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Top tips for trying to sell house quickly

Dear Heather,

I am just about to put my house on the market for sale, how long it will take to sell and then close?


Dear Seller,

How long will it take to close? Well, in honesty, that completely depends on how prepared you are. What do I mean by prepared? I mean that there are several things that have to happen before you should put your property on the market.

Find your deeds

If you have a mortgage, they are most likely with your bank. If you own the house outright, they will most likely be in your possession, in a safety deposit box or with your lawyer. Locate them and have your lawyer look at them to make sure everything is in order. It is amazing how many deed packages have things missing, or are missing altogether.

Is everyone named on the deeds still alive? If not, has probate been completed?

This usually takes six months or more. Do you have all the correct paperwork pertaining to death certificates, wills, etc.

Are you divorced? Likewise, you will need all the relevant paperwork.

Have your property staked and surveyed and a new plan done if necessary

People are amazed that this should be done before putting their property on the market (and it does involve cost). However, one in every four properties on the island has a boundary issue of some sort.

It is wise to have this corrected before putting the property on the market. No lawyer or banker will allow a buyer to move forward unless good title is given — a boundary, right-of-way or planning dispute does not represent clear title.

Prepare your property

Clean, tidy, painted, clutter and debris-free. I have said this countless times, but please do it. Your bank balance will thank you as it will attract more buyers and higher offers.


Give your agent time to take good photographs or arrange for a professional photographer if you are in the upper price bracket. The better your photos and video footage are, the more people will look at your property.

Pricing your listing

Your listing agent will work hard to supply you with comparables and a comparative market analysis. If in doubt, have a professional appraisal done. In truth, it is the market that decides the price not you, the agent or even the appraiser.

Putting a great marketing plan together takes time

Once the marketing campaign is launched, prospective buyers will want to view the property. If it is priced correctly, traffic should be good and you should begin to get offers. In a perfect world you might get offers and acceptance within the first three months.

Review of paperwork by lawyers

When an offer has been agreed and the sale and purchase agreement has been drafted, it's not unusual for it to take anywhere from two to four weeks for everyone to review it. During this time, the bank may have to send out an appraiser, the purchasers are pursuing their finance arrangements and a structural survey will have to be completed if necessary. Sometimes there are multiple parties, or travel arrangements involved if people live overseas. Sometimes the property is tenanted and all of this affects the time frame.


Once the contract has been signed, the conditions of the contract have been met and financing has been secured, conveyancing can begin.

The lawyer will submit a planning search to the Government (this takes at least 30 days). During this time, if you have not heeded my suggestion, the property will need to be surveyed, stakes located or replaced and a new metric plan done if the old one is in feet and inches.

Surveyors are running with about four to six weeks' work ahead of them. If there is an anomaly with the boundary it will have to be rectified and, if that takes a long time (which it can), there is a strong risk you could lose your buyer and have to start the process all over again, incurring additional legal fees. Once all this has been done, the property can progress towards closing.

So you can see it can be easy to underestimate how complex and time-consuming the sales process can be, hence correct pricing is essential.

A rough rule of thumb for a local property priced correctly, selling to a local purchaser with offer and acceptance within first month of launch … best-case scenario would be 30 days from signing a contract. Also, if a licence is required by the purchaser (PRC or international buyer) the timeframe could add six months or more. Your success lies in your preparation. A good agent will walk you carefully through these steps, so that when you receive a good offer you will be in a strong position to move forward.

Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty's leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for nearly 30 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate

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Published January 30, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated January 30, 2018 at 8:16 am)

Top tips for trying to sell house quickly

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