need to gather include:

  • Title and ownership
  • Original sales contract
  • Mortgage and financing
  • Property tax records
  • Original appraisal from when you bought the property and a recent appraisal
  • Homeowner's insurance records
  • Past inspection reports
  • Receipts and documentation for major renovations
  • Home repair and maintenance records
  • Manuals and warranties
  • Homeowner association (HOA) contract
  • Any other legally required disclosures (your agent will advise)


3. Market

Advertise the sale

Your agent’s expertise, communication and creative skills, contacts, and relationships kick into high gear. The marketing process includes advertising your property on MLS (multiple listing service) and using photographs, slideshows, videos, web pages, flyers, mailers, social media, and more.


Write a seller’s letter 

Describe why you loved the house and neighborhood. It's a nice touch — and sometimes the little touches really count! Your agent will include your note in the seller's package that interested buyers can thumb through, along with the disclosures and other property documents.


Show your home  

An open house is a staple selling tool; you should skedaddle while it is happening. We know it feels weird to no longer have your home as you knew it and feels like you are living in a hotel, but we promise it's worth it. (If you can afford to move out during the selling process, it's even better for everyone involved.)


4. Negotiate

You have bids! Review the offers

Working with your agent, you'll consider factors like the bid amount, how the buyer plans to finance the purchase, a request for an inspection (paid for by the potential buyer), and a deadline for accepting the offer.



If you don’t ask, you won’t get it — so go for it! Your Realtor will take the lead on negotiating on your behalf, so discuss customary costs and terms and go from there. This is the time to make a counteroffer to ensure that you get the best terms and price possible, including escrow details, cost allocations, deadlines, closing date, seller rent-back agreement, etc.


5. Enter escrow & close

Enter a contract with your best bidder  

You are now legally bound to deal with this buyer, although you still can accept backup offers in case your buyer backs out. You’re in escrow! An average escrow in the Bay Area lasts 21-30 days.



Depending on your market, either the buyer or seller hires inspectors to evaluate the roof, basement, heating and cooling systems, water heater, structure, plumbing, and electrical. In our fast-moving market, many sellers provide inspections up-front as disclosures and reports. In competitive multi-offer situations, buyers who want an edge will have inspections done in advance and then agree to take the home “as-is.”


Negotiate. Again.  

You may find yourself discussing various new issues that have arisen during buyer inspections. The buyer might ask you to make repairs or financial concessions.



Homebuyers in the Bay Area will sign their loan documents, and the lender will fund them. Then, the escrow company will close escrow and officially record the sale.


6. Pop the bubbly!


Abio Properties is a boutique real estate agency with offices in Oakland, Lafayette, and Walnut Creek. We specialize in making it easy for you to put your East Bay home for sale. No real estate question is too small or "dumb," so please contact us anytime at 888-400-ABIO (2246) or hello@abioproperties.com.