Here’s what you need to know before putting your house on the market.
There’s more to selling a house than putting it on a listing service. But where do you start if you’ve never sold a home before? We know it can get overwhelming, especially if you’re buying and selling a home at the same time. But don’t worry! Follow these important steps to make sure you get the best price and sell it fast.
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- Work with an experienced agent to understand the true value of your home
- Find out what repairs will help you get more and which projects you can skip
- Some small curb appeal upgrades and great photos will make your home stand out on the internet
- In most cases, you can expect to sell your home in 2-4 months
Learn the value of your home
Although it’s your listing agent’s responsibility to sell your home, you should have an idea of how much your home is worth and how much you’d like to sell it for. When you’re clear on what your home is worth, the number will serve as a benchmark for you as offers start to come in. Estimate home value by checking similar homes in your area, using an online valuation tool, hiring an appraiser, or asking a realtor. It’s a good idea to use more than one method to cross reference values.
Hire an agent who knows the local market
Finding the right agent to sell your home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make along the way. An experienced agent with a successful track record of selling homes in your area is a major asset. The right seller’s agent will know how to market your home and negotiate with buyers to increase your chances of getting the best deal. Read our guide here on how to find a good (and recognize a bad) agent.
Some homeowners prefer to sell their homes themselves to avoid commission fees. You can save money in agent commisions if you sell your home yourself, but you could lose more money at closing if you don’t have someone negotiating for you.
Do a pre-sale home inspection
Get a home inspection done before you list your property to save money and time later.
This way, the buyer may forgo their own inspection and move the transaction along smoother. If any major issues come out in your buyer’s inspection, they may ask you to pay for repairs, negotiate the price, or even back out of the deal. Do it yourself first so you can control the cost and timeline of the repairs.
A detailed home inspection will show you any structural or mechanical problems on your property. Once the inspection is complete, you can organize and pay for home improvements on your own terms.
Make needed repairs—and ignore what doesn’t add value
Does your home need some updates or repairs to get it up to snuff? There are a lot of things you can do to increase the value of your home without putting in too much time or money. Read our guide on the best home projects you can do to really increase your investment.
By the same token, there are some updates and repairs that you may think are necessary but aren’t. Talk to your agent about what they think you can ignore.
If you’ve made any recent repairs to your property, make sure your agent knows about it. Include obvious improvements like new appliances and paint jobs, and invisible repairs like new plumbing or furnaces. Some major repairs could have big returns when you sell. But not all of them, so talk to your agent first..
Take professional photos of the property
High-quality photos make all the difference in home sales. A professional real estate photographer will know how to capture the most attractive features of the property in the best lighting. Although it’s an added expense, it can cast a wider net of potential buyers. This is especially true if your home is located in a highly competitive market, or if you’re selling a luxury home.
Make a schedule
Stay organized by setting a timeline for each step, and stick to it. Once you decide to sell, you should set realistic expectations for a closing date. Selling a house can take 2-4 months from start to finish. However, it can take much longer if inventory levels are high in the local market.
Set the right list price
The list price of your home reflects the best place to begin negotiations. Your home will most likely sell for a little above or a little below the list price—but rarely at the exact number. Sit down with your agent to discuss the best pricing strategy to grab the best offers. We break down what really goes into your pricing strategy here.
List your home
Make your home stand out online
Most real estate agents will tell you to enhance your home’s curb appeal wherever possible. It’s sound advice since the home’s appearance increases its desirability. However, it’s even more important to focus on how you position your home online.
Your home’s first showing is not at an open house—it’s online—which is why it’s important to pay attention to the quality of your web presentation.
Stage your home
In addition to enhancing your home’s curb appeal through home improvements and deep cleaning, stage your home for optimal flow and use. Decorate and arrange the furniture to highlight your home’s best features. Declutter what you can so a buyer can see themselves in it.
You can hire a professional home stager. Professional home staging prices range from $500 to $2,000 but they could help you get offers that cover the costs.
Show the house
After putting in a lot of effort into preparing your home for sale, let your agent show the house. We recommend you don’t show the home yourself because it’s harder for the buyer to see themselves in it when the owner is standing right there. Buyers may hesitate to express their honest concerns about the property in your presence but an agent has the experience to help them get over their concerns. It’s always best for your listing agent to show the home without you.
Pick the best offer
If you’ve taken all these steps, your home is probably the most popular in the neighborhood. Brace yourself to receive at least a few offers—if not more! But how do you pick the right one? We have a guide for choosing between offers here. Remember that the higher offer is not always the best one. A buyer can offer as much as they want, no matter if they actually have their financing settled. Whether or not your buyer is pre-qualified or pre-underwritten tells you a lot about the state of their finances.
Watch out for contingencies, too. They may add a lot of additional requests into the offer and if you accept it, you’ll be on the hook for a lot more than you bargained for.
Close the sale
Now that you’ve accepted an offer, a new process starts here—the closing process. This is when you and the buyer will do everything that is contractually and legally required to transfer ownership of the house and close your escrow accounts. Read about closing here.
What happens after you decide to sell your home?
It’s a big decision to sell your house. Although you’re not required to pay for a pre-sale inspection or professional photographs, investing in your property sale upfront could increase the return on your investment. Before you list your home, it’s also important to identify any necessary repairs. This allows you to set a realistic sales timeline and schedule home improvements according to their budget. Make sure to account for closing costs, taxes, and fees before moving forward with your home sale, as these expenses eat into your overall profit.
About the author: Vivian Tejada is a freelance writer and small business strategist based out of Providence, RI. She writes SEO blogs, articles, and neighborhood guides for a variety of real estate companies. She’s also an avid traveler, location-independent and enjoys trying out new restaurants.