8 Steps to Selling a House in Illinois

By 

Jamie Ayers

Updated 

March 16th, 2020

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Getting ready to sell your house in Illinois? Our in-depth guide breaks the entire process down into 8 simple steps. Learn how to find a great agent, price your home, negotiate with buyers, breeze through closing, and more!

Updated on March 16, 2020

Now is a good time to be selling a house in Illinois! According to Zillow Research, property values in the Land of Lincoln rose 1.12% in 2019, and are projected to rise a further 5.53% over the next year.

Of course, even the best Illinois properties will struggle to sell if you don’t price the home properly, do a poor job of marketing it, or don’t know how to handle the negotiations.

Read on to learn the eight steps to successfully selling your home in Illinois!

1. Finding a Illinois realtor

Selling a home isn’t easy. It’s a high-stakes, complex transaction and requires a considerable amount of time and expertise to get a good outcome. If you’re looking to sell your Illinois home for the best price — and minimize stress along the way — you need to find a top-rated real estate agent in your area.

The best Illinois listing agents know exactly what local buyers want and how to reach them. They’ll offer expert advice, guidance, and support every step of the way, from the initial listing all the way through closing.

In fact, sellers who work with real estate agents net 33% more, on average, than those who list on their own. For a $202,686 home — the median home value in Illinois, according to Zillow — that’s a premium of $66,886. In other words, hiring an agent is well worth the investment.

2. Deciding when to sell

A successful home sale is all about timing. The optimal time to sell depends on your ultimate goal. Is it important to sell for as much as possible? Or are you in a crunch and need to sell quickly?

Luckily, there are seasonal trends that can help you predict when is the best time to list your home and achieve your goal.

Best time to sell a house across the U.S.

Best Time to Sell a House

Source: 2019 Redfin Data Center

Best time to sell a house in Illinois for speed

Best Month to Sell for Speed in Illinois
June & July
55 days on market
12 days faster than average

The real estate market is constantly fluctuating. In Illinois, how long your house sits on the market largely depends on the time of year.

Illinois homes spend an average of 67 days on the market. This is from listing to accepting an offer and does not include the typical 30-40 days it takes to close a deal.

Fortunately, there are months when things move faster.

Overall, the warmer season is the best time to sell your home quickly in Illinois. Homes listed in the summer months have the fewest total Days on Market (DOM) at 56 days. Specifically, homes listed in June and July are the best for speed with average DOMs of 55 days.

Best time to sell a house in Illinois for price

Best Month to Sell for Price in Illinois
June
$249,000 median sale price
10% more than average

Midwestern winters can be especially harsh. Most potential home buyers won’t trek through a few feet of snow to see a house. Buyers would rather wait until the weather warms up, leading to more competition and higher offers.

In Illinois, listing in June results in higher profits. Listings in June sold for a median price of $249,000, while the yearly average in Illinois is $226,083.

Learn More: The Best Time to Sell a Home in Illinois

3. Pricing your home

Pricing your home is one of the most critical steps in the selling process. An over-the-top initial price could leave your home on the market for months. However, you also need to be sure you’re not setting yourself up to lose money on the home.

Stay updated on your Illinois neighborhood’s market and see if there are any trends with homes similar to yours. Look at starting prices, how often prices drop, and how many days homes in various price ranges spend on the market.

Get a Comparative Market Analysis, or CMA, from your local real estate agent. CMAs compare your house to others recently sold that are similar in size, age, and location.

They also take the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the square footage of your home, upgrades, and renovations, and more unique details into consideration. Using this objective analysis, your agent will calculate a competitive value that will meet your selling goals.

Quick Tip: How to get a comparative market analysis for free

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4. Preparing, marketing, and showing your home

Listing your home isn’t just about writing an eye-catching description. You’ll have to prep your home so it’s ready to draw in potential home buyers. The following steps will maximize your listing’s appeal.

Home Staging Works!

Staging your home isn’t just about creating an aesthetically pleasing experience for home buyers’ benefit. It puts more money in your pocket and helps your home sell faster.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 44% of buyer’s agents said effectively staging homes increases their value by 1% to 10%. In the same survey, nearly two-thirds of listing agents reported staged homes spent less time on the market.

Stage your home to showcase the layout of your home. Help buyers picture its unique potential and their lives would be like in the home.

Start by decluttering and cleaning the space. Remove unnecessary distractions, such as personal trinkets and photos. Clean to ensure home buyers walk into a comfortable area that looks and smells fresh.

Also, look for places you can make easy and affordable upgrades, especially in the main areas of your home. Replace outdated pulls in the kitchen and touch-up the master bedroom’s paint to brighten the space. Even the simplest updates can make your home more desirable to potential buyers.

Craft an Appealing (and Accurate) Listing Description

As potential buyers are searching for homes, your listing description will introduce them to your property. What it says — along with its images — will either encourage buyers to book a showing or cause them to move on to the next listing.

Everyone is always on the go, which means they’re often searching for homes on mobile devices. Give them a succinct list of details showcasing the home’s unique features. Keep it short enough that it doesn’t require a lot of scrolling or back-and-forth on mobile devices.

Share the home’s main rooms and features, such as baths, beds, lot size, location, square footage, unique outdoor areas, and more. However, it’s important not to over exaggerate your home’s positive features. Honesty and accuracy will ensure potential buyers don’t feel disappointed or even lied to during showings.

Market Your Home

Staging and a well-worded listing will only get you so far in the home-selling process. Without effective marketing, you may not gain the number of serious buyers you need to quickly sell your home for top dollar.

It’s critical to invest in the necessary details when marketing your home, starting with purchasing professional photos.

While your real estate agent will spearhead most marketing initiatives — like putting your listing on the local MLS as well as other listing websites — you can still help. Market your house on social media sites and your realtor’s website. Don’t forget to ask friends and family to reshare your post with their networks.

Showings and Open Houses

Potential buyers should be treated like guests during private showings. Having a clean, well-lit atmosphere will make them feel welcome and even “at home.”

Open houses are another positive way to generate buyer interest. Get together with your realtor and plan an open house for a minimum of two hours on a Sunday afternoon. This fits into the majority of people’s free time leading to higher traffic.

And be sure to let your realtor take the lead during showings; overbearing owners scare potential buyers off.

5. Fielding offers and negotiations

Receiving an offer is just the beginning of your selling process. Once an offer is submitted, you have the option to present a counteroffer if your expectations aren’t met. In Illinois, you have 72 hours to respond to an offer.

The process can go back and forth as many times as needed to reach an agreement or until one party can end negotiations altogether. When you’re satisfied with an offer, you can ask your agent to accept on your behalf.

After you accept an offer, the purchase agreement is processed and includes disclosures, the agreed-upon price, and other contingencies you and the buyer agreed to.

Learn More: Real Estate Counter Offer Etiquette

What's in a real estate purchase agreement?

6. Appraisal and inspections

Once you’ve entered into a purchase agreement, the work really begins. This is when appraisals, home inspections, and further negotiations occur.

You’ll begin with a real estate appraisal, which is a report composed by a licensed appraiser to determine your home’s value. Appraisals are the only report lenders use to decide whether to lend buyers money for a mortgage. When an appraisal returns lower than the agreed-upon sales price, the buyer’s lender will decline the mortgage or require the buyer to make up the difference.

Home inspections are a separate entity. Most buyers order home inspections to protect themselves from any negative surprises after closing on the home.

For example, In Illinois, high levels of radon are a common issue that home inspections discover. Radon, a naturally occurring gas from the breakdown of uranium, can easily be remediated by properly venting the gas. However, if the buyer moves into the house without finding out about the radon, it can damage their health.

If issues are discovered during inspection — and the contract has appropriate contingencies — buyers can ask sellers to help with closing costs, decrease the sale price, or make repairs before closing. However, severe problems could result in buyers dropping out of the deal altogether if there was a relevant contingency in the agreement.

Learn More: Can the Seller Back Out of Contract Before Closing?

7. Paperwork and required Illinois disclosures

Illinois law requires sellers to disclose any known quality, healthfulness, and safety issues of your property to prospective buyers in writing before closing. This includes:

  • Past flooding and flood risk
  • Unsafe conditions
  • Municipal code violations
  • Environmental issues
  • Boundary line disputes
  • Material defects in specified structures

Reach out to your real estate agent for advice on what you should disclose and what is required by Illinois law.

Forms and Documents for Selling a House in Illinois

Required for All Real Estate Sales in Illinois

  • 2 Forms of ID
  • Copy of Purchase Agreement and Any Addendums
  • Closing Statement
  • Signed Deed
  • Bill of Sale
  • Affidavit of Title
  • Survey Results
  • Transfer tax form

Possible Additional Documents

  • Loan Payoff Information
  • HOA Forms and Guidelines
  • Home Inspection Results
  • Proof of Repairs or Renovations
  • Home Warranty Information
  • Copies of Relevant Wills, Trusts, or Power of Attorney Letters
  • Relevant Affidavits (Name Affidavits, Non-Foreign Affidavit Under IRC 1445, etc.)
  • Closing Disclosure (for certain seller concessions)
  • Correction Statement and Agreement

Illinois Disclosure Forms

Learn More: What Happens to Your Mortgage When You Sell Your Home?

8. The closing process

The closing process varies from sale to sale and can take a few days, but more likely will take around a month. Once closing day arrives sellers, buyers, and an attorney or title company representative meet to sign all sales documents.

When selling in Illinois, title companies, attorneys, or lenders can conduct closing. However, only attorneys may prepare documents.

How much are closing costs for Illinois home sellers?

Selling a house has associated costs that go beyond repairs, renovations, and staging costs. You’ll also pay commission, taxes, and closing costs. In most scenarios, a total of 6% commission is split between the seller’s agent and buyer’s agent, giving each 3%. It’s the seller’s responsibility to pay the entire 6%.

Real estate transfer taxes cover transferring the title of a property to the new owner. In Illinois, transfer taxes are paid by either the seller or the buyer, it all depends on the location of the property. Who pays this tax will be determined during the negotiation process.

If the responsibility falls into your lap, the statewide rate is $0.50 per $500 of the transaction cost. But beware, different counties impose additional fees. Lean on your real estate agent as a guide to properly estimate what taxes you can expect to pay in your area.

In addition to taxes and commissions, sellers’ closing costs often range from 2% to 4% of the total sale price.

Learn More: How Much Are Closing Costs for the Seller?

Next steps: Sell your Illinois home and save thousands

Whether you’re looking to list your Illinois home immediately or 6-12 months from now, it’s never too early to start looking for an agent, getting advice, and making a plan.

Clever is here to help guide you through the home selling process — and save money along the way! In fact, homeowners who list with us save an average of $9,000 on home selling costs.

>> LEARN about Clever's free service and read reviews from real home sellers here!

Top ways to sell your home in Illinois

Additional resources for Illinois home sellers