8 Steps to Selling a House in Washington, D.C.

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Clever Real Estate

Updated 

March 18th, 2020

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Getting ready to sell your house in Washington, D.C.? 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 18, 2020

Now is a good time to be selling a house in Washington, D.C.! According to Zillow Research, property values in the capital rose 2.57% in 2019, and are projected to rise a further 4.82% over the next year.

Of course, even the best Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C.!

1. Finding a Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C. 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 $625,499 home — the median home value in Washington, D.C., according to Zillow — that’s a premium of $206,415. In other words, hiring an agent is well worth the investment.

2. Deciding when to sell

Getting top dollar for your home depends on more factors than just your market. Changes in local legislation, the job market, seasons of the year, and other factors cause fluctuations in home sale prices.

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 Washington, D.C.

Best Month to Sell for Speed in Washington, D.C.
April & May
11 days on market
8 days faster than average
Best Month to Sell for Price in Washington, D.C.
June
$591,000 median sale price
6% more than average

If you want to get the best offer for your D.C. home, you should list it during the summer. While there are many other houses on the market during these months, there's also a higher demand for houses increasing the chances of higher profits. 

Learn More: The Best Time to Sell a Home in Washington, D.C.

3. Pricing your home

Obtaining the best offer for your house will depend on the Washington, D.C. market and listing your home for the right price. Setting the right pricing is vital to boost your home selling profits, and selling your home faster. If you want to list your home competitively, you need a Competitive Market Analysis of your home.

A CMA is a comparison of similar sold, current, and expired listings in your area. A local real estate agent can create a Comparative Market Analysis for you. When you choose one of our Clever Partner Agents, you’ll receive a CMA for free.

If you want to get top dollar for your home, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of pricing your home right and get a CMA before your list it.

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

If you'd like some professional guidance with no strings attached, Clever can help! Enter your basic info below to get matched with top real estate agents in your area. During your initial meeting with your agent, you’ll get a professionally prepared CMA, advice on how to price your home, and learn what matters most to buyers in your area.

Note: This service is 100% free and there’s no obligation to sign — get started below!

4. Preparing, marketing, and showing your home

Before listing your home, you must get it ready for potential buyers. Make sure to clean, repair and even consider minor high return renovations to boost your profits. It’s important to take professional photos of your home featuring what makes your home unique.

Consider listing your property on your local MLS, realtor websites, online portals, and social media. Your home description and photos should appeal to your buyers by highlighting features such as your wood-burning fireplace, sunroom, cathedral ceilings, among others. You may also consider using real estate technology such as virtual staging and virtual reality to separate your listing from its competitors.

Now it’s time to schedule your showings. You can do private showings or open houses to sell your house faster. The latter allows you to show it to many buyers and receive several offers at the same time. You should also consider placing a lockbox in your home so you can sell your house faster.

Learn More: The Best Paint Colors For Selling A House

5. Fielding offers and negotiations

So you received an offer for your home, now what? If you followed our guide, you might receive more than one offer. While you may be tempted to accept the highest offer, you should consider other factors such as the buyer’s contingencies, funding, closing period, and your home value.

If you receive a higher offer from a buyer who needs financing, a cash offer from another buyer may be your best bet. Your acceptance deadline and negotiable terms will depend on the standard purchase agreement used in D.C. Usually, these agreements outline the expiry of the offer, funding, and other details.

If you’re unhappy with the offer, you may submit a counteroffer with an asking price and even contingencies. Asking to pay only the realtor commission fees, and a higher amount of earnest money are some examples of terms you may negotiate. If you accept the offer and its conditions, you’ll proceed to sign the Real Estate Purchase Agreement.

Learn More: Real Estate Counter Offer Etiquette

What's in a real estate purchase agreement?

6. Appraisal and inspections

If your buyer is taking a home loan, your house will be appraised. When an appraiser prices a property lower than the offer, the buyer may request a price reduction. If you don’t accept it, the buyer can walk away without paying any penalty.

It’s standard for D.C. sale agreements to include a home inspection contingency. You may negotiate your buyer’s recourse if anything comes up during the inspection.

But, if your house doesn’t pass the inspection, you’ll be responsible for fixing any issues. We recommend you prepare your house for the home inspection by making any necessary repairs to your roof, electrical panel, plumbing, and any other issues.

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

7. Paperwork and required Washington, D.C. disclosures

Washington, D.C. requires sellers to provide a Seller’s Disclosure Statement to the buyer on or before signing the purchase agreement. The statement will detail the condition of your house and any known issues.

Your realtor can provide you a copy of the standard statement. They can also offer insight into what you should disclose or leave out of your statement.

Forms and Documents for Selling a House in Washington, D.C.

Required for All Real Estate Sales in Washington, D.C.

  • 2 Forms of ID
  • Copy of Purchase Agreement and Any Addendums
  • Closing Statement
  • Signed Deed
  • Bill of Sale
  • Affidavit of Title

Possible Additional Documents

  • Loan Payoff Information
  • HOA Forms and Guidelines
  • Survey Results or Survey Affidavits
  • 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

Washington, D.C. Disclosure Forms

  • Real Estate Property Disclosure Statement
  • Flood Zone Statement
  • Lead-Based Paint Disclosure

Learn More: Disclosure Requirements in Washington, D.C.

8. The closing process

The closing will happen at a table at the title company or the attorney’s office. Buyers and sellers will sign all the documents and the settlement statement. The latter will detail all the closing costs.

On average, closing costs in D.C. are around 3% to 5% of the sale price. Home sellers are responsible for the realtor’s commission, settlement fees, utilities, transfer, and property taxes. D.C. transfer taxes range between 1.10% to 1.45% depending on the purchase price.

Some motivated buyers may even offer to pay the transfer tax. It will all come down to the agreements between buyers and sellers to close on the house.

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

Next steps: Sell your Washington, D.C. home and save thousands

Whether you’re looking to list your Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C.

Additional resources for Washington, D.C. home sellers